It’s one of the most talked-about moments in television history. The climactic scene of the long-running HBO series The Sopranos ended on an ambiguous and mysterious note. With mobster Tony Soprano sitting in a diner, he looks up at the door one final time and the screen cuts abruptly to black.
Since it aired in 2007, everyone asked the same question: does the cut to black mean Tony died? Was he shot? Or was it just a way to leave the audience guessing as to his fate? Here is the scene:
Well, we have an answer – and from none other than the series creator and showrunner David Chase.
Turns out, the character of Tony Soprano did not die in that diner. He lived on, according to Chase.
“I had been talking with Chase for a few years when I finally asked him whether Tony was dead. We were in a tiny coffee shop, when, in the middle of a low-key chat about a writing problem I was having, I popped the question. Chase startled me by turning toward me and saying with sudden, explosive anger, ‘Why are we talking about this?’ I answered, ‘I’m just curious.’ And then, for whatever reason, he told me… He shook his head ‘no.’ And he said simply, ‘No he isn’t.’”
So, there you have it. About seven years’ of speculation, posturing, conspiracy theories and endless obsessive fan comment have been put to bed by Chase in one seemingly off-hand comment. The integrity of the Vox piece is not in question, so we must take it as a given that the above conversation happened – but it still leaves it slightly open to interpretation.
Earlier in the piece, it’s outlined just how annoying Chase finds fans’ inquiries about characters and plotlines. Is it a case that he simply wanted to cease the constant questions with a throwaway answer? Unlikely, but still. Do we need to have endings spelled out for us in minute literal detail? Surely art can be cryptic and inconclusive and just be allowed to exist and then end in whatever way the creator sees fit.
Many fans of The Sopranos will be happy though. The nagging itch has been scratched.
UPDATE: Chase has released a statement through a publicist, that reads:
“A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying, “Tony Soprano is not dead,” is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, “Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.” To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene ofThe Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”
So, the intrigue and ambiguity we spoke about after the intital “story” lives on. And this one Sopranos fan is kind of happy about that fact.