‘Sopranos’ Creator Reveals Tony’s Fate? [Updated]

Published 8 months ago by , Updated August 27th, 2014 at 11:13 pm,

sopranos ending Sopranos Creator Reveals Tonys Fate? [Updated]

[UPDATE: David Chase's rep has clarified his remarks. Scroll for details.]

Sopranos‘ creator David Chase has finally cleared the ambiguity fog surrounding the frustrating — but sort of brilliant upon reflection – finale to HBO’s much lauded mafia/family drama from the early aughts in a new expansive profile, wherein he affirms that Tony Soprano did not die when the camera cut to black — answering the reporter’s question with a headshake and the words “No he isn’t.”

Chase, however, doesn’t exactly bend an ear or wrap that revelation in a blanket of information about what this means and what his motivations were (aside from the mention of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Dream Within a Dream’ poem), leaving us all to assess his words with the inexact science of speculation.

Of course, we unfortunately know that while the fictional Tony Soprano may live on in perpetuity, the light behind his eyes – actor James Gandolfini - is no more. So it’s not as if this is the first story in a series of stories that eventually leads up to some kind of new chapter for Chase and these characters. In that Tony being alive has no practical effect, then, what is the value of this knowledge?

For some, there is now closure, I suppose. The cut to black on the finale was so abrupt that I actually thought my cable had gone out. Other people have expressed a similar reaction, but once a technical glitch was ruled out, people felt cheated because they often believe that they are owed a beginning, middle and an end with these stories… our stories. We want to feel good when we feel bad about the end of our shows, but the perception was that David Chase didn’t care or that he was selfish when he took that from us and defied our hail-of-gunfire/witness protection expectations for Tony Soprano. But if that was the case and Chase was being selfish, didn’t he have the right to be? It was really his show, his story and years of his life’s work that came to an end in that moment, so why shouldn’t he have closed things off in a way that lived up to his view of a fitting end, first and foremost?

wga top 101 written sopranos Sopranos Creator Reveals Tonys Fate? [Updated]

It’s a minor miracle when we love something that is someone else’s creative expression and it’s not surprising when we feel like it was made for us, but none of this art is custom made – even if it speaks to us intimately and we can relate to it fully. At the end of the day, it seems like we think that there is more nobility in the artist that makes themselves happy first over the one that plays to the crowd, but we (myself included) also use words like “self-indulgent” and “panderer” to label those two extremes (and the word “genius” when both things occur simultaneously). David Chase was so often a genius with The Sopranos, and to those who supported his open-ended conclusion, he was a genius to the last.

Some of those people may feel a little bit cheated now by Chase’s seeming betrayal of his purposeful mystery, but with so much time passing – and with there being no way to feasibly continue the story – Chase’s view of what happened is, in a way, as irrelevant as the rest of the theories and fantasies that we all dreamed up when he cut to black. So, Tony Soprano got to finish his onion rings… then what? It’s just trivia, nothing more. The Sopranos ended how it ended and Chase’s artistic choice remains – for better or worse.

Update: Apparently, David Chase doesn’t agree with the interpretation of his head shake/remarks by the original interviewer. Here’s a statement from his rep:

“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 of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

The Sopranos ran on HBO from 1999-2007.

Source: Vox, EW

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. I just finessed watching the series earlier this week and also thought my signal cut out. I never watched the show when it was on live back in the day, but have been using HBO GO to watch it. I like it a lot, but like other HBO series more, like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. I immediately went to Google to see other peoples’ thoughts, analysis, and reactions. Many said he was killed by the dude who went to the bathroom and the fact that it cut out right when Meadow walked in was a dead giveaway that he was killed that instant, which is why the lights literally turned off. We were seeing the show in the eyes of Tony, which also means we will see his last moment of his life in his eyes, which appears to be seeing Meadow walk in the diner and then…lights out…dead. I just accepted that explanation, but now the creator says this.

    • finished*

      Stupid Mac autocorrect.

  2. The finale was a crime. A worthless joke. Chase needs to watch breaking bad to learn how to end a series.

    • oh shut up 50% of breaking bad is recycled from the sopranos

      • Very true Dan. Plus I thought Breaking Bad finale sucked. Chase is a genius.

  3. A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview,” reads a statement issued by Chase’s rep, Leslee Dart. “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.”

    • Thanks Mario, added that to the post.

  4. b******* hes dead

  5. Cyborg6971 Breaking bad was a great show but isn’t a great example of a good ending could have been a lot better than it was. The Shield and Six feet Under are probably the best tv show endings I can recall.

    • +1

    • I think for myself, I consider Breaking Bad, The Shield, Six Feet Under, and Spartacus to have the best finales. The Sopranos finale was okay. I saw the symbolism in it but would have loved to see the actual end result instead of speculating

  6. Sorry to nitpick but the difference between a “fade” to black and a “cut” to black is quite important, especially in the case of the Sopranos finale. It was a sudden cut, or smash cut, to black.

    • Not a nitpick. You’re right.

    • @ Tony

      I also don’t see it as nitpicking. In fact I think it’s a great point and tend to agree.

      I’ll be the first to admit that the ending was frustrating and there’s been times when I praise it and times when I think it was a terrible way to end but overall I think the fact that we are still talking about it means that it was the smart way to go.

      I also tend to think that those who say it’s the worst ending ever has never seen the finales of Dexter, True Blood and believe it or not Seinfeld.
      Boy oh boy I really thought those were bad.

  7. To me, the end scene of the Sopranos was symbolic rather than literal. It represents the choices Tony has made and the potential outcomes these choices can have in his life and effect how life can end.

    Tony had his choice, he could either keep a living life of crime to ultimately obtain his goals of happiness, prosperity, and keeping his family together (the main desires of the typical American dream) and wind up killed like Phil Leotardo or dying in prison like Johnny Sack, or he could opt out like Little Carmine and live that normal life chasing those goals as represented in the groups in the restaurant around him. In choosing a life of crime, Tony has accepted the fact that he will always have to be looking over his shoulder and worried about legal trouble putting him away for life ultimately causing his end to come either in the form of being killed like Phil or dying in prison like Johnny. The events of the end scene serve to explain that now that Tony has made his choice, he will not have a happy ending and lead a happy life like those around him. The events of the final scene seek to drive this point home by showing us that the end can come in many forms at any time, playing on the themes of uncertainty in the show. His end could also come from dying in prison, this is explained as a possible end in his conversations about the RICO trial. Outside of RICO, his end could come from getting killed as is shown as a possibility in the form of the man in the members only jacket who represents the idea Tony will always have to be watching out for it it and suspicious of everyone around him. As Bobby said on the lake, “It’s always out there, you probably don’t even hear it when it happens”. The cut to black represents the fact that outside of everything like RICO, he end could come in the form of death at any time, at any place, from anyone, and he won’t see it coming.

    So no, I do not believe the cut to black is to be taken literally that Tony did die, but that being killed is one of the few options he has left for his life of crime to take.

    • Great point. Especially going back to reference Bobby!

  8. That’s a great way to look at it mau5maufive!

  9. As the show was discontinued,the character who was whacked was the viewer – You! The point of view was lost. Show over. Very existential. Now go away and let this conversation fade to black…..

    • I concur
      *fades to black*

      • You mean cut to black. There was no fade

        • Cut to white

  10. It was very obvious from the get go that Vox was taking the quote waaaaaaaay out of context in order to generate clickbait.

  11. Personally, I think it was a chicken poop way to end a series.

    But that’s just me. What do I know? *shrugs*

    • a different show runner? is that a joke?

  12. No……Especially hoe the show went down hill the last two seasons. That last season was trash. Half the time it was just nonsense and had really lost the the feel of the first couple seasons. I think a lot of that came from those long breaks and losing people from behind the scenes that had to be replaced with people who weren’t involved when they ran on all cylinders. Besides…..I’m talking a whole different series that only uses some of the younger versions of characters from the original. So it could be granted for a fee without having the same show runner screw it up like he did wth the original. That last season was really tough to watch it was so bad. I only stuck with it because I was invested in the story and wanted to see the finish. Not really worth the price in my opinion

  13. Oh f*** off with that sh** please, Mr. Chase. That’s such a cheap way to appear deep. Wtf is spiritual about cutting to a black screen? Cut the BS and just tell us whether he’s dead or not, with no ambiguity. It’s the least you can do since you deprived us of a decent ending to begin with. And don’t get me started on the unfinished Russian story-line.