David Chase Clarifies Tony Soprano’s Fate in the Final “Sopranos” Episode

More to ponder when it comes to an oft-debated scene

Sopranos creator David Chase sitting on a chair at the 2016 Vulture Festival
David Chase speaks onstage at the 2016 Vulture Festival at Milk Studios in New York City.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

Who doesn’t love a good ambiguous ending? Given the number of think pieces that have been published about the final scene of The Sopranos since 2007, the answer appears to be “quite a few people.” For some viewers, the cut to black that ended the acclaimed series was a sign that protagonist Tony Soprano had been murdered; for others, it was a sign of spiritual death. (For my part, I’m fond of BoJack Horseman‘s take on the episode in question.)

Still, in an age of explainers about the endings of virtually every movie and television show — whether or not they’re ambiguous — it’s not surprising to see that people have continued to ask Sopranos creator David Chase about his intentions. Three years ago, the publication of Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall’s The Sopranos Sessions rekindled the debate. The book included its two authors interviewing Chase, who alluded to “that death scene.” Case closed; ambiguity averted. Right?

Now, Chase has addressed the scene in question in yet another interview — one which (arguably) sees him come down in favor of the “it’s a death scene” camp. In a conversation with Scott Feinberg for The Hollywood Reporter, Chase revisited both the show’s ending and his earlier interview. Feinberg asked Chase if his earlier comments had been “a slip of the tongue,” to which Chase answered, “No.”

“[T]he scene I had in my mind was not that scene,” Chase said. “Nor did I think of cutting to black.” He spoke of the idea that, in an inversion of the show’s credit sequence, “the last scene could be him coming from New Jersey back into New York for a meeting at which he was going to be killed.”

Chase also said that he had the idea for the scene when passing a small restaurant. “It was kind of like a shack that served breakfast. And for some reason I thought, ‘Tony should get it in a place like that,’” he recalled. “Why? I don’t know. That was, like, two years before.”

It’s worth mentioning that Chase also spoke critically of some of the show’s viewers who wanted an explicit death scene. “They wanted to know that Tony was killed,” he said. “They wanted to see him go face-down in linguini, you know?” He addressed his frustration with viewers who had empathized with Tony, right up until the final scene. “[D]on’t tell me you don’t love him in some way, don’t tell me you’re not on his side in some way,” he added. “And now you want to see him killed?”

For some, Chase’s latest comments will be the last word on the subject. For others who enjoy more narrative ambiguity, one could say that they won’t stop believing.

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