Here's Everything' The Sopranos' Cast and David Chase Have Said About the Heavily-Debated Final Scene

The cast of The Sopranos recall watching the infamous cut-to-black scene, and director David Chase weighs in on one of the most talked-about endings in TV history

Photo: Everett

If you think fans have stopped talking about The Soprano finale, fuggeddaboutit!

It's been 14 years since the shocking final episode left fans curious about the fate of Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) – and amid the many theories that've been discussed since then (even from members of the cast), director David Chase finally clarified what happened.

But first, let us set the scene. An anxious Tony Soprano is pictured alone in a booth at Holsten's awaiting his family. We hear the sound of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" in the background, but Tony hears the bell dinging every time the door opens. We feel the suspense. The bell rings one last time as Steve Perry sings "Don't stop!..." and the screen cuts to black.

Fans panicked: Did their cable cut out? Was this the end for Tony? Would they ever have closure? Fortunately, Chase recently opened up to the The Hollywood Reporter about what really went down on that New Jersey night (or at least, he appeared to; several days later, he walked it back a bit via Matt Zoller Seitz's Twitter.)

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Premiering in 1999, The Sopranos follows the turbulent life of Tony Soprano, an Italian-American mobster, and the difficulties he faces in balancing his immediate family while heading his organized crime "Family" – that being, the mob. Between frequent anxiety attacks and threatening rival gangs, there's a lot Tony must deal with in order to survive. Throughout its six seasons, the show transforms into an increasingly violent, complex, morally ambiguous narrative about evolving times and past grudges.

And though it ended on that iconic, much-discussed note, it wasn't initially what Chase envisioned for the show's finale. But he did always imagine Tony would die.

"The scene I had in my mind was not that scene. Nor did I think of cutting to black," Chase said. "I had a scene in which Tony comes back from a meeting in New York in his car. At the beginning of every show, he came from New York into New Jersey, and 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."

The reactions to the more cryptic scene he eventually filmed came as a surprise to the director, who didn't expect it to get the attention it received.

Will Hart/HBO.

"I had no idea it would cause that much … of an uproar," said Chase. "Nobody said anything about the episode. No, it was all about the ending."

For years, the show's abrupt ending left fans unsatisfied because the fate of Tony remained unanswered. According to Tony himself, "There's only two endings for a guy like me, a high profile guy. Dead, or in the can." General opinions toward the Italian antihero varied throughout the 86 episodes, but many wanted to see his demise – something that Chase wasn't too thrilled about.

"What was annoying was how many people wanted to see Tony killed," he said. "That bothered me .... They wanted to see him go face-down in linguini, you know? I just thought, 'God, you watched this guy for seven years and I know he's a criminal. But don't tell me you don't love him in some way, don't tell me you're not on his side in some way.' "

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The Sopranos made major stars out of Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano), Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti), Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano), Robert Michael Iler (AJ Soprano), Dominic Chianese Corrado ("Junior" Soprano), and Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante), many of whom have weighed in on that shocking last moment.

The Sopranos

Following Chase's recent comments about the finale, see what the rest of The Sopranos' cast has said about the iconic finale that infamously cut to black.

Edie Falco

Playing the role of Carmela Soprano, Tony's wife, Falco questioned the final scene at first, but trusted Chase's thought process.

"First I thought my script was missing some pages, which I'm sure many people thought," she said in an Archive of American Television interview. "Then I knew in a larger part of myself that it had meaning and significance that eluded me. I never doubted that it did have significance or was meaningful in some way because I trusted David. I know he put a lot of thought into how to end it."


She added that she was proud of the ending that Chase wrote, especially since he "was brave enough to do it the way that he knew wasn't going to please everybody." She added, "Some people wanted to see him riddled with bullets, some people want to see him kill all [his enemies] ... And he did none of that."

Falco mentioned that people always ask her what actually happens to Tony after the scene cuts to black, as if she has inside information that wasn't revealed to the public. She said she tells them, "We cut the cameras and we went home. That was it, there is no ending that we know about that you don't.

Michael Imperioli

Playing the role of Christopher Moltisanti, Tony's protégé and member of the DiMeo crime family, Imperioli remembers watching the finale live alongside his castmates when it premiered in 2007. It was an emotional moment for the actors for more than one reason.

"We were all just, like, speechless," he said during a conversation with the Director's Guild of America. "First of all, you hear the music and you know that not only is this the end of the show, but it's the end of all of us being together for all these years. So that's hitting you emotionally and personally."

The Sopranos

Just like fans, Imperioli added that his fellow actors were also unsettled by Chase's sudden ending.

"Some of the guys were not so happy with it," he said. "They were a little bit surprised. They were expecting a more [definitive ending]. I always thought it was brilliant."

Lorraine Bracco

While many believe that the fate of Tony ends in tragedy, Lorraine Bracco thinks otherwise. Playing the role of Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony's psychiatrist, she was just as shocked about the ending – but remains hopeful about her client.

"I always believed [Tony Soprano] lived," she told Bruce Bozzi in an interview.

The Sopranos

Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Sigler played the role of Meadow, Tony's daughter, who dashes toward the door in the final scene. She was surprised by the ending because "it wasn't written the way it happened" on the screen, she told Us Weekly. Sigler shared that the cast also thought their cable cut out in the middle of the scene.

"I knew that we didn't film anything past me coming through the door, so we thought it was just going to be a slow fade," she said. "So when we watched it as a cast for the first time and it cut to black, we thought something happened to the projector. We didn't know that was how it was going to be."

She told the RadioTimes that she remembered thinking, "People are either going to love it or be really pissed off."

The Sopranos

Robert Michael Iler

Iler, who played Tony's son AJ, revealed that he didn't watch the final episode when it aired, but he heard many confused reactions from people watching.

"I remember being at a friend's house in the Hamptons, and everybody was watching it inside," Iler told RadioTimes. "I was outside with one of my friends, and I wasn't watching it. I remember hearing them saying, 'What just happened?'"

The actor thinks that the genius of the scene was that it kept fans talking, more than a decade later.

"If the last scene was just Tony getting shot in the head that would have been it," he said. "People would have talked about it for a month or two, and then it would have been over. But to have an open ended discussion still ten years later, obviously what he did was genius."

Steven Van Zandt

The Sopranos

Playing the role of Silvio, the consigliere and right-hand man to Tony, Van Zandt wrote in an excerpt from his memoir featured in Vanity Fair that he's been asked about what happens to Tony in the final scene "a thousand times." The day after the finale aired, he appeared on a radio show and was bombarded for a "straight hour of complaints, consternation, and downright insults about the surprise ending."

After an hour of the nonstop critiques, he recalls saying, "OK, smart-asses. You don't like that ending, let's hear yours!" The answer? "Silence," he says, especially when asked if they would've liked to see Tony, Carmella, or the kids die — leading him to conclude, "So maybe it wasn't such a bad ending after all."

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