Ever since The Sopranos finale episode “Made in America” cut into Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” and went completely black, fans have been wondering about this supposed Tony Soprano death. As he sat there with his family in the booth in Holsten’s, did he end up taking a bullet or did he make it out alive? It’s been one of the truly great, and frustrating what-ifs in television history. Well, recently it looks like series creator David Chase has laid to rest any speculation about what happened with Tony after the series ended in such dramatic, though anti-climatic fashion. Fans might not want to hear this, but it does look like the Tony Soprano death narrative was very much a real one.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter following the release of The Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark, David Chase opened up about a number of different topics having to do with The Sopranos franchise. As these things often do, the discussion eventually turned to the apparent Tony Soprano death scene at the end of the finale. It is here that David Chase lays out, in pretty specific terms (for a writer at least) about what happened at the end of the show. Here is part of what he said about conceptualizing the ending:
Because the scene I had in my mind was not that scene. Nor did I think of cutting to black. 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. Yeah. But I think I had this notion—I was driving on Ocean Park Boulevard near the airport and I saw a little 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.” Why? I don’t know.
In terms of a definitive stance on what happened at the end of The Sopranos, this is pretty much it. While David Chase has spent years somewhat obfuscating around the events of the finale, it doesn’t appear he wants to really do this anymore. He had spoken about this Tony Soprano death some in the book The Sopranos Sessions by Alan Sepinwall, but in this interview, he walks more through the process of how he pictured the ending of the show. When he says “Tony should get it”, Chase is referring to bullet.
Fans of The Sopranos have debated whether this was Tony Soprano’s death for years with some even doing in-depth, second-by-second breakdowns of the final scene including symbolism, imagery, and conversations from previous episodes. They laid out the case that a Tony Soprano death was the only thing that made sense and he didn’t make it out of Holsten’s alive. This lays to rest, so to speak, any more debate about the ending.
But though we know now about this Tony Soprano death at the end of The Sopranos along with the great James Gandolfini passing away tragically almost a decade ago, the show and franchise do still live on. A revival of sorts happened recently with the release of The Many Saints of Newark which premiered on HBO Max this month. The prequel story details some of Tony’s origins in the mob but also tells the story of Dickie Moltisanti, Tony’s mentor. The younger version of Tony was played by Gandolfini’s son Michael.
There appear to be additional plans to continue the story in the future as well. More prequel stories could be in the mix with David Chase expressing some excitement about seeing what happened with this group of characters into the 1980s. So though we know about the Tony Soprano death now, it doesn’t mean there won’t be another return to the Central New Jersey mafia scene. From that standpoint, we are likely to see even more from this world.