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HBO (ended 2007)


UPDATE: Since this story was first published, Chase's publicist has issued a statement in response to Chase's alleged "reveal," which you can read at the bottom of this page.


David Chase has finally grown tired of being grilled about what happened when The Sopranos literally cut to black in its 2007 series finale. After seven years, the creator of the seminal HBO drama has begrudgingly put to bed the once-eternal question of whether or not James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano died when the screen went dark in the middle of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

It was an ending that earned both praise and condemnation for its ambiguity, and the popular mobster's fate has been debated for years by fans and critics alike. Indeed, at times it's seemed like death, taxes, and Chase's refusal to definitively weigh in on the situation were the only constants in this world. However, in a new interview with Martha P. Nochimson of Vox, Chase has finally revealed whether Tony Soprano met his maker in that New Jersey diner. 

So, is he dead? According to Chase, "No he isn't." 

Nochimson's story doesn't explain how she phrased the question (or whether she had to press Chase to answer it), and Chase's answer is writ large in a graphic rather than simply transcribed in the text.

Afterwards, Nochimson writes, "Fine. Tony's not dead," and then goes on to discuss Chase's process as a storyteller and his post-Sopranos work. The entire article is worth a read, especially if you're curious about how Chase operates and where he draws inspiration from, but I doubt most people will continue beyond that point. 

Either way, WTF, David Chase?! After staying mum for so long, why concede now? Did we REALLY need to know? (No, we didn't.)

The beauty of The Sopranos' series finale is that it let viewers make up their own minds. Did Tony live? Or was he murdered in front of his family and a restaurant full of people while chowing on some onion rings? The ending of the episode was a Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults, despite the many cryptic explanations Chase has given for it over the years. Nochimson notes in her story that the now-infamous cut to black was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's "Dream Within a Dream," a poem in which Poe laments being unable to grasp something as it slips through his fingers: "O god can I not save / One from the pitiless wave? / Is all we see or seem but a dream within a dream?" But now that Chase has caved, that cut to black is something firm and corporeal, which kind of defeats the purpose. 

Despite the human mind being programmed to constantly search for answers, not knowing Tony's fate was a gift from Chase to us, though many people don't realize as much. The ambiguity of The Sopranos' final scene asked us to open our minds and interpret the outcome ourselves. For every fan who believes that he lived another day—possibly an even worse punishment than if he'd been gunned down—another will provide a detailed reason for why they believe Tony died. The mystery has brought people together and pushed them apart, but it's always fueled discourse, which is important. 

Television is constantly spelling things out for us, telling us what happened or didn't happen. Writers often go out of their way to highlight the meaning of a scene instead of letting viewers figure it out for themselves. That's not always a bad thing—and in fact, it's sometimes exactly what the story calls for. Consider Breaking Bad's series finale, for example: Walter White's journey was meant to be finite, and while there will always be fans who choose to believe that Walt died in that car in New Hampshire, or that he was saved before he bled out, the finale made it pretty clear that Walt died on the floor of Jack's meth lab, and series creator Vince Gilligan has gone on record several times to verify as much. Was that wrong? Not at all, because the ending fit the series. Certainly, not every TV show should end in ambiguity—but ambiguity worked for The Sopranos because it nicely capped off the intricate dual-personality story that the series had been telling about Tony for six seasons. 

Many Sopranos fans will take comfort in finally knowing what happened the character, but I don't. In fact, I was angry when I woke up this morning to discover Chase had broken his silence after all these years. The ending of The Sopranos is, in my opinion, one of the greatest finales of all time, and it even came up yesterday in our discussion of TV's most disappointing series finales. Some people disliked not knowing, but I'm not one of them. Chase's decision to give in and definitively reveal Tony's fate—regardless of whether it confirms my personal interpretation of the ending—feels like just one more instance in which we're being told what to think. It bothers me that Chase was so tired of being asked what happened that he finally buckled. Though I suppose we have no one to blame but ourselves.


UPDATE: Chase's publicist has released the following statement in response to the original Vox story:

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.


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To be honest, I really didn't give a shit. I took the scene for what it was which was Tony chilling with his fam at the end of a bunch of crazy shit going down. Sometimes I think people over think stuff when there really isn't a need to. It was an abrupt ending but, so what? It was a great show but all good things come to an end. There were some threads left dangling but for the most part I felt mostly satisfied with it.

The more important question is/was What happened to the Russian Paulie and Christopher tried to kill in the Pine Barrens?
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I have not seen one single episode of The Sopranos, I admit that. Still, had I invested several years of my life watching this show (I believe 6 seasons), I had been pretty pissed off with this end, regardless of now somebody coming of the closet saying "Yes, Tony lives" or "No, Tony died".
I reminds me of the ending of X-Files after 9 long season: terrible!
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Six seasons yes, but 8.5 years even.
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OK, it makes it even worse. Eight and a half years?
My condolences to all of you.
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It's funny I have had a debate with someone else on another website about whether he died or not, this person was vehemently of the belief that he died. I always argued that it was left ambiguous, that Chase simply wanted people to debate that very fact and had no real decision either way.

And to be honest I still believe that, I don't think a decision was made on whether he died. I think it is a story of a man (not his family as the title suggests) and at some point we stop following his story. The ambiguity was there for people to ponder but I never believed there to be a definitive answer.

I don't take this "answer" is any indication otherwise and think it is likely he just got fed up with being asked it and as another commented mentioned below is a great way to bring the whole show back into media's attention before the Blu-Ray bundle releases.
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I never assumed Tony was dead, there was nothing in the final scene to make that assumption. I just wanted the law to catch up to him and haul him off to jail to be made accountable for all the atrocities him and his crew committed. It would of been great to see him go to jail and let Carmela fend for herself and see what it's like to live an average life. Your kids were grown get a job lady.
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The theory about him being dead is partly due to the instant fade to black, considering the show was not really about The Sopranos it was about Tony, he is in every episode and is in almost every scene. The theory in part is that it fades to black because he has been shot from the side by the man coming out of the bathroom and that is where we leave the story of Tony because he can't show us anymore of the story.

Personally I never believe one way or the other, I think it was left ambiguous for that very reason. So that the story goes on and we just stop following it.

There are other parts to the theory, such as the 3 O'Clock recurring time representing the direction he is shot from and much more but as someone who never subscribed to that theory I am not best placed to explain.
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You know I've never analyzed the final episode cuz it was crappy and left me pretty deflated. I never cared enough to wonder. I don't like ambiguous make up your own ending type thing. The writer is telling us a story so finish it. But no we see the family eating onion rings then fade to black. LAME!!
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Each to their own. I liked it, as I say to me it seemed like we just left Tony and all with the story ongoing. What with the impending rico case about to drop and although I can understand that annoys some I quite liked it. Especially the ballsy-ness of the chosen way to end it. Although I did have some idea that an ending of that sort was coming which perhaps softened the blow.

At least you don't presume to judge other's intelligence based on your dislike of open-ended ambiguous endings as another has done below.
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OMG, the show is long since over MOVE ON ALREADY!
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James is dead which means Tony is dead, the talk of a possible Sopranos movie would have meant the character lived, but with the real life death of James I think they will let the franchise die in peace, (Until about ten years from now when someone gets the bright idea to do a reboot featuring the children) Tony Soprano died when James Gandolfini died; point blank period.
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I really want to read this...but I'm afraid. I'm one of the few who quite enjoyed The Sopranos finale
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There Are A LOT of people (including myself) who loved the finale, read the critical reception for it. The 'fans' are the idiots that didn't like it, the critics raved about it, and it's popularity has grown over the years.
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Read from the video on down if you want to remain unspoiled by what the interview claims he said.
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Nice try, publicist. You won't sell more Sopranos shit if you try to keep it ambiguous.

He's alive. Period. I knew it all along.
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I never thought he was shot at the end like a lot of people. But still.. I would always rather have a definitive ending over cutting to black and letting me wonder. If it's your story, end it, don't leave it up in the air.
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It was a stupid ending to a great show....
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He died.

I thought it pretty obvious with how the final scene was structured in it's repetition and all the little clues throughout the episode.

The song "don't stop believing" was used as a total mislead IMO.

You only have to look at the scene with Tony and Paulie outside the deli to see how vulnerable he now was. This placement for the scene was played out multiple times throughout the series but where he was once surrounded by half a dozen or more loyal lieutenants it was now basically just him and one other.

His power base was all but gone and with this he was ripe to be taken out by the New York mob.
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Schroedinger looked in his box and found not a cat, but Tony Soprano.
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BUT WAS IT ALIVE OR DEAD, TIM
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That's a secret only Schroedinger knows the answer to. If you or I want to know, we'll need to look in the box ourselves. But our results and his may vary. Welcome to the wonderful world of Quantum TV.

It's interesting though that no such uncertainty exists as to the fate of Heisenberg.
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Nicely done there.

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David Chase also thinks that Shane is alive at the end of Shane.
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In my head, I read that sentence as "David Chase also thinks that Shane is alive at the end of The Shield" because I have a Walton Goggins problem.
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Or maybe Shane's just sharing the box with Tony?
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I was on the edge of my seat that entire episode (Anyone else remember how Tony kept looking up at the security monitor watching the long hallway outside their Bad a Bing office?) but I never saw the fade to black as anything more than a fade to black. I figure we came in to the middle of the story and we left just as abruptly. In fact, I was severely relieved when it was finally over and we didn't have to see him or anyone else killed.
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I can't imagine Tony got out alive; Chase somewhat confirming he survived seems ridiculous. The ending seemed to be hinting at all over the place that something was about to go down. Chase could be playing with people.
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The ending was awesome and very underrated. It leaves you wanting more and plants an endlessly fascinating idea that doesn't stop growing in your mind. You're always going to wonder "did Tony die or not?"
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FINALLY!!!!! We have closure over the ending of the Sopranos!!!
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Guess they can't milk that cow any longer, so they put an end to the speculation for the idiots who thought he died.
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If you watch the show from the very first episode the ending is clear..tony always stressed family and carmela,aj and meadow always came first.he said more than once temember the good times and familyis the only people you can trust..in his meetings with dr melphi he said his kids need him eespecially aj.and after they were good the govt could do what they want..the finsl episodes meadow was gettin married and aj finally was doin ok..the final scene they were all together.tony knew carlo flipped and was preparing for an indictment.he told carmela and she just shook her head.they both knew this time would come..when meadow couldnt park her car it showed the three of them jyst chit chatting waiting for her.the scene finally ended when she walked in because tjey were all together.
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Characters don't die, Chase could write about Tony tomorrow, but actors certainly do.
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Ahhh... the "George Lucas" syndrome. Eventually, you just have to revisit your greatest hit. Nothing comes close to it, and so you tinker, in hopes of maintaining what made you one of the greats, fucking your intergrity and respect in the process.
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&The; beauty of The Sopranos' series finale is that it let viewers make up
&their; own minds.

There's never anything beautiful about that. Often it means that even the writer had no idea themselves - witness the "non-explanation" of how Starbuck came back to life in the Battlestar Galactica reboot. Don't fall for the Peewee Herman style "I meant to do that!" excuse. If there's no explanation, the writer painted themselves into a corner and then tried to look artsy.
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I don't think what the writers of BSG did to Kara Thrace is honestly that comparable. There was, in the finale (which I already said yesterday was not the best finale), some sort of explanation of Kara. I mean, she found her own crashed viper. She disappeared once they reached Earth and she'd gotten them there. It was clear she was a prophet or a guide of some sort. I'm not saying it was a GOOD storyline, but I think they did explain it. It just wasn't the best execution (and I would have rather she'd lived on after reaching Earth, myself). It's not really comparable to the cut to black at the end of The Sopranos.
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I believe it's comparable in the sense that other writers have said that Moore would throw things out like "Let's make Col. Tigh a Cylon!" without any plan to do so beforehand and then they'd have to come up with convoluted ways to get out of the corners it put the plot into (he really did do that with Tigh). When interviewed after the show ended Moore gave an answer along the lines of "Kara was whatever you want her to be", which suggests that when he decided to bring her back to life that, just like Tigh, he had no idea how it was possible when he did it.
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So it's widely considered ruined when we DIDN'T know, and it's widely considered ruined when we DO know. The fuck do people want? lol
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It really doesn't matter. That was the end and saying what happened years later doesn't really mean anything. The ending was to show the futility of his chosen life and it was an inevitabilty, whether it happened then and there or later on down the road. So saying what he said was just to get people to shut up about it. We'd be having this same discussion if he'd said Tony died, because he did die as we all do eventually. The ending as it was, was as perfect as they could have made it.
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I've also just realised that he could have give an 'answer' to boost the sales of The Blu-Ray Complete Series that is released soon
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@thekaitling This seems comical to me since we discussed it yesterday! How odd that the day after it was discussed on TV.com this was released! I even started season 1 last night to give the whole ending a different opinion than before!
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I personally enjoy ambiguous endings as long as they fit well enough with the show. The best way to ruin an ending like that is by pestering the creator for clarification for years afterwards. Even if they give an answer that explains what "really happened" some people are still not going to be satisfied and will then complain about the newly created ending.
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Ironically I have just finished The Sopranos two days ago (Second time around) and I am an avid fan of the ending (and the finale as a whole) so i am severely angry that David Chase has given in to fans constantly asking him if Tony did die.

I hope his answer was just to shut them up and not definitive because the ambiguity is what made it so special
I was a believer in the fact that Tony died in the final scene, there is so much evidence in season 6 pointing to that conclusion so finding out he did not die was basically THE COP OUT
Maybe David Chase is just trying to pay respect to the late, great James Gandolfini by not having the fictional character he played, die, but i will not consider that answer as definitive

Also when you said "I was angry when I woke up this morning to discover Chase had broken his silence after all these years"
That has got to be an intended joke? If not then you really are not trying hard enough to be funny haha
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So, you liked this ending as well as the ending to Lost. Lost's ending was definitely "Too much information," and did not really follow where they seemed to be going with it before season five ended. The final season negated all that had gone before and came off as, "Just kidding, we had no idea what we were doing."
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I am bored with arguing with you over the LOST finale, I got it, i understood the answers we got, I read between the lines, I was fine with a bit of ambiguity, i loved the characters too much to care about why Walt was special or whatever else you misunderstood. Maybe you cared too much about the mysteries and not about the characters for you to loathe it so much.
I still stick by the whole Star Wars/Force thing in response to why Walt was special, George Lucas did not have to explain the nature of the force, or why it was involved in the story, fans had no problem with accepting that the force was just there for Jedi's to harness, but Walt is special and every ignorant 'fan' is racking their respective brains because they can't deal with someone who has special properties, a connection to a magical Island.

I get it, you don't like LOST but as someone who praises Dexter, i don't find your opinion at all interesting when you think a lumberjack serial killer is more satisfying than the epic-ness of the LOST finale that had heart

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You seem a bright enough fellow, but what has Walt got to do with anything I said. You're going on and on about facts not in evidence and assuming I'm stupid. I don't assume you're stupid. And I do love supernatural stuff. Like I said, Lost gave us too much information at the end. It was going along fine, then the wheels fell off. Also, the ending of Dexter did kind of suck, so what's your problem, Mister I'm smarter than you?
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Wow your argument is completely different to every other person that hated the LOST finale
You say they gave us too much information, the rest say they didn't give enough, so clearly that just proves the LOST finale cannot win

What information are you relating to that was 'too much' in an 1 hour and 40 minute episode?

It had enough information to leave me satisfied, and it was not crammed with shit
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OMG. That was wholly unintentional. But now I'll be singing the theme song all day.
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Haha I can't believe it was unintentional :)
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Why do you have to change what you think happened just because of an out-of-context quote?

The only things that definitively happened on the show are those things that were shown or referenced on the show.

The show ended with a cut to black. Whatever Chase "intended" means nothing if you think he died.
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I just think it's slightly jerky of him to announce it after all of this time, ambiguity was clearly the ending he intended, and now he has gone back on his word that TV audiences are too spoon fed and that's one of the main reasons he ended The Sopranos like that

I still wholeheartedly believe Tony died, so Chase can stick his 'Answer' up his ass
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