Why Sopranos ended the way it did

The Sopranos’ ending is still one of the most prolific endings to date, as people still wonder, 14 years later, why did it end the way it did.

Overview

The conclusion of any hit television series is set to spark some conversation. This is as fans of the show will chime in as to whether the ending was fitting for a story that they have followed for years. Rarely, does a series conclusion not spark debate.

One of the most spoken about endings is that of the hit television series, The Sopranos. The drama series which shared the struggles of mafia boss Tony Soprano as he tried to balance his personal and professional life, concluded with an ambiguous ending that to date still has people talking about it.

How does The Sopranos end?

The Sopranos ended after six seasons in 2007, with an episode titled Made in America. It is the last four minutes of the series finale that is still the most spoken about sequence of the end. In the sequence, we have Tony in a restaurant waiting, as people start to arrive. First to arrive of his family is his wife, Carmela.

Thereafter, a conspicuously shady man enters followed by Tony’s son, A.J. The last to arrive is his daughter, Meadow, after she struggled with parallel parking. During her struggle, Meadow is almost hit by a car as she is about to enter the restaurant and Steve Perry yells, “Don’t stop!” Thereafter, the scene cuts straight to black.

Why Sopranos ended the way it did

Ambiguity seems to be the theme of The Sopranos ending. This is as the “shady guy” entered after Carmelo was last seen going to the bathroom, which is a visual trope in action films and television shows that suggests imminent danger. Therefore, fans will never know what happened after the guy walked out of the bathroom.

Moreover, the ending left it open-ended as to whether Tony’s future would end through an assassination by the shady guy, or eventually end up in prison as the police were getting closer to arresting him.

The ending was so abrupt and polarising that during the initial airing of the series finale, the viewers thought that there was a problem with the transmission and that something had gone wrong.

However, that of course was not the case, because no matter how many times you watch it, the ending remains the same. Which is why, understandably so, people are still seeking the true intention of the finale to this day.

David Chase explains The Sopranos ending

When asked about the ending and whether the ambiguity was intentional, creator of The Sopranos, David Chase stated:

“It’s for people to decide for themselves. I had another scene that was going to be Tony’s death, that we were going to do. That was two years or three years before we came up with the other one. So, there was a death scene. Tony drives back into the Lincoln tunnel, he goes for a meeting with Phil Leotardo, and he’s killed. I don’t think you were going to see the death, but you were going to know that he was dead.”

Terence Winter explains The Sopranos ending

Terence Winter, who was behind the screenplay of The Sopranos’ final episode, Made in America, also shared his intention with the series finale by stating:

“My interpretation was that, when you’re Tony Soprano, even going out for ice cream with your family is fraught with paranoia. He’s sown a life of murder, mayhem and treachery. And everybody who walks in, a guy in a Member’s Only jacket…this could be the guy, or that could be the guy. You’re always looking over your shoulder and at some point, whether it happened that night or not, when you live that life, one day, somebody’s going to walk out of a men’s room and that’s it for you.”

So, is there a definitive ending to The Sopranos?

One of the rules for screenwriting is that the writer or creator of the show should always be aware of what the ending of their story is, even if they do not reveal it to their viewers. Seemingly, according to the excerpt from the creator and writer of The Sopranos, the intention was to leave room for interpretation.

This is as Tony’s death or arrest was guaranteed for some time in the fictional characters future. However, leaving room for speculation allowed for viewers to always carry the story with them, as they continue to wonder if he died or if he was eventually arrested.

Conclusion

Television series that have an avid following always fall into the pressure of needing to please the viewers when it comes to how the show eventually ends. This is as the ending can either affirm the profile of the entire series or be so anticlimactic, so much so that fans discredit the entire series.

One that follows into the former is The Sopranos. Despite its intentionally ambiguous ending, fans of the television series still talk about the ending 14 years after it ended. It is still a looming question whether the lead character, Tony Soprano, survived to live another day or died during dinner.