It’s possible that no TV finale is more hotly debated than the abrupt cut-to-black ending on HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Eight years later, the show’s creator, David Chase, is opening up about his intentions for the last scene.
The 69-year-old writer-director wrote a piece for Directors Guild of America Quarterly. In it, he explains every shot of that infamous diner scene and its significance to the rest of the show -- and what he hoped people would take away from it. Unfortunately, Chase still refuses to reveal whether or not Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) died after the cut to black, as many fans believe.
Still, that hasn’t stopped him from talking about what he hopes viewers gleaned from the dramatic moment. Even if the story ended for the audience’s favorite anti-hero, what matters is that the end is coming for all of us.
“I’m not going to go into [if that's Tony's point of view]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people's minds or maybe everybody's mind that he was killed. He might have gotten shot three years ago in that situation. But he didn't,” Chase wrote. “Whether this is the end here, or not, it's going to come at some point for the rest of us.”
While that doesn’t exactly shine a light on the fate of Tony or his family, it certainly gives fans a lot to think about. Chase was very measured in his openness about the character’s demise (or lack thereof) after an incident in August 2014. A quote from him in Vox was misunderstood as confirmation that the character made it out of the diner alive. Entertainment Weekly reports that he later readdressed the issue and said that whether the character lived or died was not the point.
So then, what was the point of the scene? The writer’s breakdown goes very in-depth about a lot of things, but the most potent element of the finale was the song that plays throughout the final moments: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
The series cut to black right on the line “don’t stop.” Chase revealed this was perhaps the most significant moment of the finale as it conveyed a deeper philosophical message about life and death.
“There are attachments we make in life, even though it's all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we're so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short,” he wrote. “Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it's really worth it. So don't stop believing.”
Watch the final scene here.