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A New Perspective on THE SOPRANOS’ Final Scene

By Jef Dinsmore on Jul 18, 2013 to The Sopranos


I must admit that I am fixated on THE SOPRANOS yet again. Of course, the reasoning this time around has been because of the death of James Gandolfini on June 18. No solid reason is really needed by anyone to take in David Chase’s six season saga of Tony Soprano and his personal and professional families. It is often high on the list of fans and critics alike and always warrants a look.

I’ll also admit in this piece that I have not been watching a marathon of the entire 86 episodes again but merely a small portion of them. My sole intent is to find episodes that really showcased the abilities of Mr. G. himself. There are many scenes I could have watched; over the past three weeks though I focused on episodes which gave me plenty of good scenes that had Tony with Dr. Melfi, with his family at home and with his cronies out and about their daily business. Here is a quick list of what I watched:

  • Episode 01: “The Sopranos” – the pilot which gave us the story of the ducks in the family pool as related to Dr. Jennifer Melfi.
  • Episode 05: “College” – Tony takes his daughter Meadow to check out a potential college for her and, while he’s at it, also whacks a thug in witness protection with his bare hands.
  •  Episode 26: “Funhouse” Tony takes out one of his own when he silences Big Pussy in the Season 2 Finale.
  •  Episode 30: “Employee of the Month” – Even though this episode was about Dr. Melfi and her rape how Tony comes to her aid are moments not to be missed.
  •  Episode 44: “Pie-O-My” – This is the tale of the race horse that Tony Soprano became fond of to the very end.
  •  Episode 48: “Whoever Did This” – That is the one with Ciferetto’s head in a bowling bag. This episode says a lot about Tony and  just as much about the talent of the late James G.
  • Episode 52: “Whitecaps” – this was the big breakup episode between Tony and Carmella that end Season Four.
  • Episode 86: “Made In America” – the final episode.


Now I know there were of plenty of episodes missed in between; you can spend time in the comments talking up your own favorites if you wish. These were just the eight I decided to watch again in tribute to James Gandolfini.

All of that however, is not the real purpose of this article as you can tell by its title. Ah, the final episode “Made In America.” It aired on 06.10.2007 and has been shrouded in controversy ever since. Viewers were quite angry about the way the scene and the series ended with that abrupt cut-away. The big question loomed whether Tony S. was whacked in front of his family and died in a serving of onion rings or not. There were indications leaning to either scenario. The mystery man eyeing Tony before he ended the restroom and the Journey tune playing made it look like either scenario could play out. So, what happened? I mulled over that myself at the time. It all resurfaced again during my mini-marathon. I finally have discovered six years later the answer or, at least, my answer.

David Chase actually gave his fans a gift, not only the talent of Mr. G, but also with that final scene. He wasn’t rudely insulting and shafting the audience in the end, as was suggested back in 2007, but leaving the power with the audience to write the ending. We, the aficionados of THE SOPRANOS were given the opportunity to decide the fate of Tony for ourselves. It was a surprise way to go that caught us off guard but we, each in turn, figure it out. I now know for certain my ending.

You might think it lame and not very creative of me to draw this conclusion so many years out but I now, upon the death of Gandolfini, can put it to rest. Now, I always felt that Tony lived past that meal in that diner but I never bothered to work out any details of how he lived the rest of his days. If you view, as I do, that Tony S. was in many ways like James G. than it all makes sense now. Both the actor and the character seemed tough on the outside but had a softer quality within. So it seems logical for me to draw one last parallel between them. Indulge me.

No dangerous incidence occurred at the diner that evening. Meadow rushed in a few minutes late and the family spent some quality time. In fact, the idea came up that the Soprano family needed to get away; they needed a family vacation and it was agreed upon to do so. They thought a trip to Italy would be ideal. Both Tony and Carmela were caught up in some issues they needed to square away before that could happen and Meadow & AJ needed prep time as well. Time slipped away and they ended up not working towards that goal but, finally, a few years later the subject was brought up again and they decided to act upon it immediately. It was during this bonding trip in Italy with the family together eating and laughing that they felt whole and happy and then, after all the years of hard work, stress, and violence Tony Sopranos body just stopped.

That is how I have concluded the story of the Soprano family. It ends the same way James Gandolfini’s did. It is simple as that.  RIP Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini.

Have the followers of HBOWatch given this any thoughts in the past month? The series is certainly readily available in a number of formats. If there is anyone out there who also feels the need to watch it, or I should say re-watch it, as it has surely been seen by anyone who is a fan of HBO and this site, right? You can find it on HBO On Demand and HBOGo plus, it has been airing on HBO Signature. There is also your home collection, whether you got them on VHS or DVD. Also, while I’m at it, I might as well advertize that the  complete collection can also be found on such places as Amazon for purchase. No matter how you enjoy the show you will be able to experience Mr. G. at his finest.

I leave you with this little clipfest courtesy of  Huffington Post.

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62 Comments on "A New Perspective on THE SOPRANOS’ Final Scene"

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i like this idea. i never thought tony died myself. in interviews chase never seemed to want to make tony pay for his crimes. as for the cinematic ques to his death id say chase was just setting up tension, and what happens when tension builds in real life? usually nothing.

Eugines brother shot Tkny dead. Eugi es wife said …put a bullet in his head….Eugjne had the Members only jacket as pointed out by Vito.

My theory…. The entire series doesn’t represent Tony’s life…. Rather it represents Melfi’s fascination with Tony’s life… With tony no longer a patient…. And the presumably out of the news, Melfi stopped thinking about Tony altogether, and her Tony Fantasy went away…

This a such a childish interpretation of the final scene. I think all the clues are there to suggest tony was killed in the diner. first off, the direction, editing and camera work in the final scene was all done purposely to give us the impression that he died in that final scene. for example, the man in the Member’s Only jacket, Tony’s killer, the camera spends a lot of time following his movements. The camera doesn’t spend half as much time following any of the other diner patrons which denotes the significance of this man. The man passes by… Read more »
I agree on the perspective. The view was closer than where tony was sat. I believe he lived and we had a glimpse of what life was like now for tony. We were thrown in and out of a period of his life. He most likely went to jail on a rico. Or flipped himself and became what he said he would never do. I would belive he was killed if we had a glimpse of meadow before the blackness and all the shots of people entering were from tonys seat. I think when chase says its all there he… Read more »
i just finished watching the whole seasons completely and it was blissful…i dont think tony died at the end of the show i really think it was meadow who dies….think about it. I think it was significant that her old friend visited in that episode also they (the family) finally met her bf. I also think it was significant the focus on her parking her long it took and all that. I think when she ran into the restaurant that was when the guy opened fire but rather than hit tony he actually hit meadow. Ofcourse, (as we saw)… Read more »

1 – Tony doesn’t carry a gun. 2 – The numbers of Meadow’s parking attempts match the attempts occured at Tony’s life during the series. 3- The last scene in the diner was made mainly to reunite the entire family because The Sopranos is a family drama masked as a gangster drama. It’s not important if Tony lives or dies, just that at the end he was having dinner with his messed up family, knowing that his life was always going to be incredibly paranoid at every moment(whether he was going to die a few seconds later or not).

Actually Tony does carry a gun I don’t know if you remember that episode where hew polls up to the house and Aj and friends were pulling upbehind him ….only he doesn’t know it’s aj so he opened his car door grabbed his gun and when he sees its aj puts it back and greets them…..I watched the whole series recently so it’s fresh in my mind

“it’s all there”

The very first scene of the entire Sopranos series is a camera on Tony as he sits in Melfi’s watiing room. We see him through the legs of a female statue, as if he is being born.

The very last “scene” is the blackness. Death. Plain and simple.

I fucking hate the fact that Silvio died, he was my favorite

Me too… but did he die?? I thought he was still in hospital? Dying but not dead.

I have no conclusion personally, but I just want to bring up that at the end when Meadow is thought to be coming in the door, Tony then quickly reaches into his pocket. Could it have been Meadow going in and Tony reaching into his pocket for no reason? Or was it someone else and he was reaching for a gun? Just another unanswered question, but another possibility.

Tony did not die in that scene. Think about it. Why was that final scene shot from Tony’s POV? Why did everyone in that scene remind him/the viewer of someone else? Why was every little detail read so much into? Why did the tension build up to the point of the blackout? Because that’s what it was. Chase allowed the viewer to experience Tony’s anxiety and subsequent blackout. Brilliant stuff!

And of course Tony is dead…What was the name of the episode where Chris is killed? Kennedy and Heidi? 2 infamous moments in TV history. One, an assassination, the other a movie that cut off a football game right before the game winning play. Sound familiar? It’s an assassination that won’t be televised.

People! You need to read this a little closer…The author is not suggesting this is how he really thinks it ends..he is simply sharing with us how he’d like to imagine it does in light of Gandolfini’s death. It’s a bittersweet eulogy for an actor he obviously admired. He knows it is not a legitimate “theory”, and was not asking for yours. He’s just saying goodbye.

this is a horrible theory… Choose your own ending? garbage. Sorry, what are you thinking???

He was thinking Gandolfini died too young and wanted a creative way to say goodbye. If you read it closely you’d understand that. He knows that’s really not how it ended. It was a eulogy for an actor he admired

Let me start by first saying The Sopranos is by far the best thing that’s ever been on a TV screen. I first watched all the episodes straight through when I was 17, and have just finished watching them all through again at 24. I’ve spent years convincing myself Tony didn’t die, but it was out of hope more than anything simply because I love the character so much. He was clearly whacked in the final scene by the ‘Members Only Jacket’ character who walks past him into the toilet, and shoots him on his return when Meadow enters the… Read more »
Let me start by first saying The Sopranos is by far the best thing that’s ever been on a TV screen. I first watched all the episodes straight through when I was 17, and have just finished watching them all through again at 24. I’ve spent years convincing myself Tony didn’t die, but it was out of hope more than anything simply because I love the character so much. He was clearly whacked in the final scene by the ‘Members Only Jacket’ character who walks past him into the toilet, and shoots him on his return when Meadow enters the… Read more »

I NEED to re-watch lol

I like to believe Meadow came rushing in, not because she was late (she couldn’t have been too much because the others had just sat down). The chiming of the bell signified good news. Hope. A light. The addition of another little Soprano. Meadow was coming to tell them all she was pregnant. Don’t forget WHY she was late. Why would Carmella bring up Meadow having an issue of birth control “switch up problems” of all things? Second point, one thing the show always held true to was keeping the idea of the Sopranos world as “grounded” as possible. New… Read more »
Wow…. just when I thought I heard it all. I know I sound like a jerk and I am sorry, but nooooooo way on the baby thing. That’s just such an odd thing to take away from the episode. Anyway, the simplest answer would have to be the most likely here, as we were left with so little. The only conclusion one could draw, if they were to draw ANY conclusion (and let’s face it, we aren’t supposed to ‘choose our own ending’ that’s such a silly suggestion), would be that Tony is dead. Either he is dead, or there… Read more »

That’s incorrect. David chase: “it’s all there”. Tony was offed by members only jacket guy. Black screen is just Tonys perspective (he no longer has one because he was executed).

A tony death is logical too. New York couldn’t let him live after their own boss was wacked. Too many hitters would be out there.

it would have been easier to understand that we were seeing the people enter the diner from Tony’s perspective if we had actually seen them from Tony’s perspective, instead of seeing them (after Tony’s raised eyebrow look each time the bell rings) from the perspective of someone sitting at the counter in the diner .. oddly enough, from the Member’s Only Jacket guy’s seat

I just watched it and have I no idea how you could possibly reach that conclusion, let alone be confident in it. The people walking in are CLEARLY seen from Tony’s perspective. But honestly I’d love it if I missed something, so please enlighten me

I think you’re all terribly missing the authors point…This is how he’d like to think it ends in light of Mr. Gandolfini’ s death…He doesn’t believe these were Chase’s literal intentions, it’s a bittersweet farewell to an actor he admired

It’s nonsense.

…did you read what I wrote? How can it be nonsense if he’s just sharing what he’d like to imagine it being? He knows it’s not what Chase had in mind.


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