The Sopranos creator, David Chase, recently revealed that he was bothered by the reaction to the show’s ending. The iconic series centers around the complex life of New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, as portrayed by the late James Gandolfini. Throughout its 6 seasons on HBO, Tony examines his life and afflictions through intimate, sometimes animated, therapy sessions with his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (played by Lorraine Bracco). In the first episode, which aired back in January 1999, Tony has a panic attack and then finds himself in Melfi’s office after a family of ducks living in his pool flew away for the winter. The series has earned tons of accolades, including 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, and is regarded almost universally as one of the greatest shows of all time.
With the recent release of The Many Saints of Newark, Chase and The Sopranos are back in the spotlight. The legendary series came to a close nearly fifteen years ago, and the infamous last scene that played out in the diner was generally not well received by loyal audiences of the show. In the years since, there has been intense speculation by viewers over whether or not Tony was murdered when the screen instantly went black. As the credits rolled, audiences were left awestruck and confused as to the ultimate fate of Tony Soprano, which has never been definitively disclosed by Chase. However, Chase has insisted time and time again that the end of the show was not meant to be controversial, despite its blatant ambiguousness.
Recently, Chase sat down for an interview with THR and revealed that he was bothered by the reaction to The Sopranos‘ ending. According to Chase, the mere thought that audiences wanted Tony to be killed was annoying. Chase also struggled with the fact that audiences wanted absolute confirmation of his death and went on to talk about how loved Tony must have been to viewers despite the fact that he was a criminal. See exactly what Chase said below:
“I had no idea it would cause that much — I mean, I forget what was going on in Iraq or someplace; London had been bombed! Nobody was talking about that; they were talking about The Sopranos. It was kind of incredible to me. But I had no idea it would be that much of an uproar. And was it annoying? What was annoying was how many people wanted to see Tony killed. That bothered me.”
“They wanted to know that Tony was killed. They wanted to see him go face-down in linguini, you know? And I just thought, “God, you watched this guy for seven years and I know he’s a criminal. But don’t tell me you don’t love him in some way, don’t tell me you’re not on his side in some way. And now you want to see him killed? You want justice done? You’re a criminal after watching this shit for seven years.” That bothered me, yeah.”
Despite its controversial ending, The Sopranos has stood the test of time and continues to rank as one of the best shows ever created. The show has been categorized as one of the most influential in the new millennium and has been credited by critics for helping to elevate television’s art form onto the same stage as feature films. The Sopranos was so beloved that audiences patiently waited for the day a revival would be announced, hoping to get answers to the true fate of Tony. However, the unexpected death of James Gandolfini in 2013, abruptly brought all optimism of seeing Tony Soprano back on the screen to a screeching halt.
Although this may have been the closest Chase has ever been to confirming Tony’s death, he did not come right out and say it. Viewers will once again have to decipher the words of Chase and decide the outcome for themselves. Ultimately, the fate of Tony in The Sopranos is still up for interpretation. However, there is always a chance that the mysterious ending could still be explained at a later date, although it seems unlikely that Chase will ever come right out and say what truly happened in that diner. Nevertheless, Journey put it best. Don’t stop believing.