Nearly fifteen years after the conclusion of David Chase’s mafia magnum opus The Sopranos, the creator has revealed what actually happens to Tony Soprano after the final scene fades to black, and it’s not a happy ending.
In the series finale, which aired in June of 2007, Tony meets his famiglia out at a local diner. He cues up a rather famous song as his the rest of the Sopranos trickle into the restaurant one by one. Tony (James Gandolfini), Carmela (Edie Falco), and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler) share onion rings and chat as Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) struggles to parallel park outside. Finally, as Meadow makes her way into the diner, Tony looks up, then everything cuts to black.
The scene ended up creating one of the biggest television mysteries, as viewers asked themselves, “What happened?!” Now, Chase confirms in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the revered mafia boss met his grisly fate that night as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” blasted over the speakers. I
f it seems a little lackluster for the man who ran the New Jersey mob scene over the course of seven seasons, Chase originally envisioned his demise much differently.
“Because the scene I had in my mind was not that scene. Nor did I think of cutting to black. I had a scene in which Tony comes back from a meeting in New York in his car. At the beginning of every show, he came from New York into New Jersey, and the last scene could be him coming from New Jersey back into New York for a meeting at which he was going to be killed,” Chase explains.
“But I think I had this notion—I was driving on Ocean Park Boulevard near the airport and I saw a little restaurant. It was kind of like a shack that served breakfast. And for some reason I thought, ‘Tony should get it in a place like that.’ Why? I don’t know. That was, like, two years before.”
Chase’s big reveal comes now simply because he’s been a bit tired of the morbid mystery and viewers’ fascination with Tony’s death, especially when, at the time, there were much more important things going on in the world.
“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!” Chase says. “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. What was annoying was how many people wanted to see Tony killed. That bothered me.”
Despite Tony’s vicious crimes and illegal financial ventures, Chase finds it a bit hypocritical to root for the man’s death in the end.
“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,’” Chase says.
So that’s it, case closed. The real shame is one of the last things Tony heard was “Don’t Stop Believin’,” how grim.