Sopranos creator described Tony’s diner outing as a ‘death scene’

‘Tony Soprano DID die in final episode’: Writer David Chase confirms tragic ending following years of debate over that cliffhanger finale

  • It’s been twenty years since The Sopranos ended on a finger biting cliffhanger
  • The scene, which suddenly faded to black, inspired countless fan theories to what had happened to mob boss Tony Soprano
  • Creator David Chase always refused to confirm whether Tony was ‘whacked’
  • Now he has revealed that the final moment was in fact a ‘death scene’ 
  • Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano, died suddenly from a heart attack, aged 51 in Rome on June 19, 2013 

Sopranos fans have long been debating if Tony Soprano died in the show’s cliffhanger ending. 

The final scene saw Tony, played by the late James Gandolfini, at a diner with his family, convinced a rival gang are after him. A stranger walks in, it appears the end is coming –  and the screen turns black for ten seconds, before the credits roll. 

Now, as the programme celebrates its 20th anniversary, the creator David Chase has confirmed that Tony Soprano did indeed die.  

‘Tony Soprano DID die in the final episode’: Writer David Chase has confirmed the tragic ending following years of debate over that cliffhanger finale, 20 years on, (played by the late James Gandolfini)

Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano, died suddenly from a heart attack, aged 51 in Rome on June 19, 2013. 

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Mastermind: Chase, (pictured in 2008), has ended years of debate and said he planned the death two years prior

Previously, the show’s creators have refrained from saying what really happened to Tony as viewers were quite literally, left in the dark. 

The revelation came in a new book titled The Sopranos Sessions by entertainment journalists Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz.   

Time reports that Chase was asked about the conclusion of the show in a discussion about the book and he admitted he planned the ‘death scene’ two years prior.

Sepinwall said to Chase: ‘When you said there was an end point, you don’t mean Tony at Holsten’s, you just meant, “I think I have two more years” worth of stories left in me.’

Sad times: Previously, the show’s creators have refrained from saying what really happened to Tony, whose final scenes were shot in a diner 

Tony’s killer: The man in the members only jacket sitting out the counter (pictured) had long been theorized as the shooter

Finale: The scene saw Tony dining out with wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and son A.J. (Robert Iler) at New Jersey’s Holsten’s diner, as they waited for daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) 

Chase responded, ‘Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end. I remember talking with [writer/ executive producer] Mitch Burgess about it. But it wasn’t – it was slightly different.’ 

Chase said that the original ‘death scene’ involved Tony’s feud with New York mobster Johnny Sack, a prevalent theme in the show’s fifth season that aired in 2004.

He said: ‘Tony was going to get called to a meeting with Johnny Sack in Manhattan, and he was going to go back through the Lincoln Tunnel for this meeting.

‘It was going to go black there and you never saw him again as he was heading back, the theory being that something bad happens to him at the meeting.

‘But we didn’t do that.’

Backstory: Tony had just settled a score with rival New York mobster Phil Leotardo (played by the late Frank Vincent), a man walks into the diner and the screen goes abruptly  black

Seitz told Chase, ‘You realize, of course, that you just referred to that as a death scene.’

After what the journalists described as a ‘long pause,’ Chase responded, ‘F*** you guys.’

According to Uproxx, Chase told Sepinwall and Seitz he ‘didn’t want to do a straight death scene,’ and that the idea behind the scene at Holsten’s was that ‘he could have been whacked.’

Chase remained coy when Sepinwall and Seitz asked him directly if viewers would have been mistaken to believe Tony would have been killed in the scene, saying, ‘I’m not going to answer that question.’ 

Sopranos reunion: Edie Falco, 55, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, 38, and Robert Iler, 33,  appeared at the Woke Up This Morning: The Sopranos 20th Anniversary Celebration, held at New York City’s SVA Theatre on Wednesday

Warm feelings: James’s son Michael Gandolfini, 19, posed in between Iler and Sigler while on the red carpet in a particularly moving moment 

Discussion: The event was a mix of chat and clips with the cast and creator David Chase (2nd from L) about the series, which first hit the air 20 years ago Thursday, on January 10, 1999 

Gandolfini in 2012 told Vanity Fair that the show’s unlikely ending to the series had him flummoxed – at first.

‘When I first saw the ending, I said, “What the f***,”‘ the show’s leading man said about a year before his June 19, 2013 death in Rome, Italy from a heart attack. ‘I mean, after all I went through, all this death, and then it’s over like that? After I had a day to sleep, I just sat there and said: “That’s perfect.”‘ 

The news came amid a renewed nostalgia in the influential series amid its 20th anniversary, as it first hit the air January 10, 1999.

On Wednesday, Chase and a large group of cast members – including Falco, Sigler, Iler, Curatola, Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli – appeared at Woke Up This Morning: The Sopranos 20th Anniversary Celebration, an event held at New York City’s SVA Theatre that celebrated the show’s legacy.

Also making an appearance at the celebration was James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini, 19.   

Original end? Chase initially envisioned Tony’s death to be a byproduct of his feud with Johnny Sack (played by Vincent Curatola)  



The most popular and enduring theory – which has since been confirmed – is that Tony Soprano was killed as he sat down to eat with his family at the diner by the man with the members jacket. The man in question can be seen sat at the diner moments before he disappears into the restroom and then comes back to shoot Tony. 

The fade to black is the crime boss dying.


The Soprano wasn’t exactly healthy, between the booze, cigars and all that pasta, plus his fainting episodes of the earlier seasons, led some fans to believe he may have passed out or died under less violent circumstances.


One theory was that Tony actually died in The Test Dream, which features a lengthy dream sequence.

On Reddit, fans discussed the idea that Tony actually died in that moment and that the entire final season was him processing his last memories before his brain stopped.


One even wilder theory was that the fade to black represented the death – of the audience. The scene jumps between Tony’s POV and the viewer’s. But at the moment when the music stops and it fades to black, the viewpoint as that of the audience’s, not Tony’s.

A fan believes that the show creators, tried of the audience’s blood lust, made the viewer a character itself. A character that got whacked – and never even saw it coming.

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