David Chase has famously stayed quiet about Tony Sopranos fate at the end of The Sopranos — even when people think otherwise. After an interviewer attributed Chase with saying Tony (played by late actor James Gandolfini on the HBO show) was alive when The Sopranos cut to black on June 10, 2007, Chase released a statement to the contrary through his reps: “A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying, ‘Tony Soprano is not dead,’ is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, ‘Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.’ To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”
But despite Chase’s words, that hasn’t kept people from speculating — including EW. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Sopranos finale, we’re resurfacing this debate between former EW writers over Tony’s fate.
“Question Everything” opens the floor for debate of pop culture topics–serious to whimsical, sublime to ridiculous—that have no right or wrong answers but certainly elicit a wide spectrum of intense opinions. Hopefully reading these different perspectives will open minds, challenge thinking and maybe even provoke a change in what you believe. Let’s discuss!
Tony Soprano: Alive or dead?
EW’s Critics Make Their Cases
Chris Lee says: Pondering Tony Soprano’s death in the Sopranos series finale has become a kind of Zen koan for our time: pop culture’s equivalent to the sound of one hand clapping. I, for one, don’t believe widespread conspiracy theories that mysterious Members Only jacket guy emerged from the bathroom to put a bullet in TV’s top mafia capo. Exhibit A: We never see James Gandolfini’s character die. Audiences watched six seasons of explicit mob murders but we’re supposed to believe this one takes place off-screen? Death-by-inference is just magical thinking, one tidy resolution for the finale’s maddening ambiguity. Tony Soprano remains alive at the end. He’s dead only insofar as the show has run its course. And the actor who portrayed Big T: gone to the Bada Bing in the sky.
Kyle Anderson says: Even if you ignore the dozens of textual and visual clues that point to the demise of New Jersey’s favorite crime boss (particularly the fact that a series told primarily from his point of view ends with nothing but blackness), you have to believe Tony is dead in order for The Sopranos to live up to its vaunted reputation. In order for its seven seasons to pay off, our main villain (and charismatic and troubled as he is, Tony is definitively the show’s Big Bad) has to find his comeuppance. His reign of terror must come to an end, and his entire family must be there to witness it. It’s the only way the show could end, and that’s why Tony Soprano is dead as Dillinger.