by Chris Harnick | Wed., Jan. 9, 2019 9:06 AM
January 10, 2019 marks 20 years since The Sopranos debuted on HBO, effectively changing television as we know it. The mob drama from David Chase helped put James Gandolfini and Edie Falco on the map with six seasons of explosive drama. It also ended with one of the most divisive and debated scenes in TV history.
You remember how it goes. Tony Soprano (Gandolfini) is with his wife, Carmela (Falco), son (Robert Iler) and they're waiting for daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) to join them at the table inside the restaurant. The final scene has Journey's "Don't Stop Believin''" playing and Tony looking up at the sound of the door opening. And cut to black.
Was Tony taken out? Killed by rivals? Or did the Soprano family, now complete, have a nice meal together? Chase hasn't said one way or another, despite previous articles alluding to a definite conclusion.
However, in the new book The Sopranos Sessions by Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, the journalists discuss the ending with series creator Chase. According to The Atlantic, while discussing his vision of ending the series, Chase described it as a "death scene."
"Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end … 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, and 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," Chase said.
When called out on it in the book, Chase said, "F—k you guys."
The end of The Sopranos has been debated endlessly, including in The Sopranos Sessions, as you can read in this excerpt from the book on Vulture.
In 2015, Chase said he didn't think the ending would have this much of an impact.
"I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don't stop believing," Chase said. "It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That's what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don't stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it's all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we're so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it's really worth it. So don't stop believing."