Tony Soprano Died in Finale: Here's Why

I've been thinking a lot about The Sopranos since the death of James Gandolfini. I dug out the box sets and watched my favorite episodes, sometimes my favorite scenes. I grabbed my Kindle Fire and looked for stories about the man. Eventually, I came across one piece that I literally spent Saturday afternoon reading. It has to do with that final scene of the final episode of that amazing television series.

The final moment of Tony Soprano's life?
I firmly believe that the theory of the writer of the piece, who is anonymous, is 100% correct, and my innocuous analysis of the ending is wrong.

Interestingly, it was over that house of questionable construction that Carm was trying to sell. She had meetings that night and thus had no time to cook the manicotti AJ was looking forward to. Hence, they were going out for dinner.

As for motive I assert that Chase set that up as well. In the Blue Comet episode, Phil Leotardo says, among many other things about T:

 "He's never been in the can, not really."

Tony's mettle was untested. He was facing an indictment that included Carlo as an informant. A pragmatic Butch, in this case, wouldn't hesitate to take Tony out. His word that New York would "back off" became inoperative the moment he learned of Tony's legal troubles, which arose after that sit down.

Paulie even mentions the possibility that he and Tony had been had.

There is no doubt in my mind now -- Tony Soprano was shot in the head by that guy who entered Holsten's right ahead of AJ, who sat at the counter and glanced over at Tony more than once (without Tony even noticing him), before rising from his seat and striding toward the mens' room, a location that gave him a bird's eye view of his target in a cinematic construct that should've reminded all of us of a key scene in the Godfather in which Michael Corleone dispatched two of his deadliest enemies with new aplomb. This man -- who looked very Italian and very much mobbed up -- came out of the bathroom and shot Tony in the side of the head as Tony was looking up to see Meadow enter the restaurant.

David Chase, as the writer points out, uses the tools of the filmmaker to kill Tony and in doing so he transcended the art of storytelling: He puts us in Tony's shoes, so to speak, so that we are whacked with Tony. We don't see Tony die because we die with him. We have encountered the blackness that Tony feared for the entire series -- "It's all nothin'! A big black hole!"

Chase does this through the use of point of view shots and editing. A POV shot is when we see someone on screen looking at something, then we cut to see what that person is looking at. When we see what the character is looking at it is what is called a POV shot. We see what the character sees -- but only after we see the character looking at it, in order to be orientated.

So now, the second to last shot of the final episode of the second part of series six: POV: Tony, hearing the chime over the door, looks up and watches as Meadow walks in. What should have happened next is, we go from Tony to a POV shot of Meadow coming into the restaurant through the door. But we don't see her, though, we cut to black -- even the audio stops, midstream; the only explanation for this is that Tony has been clipped, whacked, taken out by the guy in the bathroom who is identified in the credits as the Man in the Members Only Jacket.

Also coming into play - the infamous conversation between Tony and Bobby on the boat: "You probably don't even hear it when it happens."

The blogger in fact offers pretty convincing proof that his theory not only is correct, but that it has to be correct, and that no other theory, including my own foolishness, fits.

Chase is a genius; Season Six, parts one and two, are about Tony's shot at redemption, a shot he at first decides to take, having woken from his coma... by the sound of Meadow's voice, whose face he sees after the whiteout signifying his emergence from the coma.

But gradually T slips back to his old ways, and for reasons clearly set out before you in the blog post, he becomes even more evil, reaching a crescendo perhaps when he murders in cold blood his son-by-proxy Christopher, and goes on to fight a half-ass unnecessary war before ultimately becoming so numbed out by the fact that Carlo has flipped on him and is ratting him out to the Feds that he forgets the mob boss credo: Always sit with your back to the wall in public places -- especially restaurants!

Even worse for Tony - though he isn't around to experience it, nor are we -- he is executed in front of his entire family.

The fun question is, who killed Tony and why? There is no clear answer to this, but the blogger of the post offers some really interesting theories. As an experiment, watch the first episode of the first part of season six, "Members' Only" and then the finale, "Made in America."

I do think the blogger goes a bit too far at the end -- the parts about President Lincoln, and 9/11; you'll know what I mean if you read the post. But even he admits that. And it doesn't detract one bit from the key focus of the post.

So if you are a Soprano's fan and have a few hours of downtime ahead of you, check this post out. As the blogger writes: "Those final few minutes of the final episode is truly the greatest scene in the history of the medium; a scene constructed as a culmination of 8 years and 86 hours of epic storytelling. Chase created the scene for the fans who were willing to dig beneath the surface and see exactly how much thought and creativity went into every tiny detail of this show. The final scene has solidified the show as the greatest in television history (with all apologies to “The Wire”), a show that is working on levels that could not possibly be comprehended on first viewing. Some of have complained that I have the gall to call the piece “Definitive,” but I think it has received more attention for that very fact (perhaps I should have meekly called the piece “This is what I think happened”). Of course, I know it is not “definitive” (only Chase knows, and I certainly have never heard from him) but I feel strongly that it is mostly correct. I also know that some of arguments may be stretching things a bit but that is part of the fun (those “lesser” arguments often appear later in the piece). Chase has given us a gift to be pored over and discussed forever. He has raised the bar for all shows to follow (for those looking for the current truly great series, I would recommend “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad”) and for that we should all be thankful…."

Here it is, have a good trip!


“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there.” These are David Chase’s words regarding the finale of the Sopranos. He is right, it is “all there”. This is the definitive explanation as to why Tony died in Holsten’s in the final scene of The Sopranos. ..."

The Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of "The END"


  1. The conversation he had with his brother in law was the first thing that came to me when it went to black but I also think the song playing on the jukebox was significant. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" was a perfect end song for his character, A pessimist who tried in near every episode to find some sort of peace or calm that only served to make him more hostile.. perfect


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