We are not exaggerating when we say that this is huge news. After years of debate, lost friendships, and breaking up with partners who disagreed with us, Sopranos creator David Chase finally tells the world whether or not Tony Soprano lived at the end of the show. The prequel to the series, The Many Saints of Newark, did nothing to satiate our desire to know what happened after the screen went black during the last second of The Sopranos series finale. So, did Tony Soprano die?
Did Tony Soprano die?
In the book The Sopranos Sessions by Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, these two television writers who covered the show when it was running debate the hot topic of the death of Tony Soprano in the show's finale. Alan maintains Tony died while Matt believes he lived. Alan posits that the last episode is riddled with foreshadowing of Tony's death, from his coffin-like sleep while hiding in the safe house to flashing back on a conversation he had about death with Bobby (Steve Schirripa).
Matt wants to know why we need Tony to be dead. He claims that nothing about that scene screams, "Somebody just killed him and that’s what the cut to black is about." In fact, Matt points out that the only absolute truth we can glean from the final scene of the series is that the entire thing is ambiguous. He believes the show's creator David Chase deliberately left it open-ended to remind us that we can never know something for certain and we are crazy to believe that. So, let's ask David Chase.
While being interviewed in 2007 by the authors of The Sopranos Sessions, David let it slip that the final scene was a death scene by remarking, "Well, I had that death scene in mind for years before," while still never confirming Tony's fate. When asked by Scott Feinberg when he first thought of the series end, David said he was driving by a little restaurant one day and thought, "Tony should get it in a place like that." He had that thought two years before the show ended.
When asked how he felt about the fans' reaction to the series finale, David was slightly horrified by their bloodlust for a character who, sure, was a criminal, but who they also spent seven years with. People really wanted confirmation of Tony's death, which caused David to say, "You want justice done? You’re a criminal after watching this s--t for seven years."
Why did David Chase revisit 'The Sopranos' universe in 'The Many Saints of Newark'?
David Chase also wrote the Sopranos sequel, The Many Saints of Newark, which was released 14 years after The Sopranos ended. Evidently, David was having trouble cranking scripts out in the way he did when he was writing episodic television. A friend of his finally convinced him to do a "Sopranos movie," which he ended up not really liking during the filming. It wasn't until they added some post-COVID-19 scenes that David came around.
Casting James Gandolfini's son Michael Gandolfini to play a young Tony Soprano happened after David had lunch with Michael in 2018. Michael was in New York from Los Angeles going to school, and David realized he was nothing like his father. Michael is much softer. After seeing him in a small movie role, David thought, why not cast Michael?
It turns out David would do another Sopranos movie, if only because he feels like he has one more idea inside of him. During the Awards Chatter recording, host Scott Feinberg brought up the fact that so many actors from the show are no longer with us, but the work is still here, to which David said, "It’s a comfort knowing that the work lives on."