Is Tony soprano dead

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Active Member
Me personal I think he's dead. The writing on that show is a thing of beauty. The best written and the best made tv show agreed?

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Master Member
Okay, how about this: the Producer of the show said that Tony is not dead, and why anyone would assume he is dead is completely beyond him because Tony was, more or less, the main hero of the story (despite the things he did) and it seems pointless to assume he died at the end because of everything he's gone through.


Active Member
Hear the interview with David chase he makes several references to silvio and Bobby. Sil the guy geting shot right next to him and sil not even hearing it. Bobby you don't even hear it when it happens. David talks about all of this

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R.P. McMurphy

Well-Known Member
DANGER: Super, super long post ahead!

I feel like I may be wading into a discussion that is similar to the Ghost thread in the OT and that changing anyone’s mind is most likely out of the question so I wont’ try to do that. I would, however, like to present my experience with the subject.

For the past three years, I’ve been using the Sopranos final scene for a writing/discussion exercise in a college course that I teach. Having recently held this class, this is fresh in my mind.

After watching the scene, the first part of the exercise is for the students to decide, “What happened?” Despite most of these students being unfamiliar with the show, they almost always come up with the two main theories that are out there: 1) nothing happened and life goes on, or 2) Tony is killed by the man seen at the counter when he comes out of the bathroom.

The second part of the exercise may be more difficult as they are then asked to, “Prove what you think happened.” While it’s nice to say that the ending can be anything you want it to be, that makes for poor analysis and doesn’t answer the question of “What do you think happened?” Inevitably, someone in the class, sometimes seriously, sometimes comically, will say, “a bomb went off!” or “Tony’s daughter killed him when she came through the door!” Are those valid answers? I guess so to those who think anyone’s interpretation is just as good as anyone else’s. I disagree. Depending on support, different interpretations gain or lose credibility.

What’s out there from creator David Chase to help us interpret this scene? From the HBO Sopranos Final Edition Book (my emphasis added),

"Why would we entertain people for eight years only to give them the finger? We don’t have contempt for the audience. In fact, I think The Sopranos is the only show that actually gave the audience credit for having some intelligence and attention span. We always operated as though people don’t need to be spoon-fed every single thing- that their instincts and feelings and humanity will tell them what’s going on.”

In a classic, “show, don’t tell,” Chase points out he’s counting on the audience using their intelligence to grasp the bigger picture without him having to specifically say it. He states that something is most definitely “going on.” It doesn't seem to take much analysis to say, "nothing happened."

Chase used similar phrasing in a Newark Star Ledger interview (again my emphasis added), “People get the impression that you’re trying to (mess) with them and it’s not true. You’re trying to entertain them. Anybody who wants to watch it, it’s all there.” “It’s all there,” is an incredibly important phrase to me. Something is actually there. He’s telling us that what we need to know to intrepret the scene is right there for us to discover so let’s dig deeper to see what’s there.

Those that have put forth the “Life Goes On” theory have typically presented two main pieces of proof for support: 1) the Journey song Don’t Stop Believin’ and 2) the diner is a slice of life portrayal indicated a normal life.

The main support from Don’t Stop Believin’ are the lyics that state, “the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on…” and the refrain, “Don’t stop believin’.” The interpretation is that the show is like the movie and will just continue to go on and on like the song suggests. Some believe the fact the show ends after the word “stop” is heard in the song shows that it is just a normal stopping point and nothing special happened. The diner as a “slice of life” can be interpreted as looking at a normal family in a normal setting going on with a normal life.

Those in the “Tony is killed” camp often conceed that the diner is a slice of life but don’t concur that it provides evidence towards any definite conclusion and the Sopranos and certainly not an average family.

“Tony is dead” theorists will agree that the song is important but for a much different reason. They see the title, Don’t Stop Beleivin’ as a reference to the show as a whole. The Sopranos is largely based on Tony trying to reconcile his “mob life” with his “family life” and his false belief that he can live each of those lives without consequence. His hope that he can have these dual lives “go on and on and on and on” is cut short as the music is abruptly halted. The song doesn’t end, doesn’t reach its conclusion, it is stopped, ended prematurely as they feel Tony’s life is cut short by an assassin. The lyric, “it never ends” is false, it is shown to stop.

There is much other evidence presented by the “Tony is dead” side. For example, the man presented as his killer and the manner in which he is suggested to have been killed. The idea is that the man at the counter, the man in the “Members Only” jacket comes out of the bathroom and puts a bullet in the back of Tony’s head. The first episode of the final season is entitled, “Members Only.” That episode deals with what it means to truly be a made man and a mafia member and includes an assassination carried out by a man wearing “Members Only” jacket. Clear foreshadowing. In the episode prior to the finale, Silvio is shot by a man in “Members Only” jacket. This is not coincidental.

The manner in which Tony may have been killed, by the man in the jacket coming out of the bathroom is considered an homage to The Godfather movies. Chase has repeatedly been quoted as saying what an influence those films have been to him. Silvio always gets big laughs when he quotes a Godfather film, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!” Perhaps the most famous and significant murder in all of the Godfather films is Michael’s killing of the police captain in a restaurant. The plan was for that murder to take place as Michael came out of the bathroom as Tony would have been killed in the finale.

The opposing mob members stated that Tony having Phil killed in front of his family was disrespectul. There is the thought that having Tony killed in front of his family would be reasonable payback.

There is an indication in the closing credits that the man in the “Members Only” jacket had greater significance than the other unknown people in the diner that night. Every other unknown person is listed as: “Truck driver in diner,” “Old man in diner,” “Old woman in diner,” etc. He is listed differently as “Man in Members Only Jacket,” showing that he and what he was wearing was important.

There is other foreshadowing of Tony’s death through this last season. Perhaps the strongest is the conversation Tony has with Bobby Bacala about being killed. Bobby tells him, “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?” This is emphasized in the episode where Torciano is murdered in front of Silvio. We see the blood spattered on Silvio before we hear any shots. Silvio even goes so far as to tell Tony, “I didn’t know what happened.” Which is exactly the way Tony would have experienced the cut to black.

The cut to black is indicative of a sudden, drastic change in the scene as well. Typically a fade to black will connotate things moving on in the direction we are left with, most usually a happy ending. The cut to black shows that something has dramatically changed the scene and that change is Tony’s death. The length of time before any credits appear emphasizes that nothing more is taking place, Tony’s life is over, there is nothing more. Remember, many people felt that their cable had cut out because the blank screen lasted so long. This was not an accident. The lack of music over the credits, for the first time in the history of the show, a show where music has played an important role, again accentuates a major change. Tony is now dead.

An interesting use of the camera in this scene is in its movement. The camera uses a still placement to shoot each of the images except for two, when Tony walks into the diner (showing that this is a significant action) and when man in Members Only jacket walks to the bathroom (showing that this is a significant action).

The strongest evidence of Tony’s death is the Point of View (POV) camerawork employed brilliantly by Chase. If you take the time to watch the scene again, you can’t help but notice the bell that goes off periodically throughout the scene as Tony notices someone coming into the diner. When we clearly hear the bell, the same sequence takes place EVERY time. We hear the bell ring, are shown Tony’s face, and then see through Tony’s eyes what he is seeing. This exact sequence happens again and again and again and again. The final time we hear the bell, we are shown Tony’s face, and, when we have been shown by Chase to expect the next shot to be what Tony sees, the screen CUTS to black. Tony sees black, nothing, he has been shot in the back of the head by man in Members Only jacket in Godfather style. Chase has been quoted as saying that, “many of us see Tony as an alter-ego.” This was also a way to put us into the head of our “alter-ego” and experience that demise firsthand.

This is artisitically and creatively done to let us, the audience, use our intelligence to deduce what has clearly happened, as Chase has indicated that he wants us to. These are the things that are “there,” to quote Chase.

The evidence that I have seen most used:

Nothing Happens and Life Goes On
Music (it goes on and on and on…)
Diner is a slice of life


Tony Killed by Man in Members Only Jacket
Music (title/abrupt ending)
“Members Only” jacket, man in
-refers to previous episode title
-refers to being in the mob
-have seen others killed by people in a MO jacket
-given greater significance in credits
Manner of suspected death (shot coming out of bathroom)
-homage to the Godfather (Michael’s plan to kill cop coming out of bathroom)
-Bobby telling Tony that you’d never see it coming just as we didn’t
-Silvio saying he didn’t know what was happening just as we didn’t
-killing Tony in front of his family would be payback for his doing the same to Phil
Cut to black rather than fade to black
-shows drastic change rather than continuity
-exceptionally long blank screen shows that is all, life is over
-no music emphasized drastic change, life is over
Camera movement
-only moves for Tony and man in Members Only jacket
Point of view
-clear POV established, last shot is blackness/death
Chase’s comments
-doesn’t like “spoon-feeding” the audience, wants them to decipher the meaning
-“it’s all there.”

I’ve seen and heard other interesting thoughts on these theories but I think I’ve covered most of the biggies. Based on the support listed above, I strongly believe that Tony Soprano was murdered/shot in the head by the man in the Members Only jacket as he left the bathroom.

As I began this post (however long ago!), I use this scene in a class I teach so I’d be very interested in similar or opposing views that can offer support for their theories.

Thanks to anyone who took the time to actually read this!


Master Member
I'm telling you, he's NOT dead, he's resting. The New Jersey mobster prefers kipping face down on the floor of a diner.


Sr Member
I can go either way but I lean towards him being dead. At least he was shown to have some tiny amount of a conscience or remorse for the things he had done.

What galls me about the series is that the most morally reprehensible scumbag of them all....Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtiere didn't die a slow, horrible death. Silvio was equally worthless, but at least he got his in the form of a never ending coma.

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R.P. McMurphy

Well-Known Member
I think we the audience got whacked.
This is one of those tangental theories that came out of the finale. It's an interesting idea that, unfortunately, I have not seen any real evidence to support. At no point during the entire series does the "fourth wall" come down.

It can, however, be an extension of the "alter-ego" idea I included in my previous mega-post. Chase is on record as saying he believes that much of the audience relates deeply with Tony and even sees him as an "alter-ego" of themselves. In showing us Tony's death through Tony's eyes, we are experiencing it as well. Experiencing what Tony does, however, is not the same as saying the viewer as an entity to itself is being killed.


Active Member
There's one thing I don't get members only guy go into the bathroom and gets the gun. Than shoots Tony. Why hide the gun in the bathroom it's holstons diner there's no security guards military guys guarding the door.

R.P. McMurphy

Well-Known Member
Nothing to say he goes in and gets the gun. The assumption is he has it already. Coming out of the bathroom allows him to approach Tony from behind so, as the cut to black and other foreshadowing indicates, he never sees it coming.

The methodolgy is simply reminiscent of the murder in the Godfather and is most likely not a coincidennce.

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Master Member
Well I didn't read that whole article... because... well... it's longer than "The Stand"...

But reading "No, He isn't." - if that truly is the case in the writers mind/world, then I'm happy to be right.

Ever since I saw that ending I just felt it went to black because, as the song says, "it goes on and on and on"... those last minutes of the show were just pure anxiety, waiting for the bullet to come that never did. And that's what the rest of his life is going to be, looking up at every noise, suspicious of everyone... forever.

I felt it perfectly brought you into his frame of mind.

Now that novella there in that article may go against everything I just wrote, and I look like an idiot... but that's what I took from it all those years ago...

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