The Sopranos revolutionized TV in more ways than one. But one way that the show frustrated its fans was during its controversial finale. The final episode – or, more appropriately, the final scene – didn’t provide some viewers with a satisfying ending.
Let’s take a closer look at why so many people were disappointed by the ending of The Sopranos.
What happened on the finale of ‘The Sopranos’
In the finale of The Sopranos, Tony (played by the late, legendary James Gandolfini) finishes his blood feud with rival boss Phil Leotardo, working out a deal with the Lupertazzi crime family and having Phil executed.
The final scene portrays Tony with his family sitting at a diner table. He continually looks up every time the bell on the door rings as someone enters. He looks up one final time before the picture cuts to black.
Any audience members who had expected Tony to either definitively live or die were left wondering what happened to him. Technically – Tony lived, as the last time we see him he was alive.
Fans have speculated on what happened to Tony after the screen went black. The final shot of the series confounded viewers, leaving them wanting to see what happened. The camera follows a suspicious-looking man in a Members Only jacket into the bathroom – many have speculated that this was Tony’s assassin.
Some were unhappy with the result. The UK Independent listed Sopranos as having one of the most hated TV finales of all time.
Why so many people disliked the ending of ‘The Sopranos’
Many Sopranos fans were disappointed because they felt the ending didn’t give the character closure. They didn’t want an ambiguous ending in which Tony is neither alive nor dead – they wanted either blood or a happy ending.
Many took the scene at face value and became frustrated that Tony’s ultimate fate wasn’t revealed. But that wasn’t really the point of the scene. Series creator David Chase elaborated on what he was going for in an interview with USA Today:
“If he didn’t die that night he’s going to die very soon. And the problem is the same: there are the number of minutes in life and they go like this [Chase made a ticking sound]. They’re gone. And you don’t know when it’s coming. That’s all I wanted to say.”
Much like the rest of the show, it wasn’t predictable and it wasn’t what viewers necessarily expected. For those who wanted the show to culminate wrapped with a tidy bow on top of it, they were out of luck.
Chase’s ending instead showed that even if Tony lived, he could never truly be happy in life, as he would always be looking over his shoulder. This vague, less than concrete conclusion disappointed fans who didn’t want to think about it. They just wanted to see – and be told – what happened to the protagonist.
‘The Sopranos’ isn’t the only show with a disliked finale
While many people consider The Sopranos as the greatest TV drama of all time, it’s not the only acclaimed show with a finale some fans didn’t like.
Take Seinfeld, for instance. Widely regarded as the greatest sitcom ever, its finale went against type. Whereas most episodes of Seinfeld put the characters in mundane situations, mining them for hilarity, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David took a different approach for the finale.
They put the gang on trial for violating a Good Samaritan Law. It enabled the show’s creators to place the characters under a microscope, showing just how detestable they really were. It was a far cry from the rest of the series, and it sent viewers for a loop.
The Seinfeld finale was like The Sopranos ending in that respect. It took a beloved show and turned it on its head, challenging viewers to think. Not everyone wanted that, and that’s why many Sopranos fans were disappointed.