OK, we know this is controversial…but it’s true: Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) died at the end of The Sopranos. All his friends are dead or soon to be, his paranoia is getting the better of him and New York is out for blood after Tony ordered Phil’s death. But, the worst part is, Tony knew this was all inevitable. He orders onion rings (fried food that his doctor specifically told him not to eat), and revels in the disillusionment of it all. Yes, the screen fades to black, but Tony is dead. Whether it was at the diner over dinner with his family, or the next day, or the next year, Tony dies. It’s the end of both the Sopranos and The Sopranos.
Showrunner David Chase revealed in 2015 that the final scene was not supposed to be debated—and Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believin'” was the ultimate clue. “That’s what I wanted people to believe, that life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing,” Chase told the Directors Guild of America magazine, DGA Quarterly. “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.”