Yes, Tony Soprano died at the end of The Sopranos. The darkness and deafening silence at the end of the episode represents what death is like from Tony’s point of view. It is what he sees and hears after he has been shot.
The man with the Members Only jacket.
In the final scene of the series, Tony is meeting with his family at a diner called Holsten’s.
Halfway through the scene, a man in a Members Only jacket walks into the diner and sits at the counter. While this man is sitting at the counter, he glances over at Tony’s table. We can also see that this man is tapping his fingers and that he looks slightly on edge.
In the second shot, we can see that the man is once again looking over at Tony’s table.
Then, in the third shot, the man gets up from the counter and walks into the men’s restroom. This does not go unnoticed by Tony, who lifts his head up for a split second to look at the man.
While all is this unfolding inside the diner, we can see that Tony’s daughter Meadow is outside, struggling to parallel park. Her car hits the curb and she is reversing back and forth, trying to make it fit. This builds tension in the scene and makes us feel uneasy.
We can sense that something bad is going to happen.
Finally, after Meadow manages to park her car, we can see her running across the street towards the diner.
Darkness and silence.
In the very last scene, we can hear the door of the diner opening. Tony lifts his head to see who it is and then… nothing.
The music abruptly stops and the viewer is left to sit in an eerie silence that feels like it will last forever.
This extended silence was not left there by mistake. It has a very clear meaning.
Tony Soprano is dead.
This “nothingness” is what Tony sees. He has died and the show has ended with him.
In the lead-up to the show’s finale, the writers tell us what death looks like. They also show us how abruptly someone can die in the mob world.
In other words, they were priming us for this ending.
It was their way of telling us what happened without actually telling us what happened.
If that makes sense.
“You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?”
In the episode “Soprano Home Movies”, Tony and Bobby Baccalieri are relaxing and talking to each other in a boat in Upstate New York.
During their conversation, the topic of death comes up.
It is at this stage that Bobby muses the following question:
“You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?”
This is an important line, as it highlights how sudden death can be, especially when bullets are involved.
The line is so important that it is also repeated during a flashback scene in the second last episode, “The Blue Comet”.
You see, bullets can travel over twice the speed of sound. This means that a bullet will actually hit its target before the sound reaches it.
If you are unfortunate enough to get shot in the head, then it is likely that you will never hear the sound of the gun that killed you.
In other words, if someone were to creep up behind you and shoot you in the back of the head, there’s a very good chance that you would never find out what happened to you. It is likely that your brain would go into a state of shock and shut down before you have had the chance to process any sounds.
The death of Gerry Torciano.
One scene in The Sopranos that highlights the “abruptness” of death is the killing of Phil Leotardo’s protege Gerry Torciano.
It is worth noting that Gerry’s death occurs in the episode directly after the episode where Bobby Baccalieri makes his comments about how you “probably don’t even hear it”.
In the episode “Stage 5” in Season 6, Gerry Torciano and Silvio Dante are having dinner together in an Italian restaurant.
Unbeknownst to the two men, Doc Santoro has ordered a hitman to take Gerry “out of the picture”.
Why did Doc Santoro order the hit on Gerry?
Doc Santoro sees Gerry Torciano as a threat. Former Lupertazzi crime boss Johnny Sacrimoni has died from cancer and Doc wants to take control of the family. However, Gerry is seen by many to be a natural successor to the throne.
As a result, Doc decides to have him “removed from the equation”.
Anyway, back to the scene in question…
As Silvio is talking to one of the girls at the table, a deafening ringing sound takes over and everything goes into slow motion.
Then, milliseconds later, blood splatters onto Silvio’s face.
During this scene, Silvio is shocked, dazed and confused. He does not realize what is going on. He looks down at his hands for a second before looking across the table.
It is only at this stage that he sees a gunman unloading shots into Gerry Torciano. In other words, Silvio didn’t even hear the first shot. By the time he realizes what is happening, the shooting is in full swing.
If you look at the sceenshot above, you can see two different reactions from bystanders.
- The waiter in the background has not heard the shots or reacted to them yet.
- The girl at the table is covering her ears because of how loud the gunfire is. At this stage, she probably doesn’t even realize what is happening or why her ears are ringing.
As you can see, Gerry’s death is abrupt. The gunfire is loud and it shocks bystanders so much that it takes a while for them to get their bearings and realize what is going on.
In most films and TV shows, the audience is given a total overview of shootings like these. We see the shooting playing out, as is.
However, in this case, we are witnessing the shooting of Gerry Torciano from a bystanders perspective.
In the diner, we see Tony Soprano’s death from his perspective. He dies and the show ends. As a result, we do not get see the reactions of his family or any of the other bystanders.
The time “3 o’clock” is repeatedly mentioned throughout the show.
Here are two notable examples.
In the episode “Meadowlands” in Season One, Tony is having a dream.
In this dream, he is sitting in Dr. Melfi’s office when he sees Hesh walking outside the window. Worried and paranoid that he will be outed for seeing a psychiatrist, Tony questions her about it.
In response, Dr. Melfi simply smiles and says:
“Heshy? He has a 3 o’clock.”
In the episode “From Where to Eternity” in Season Two, Tony’s nephew Christopher Moltisanti is in hospital following a failed attempt on his life.
After waking up, Christopher tells Tony and Paulie Gualtieri that he went to hell. He explains that their version of hell is an Irish bar where it is St. Patrick’s Day every day.
Christopher goes on to say that he saw Brendan Filone and Mikey Palmice in hell.
He then tells Tony and Paulie that Mikey Palmice gave him a message for the both of them.
“Tell Tony and Paulie… 3 o’clock.”
Later on, we see Paulie in bed holding a clock. He is clearly fixated on Christopher’s 3 o’clock message. So much in fact that he jumps up out of bed shortly afterwards because he hears wind chimes.
What has “3 o’clock” got to do with Tony Soprano’s death?
Take a look at the following (crude) sketch of the diner layout.
In the sketch above, you can see that the restroom is on Tony’s right. In other words, it is on his 3 o’clock.
This means that when the man in the Members Only jacket exits the restroom, he will be coming at Tony from his 3 o’clock.
As Meadow was running towards the entrance of the diner, it is likely that the man in the Members Only jacket exited the restrooms and walked up to the side of Tony.
He most likely kept his gun down by his side until he was close.
Then, as Meadow opened the front door, he lifted his gun and opened fire, killing Tony almost immediately.
If you look at the position of the restroom door, you can see that Tony is wide open and exposed. If the man in question comes back out of the restroom with a weapon, Tony will not see it coming.
Furthermore, Meadow should be sitting in seat beside her father. However, because she is late, the seat is empty. This gives the man in the Members Only jacket a clear shot at Tony.
This might explain why the show put so much focus on Meadow’s parking difficulties.
But why the restroom?
There are two probable explanations for this.
- The gunman is retrieving a weapon from one of the toilet tanks in the restroom. If this is the case, then it means that someone put it there earlier.
- The gunman already has a weapon on him. However, he knows that he has a better shot if he comes at Tony from the side.
In The Sopranos, a great deal of planning goes into killing high profile targets. Therefore, it well within the realms of possibly that someone else stashed a gun in the restrooms before Tony arrived.
If this is the case, then it means that someone knew that Tony was going to be at that diner.
This reinforces the theory that someone from Tony Soprano’s crew was involved in the hit.
- Did Tony tell someone that he would be eating there?
- Did someone hear Tony say the name of the restaurant while he was speaking on the phone?
- Or maybe Meadow told her boyfriend Patrick Parisi, who in turn, mentioned it in passing to his father?
In my own personal opinion, I believe that Paulie Gualtieri and Patsy Parisi did a deal with New York.
However, that is a discussion for another day.
The legendary mob film The Godfather (1972) is referenced multiple times in The Sopranos.
Therefore, it is worth noting that in one iconic scene, Michael Corleone goes into the restroom of a restaurant so that he can fetch a weapon from one of the toilet tanks.
He then returns to the restaurant before killing Captain Mark McCluskey and Virgil Sollozzo.
This begs the question: Was the man in the Members Only jacket another nod towards this movie?
Another thing worth pointing out is that in Season Five, Tony actually has a dream where he is trying to find a gun behind a toilet tank.
Coincidental? I personally doubt it.
Producer David Chase admitted that Tony Soprano died.
The 2019 book “The Sopranos Sessions” contains an interview with producer and writer David Chase.
During the interview, Chase accidentally refers to the final scene as “the death scene”:
“Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end”
When this mistake was pointed out to him, Chase paused for a few seconds. He then said “F*ck you guys!”, and everyone broke out into laughter.
In my opinion, this settles it.
Tony Soprano died in the last scene of the show. His life ended suddenly and without warning – a common theme in the world of The Sopranos.
The darkness and the silence represented what death looked like from his perspective.