HomeEntertainmentOn This Day: ‘The Sopranos’ Airs its Final Infamous ‘Cut to Black’ Episode

On This Day: ‘The Sopranos’ Airs its Final Infamous ‘Cut to Black’ Episode

Photo by: HBO / via Getty Images

On June 10, 2007, HBO aired the finale of one of its most infamous and popular shows of all time, “The Sopranos.”

The show lived for six seasons on HBO. Despite being on a premium cable network, it managed to bring in an equal or even larger audience than other popular network shows.

Eventually, it came time for the popular American crime drama centered around Tony Soprano, the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, to come to an end.

There was a lot riding on how David Chase was going to wrap up the television masterpiece.

His 86th and final episode managed to both amaze, shock, and simultaneously piss off most viewers.

‘The Sopranos’ Series Finale

“The Sopranos” season finale is called “Made in America.”

The fact is, it mostly made America really confused. The point of the ending was to leave the fate of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini,) whom viewers had come to understand and love after six seasons, completely up in the air.

According to a Vanity Fair article from 2012, even members of the cast were blown away after watching the finale. James Gandolfini, an actor who played a mobster committed to psychoanalysis for six seasons, could barely believe his eyes.

He said, “What the fu*k?”

In the last moments of the series, Tony Soprano is sitting down with his family for one “last supper.” Joining him are his wife Carmela (played by Edie Falco), his daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), and his son A.J. (Robert Iler.)

It’s a carefree, happy moment for an overwhelmingly drama-ridden family. For a moment, things feel normal.

It’s like a blast from the past. Tony orders some crunchy onion rings at the booth. Meanwhile, Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believin'” is bumping on the tabletop jukebox. Domestic life at its finest — it’s what Tony Soprano has always wanted.

Suddenly, “Don’t Stop Believin'” is abrubty cut off and the screen goes dark. Viewers at home rush to their TV sets believing there’s been an issue with the sound or cable. Believe it or not, it was no cable outage. It was just the creators of the show formulating what would remain one of the most infamous endings to a series ever.

The dark screen and eery silence go on for about 11 seconds with no relief. Right as viewers think something is going to happen, the credits roll by. That’s it, that’s the ending.

What Does It Mean?

Clearly, the finale was meant to be open-ended. If David Chase wanted us to 100% understand the ending, he would have made it clear-cut and simple. He would have killed off Tony or given clear finality.

Instead, he left it up partially to the imagination. Since 2007, news outlets and fans continue to talk about what happened at the end of “The Sopranos.” As a finale, it seems it’s done its job then. It installed something worth talking about long-term.

“I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure … But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot … just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing,” David Chase said in 2015 to the Directors Guild of America.

Since the ending, the creative teams have kept their mouths shut. The ending will never be definitive.

The most popular argument is that Tony Soprano ends up belly-up at that diner. Whether you believe that or not, Tony Soprano lives on in discussion as people “Don’t Stop Believin.'”