The Sopranos really knew how to end an episode. While the show typically avoided cliffhangers, it nevertheless managed to captivate audiences through dramatic heft and thrilling thematic statements, not to mention a well-fitting credits song. Not every episode contained a winning ending, of course, and some had viewers shaking their heads in confusion.
But not these endings. These endings were exciting, sad, thrilling, and even monumental, and they perfectly represent the quality of The Sopranos. When fans think of the show’s greatest endings, these are undoubtedly the ones that come to mind. These are the ten best endings on The Sopranos, ranked.
10 Just Hanging Out (Season 2, Episode 11)
Starting the list off in lighthearted fashion is the ending to season two’s “House Arrest”. The camera pans through the gang outside the pork store as Tony smokes a cigar, Paulie tans his face, and Chris, Furio, and Sil discuss the nearby car accident. Things seem pretty peaceful and happy.
Yet Big Pussy goes inside, which is an obvious symbol of his outsider status. It heralds the season’s ending when these peaceful times with friends must come to a violent and tragic end.
9 Tony Smokes & Drinks (Season 5, Episode 7)
Season five’s “In Camelot” is often regarded as a bottom tier episode, but it contains one of the best endings. The episode’s theme largely concerns family history and revelations, and in it, Tony learns that his father wasn’t really a man to idol or honor.
As he regales the gang with exaggerated stories, he looks off to a dancer and gets lost in his thoughts as he takes a shot and smokes a cigar. All the while, Linkin Park’s Session is playing in the background, a chaotic soundtrack to Tony’s chaotic and racing mind.
8 A Little Xzibit (Season 1, Episode 6)
When it comes to the show’s most iconic closing sequences, season one’s “Pax Soprana” is always in the mix. It’s here that Junior and the gang celebrate his recent promotion while the FBI takes secretive photos through a button camera.
An instrumental version of Xzibit’s “Paparazzi” plays while the FBI lines up the photographs, which itself is derived from Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane. With this, the show’s overarching FBI story truly kicked into high gear.
7 Tony Proudly Storms Out (Season 5, Episode 10)
If there’s one episode that proves Tony’s outright villainy, it’s season five’s “Cold Cuts”.
This episode largely concerns Tony B and Christopher, but it uses their relationship as a way to explore Tony’s negative effect on those around him. Once he arrives in Kinderhook, Tony B and Chris lose their bond as B and Tony team up to make jokes at Chris’s expense. And in the ending sequence, Tony effectively riles up a newly-placated Janice, who had been participating in anger management. Every happy relationship that Tony touches disintegrates into chaos.
6 Tony & Carmela In The Bathroom (Season 4, Episode 2)
Season four is primarily concerned with the total disintegration of the Soprano marriage, and it is eerily heralded in the episode “No-Show”. The ending of the episode is haunting, as Carmela sits in the bath and contemplates her relationship with Meadow.
The camera cuts to a long shot, and the distance between Tony and Carmela seems staggering. It’s symbolic of their growing distance, and the chilling sounds of Radiohead’s “Kid A” herald the apocalyptic end.
5 Christopher!? (Season 4, Episode 9)
Season four is often considered the show’s weakest, but it contains one of the strongest hours in “Whoever Did This”. This episode primarily concerns the sudden death of Ralphie and Tony and Christopher’s attempt to clean up the scene.
By the next morning, Chris has felt so disillusioned and scared of Tony’s behavior that he leaves him alone in the Bing. The ending sees Tony waking up and prowling the club by himself. Much like the ending to No Show, this is yet another sign that close relations, and Tony’s behavior, are spiraling out of control.
4 I Saved The World Today (Season 2, Episode 12)
Season two’s “The Knight in White Satin Armor” is famous for the sudden and unexpected demise of Richie Aprile, as he is shot by Janice after growing physically abusive.
The chivalrous “knight” theme is carried over to the episode’s closing song – The Eurythmics’ I Saved the World Today. However, the closing song is used ironically. Despite “saving the world,” Tony receives no thanks from anyone and is even verbally reprimanded by Carmela. After all that he’s done, Tony is left alone on the couch feeling unloved and unwanted, the visual absence of Carmela symbolically obvious.
3 Cut To Black (Season 6, Episode 21)
Of course, a list like this wouldn’t be complete with the series’ final scene. It’s now an important part of television history – Tony, AJ, and Carmela are sitting down in a diner enjoying some onion rings when the doorbell chimes, Tony looks up, and the screen hard cuts to black.
It was enormously controversial in its day, but many viewers have come around and now regard it as a masterpiece. The common consensus seems to be that Tony died, a fact that David Chase seemingly admitted in June 2020.
2 Tony & Carmela In The Woods (Season 5, Episode 12)
Season five’s “Long Term Parking” is often considered the show’s greatest hour, known primarily for killing off Adriana. And to go with the greatest hour is the show’s greatest ending.
Carmela states her desire to build a house on a wooded lot, and both she and Tony venture out there to check it out. However, Tony’s mind is clearly preoccupied with the recent murder of Adriana, and he can only sit on a log and be held by Carmela as he stares off in contemplation as the haunting end song plays.
1 “No.” (Season 3, Episode 4)
Season three’s “Employee of the Month” could also be considered the show’s greatest hour, and it contains what is arguably the greatest ending. The show mines a lot of great and thematic material out of the relationship between Melfi and Tony, including Tony’s dangerous influence on those around him.
After she is raped in the parking garage, Melfi seriously considers telling Tony so he can commit retribution. Tony asks if she has something to say, but after a painfully long pause, she makes up her mind with a hesitant but proud “no,” refusing to take the violent road.
NEXT: The Sopranos: 10 Times Tony Soprano Was Actually A Good Guy