SPOILER ALERT: We’re about to talk about a lot of different television shows, and how they ended. And we’re starting right away with “The Sopranos.”
In case you missed it, a story made the rounds yesterday about David Chase finally explaining the ending of “The Sopranos.” Apparently, he told a reporter that Tony Sopranos did not die when the final scene of “Made in America” cut to black.
Except, that’s not really true at all.
Chase’s representatives released a statement clarifying that Chase’s comments were taken out of context, and that the “Sopranos” creator maintains that the HBO mob drama’s ending remains up for interpretation.
So, did Tony Soprano die? Is he still alive? Is he in a diner called Purgatory, forced to eat onion rings forever and ever, under the pseudonym Kevin Finnerty? Who can say? “The Sopranos” ended with a hard shadow of doubt, leaving its fans to cast light on their own conclusions.
It remains one of the most controversial endings in television history, thanks to its glorious ambiguity. But ambiguity is the name of the game when it comes to series finales. Here are seven other TV endings that left viewers with just as many questions as answers.
1. “Battlestar Galactica”
In many ways, it’s a concrete finale: The fleet finds Earth, settles down, kickstarts human evolution, leading to the world we know and live in today. But the big question it refused to answer: the mysterious resurrection of Kara Thrace.
Was she a secret Cylon? Was she a “guardian angel,” as some believed? Was she beamed up into outer space by a rogue sect of Cylons while Lee Adama wasn’t looking? The world will never know — unless there’s a Starbuck-starring spinoff some day, which, uh, sounds kind of great, actually.
2. “Breaking Bad”
What questions, you ask? Even one of the most firmed-up endings in recent television history comes equipped with some mysteries. Will Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz follow through on their pledge to give Walter Junior the money? What will happen to Jesse Pinkman now that he’s free of Uncle Jack’s clutches? Does he just drive down the road and get immediately arrested? Does he stop and say bye to Brock on his way to New Zealand?
And what about Heisenberg himself? Even to this day, reporters consistently ask Bryan Cranston if Walter White is still alive — a question that seems very much answered on “Breaking Bad,” but a question that won’t ever truly go away, no matter how many times Vince Gilligan tells you Walter died.
One of the most maligned finales in recent memory, “Dexter” offered little to no closure on the titular serial killer-killing serial killer’s fate. Yes, he fakes his death and assumes a new life as a lumberjack, somewhere, vowing to bury his killer instincts for good. But can he uphold civilized standards? Will he slink back to his killer ways? Will there ever come a day where Dexter Morgan is held accountable for his actions as the Bay Harbor Butcher?
These are the questions that keep fans up at night — at least, the fans who didn’t stop caring after season four, because, really, everything after the Trinity Killer is whatever at best.
After four years of alternate universe altercations, “Fringe” fast-forwarded to the future for its fifth and final season, bringing the battle between Olivia Dunham’s colleagues and the spicy-sauce craving Observers to a head. It ended with scientist Walter Bishop sacrificing himself in order to destroy the apocalyptic future and return the world back to its former, peaceful self.
But in the closing moments, Walter’s son, Peter, gets a clue that his father is still alive and out there, somewhere. What happens next? Do Peter and Olivia get the gang back together for one more journey, in search of wacky Walter? And how does that journey play out? It’s left to us to decide just how far the adventure goes, once the credits crawl one last time.
No, they were not dead the whole time; whatever happened on the Island, happened, and ultimately ended in the Losties reuniting in an afterlife of sorts, following their deaths in the “real world.” For deep-cut “LOST” fans, the ending makes sense. For detractors, casual fans, and even some viewers who watched from the very beginning, the ending makes no sense at all, and still requires explanation.
The divisive “LOST” finale’s final moments aside, there are questions about what happens to certain characters, and more than enough lingering mysteries to keep some fans up at night more than four years after the show went off the air.
It came and went without much fanfare, but those who tuned into FX’s sadly short-lived “Terriers” were treated with one of the best done-in-one seasons of television in recent memory. The crime dramedy ended with private investigator pals Hank and Britt in their car at a stoplight, on their way to bring Britt to prison on assault charges. But Hank offers Britt a choice: They can keep driving straight and send Britt off to jail, or they can turn left to Mexico and send Britt off to freedom.
The choice is up to Britt — and, ultimately, up to the viewer, as Hank’s motionless car at the intersection is the final image we ever see.
7. “True Blood”
Four days ago, “True Blood” came crashing to a halt, driving the final stake through a show that’s demanded the true death for far too long. And it ended in a way that left many fans pulling their hair out. Sookie did not end up with Bill. She did not end up with Eric. Not even Sam stood a chance. No, in the end, Sookie tied the knot with … somebody? We don’t really know, because we don’t get to see the man’s face.
It’s a frustrating conclusion for longtime fans of the show, leaving viewers with a question that’ll never get answered.
Which TV finales left you with more questions than answers?