The Sopranos isn’t the type of TV show that usually generates fan theories. The show has always been centered more on theme and character than plot, and even then, the plot is relatively straightforward and easy to understand. It’s also grounded in reality, which doesn’t often allow for extravagant fan theories in the way that fantasy or science fiction does.
However, that never stopped the fans from theorizing. Fan theories have continuously been put forth throughout the years, some of which are quite interesting and convincing, and others, which are more outlandish and silly. These are the best of the best.
Perhaps the most famous fan theory regarding The Sopranos is that Tony Soprano is killed in the ending sequence. As basically everyone on Earth knows (even those who have never watched The Sopranos), the show ends on an anticlimactic note with a frustrating cut to black.
Many viewers see this as representative of Tony’s sudden lack of life, i.e. he was shot and killed immediately after looking up towards the door. It’s a sound theory, and it’s one of two possible readings into the ambiguous ending.
Patsy Parisi Had Tony Killed
Season 3 begins with Patsy Parisi living in grief, having full knowledge that it was Tony Soprano who had his twin brother Philly killed. According to one Reddit theory, it was Patsy who had Tony whacked. Patsy tries killing Tony in season 3, but he doesn’t go through with it and resorts to urinating in his pool instead.
According to the theory, Patsy didn’t chicken out. He was simply biding his time and building his trust with Tony and the mob before metaphorically pulling the trigger.
The other reading of the ending has Tony surviving. Fans of this theory posit that the ending is more thematic and metaphoric than rooted in plot. Tony isn’t scoping out the restaurant for a specific hitman, but is simply living with unbearable paranoia owing to his line of work.
The man in the Members Only jacket is insignificant, and the cut to black is indicative of his paranoia – the ringing door could be his loving daughter, or it could be a hitman coming to claim his life. He will never know who is coming through the metaphorical door, and that serves as his own personal brand of unending punishment.
Vin Makazian Is Peter McCallister
Actors playing different characters will always be a popular source of fan theory. In this case, it’s that crooked cop Vin Makazian is actually Peter McCallister from the Home Alone films, as both characters are played by John Heard.
There’s nothing really to back this theory up, aside from the fact that they’re played by the same actor, that Vin was described as a “family man,” and that Peter’s source of incredible wealth remains unexplained. Working with the mob would certainly line his pockets …
Lilyhammer Is Silvio’s Coma Dream
Another aspect of The Sopranos that remains ambiguous is the fate of Silvio Dante. Silvio is riddled with bullets outside the Bada Bing, putting him in a coma. Paulie later tells Tony that he is unlikely to regain consciousness, and viewers are left to assume that he died from his injuries.
Some people (perhaps jokingly) believe that the events of Lilyhammer are Silvio’s comatose dreams, and Steven Van Zandt stars as a New York gangster (Silvio), who moves to Norway.
Ralphie Was Trying To Kill Jackie Jr.
Ralph Cifaretto is arguably the most violent and depraved antagonist in The Sopranos, and according to this Reddit theory, his real target was always Jackie Jr. Ralph tells Jackie that Tony once robbed a card game run by Feech La Manna. Jackie decides to do the same thing, but the robbery ends in failure, and Jackie is whacked.
According to the theory, Ralph fully intended for Jackie to die in the robbery, as that would make his own children heir apparent to Rosalie’s wealth.
Janice Was In A Cult
Tony’s sister Janice is introduced in season 2, and her past remains a cloudy mystery throughout much of the show. All viewers know is that Janice left New Jersey for the west coast about 20 years prior to the events of The Sopranos.
According to this Reddit theory, Janice was a part of the Rajneeshpuram cult, which was based out of Oregon in the mid-’80s. Both the timeline and location match up perfectly, as does Janice’s somewhat hippy-ish personality and lifestyle at the beginning of season 2. A remnant of her time in the cult, perhaps?
The Mob Serves Human Meat
The characters of The Sopranos are depraved people, but would they serve the unknowing public human meat? Possibly, according to this Reddit theory. At the end of season 2, Janice kills Richie, and Richie’s body is disposed of in Satriale’s butcher shop.
While “disposing” of the evidence, Christopher remarks to Furio that “it will be a long time before he eats anything at Satriale’s.” Could that mean that Satriale’s recycles the ground-up human meat into its products?
Tony Was Working With The Government
According to one interesting theory found on TV Tropes, Tony Soprano was working with the government the entire time. According to the theory, “All of his opponents ended up dead or in jail,” “He killed at least six people over the run of the series, and was never brought for any kind of questioning”,
“The FBI searched his home and yet found NOTHING,” and “He was the head of a Mafia family, was able to go to a psychiatrist for six years and wasn’t whacked by either his men or his enemies.” It does make a certain kind of sense …
Adriana Wasn’t Killed
Perhaps the most tragic death in the entire series is that of Adriana La Cerva. It’s so tragic, in fact, that many fans are in denial and don’t believe she’s actually dead. This theory stems from the way the scene is shot, as the camera pans past Adriana’s crawling body and tilts up to the trees as Silvio’s gunshot rings out.
Many fans are convinced that Adriana is still alive, as viewers don’t actually see the body or the shot. Perhaps Silvio got a change of heart and allowed her to run away and into Witness Protection. Not according to the episode’s writer, Terence Winter, though, who told Vanity Fair, “She’s dead, definitely.”