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The Most Sudden, Shocking Endings In Pop Culture

June 2017Words by Mr James Darton

Mr Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man, 2009. Photograph by Kobal/REX Shutterstock

It’s 10 years to the day since The Sopranos reached its unforgettable conclusion and we said goodbye to Tony and his dysfunctional family/Family. While it wasn’t quite HBO’s first attempt at prestige television drama (that accolade goes to the dated-but-still-very-good prison drama Oz), there’s little doubt that its critical and commercial success ushered in the golden age of television that we’re currently enjoying. Needless to say, rumours and fan theories were in full flow in the lead-up to the show’s ending, though surely no one could have predicted the (brilliantly) jarring way creator Mr David Chase chose to roll credits for the final time.

Whether a certain something did or did not happen after the screen cut to black is rather beside the point. Rather, its genius lies in its refusal to give audiences the neat moral “judgement” they were perhaps looking for – a way to feel less guilty after a decade or so of passively rooting for the show’s murderous, sociopathic antihero (which he was, at the end of the day, regardless of the fact Mr James Gandolfini gave the greatest, most emotionally complex performance to ever grace the screen).

The Sopranos, though, was just one in a long line of great works of fiction to employ an abrupt ending. Below are a selection of those, drawn from across the worlds of literature, film and music.