When "The Sopranos" came to a close Sunday night with a surprise cut to a black screen, shocked fans were joined by at least one cast member who had no idea the successful series would end so abruptly.
"I know my father's still banging the side of the TV wondering if he missed the last 20 seconds," said actor Matt Servitto, who played agent Harris.
He attended a cast screening of the finale at HBO in New York City, along with mob boss Tony Soprano's fictional daughter Meadow — played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler — who offered no guidance as to what the ending meant.
"I don't know. What do you think?" Sigler said. "It's [up] to the audience — what do you think? That's the brilliance of David, she said, referring to David Chase, the series' creator. "All I'm going to say is that I'm so proud to have been a part of it. I thought it was amazing."
As the show ended, Tony Soprano sat in a booth with his wife and son as they waited for Meadow to walk in and join them at their table. But the screen cut to black before she reached them. As fans speculate about what would have come next in the scene, Servitto has a small clue.
"It was a real surprise. The ending was cut short from where it was in the script. Meadow actually came in and sat down and things went a little bit further in the script," Servitto said.
Moments before, Meadow had struggled to parallel park her car outside on the street, which brought its own challenges for Sigler.
"I'll have to say, I was working to parallel park badly. I'm actually a good parallel parker," Sigler said. "I'm from Long Island originally, so I have a lot of experience driving and parking."
'Waste' of My Time
"The Sopranos" helped HBO establish itself as a major competitor to the big networks, collecting 18 Emmy awards over eight years.
But its ending may not have been as popular with fans as the series was. When the credits rolled, HBO's Web site crashed from all the demands for an explanation, a refund for their subscription to the pay cable channel — or both.
A viewer party at the New Jersey strip club Satin Dolls, where Tony Soprano's Bada Bing club was set, turned sour after the ambiguous ending.
One viewer huffed and said, "I feel like I just wasted the last 10 years of my life."
That reaction was shared by a lot of "angry customers," according to Susie Quigley, the event manager at Satin Dolls.
"When the screen went blank, there was complete silence and ... a couple of curses," she told ABC's Bill Weir. "We had people walking out like we wrote the show, and I said, 'Hey, calm down, it wasn't our fault.'"
But for Chase, the ending fits perfectly with his strategy for the show.
"Unresolved story lines, contradictory statements, confused characters — all of that is what I value in the show," he told ABC's "Nightline."
Is Tony Alive? An Expert Opinion
So, what exactly happened in the New Jersey diner after Tony Soprano chose Journey's anthem "Don't Stop Believing'" for the jukebox at his table?
He had just helped take out his main mafia rival in New York, but a target still loomed on Soprano's back. Were onion rings his all-American last supper, and was that cut to black a reminder that when a mob boss gets whacked, he never sees it coming?
"Tony could very much be alive after enjoying some burgers and fried onion rings at that restaurant," said John Gotti's former attorney Gerald Shargel. "Not a typical place where a mafia boss would go to dine, by the way."
"I think he was killed by the way the lights went out," said New Jersey psychotherapist Robert Bramsfield.
Fans may never get an official answer from Chase, but as they debate Tony Soprano's fate, it may not matter as much as the series' achievements and place in history.
"And the whole argument over that finale is sort of dissipated," said Ron Simon, curator of television media at the Paley Center for Television and Radio in New York. "It will arouse debate as to the way David Chase should have ended the series, but in the end, you'll look at the accomplishments — it'll be 86 episodes instead of just one."