The Sopranos: Why did Dr Melfi star Lorraine Bracco leave the show?

The Sopranos Final Scene

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The Sopranos is considered faultless by its legions of fans. However, the finale was controversial when it first aired back in 2007 on HBO, and for Dr Melfi star Lorraine Bracco, it remains an awkward issue. During a recent interview, the star addressed the ending and her character’s abrupt exit.

How did Dr Melfi leave the series?

First introduced in the pilot episode, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) comes to Dr Melfi after suffering from a panic attack.

Over the course of the show’s six seasons, the two share a back-and-forth friendship and professional relationship.

While Tony pursued Melfi further, she always maintained the line set by her ethical code.

Throughout the series, Melfi found her therapy sessions with Tony emotionally and ethically challenging.

As the head of Newark’s mob family, Tony represented the fine line of Melfi’s moral ambiguity. 

It has always been debated by fans just how much she actually cared for Tony, compared to her helping out of professional obligation.

Upon finding out who she was treating, Melfi’s colleagues insisted she must drop him as a client and move on.

While she wrestled with the idea, during the finale episode she finally told Tony to leave, abruptly bringing to an end their six-year relationship.

What did Lorraine Bracco think of the finale?

Bracco recently addressed the final scenes of Melfi on the Talking Sopranos Podcast.

The podcast is hosted by The Sopranos stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, who played Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri, respectively.

Bracco explained: “I just felt that [showrunner David Chase] wanted me to get rid of [Tony Soprano]. I would have liked for it to have been more meaningful.

“I mean, I think she cared for Tony. Even though he was a f**k-up and maybe he was never going to really straighten out…I think she really cared for him.

“You don’t spend seven years with someone and discard them. I felt bad about that.”

Of course, the finale focused mainly on Tony, with the discussion surrounding the episode centring on the famous final shot. 

Ironically, the series ended far more suddenly than Melfi’s exit, with the last shot literally cutting to black before any form of closure.

Bracco also addressed this ending, saying: “Part of me says, ‘Well, it was David Chase’s genius that we’re still talking about this and confused about it 25 years later,’ and the other part says to me, ‘OK.’

“David’s saying, F**k you. Nighty night. I’m out of here.”

The star added the genius of the ending is due to the fact fans are still talking about it and there isn’t a clean and simple answer.

The Sopranos has been back at the heart of TV conversations lately due to the recent release of The Many Saints of Newark.

This is the prequel film set during the teenage years of Tony.

The Sopranos is available to watch on HBO in the USA and NOW in the UK.

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