What happens to the comatose Silvio Dante in The Sopranos? Portrayed by Steven Van Zandt, the gangster suffers numerous gunshot wounds in the penultimate episode, but his death is never confirmed. Based on The Sopranos’ controversial series finale, the subtext heavily implies Silvio’s grim fate.
Silvio works as the DiMeo crime family’s consigliere in The Sopranos and runs the Bada Bing nightclub for his childhood friend/boss, Tony Soprano (the late James Gandolfini). He carries out numerous mob hits during the series, even taking the life of Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo), the long-time partner of Tony’s protege, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). By The Sopranos season 6, Silvio remains loyal to his crew, but he’s gunned down by Lupertazzi hitmen in “The Blue Comet.” Tony learns that his right-hand man isn’t expected to regain consciousness and then holds his hand during a hospital visit in The Sopranos series finale, “Made in America.”
The Sopranos implies that Silvio dies from his gunshot wounds. During the Lupertazzi attack in “The Blue Comet,” Patsy Parisi (Dan Grimaldi) manages to flee from his vehicle outside the Bada Bing. However, Van Zandt’s character appears to suffer multiple gunshots wounds. In fact, the Lupertazzi hitmen don’t even bother shooting more rounds when they witness Silvio’s lifeless body in the car. From there, there’s no evidence to suggest that he somehow survives. In “The Blue Comet,” Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) learns that doctors don’t expect Silvio to regain consciousness, and “Made in America” shows the dying consigliere in a coma.
The Sopranos doesn’t confirm Silvio’s death to maximize the impact on audiences. For example, Silvio’s murder of Adriana takes place off-screen, leaving the audience to wonder about what’s not shown. The Sopranos creator, David Chase, has stated that he didn’t want to show Adriana’s point of view, and that concept seems to apply to Silvio’s final moments in the show. He’s gone, even if his physical presence can still be felt by Tony.
In a way, Silvio’s impending death marks the beginning of a farewell tour for Tony, as he hands over partial control to Paulie after leaving the hospital, visits his Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), and then reunites with his family shortly before the polarizing cut-to-black in the controversial series finale. Tony anticipates his own death throughout the series, which makes his last meeting with Silvio so bittersweet; he’s able to say goodbye to a dear friend but knows that he could be killed at any moment due to the escalating conflict with the Lupertazzi family.
Despite being an incredibly violent series, The Sopranos doesn’t force the audience to watch the demise of popular characters. There are plenty of gruesome death scenes, with the last involving Bobby Baccalieri (Steven R. Schirripa) and Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent), though characters like Adriana, Silvio, and Tony make their exits quietly off-screen. As a result, there’s still a “What If” element for fans to theorize about, as some would like to believe that Adriana escaped, that Silvio miraculously pulled through, and that Tony managed to enter the Witness Protection Program. In The Sopranos, what’s not shown is often more devastating than what appears on screen, evidenced in part by Silvio Dante’s unconfirmed (but presumed) death.