I haven't seen very many episodes of The Sopranos over the years—only just enough to know that it was a derivative show universally praised for its originality, and an amazingly slackly-written show universally praised for its tight writing. And I am both old and clear-eyed enough to remember how it was originally marketed: as a gimmick that practically began apologizing in advance for its short shelf life. What if a mobster had a therapist? It turned out people liked the mobster a whole lot, and the therapist maybe not so much. Problem solved.
David Chase is supposed to have had the whole thing pretty well sketched out in his godlike genius brain right from the get-go, and if you can believe that while fumbling with the loose ends of two dozen plot threads, you'll believe it was incredibly inventive to have a mob boss living in a New Jersey suburban neighbourhood in the guise of a waste-management executive. (Did the producers ever just go ahead and actually put a "DARK UNDERBELLY OF THE AMERICAN DREAM LOCATED HERE—NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY" sign on the front lawn of Casa Soprano?) From my detached point of view The Sopranos has looked for years like a textbook case of a TV* series gradually being hijacked by its charismatic male lead, and its fans have gotten pretty much what they deserved. Why bother writing an ending when you can let America do the work for you?
*Of course, it's acknowledged to be a profound insult to refer to The Sopranos as mere television; that would require its creators to grovel in the murk of the leper colony with Rod Serling and Dennis Potter and Larry David and John Cleese and, God forbid, David Simon.