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The Paulie Theory That Changes Everything On The Sopranos

Before Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri became a part of millennial internet culture, along with the rest of the cast of the beloved HBO mafia drama, "The Sopranos," he was only a character in a pilot script creator David Chase originally wrote for Fox (via Vanity Fair). Luckily Tony Sirico proved to be perfect for the part. The actor had appeared in mob movies like "Goodfellas," and was also no stranger to crime himself. Sirico reportedly racked up a total of 28 arrests in his younger life, even if he was only convicted twice (via Uproxx).

When he signed on to appear in the show, Sirico only had one now-legendary request: Paulie couldn't be a rat. And sure enough, Paulie Walnuts proved to be the most loyal and upright member of Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) crew over the course of the series, which ended in 2007. Paulie may have been a lot of things, including neurotic, stingy, murderous, and overly talkative, but the wing-tipped mobster never considered flipping on his chosen family and "the life" for a single second.

Whether or not Paulie would turn on his ungrateful boss Tony is another story. Here's the fan theory about Paulie Walnuts that changes everything we know about "The Sopranos" ending.

One theory posits that Paulie switched sides to New York in the last episodes

Paulie Gualtieri stays loyal to the New Jersey Sopranos crew through most of the series, yet during several seasons he also flirts with crossing over to the New York mob when he feels under-appreciated. NYC consigliere Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni (Vincent Curatola) even manipulates Paulie into giving him information about Tony's business. However, Paulie eventually realizes he's being played when he discovers boss Carmine (Tony Lip) has no idea who he is.

In the final episodes of the show, a war between New York and New Jersey decimates Tony's crew and leaves Paulie and Tony the last men standing. A Reddit fan theory posits that this is because Paulie was actually a mole for the New York side. u/gobartlett thinks nobody coming to his mother's funeral was the final insult: "I feel like this was the last straw in Paulie's eyes and the decision was made then and there to support Phil from inside Tony's crew."

The theory does explain why Paulie isn't targeted by the Leotardo family and why he speeds away in his car after ordering Phil Leotardo's death: "He was on his way to tell Phil about the hit." And indeed, if you believe Tony does die at the end of the show, then Paulie is obviously in a good position as New York's "inside man" in the Jersey crew.