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Best Finale Ratings of All-Time: Where Does ‘Breaking Bad’ Stand?
There was no stopping fans from watching the show live Sunday (or at least same-night, thanks to DVRs), as the conclusion to Walter White’s odyssey was watched by an average audience of 10.3 million, according to Nielsen, up 3.7 million (or 56%) from its penultimate episode of the previous week (6.6 million). “Breaking Bad” ranks third among all cable series’ finales. Click through the gallery for the top-rated cable and broadcast series finales.
Courtesy of AMC
#1: The Sopranos (CABLE)
(HBO) 2007 – 11.9 million viewers
The finale’s cut-to-black ending frustrated many fans, but many of them are still talking about the show six years later.
#2: Sex and the City (CABLE)
(HBO) 2004 – 10.6 million
The most popular cable comedy ever didn’t go away completely after its finale: A film adaptation came out in 2008, with a sequel following in 2010.
#3: Breaking Bad (CABLE)
(AMC) 2013 – 10.3 million
It’s the No. 1 ad-supported cable finale of all time, drawing more than seven times the show’s premiere audience of 2008 (1.4 million)
#4: Monk (CABLE)
(USA) 2009 – 9.4 million
The comedy-drama about a compulsive-obsessive detective wrapped on a Friday in December, but still drew a large audience.
#5: The Closer (CABLE)
(TNT) 2012 – 9.1 million
Until “The Walking Dead,” no cable drama could approach the audience level of this procedural, whose finale led into spinoff “Major Crimes.”
#1: MASH (BROADCAST)
(CBS) 1983 – 105.9 million
The 2 and half-hour finale did a 77 share and stood as the most-watched program of any kind until the Super Bowl in 2010, which drew 106.5 million.
#2: Cheers (BROADCAST)
(NBC) 1993 – 80.4 million
This number is even more impressive considering that Nielsen only tracks in-home viewing, and thus didn’t count fans watching at any of the numerous bars holding parties for the show.
#3: Seinfeld (BROADCAST)
(NBC) 1998 – 76.3 million
The series-ender, in which the four main characters end up in a jail cell, left many critics cold and remains one of the more controversial finales.
#4: Friends (BROADCAST)
(NBC) 2004 – 52.5 million
Advertisers commanded $2 million for a 30-second commercial for two back-to-back episodes, making it the most expensive sitcom in history.
#5: Magnum P.I. (BROADCAST)
(CBS) 1998 – 50.7 million
This is the only drama among the top 10 finales of all time, and it aired as a two-hour movie.