Bob & LBF in the Morning

Bob & LBF in the Morning

Bob & LBF in the Morning

(Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

What are the most watched TV show finales of all time?

We will get to those in a bit, but when you see the huge numbers these shows “pulled in” you will be amazed. There is no T.V. show on the air now that can even come close to these number of viewers. The highest rated shows ever are Super Bowls, the most recent one with the Kansas City Chiefs Taylor Swifties in tow beating the San Francisco 49ers in a thrilling over time victory is the most watched American show in history. The game brought in close to 120 million sets of eyeballs.

Take away huge sporting events like that and you will see a steep decline in viewership. It is far from the “golden age of television”.

There are not as many Network viewers anymore

Back in the day when they were only 3 to 4 TV networks viewers had far fewer choices than today. You had to choose between the networks of CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS.

It wasn’t until the late 80s that Fox television became a real player in the television business. Fox launched with TV shows that were immediate successes, such as married with children and The Simpsons.

The big TV shows at the time were 60 minutes MASH, Cheers, Family Ties, Dallas and Cosby just to name a few.

The audiences for network television were huge compared to today. If a show didn’t get at least 10 million viewers it was considered a failure.

If you get 5 million viewers for a show, it’s considered a big success.

We have so many entertainment choices these days that it’s not hard to believe the 10 most-watched TV finales of all time are all AT LEAST 20 years old.

Mental Floss put together a list of those 10 finales and how many people watched them when they first aired . . . which used to be a thing you had to do in the Caveman Times.


Here they are the Top 5 Most watched TV finales of all time


  • 5. "Friends" (2004): 52.5 million

    The show was huge from the first season and right to the last. Kids today have found the show on streaming and syndication and it continues to be a favorite. There is even a Central Perk Cafe in Boston that is filled with nostalgia lovers pining for the days before cell phones and internet dating.

  • 4. "Seinfeld" (1998): 76.3 million

    The show about nothing is still really something to behold. It made Jerry Seinfeld a very rich man and his partner in crime Larry David one as well. The finale was not considered to be one of the best, but it still drew a massive audience. There have been rumors of a show reunion and reboot, but nothing has ever come of it.

  • 3. "The Fugitive" (1967): 78 million

    This thriller based in the 1960’s is the only non sitcom on the top 5. It was a huge show back in the day with it’s great weekly must see drama. It was so huge that it became a movie starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in 1993 26 years after it’s TV finale.

  • 2. "Cheers" (1993): 80.4 million

    The show where everyone knows your name is one of the most popular finales of all time. Cheers was the show that made the folks at NBC very rich. The whole concept of Must See TV came about with Cheers anchoring an incredible Thursday night of comedy featuring Friends, Crosby, Night Court just to name a few. Of course, Cheers was the biggest of them all.

  • 1. "M*A*S*H" (1983): 105.9 million

    This was by far the most watched show on television for almost 4 decades until the 2010 Super Bowl. MASH was so huge that it is hard to believe that the show was almost cancelled by CBS it’s first year. Hard to imagine for a show that received over 150 Emmy nominations and winning the award 62 times. The show was launched after the movie of the same name became a big anti war hit and never lost the plot during it’s entire run.

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