Huddling around the television with all of your friends the moment a show airs isn’t quite what it used to be. While people still gather in groups to watch their favorite shows, the timing of such events doesn’t have to revolve around specifically when the program airs anymore. Before the invention of the VCR you either caught a program or you didn’t. If you snoozed you would lose. Then came the VCR and you could record your favorite TV shows and watch them whenever. Then came the DVR and TIVO which virtually changed the game forever.
And now we have streaming services. I bring this all up because the days of humongous ratings for live television and live television events aren’t necessarily gone but I don’t think you’ll be seeing too many show finales eclipse 50 million viewers let alone 20 million. In the age of Netflix there’s just too much television out there to watch. I think the only thing you’ll see get that kind of view count anymore is the Super Bowl and that’s just about it.
But if you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, here are 20 TV show finales that got the highest viewer counts of all-time.
L.A. Law (NBC) – 22.1 million viewers
MacGyver (ABC) – 22.3 million viewers
St. Elsewhere (NBC) – 22.5 million viewers
Full House (ABC) – 24.3 million viewers
Golden Girls (NBC) – 27.2 million viewers
Happy Days (ABC) – 30.5 million viewers
Gunsmoke (CBS) – 30.9 million viewers
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Syndicated) – 31 million viewers
Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS) – 32.9 million viewers
Dallas (CBS) – 33.3 million viewers
Frasier (NBC) – 33.7 million viewers
Home Improvement (ABC) – 35.5 million viewers
Family Ties (NBC) – 36.3 million viewers
All in the Family (CBS) – 40.2 million viewers
The Cosby Show (NBC) – 44.4 million viewers
Magnum, P.I. (CBS) – 50.7 million viewers
Friends (NBC) – 65.9 million viewers
Seinfeld (NBC) – 76.3 million viewers
Cheers (NBC) – 84.4 million viewers
M*A*S*H (CBS) – 105.9 million viewers