The 10 Most-Watched TV Series Finales Ever

Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Getty Images

Over the past several years, television audiences have said goodbye to some of the most acclaimed television series of all time, from The Sopranos to Mad Men to Breaking Bad. And while their finales have made a lot of headlines—sometimes for being divisive—no series yet has managed to match the ratings bonanza that came with the final episode of M*A*S*H.

Nearly 40 years after the series went off the air, M*A*S*H's final episode still holds the record for the most watched television finale of all time. How long will it remain there? Only time will tell. In the meantime, these are the most watched television series finales of all time. 

1. M*A*S*H // 1983

In 1983, 105.9 million viewers watched the Alan Alda-directed "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" episode of M*A*S*H, which was not only the most-watched series finale ever, but the most-watched television event ever—until 2010, when the Super Bowl topped it with 106 million viewers.

2. Cheers // 1993

NBC

After 11 seasons, the beloved comedy Cheers decided it was closing time. The final episode, "One for the Road" (which actually aired in two parts, featured the return of Shelley Long's Diana Chambers—and a whopping 80.4 million viewers.

3. The Fugitive // 1967

Andrew Davis's 1993 film version of The Fugitive may have won an Oscar (for Tommy Lee Jones, as Best Supporting Actor), but its original TV version has some major accolades as well. Across the country, 78 million people tuned in to watch part two of the finale and see what would happen to Richard Kimble.

4. Seinfeld // 1998

One could safely estimate that at least half of the 76.3 million viewers who tuned in for Seinfeld's finale were sorely disappointed with what they saw. One critic deemed it a big "So long, suckers!" farewell to the audience who had made the show about nothing such a big hit.

5. Friends // 2004

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Would Rachel and Ross live happily ever after? Could Chandler and Monica make it work in the suburbs? And where has Phoebe's Smelly Cat been? 52.5 million viewers turned into find out who would ge their happily ever after when Friends came to a conclusion.

6. Magnum, P.I. // 1988

Is Higgins really Robin Masters? What really happened to Lily? Will Rick get married? At least 50.7 million other people wanted to know the answers to those questions too.

7. The Cosby Show // 1992

Theo graduated from NYU in front of 44.4 million viewers and Denise returned via phone to reveal her pregnancy. But the real shocker was when Cliff finally got the doorbell to work properly after he had been trying to fix it all season.

8. All in the Family // 1979

40.2 million viewers watched as Archie professed his love for an ailing Edith.

9. Family Ties // 1989

36.3 million viewers tuned in to see if Alex would take his dream job in New York and leave the Keaton family.

10. Home Improvement // 1999

With 35.5 million viewers, Tim Taylor edged out Frasier (#11), Dallas (#12), and Everybody Loves Raymond (#15) to crack the top 10.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]