After 15 seasons and countless cast changes, NBC’s long-running hospital drama ER closed its doors last night, and it didn’t go out with a whimper.
According to ratings released today, the final episode of ER was watched by 16.3 million viewers, its biggest audience in three seasons. It was even a significant ratings jump over an episode in March that saw the much-anticipated return of former show star George Clooney.
While the numbers for ER were impressive, they don’t put the show’s finale anywhere near the list of top series-ending episodes ever. In recent years, Friends pulled in around 52.5 million viewers for its finale, while the Seinfeld farewell was watched by 76 million, just 4 million short of the Cheers finale. Of course, these are all completely overshadowed by the Goliath of series finales — M*A*S*H, which had most of the country, 106 million people, tuning in to watch the final episode on Feb. 28, 1983.