TV Lists

10 Most-Watched TV Occasions Of All Time

Positive, technically probably the most watched TV occasions are Tremendous Bowls and information occasions, however different moments impressed full-on viewing events.

Essentially the most watched TV occasions are normally Tremendous Bowls and main information occasions, just like the O.J. Simpson police pursuit, Princess Diana’s funeral, and President Richard Nixon’s resignation announcement. These days, figuring out the most-watched TV occasions is difficult while you add streaming to the combo.



Over the a long time, a few of the most memorable and watched TV moments embody collection finale episodes and different occasions. They’d individuals asking whose boat was that, did they actually die, is that this actually goodbye, and is that this actually occurring proper now? These occasions pulled in large viewer numbers. However extra importantly, they led the general public dialog and media protection, had a large affect on in style tradition, and impressed reveals and occasions that got here lengthy after.

10 Fade to Black (2007)

The Sopranos, Season 6, Episode 21, “Made in America”

Tony Soprano and his family sitting at a restaurant table in the final scene of The Sopranos.

Based on CBS News, the collection finale of The Sopranos attracted an estimated 119 million viewers who couldn’t wait to see how the story wrapped up for Tony. The dialog continued when the ending was left ambiguous. Whereas Tony and his household take pleasure in a meal at a restaurant, the display screen instantly goes black, and followers the place left frantic.

Did they lose their cable sign or did the facility exit? The credit roll a number of seconds later and the belief units in. The finale made people angry and theorized for years. In 2021, creator David Chase lastly confirmed what many had suspected: that Tony was killed in that second.

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9 Who Shot J.R.? (1980)

Dallas, Season 4, Episode 4 “Who Performed It?”

J.R. Ewing lying on the floor, eyes closed and mouth agape in a scene from Dallas.

No prime-time cleaning soap opera thriller and cliffhanger was as huge because the query: Who shot J.R.? J.R. Ewing was the villain in Dallas, however he was the character followers cherished to hate. After being shot by somebody out of view, followers spent months guessing who the tried assassin was.

J.R. survived, although it was months till followers discovered. Eight months later, the identification of the shooter was revealed as his scheming sister-in-law and mistress Kristin. Based on, 350 million tuned in to this significant episode. As we speak, the time period “Who shot J.R.?” remains to be used as an promoting catchphrase to explain a mysterious homicide.

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8 Apollo 11 Moon Touchdown (1969)


A TV screen showing the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

Whereas the moon touchdown had nothing to do with a TV present, it was one of many greatest TV occasions in tv historical past. Considered by an estimated 650 million individuals again in 1969, in accordance with the Science and Media Museum, it marked the primary reside coloration TV transmissions from house.

As a marvel in expertise and a serious second in U.S. historical past for NASA, any household that had a TV gathered across the tiny display screen to see the blurry footage and listen to Neil Armstrong’s phrases. As we speak, the true moon touchdown has impressed many TV reveals and movies about astronauts.

7 Going Out On High (1983)

M*A*S*H*, Season 11, Episode 16, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”

an overhead view of the ground showing the words Goodbye spelled out in the final scene from M*A*S*H.

The particular 2.5-hour episode of M*A*S*H ran extra like a film. Set in the course of the Korean Warfare and following personnel within the Cellular Military Surgical Hospital, the episode garnered 106 million viewers, notes CNN, setting a report for any episodic collection as much as that time.

The extra spectacular determine, nevertheless, is that the finale was seen by three of each 4 TV units in America or greater than 60% of properties within the U.S. The center-wrenching episode noticed the crew throw a closing occasion, say their goodbyes, and prepare for civilian life again dwelling.

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6 “Not Penny’s Boat” (2007)

Misplaced, Season 3, Episode 22 “By means of the Wanting Glass”

Charlie from List holding his hand up a glass window with the words

Marking the demise of a beloved fundamental character and the reveal of a harrowing fact, the two-hour finale of Lost had loads of twists and turns. However the second that tugged on our heartstrings was when Desmond believed that he positioned Penny.

RELATED: The Most Watched TV Finales of All Time, Ranked

However Charlie, struggling to remain afloat within the water as Mikhail detonated a bomb, tried to get one final message to Desmond. There was a collective gasp from households in every single place as Charlie wrote “Not Penny’s Boat” on his hand and pushed his palm as much as the glass earlier than perishing. This second goes down as one of many most heartbreaking character deaths in TV history.

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5 Walt’s Final Stand (2013)

Breaking Dangerous, Season 5, Episode 16 “Felina”

Walter White living on the ground, arms to his sides with blood on his jacket from Breaking Bad.

Despite the fact that followers hoped Breaking Bad would proceed for a lot of extra seasons, it had top-of-the-line collection finales ever, making certain that it ended on a excessive be aware. Walter White’s life lastly got here to an finish, however nothing he did was ever small.

Understanding he had restricted time left and the partitions have been closing in, Walter tied up free ends earlier than organising advanced and lethal booby traps that will guarantee his enemies paid and that he went out on his personal phrases. The finale broke information with 10.3 million viewers, in accordance with CNBC, making it the third-most-watched collection finale within the historical past of cable TV behind solely The Sopranos and Sex and the City.

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4 Johnny Carson’s Goodbye (1992)

“The Final Tonight Present”

the tonight show with johnny carson final goodbye

After 30 years on the helm of The Tonight Show, thought of to be one in every of the best talk shows of all time, host Johnny Carson ended his run with a closing present that was seen by an estimated 55 million individuals, in accordance with UPI. These aren’t record-breaking numbers typically, nevertheless it was on the time for a late-night TV present episode.

True to his fashion, Carson delivered humble goodbyes whereas enjoying a video diary chronicling the numerous company he had over time. For a present that was on so late previous to the existence of DVRs, it was a comparatively spectacular feat to draw that many viewers.

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3 The Good Samaritan Legislation (1998)

Seinfeld, Season 9, Episodes 23-24 “The Finale”

The cast of Seinfeld behind bars.

The Seinfeld finale aired in two components to a complete of 76.3 million viewers, in accordance with Business Insider. Comparatively, that isn’t probably the most seen collection finale: that distinction nonetheless goes to M*A*S*H (the Cheers collection finale, for the report, additionally had extra viewers at 84.4 million). However the occasions that transpired are nonetheless talked about immediately.

Views have been polarizing, with some hating the finale and others believing it to be amongst the best sitcom endings of all time. The story noticed the foursome arrested and in courtroom, being compelled to reply for all their misdeeds. It was delivered within the signature tone of the sitcom, with Larry David returning to write down the finale after having left within the seventh season.

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2 A Disappointing Winter

Recreation of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 6 “The Iron Throne” (2019)

Arya, Bran, and Sansa Stark sitting together in a scene from the finale of Game of Thrones.

The Game of Thrones collection finale drew in large numbers, setting a report for HBO with 136 million viewers, in accordance with Hollywood Reporter. These days with streaming, replays, and early streaming deliver the quantity to about 19.3 million.

The finale confronted its share of criticism, with many feeling it was rushed with fewer episodes and lots of character arcs coming to abrupt ends. Nonetheless, it was the kind of occasion that individuals threw viewing events to look at.

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1 The First Televised Music Video (1981)

The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” on MTV

A screen grab from the Video Killed the Radio Star music video from The Buggles on MTV.

The debut of the music video for the synth-pop tune “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles was a becoming one to be the primary that the music channel MTV (which, again then, solely aired music movies and music-related content material) premiered on video. It first appeared at 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 1981, and other people marveled on the concept of having the ability to see a tune as a part of what appeared to be a mini-movie.

Satirically, the tune discusses reservations about new expertise usurping outdated, with video being the brand new medium that will, in accordance with the tune, spell the top of the radio medium. It’s unclear how many individuals really watched this video for its first premiere, however there’s no query that it’s one of many greatest occasions in TV historical past.

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