Bumper audience of more than 3 million bids teary farewell to Mad Men

Mad Men cast members (from left) Robert Morse, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jon Hamm and John Slattery. -- PHOTO: FX
Mad Men cast members (from left) Robert Morse, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jon Hamm and John Slattery. -- PHOTO: FX

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - More than three million people tuned in for the eagerly awaited finale of cable television drama Mad Men, according to data released Tuesday by Nielsen.

A total of 3.3 million viewers watched Sunday's farewell to the award-winning show which charted the tangled lives of New York advertising executives in the middle of the last century.

The finale - which ended (spoiler alert) with tormented anti-hero Don Draper (Jon Hamm) chanting at a cliffside California retreat, then with a cheeky cut to the old Coca Cola commercial I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing - was widely praised by critics as the curtain came down on the show after eight seasons.

Twitter also lighted up with hundreds of fans bidding adieu, many admitting they were in tears to see Don and company depart their lives. And (more spoilers) also with fans raising questions about that enigmatic smile on his face as, in a Yoga lotus pose, he chanted "Om"; did it mean he did go back to McCann Erickson and created that legendary Coke commercial?

It was the third best audience for the show in its history. The highest ratings numbers went to the 2012 season five premiere, which saw 3.5 million people tune in.

Creator Matthew Weiner's drama, set between the late 1950s and early 1970s, won four Golden Globes and 15 Emmys during its run.

The AMC show is one of several highly-polished dramas to emerge during the past decade, which has been described as a new Golden Age of US television.

But the finale figures for Mad Men pale into comparison to the numbers for other prominent shows.

Some 11.2 million people tuned in for the 2007 finale of HBO drama The Sopranos while 10.6 million fans watched the last episode of Sex and the City. AMC's teacher-turned-drug baron drama Breaking Bad earned 10.3 million when it wrapped up in 2013.