NEW YORK (NEW YORK TIMES) - The Big Bang Theory ended its long, successful run with 18 million people tuning in for its series finale Thursday night (May 16), according to Nielsen.
Big Bang goes out on a high note: The CBS comedy will finish the season as the most-viewed entertainment show in all of network television.
The series - created by Chuck Lorre and starring Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki - finished with 279 episodes, the most of any multi-camera situational comedy in television history.
It surpassed Cheers, which had 275 episodes. Where it did not surpass Cheers was the finale ratings: The final episode of Cheers in 1993 garnered a staggering 80.5 million viewers - a demonstration of just how much television has changed since then.
The Big Bang's numbers on Thursday also narrowly missed the premiere figures of ABC's Roseanne, which debuted in March 2018 to 18.2 million viewers.
So much of television is now watched on DVR or online. This year, Big Bang averaged 12.7 million viewers.
With seven days of delayed viewing factored in, that number mushrooms to 17.3 million.
That does not include online viewing.
The show is currently in second place behind This Is Us and The Masked Singer in the key rating point among adults under the age of 50, but it's possible that when a week's worth of delayed viewing is included, the final episode of Big Bang could push it to first place among non-sports programmes. (NBC's Sunday Night Football is tops.)
Big Bang is not the only finale this weekend: Game of Thrones will end its eight-year run on Sunday, and it is likely to set new ratings records.