ER finally came to an end last night, after 15 seasons on the air. But the NBC hit didn’t go out quietly. The show proved its popularity as 16.3 million viewers tuned in to watch. This was even bigger than when George Clooney returned to the show last month. The finale was the most-watch drama finale since Murder, She Wrote ended in 1996. It was also way up from the average 9.3 million who regularly tune in.
The two-hour episode brought back ER stars like Noah Wyle, Eriq La Salle and Laura Innes alongside current cast members John Stamos and Angela Bassett.
While the finale numbers were fairly impressive last night, it doesn’t hold a candle to how sitcoms go out. According to Neilsen ratings, when Cheers exited the NBC Thursday night lineup in 1993, there were 45.5 million people watching. The end of Seinfeld drew 41.3 million people in 1998.dramas. Friends had 29.2 million viewers for its 2004 finale.
But ER has been a permanent fixture on the NBC lineup, and helped to launch a lot of careers. Where would George Clooney be without that show? Maybe fans can keep their hopes up for a movie!