No gimmicks, no super-sized story line--just a lot of viewers.
Monday's final episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was watched by 32.9 million, CBS said.
A series retrospective, Everybody Loves Raymond: The Last Laugh, which aired in the 8-9 p.m. hour, was viewed by another 24.5 million mourners.
The numbers helped push CBS' Two and a Half Men (24.6 million) and CSI: Miami (23.2 million) to all-time highs, and helped keep down the season closer of The Bachelor on ABC (9.3 million).
In the annals of sitcom finales, Raymond's falls more towards Newhart's 1990 farewell (29.5 million viewers) than the record-holder, 1983's M.A.S.H. (105.5 million), or last year's Friends event (52.5 million).
Unlike Newhart's surprise ending, or M.A.S.H. and Friends' tear-soaked sendoffs, Raymond went out as it went in nine years ago--with good, old-fashioned Barone family bickering. The half-hour episode (same as always) did veer into Very Special Episode territory with Ray (Ray Romano) suffering a scare during adenoid surgery, but veered right back into acrimony.
Everybody Loves Raymond premiered on Sept. 13, 1996. It ends its run as TV's most watched sitcom, a title Two and a Half Men appears most likely to inherit next fall.
Monday's ratings, including the Raymond finale, will be reflected in next week's rankings.
Meanwhile, for the TV week ended Sunday:Although 10-year-old girls may not have yet recovered, Anthony Federov's dramatic departure from Wednesday's American Idol was good for the health of the franchise (first place, 26.6 million). Tuesday's competition round wasn't so bad, either (fourth place, 24.7 million).
With six shows in the top 10, CBS dominated the sweeps week, claiming wins in total viewers (14.8 million) and the 18-49 demo.
Fox (9.3 million) was second in viewers and the demo; ABC (9.11 million), third. NBC (9.1 million) had fourth all to its lonesome.
UPN blew past the WB--3.8 million to 3.3 million.
Here's a rundown of the 10 most watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 26.6 million viewers
2. CSI, CBS, 26.5 million viewers
3. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 25.3 million viewers
4. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 24.7 million viewers
5. Survivor: Palau (Sunday), CBS, 20.8 million viewers
6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 20 million viewers
7. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 19.8 million viewers
8. Survivor: Palau (Thursday), CBS, 19.7 million viewers
9. Without a Trace, CBS, 18.9 million viewers
10. House, Fox, 18.8 million viewers