So, Which Shows Were No. 1 in 2010?

Glee, Walking Dead, Betty White, more: A look at the year's greatest ratings hits

By Joal Ryan Dec 21, 2010 9:55 PMTags
Glee, Naya Rivera, Cory MonteithJustin Lubin/FOX

Who was Glee's biggest guest star? Which Real Housewives bout knocked out the most viewers? And which vampire bite bit the deepest?

A look at 2010's greatest ratings hits:

• Glee topped out on April 13 with "Hell-O" (13.7 million viewers). The episode benefitted from Gwyneth Paltrow  Britney Spears Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff—and an extremely helpful American Idol lead-in. 

Glee's biggest episode not boosted by Idol was Sept. 28's Spears-boosted "Britney/Brittany" (13.5 million). 

• The Real Housewives franchise hit a new high (or low) with Aug. 30's New Jersey reunion shoving match (3.9 million).

Jersey Shore hit a new high (or low) with Sept. 30's Snooki-Angelina disagreement brawl (6.7 million).

• In a twist, Keeping Up With the Kardashians set a new network record on Feb. 28 (4.8 million) without resorting to fisticuffs. (The episode was marked by the birth of Kourtney Kardashian's son, Mason.)

Vampire Diaries was the top CW drama; the top Vampire Diaries was Feb. 4's "Children of the Damned" (4 million).

True Blood was the top vampire show; the top True Blood was Aug. 29's "Fresh Blood" (5.4 million).

• Zombies topped vampires, thanks to The Walking Dead, which topped out with Dec. 5's season finale (6 million). 

American Idol, which averaged 24.8 million for its Tuesday shows, topped everything.

• The Jan. 18 iCarly special, iSaved Your Life, was cable's No. 1 entertainment show (12.4 million).

Saturday Night Live's biggest guest host was (who else?) Betty White (12.1 million on May 8).

SNL's second-biggest guest host was (now, this is a bit unexpected…) Paul Rudd (7.6 million on Dec. 11).

• For the fall season through Dec. 5, the broadcast show that added, on average, the most DVR viewers after a week's worth of playback was Modern Family Grey's Anatomy Hawaii Five-O (3.2 million). Parenthood and Fringe grew their audiences by the biggest percentage.  

• The most-watched animated holiday special was Charlie Brown Christmas Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (12.2 million).

Elsewhere, here were the week's 10 most-watched (non-football) shows, per the latest Nielsen Media Research broadcast rankings: 

  1. NCIS, 19.9 million viewers
  2. 60 Minutes, 18.7 million
  3. NCIS: Los Angeles, 16.8 million
  4. Two and a Half Men, 14 million
  5. Criminal Minds, 13.8 million
  6. Survivor: Nicaragua (Sunday finale), 13.6 million
  7. The Big Bang Theory, 13.2 million
  8. Survivor: Nicaragua (Wednesday), 12.3 million
  9. Mike & Molly, 12 million
  10. The Good Wife, 11.8 million

VOTE NOW: What was the best show of 2010?