These Were the Most Watched TV Episodes of 2019

From Game of Thrones to The Masked Singer, these ratings couldn't be beat.

From The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones signing off to celebrities in plush costumes covering '90s R&B classics, 2019 was certainly a big year for television. Long-running crime dramas like Blue Bloods and NCIS continued to deliver the goods, but also made room for new talent like FBI. And speaking of talent, The Voice and America's Got Talent minted a new constellation of stars, while keeping a close eye on quirky newcomer The Masked Singer. Sure, streaming has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to television programming, but broadcast has also enjoyed a robust 2019. In the spirit of looking back on the TV hits of the last year, here are the most watched TV episodes of 2019, by the total number of viewers.

Note: This list only includes scripted and reality broadcast and cable shows, not streaming content, or sports and event coverage.

This Is Us, "Her"

this is us her

Date: Apr. 2
Viewers: 8.22 million

The Season 3 finale of the popular drama drew an audience of over 8 million. In true This Is Us fashion, "Her" featured a disjointed timeline: a flashback to a near-fatal car accident involving Rebecca (Mandy Moore) that dramatically set up a flash-forward to a distant future in which Rebecca's children tend to their mother on her deathbed. Fans showed up in droves to watch the story unfold, with tons of tissues in hand—particularly after the previous episode saw the show's most beloved couple, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), have a major blow-up.

Blue Bloods, "Ripple Effect"

blue bloods ripple effect
Panda Productions Inc./IMDB

Date: Feb. 1
Viewers: 9.13 million

Even in Season 9, this mid-season episode of the police procedural drama had it all: a medley of fortune tellers, fraudulent charities, and bogus insulin. But what 9 million people tuned in to see was Eddie (Vanessa Ray) going wedding dress shopping, and her and Jamie (Will Estes) riding together again. Blue Bloods' most beloved couple finally wed later in Season 9—and about 8.5 million total viewers tuned in to the finale to bear witness to their "I do's."

FBI, "The Lives of Others"

fbi the lives of others

Date: Oct. 1
Viewers: 9.46 million

In a chilling twist on a familiar crime drama plot, FBI's "The Lives of Others" told the story of a successful mommy blogger whose son is kidnapped by one of her own fans, as the FBI swiftly deduce. This fan, it turns out, is also the boy's mother. Dealing with difficult themes of lost trust, obsession, and surrogacy, the second episode of FBI Season 2 captivated viewers—nearly 9.5 million of them.

America's Got Talent, "Live Results Finale"

detroit youth choir at america's got talent
Fremantle Media via YouTube

Date: Sept. 18
Viewers: 10.21 million

Fourteen seasons deep, it's safe to say America's got a thing for America's Got Talent. The Season 14 finale netted an impressive 10.21 million viewers, and did plenty to solidify AGT's reputation as a star-making factory. Ryan Niemiller, an Indianapolis stand-up comic, took the bronze; the Detroit Youth Choir took second place with a moving rendition of "Can't Hold Us"; and Kodi Lee earned the top honor after nailing Calum Scott's "You Are the Reason"—in a duet with Leona Lewis, no less!

The Voice, "Blind Auditions, Part 3"

jej vinson at the voice
MGMT Television via YouTube

Date: Mar. 4
Viewers: 10.97 million

Sure, America's Got Talent has 14 seasons under its belt, but The Voice has an even more impressive 17. However, it was a Season 16 episode—the second week of John Legend's stint as a new coach—that brought in nearly 11 million people. This particular episode saw all four coaches (Legend, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Kelly Clarkson) vie for not one but two diamonds-in-the-rough: Alabama's Dexter Roberts and Jej Vinson, of the Philippines. And fans couldn't get enough of watching the power struggle go down.

The Masked Singer, "Season Finale: The Final Mask Is Lifted"

the masked singer
Burnish Creative/IMDB

Date: Feb. 27
Viewers: 11.47 million

This quirky, singing competition show, featuring performers wearing costumes and masks, struck viewership gold in what is usually a fallow period for primetime television. Premiering on Jan. 2, 2019, The Masked Singer was such an instant hit that it took Fox less than a month to renew it for a second season. In the Season 1 finale, viewed by over 11 million people, the Peacock, the Bee, and the Monster were all unmasked—revealing, respectively, Donny Osmond, Gladys Knight, and T-Pain. But it was the "Bartender" singer who took home the gold, with a cover of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It."

NCIS, "Out of the Darkness"

out of the darkness ncis

Date: Sept. 24
Viewers: 12.57 million

"Out of Darkness," the premiere of Season 17 of NCIS, was highly anticipated for one major reason: the return of Ziva (Cote de Pablo). Fans were on the edge of their seats waiting to find out why she faked her own death four seasons prior, and why, at the end of Season 16, she told Gibbs (Mark Harmon) that his life was in grave danger. The hunger for answers brought in more than 12.5 million people.

Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne"

dany and jon embracing in the game of thrones finale

Date: May 16
Viewers: 13.1 million

All good things must come to an end—even Game of Thrones. But by the end, there was no consensus that Season 8 was actually good. George R.R. Martin hasn't yet finished the fantasy novel series on which the HBO epic is based, leading some fans to ascribe the inferior quality of the last two seasons to the writers running out of source material. Still, a horde of some 13 million viewers showed up for the Game of Thrones series finale, and with no shortage of backstabbing, throne melting, and kingdom shuffling, who could say "The Iron Throne" didn't do what it was supposed to?

Young Sheldon, "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast"

young sheldon
Chuck Lorre Productions/IMDB

Date: May 16
Viewers: 13.6 million

The final episode of Season 2 of Young Sheldon, which had almost 14 million total viewers, closed things out with equal parts sweetness and sadness. Sheldon (Iain Armitage) organizes a listening party for the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics. But due to the time difference between the U.S. and Sweden, the party must begin at 5 a.m., and unsurprisingly, no one attends. Meanwhile, Professor Sturgis (Wallace Shawn) weathers a crisis of confidence, as he realizes that he will never win a Nobel Prize. His consolation is his belief that Sheldon will one day do what he can't—and as fans know, that is precisely what happens!

The Big Bang Theory, "The Stockholm Syndrome"

Chuck Lorre Productions/IMDB

Date: May 16
Viewers: 18.52 million

The season finale of Young Sheldon was particularly bittersweet because it followed the series finale of The Big Bang Theory, in which Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and the gang travel to Stockholm to collect the Nobel Prize in Physics. A whopping 18.52 million viewers tuned in for Big Bang's big finish, 12 seasons in the making. And though the series closer generally played it safe—barring a surprise Sarah Michelle Gellar cameo—it won over its audience one last time with the smart dialogue that made the show a hit.

Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more
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