The Walking Dead Finale Breaks (Its Own) Ratings Records

For the second time in less than three months, AMC's television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's zombie phenomenon The Walking Dead has broken its own basic cable ratings record with 9 million eyes on the blood-soaked episode. According to The Hollywood Reporter, another million and a half people checked out a rerun at 11:30 p.m.

After ratings in the first season that shattered all of AMC's internal records, the show's second season premiered to a then-record audience of 4.8 million in the 18-49-year-old demographic and 4.2 million in 25-54, for a total of 7.3 million viewers, in spite of the much-debated departure of original showrunner Frank Darabont, who is now working with former Walking Dead star Jon Bernthal for a pilot at TNT.

The show topped itself again in February, when its midseason return from hiatus rated an audience of 8.1 million total, 5.4 million in 18-49, and 4.4 million in 25-54--a record which held until Sunday. This week's season finale pulled in 9 million total viewers, including 6 million in the 18-49 demographic, 5.3 million in 25-54 and 3.2 million in 18-34. The adults aged 18-49 demographic is one of the most sought-after in television, as that age group is considered prime targets for advertisers.

Maybe a good chunk of those viewers were the zombie extras who comprised last night's herd--creator Robert Kirkman joked on the Talking Dead aftershow last night that there were millions of them.

The Walking Dead's third season, which is currently being written and has been expanded to 16 episodes (up from six in season one and thirteen this year), will air on AMC beginning in October.