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The Big Bang Theory’s Most Watched Episode From Every Season
2023/09/06

While grew more popular as the hit sitcom continued, the most watched episodes from each season give viewers a glimpse of what fans wanted from the show. Even though came from reliable sitcom hitmaker Chuck Lorre, the show’s outsized success was still a surprise. Lorre cut his teeth on before developing hits like and . However, became his most famous show when the series proved hugely popular in its third season.

Although always boasted an impressive audience share, the series grew in popularity as it continued. Unlike , the original series was a traditional hang-out show complete with a laugh track and a multi-camera setup.

This format was seen as somewhat outdated by the mid-2000s since daring sitcoms like and had upended the conventions of the genre. However, still proved hugely successful and a look back on its ratings proves why.

Season 1, Episode 1, "Pilot"

It is easy to guess which episode of season 1 fared the best with viewers. The show was still proving itself and had no built-in fan base yet, so it makes sense given viewers' curiosity that the pilot earned season 1’s biggest ratings. did very well in terms of audience share, with 9.

5 million viewers tuning into the first episode.

Season 2, Episode 15, “The Maternal Capacitance”

In season 2, the series started to come into its own. Accordingly, the ratings of the sitcom began to improve. Where many shows struggle to outdo the ratings received by their pilots, season 2, episode 15, “The Maternal Capacitance,” out-earned its season 1 predecessor handsomely with 12.7 million viewers. It is easy to see why this episode proved a hit, as it is the one where Penny and Leonard almost hook up thanks to Leonard’s mother.

Season 3, Episode 17, "The Precious Fragmentation”

season 3 saw the show’s popularity soar as episode 17, “The Precious Fragmentation,” racked up 16.3 million viewers. Interestingly, this outing wasn’t an episode that focused heavily on serious character drama, instead revolving around a goofy plot wherein the friend group fights over a prop ring from the movies. While it is not an obvious standout episode, makes this one a classic thanks to his transformation into a Gollum parody.

Season 4, Episode 1, The Robotic Manipulation"

There are two major reasons why season 4, episode 1, “The Robotic Manipulation,” was a big ratings success. The outing was the show’s season premiere, which always helps, and it also saw Penny follow Sheldon on his first real date. This hilarious premise guaranteed that the episode would be a classic, and 14 million viewers clearly agreed.

Season 5, Episode 15, “The Friendship Contraction”

With 16.5 million viewers, season 5, episode 15, “The Friendship Contraction,” was a huge hit for the sitcom. Surprisingly, this episode’s popularity wasn’t down to a Leonard/Penny plot line.

Instead, its plot focuses on Leonard and Sheldon’s brief friendship breakup. Thus, this episode’s success helped prove that could focus on the show’s hero without necessarily needing his original co-stars to return.

Season 6, Episode 13, “The Bakersfield Expedition”

A cool 20 million viewers tuned into season 6, episode 13, “The Bakersfield Expedition,” and this episode once again proved that relationship drama wasn’t the only thing bringing fans back to . A Comic Con-centric outing, "The Bakersfield Expedition” saw the gang get stranded while Penny, Bernadette, and Amy struggled to understand the appeal of comic books in their absence.

Season 7, Episode 2, “The Deception Verification”

A staggering 20.4 million viewers watched season 7, episode 2, “The Deception Verification.” This episode centered on a classic battle of wills between Sheldon and Leonard when Sheldon realized that his roommate had returned early to spend time with Penny and had given him the slip. The premise was thin but clearly comedically effective.

Season 8, Episode 2, “The Junior Professor Solution”

While season 8, episode 2, “The Junior Professor Solution,” couldn’t replicate the success of season 7’s biggest episode, the outing was watched by 18.

3 million viewers. It is easy to see why, as the episode saw Sheldon teaching Howard while . The ensuing drama proved both these underutilized pairs could produce comedy gold together.

Season 9, Episode 1, "The Matrimonial Momentum”

The season 9 premiere, "The Matrimonial Momentum,” saw the sitcom focus on one of its most dramatic plot lines ever. When Penny learned that Leonard kissed another woman, she started to seriously reconsider their impending wedding. This story soon petered out, but it was still surprising enough to command an impressive 18.

2 million viewers.

Season 10, Episode 12, “The Holiday Summation”

In season 10, episode 12, “The Holiday Summation,” Sheldon and Amy recounted their trip to Texas while Leonard and Penny struggled to find a Christmas tree. This Christmas episode wasn't anything too far out of the ordinary, but it was a rare occasion where with a r-style gimmick where the storytelling was split between the show's heroes. This earned the episode a sizable 16.8 million viewers.

Season 11, Episode 1, "The Proposal Proposal”

season 11 premiere featured no shortage of drama as Sheldon asked Amy to marry him while Howard and Bernadette came to terms with the news that they were expecting another child. While this all sounds fairly heavy, the sitcom kept things light in an episode that earned itself 17.7 million viewers. While funny, the outing was criticized thanks to Sheldon’s predictable behavior and tired persona.

Season 12, Episodes 23 and 24, “The Change Constant” and “The Stockholm Syndrome”

While’s ratings remained high throughout its final season, the two-part season finale had by far the biggest audience share of season 12.

Episodes 23 and 24, “The Change Constant” and “The Stockholm Syndrome,” both earned 18.5 million viewers as fans tuned in to watch Sheldon, Leonard, Amy, Bernadette, Raj, Penny, and Howard hang out together for the last time. While the show wasn't perfect, was still unsurprisingly a major hit. Like the rest of ’s episodes, the outing’s ratings prove just how perennially popular the show was with audiences.

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