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‘Walking Dead’ Finale Scores Record Ratings for AMC, Basic Cable Drama Series

AMC has first breakout hit with acclaimed zombie series

"The Walking Dead" season finale Sunday had 6 million viewers, the highest for any AMC series, and scored higher in the 18-49 demo than any drama series in basic cable history, AMC announced Monday.

The last episode in the zombie drama's first season scored a 4.1 household rating. It had 4 million viewers in the 18-49 demo — the highest for any basic cable drama ever, AMC said.

Its average 3.5 million viewers over the season also made it the most watched drama series in the demo in basic cable history, though it's six-episode arc may have helped it sustain its momentum.

"Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" have brought AMC awards, prestige, and a wealthy, well-educated audience demo that most networks would envy. But "Walking Dead" has given the network the one thing it didn't have: a flat-out hit.

The finale (very vague spoilers ahead) featured a dramatic debate about the place of hope in a post-apocalyptic world, a really cool explosion, Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time," and, of course, plenty of zombies.

Also read: "Walking Dead" Has AMC's Highest-Rated Series Debut

After the 10 p.m. airing, the show accumulated another 2.1 million total viewers from its encore airings at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., AMC said.

The show's premiere on Halloween night had AMC's highest ratings for a series debut, with 5.3 million viewers during the 90-minute episode. By comparison, "Mad Men" averaged 2.9 million viewers in Season 4, which ran from July to October.

The second season of the show, which will be 13 episodes, is expected to air in October 2011. Based on Robert Kirkman's comic-book series, the show stars Andrew Lincoln as a sheriff's deputy leading a band of vulnerable survivors in a land overrun by undead.