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'Two and a Half Men' finale ratings not as big as you might think

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Michael Yarish/CBS

At the risk of sounding like the title of a Two and a Half Men episode: Honestly, we expected bigger.

TV’s longest-running current live-action sitcom closed its run Thursday night with a hefty ratings gain compared to last week, which marks the show’s biggest numbers since 2013. Yet the comedy’s performance was far from the huge spike one might have expected, given its longevity and media attention.  

Men‘s hour-long piano-dropping closer had 13.2 million viewers and a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49, up 47 percent from last week. It’s a far cry from the show’s modern ratings peak, when Ashton Kutcher took over for Sheen in the ninth season and delivered 27.7 million viewers. Plus, it was edged out in demo for the 9 p.m. hour by ABC’s Scandal (9.5 million, 3.2).  

Men‘s opener—the series premiere of a new Odd Couple reboot starring Matthew Perry—was almost certainly of greater importance to CBS than the Men finale. The network’s new two-men-sharing-a-home sitcom had 13.6 million viewers and a 3.1 in the demo. That’s terrific for a new comedy premiere nowadays, though it was also fueled by a The Big Bang Theory lead-in (17.2 million, 4.4). Falling “only” 30 percent from TV’s biggest comedy is considered pretty good. 

Also of note Thursday: NBC’s Blacklist (7.5 million, 1.7) was pushed down to a distant third place at 9 p.m. The James Spader thriller is picking up more viewers than ever on DVR, but still you have to wonder if moving the show from its Monday perch into the Thursday grinder was worth it.

For more on Men, check out EW’s recap of the finale, plus our interview with co-creator Chuck Lorre about former star Charlie Sheen’s absence—and that unexpected ending. 

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