By James Hibberd
Updated October 17, 2011 at 07:00 PM EDT

Wow: AMC’s The Walking Dead came back stronger than ever. Sunday’s season 2 premiere rolled up 7.3 million viewers. If you count the show’s repeat, that number climbs to 11 million.

The 90-minute Walking Dead return is up 38 percent compared to its Halloween-night debut last year, and is bigger than its finale too — so this is a series high. Last year, if you’ll recall, the numbers started big and actually managed to improve throughout the six-episode run (the finale delivered 6 million viewers). Walking Dead also delivered a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49, which is the real trick (a few cable drama like The Closer have really big audiences, but their average age is mostly above the demo — and this is bigger than most broadcast shows last week). This is more adults in the demo than any basic cable series in history.

Read more:

‘Walking Dead’ writer Robert Kirkman talks season premiere (and that traumatic ending)

‘The Walking Dead’: Did you love or loathe the season premiere?

EW’s recap of ‘The Walking Dead’ season 2 premiere