Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Sorry haters, AMC’s The Walking Dead still hasn’t peaked in the ratings: After posting huge ratings gains year after year, Sunday’s midseason finale for TV’s top-rated scripted series once again showed a performance climb for a pivotal episode.

The zombie drama has risen for every premiere and finale compared to the previous year’s episode, season after season. Sunday’s winter closer maintained that trend: 12.1 million viewers, up 15 percent from last year’s December finale. So far this season is averaging 13 million viewers, up 29 percent from the first half of season three, with a 6.1 rating among adults 18-49. Post-show The Talking Dead had a record 6 million viewers. Though some noted the show’s ratings dipped for The Governor’s second episode last week, and tried to extract meaning from that, an audience decline for an episode that airs during a holiday week is pretty typical.

Still, The Walking Dead‘s ratings climb does appear to be slowing. By comparison, last year’s finale zoomed 58 percent from the season two winter finale vs. last night’s 15 percent rise from season three. The next key tests will be the show’s midseason premiere (Feb. 9, here’s the trailer), and then the season 4 finale. Will The Walking Dead‘s phenomenal audience climb top out this season? Given this trend, and the strong creative post-prison plan for the back-eight, it doesn’t seem likely.

Here’s AMC’s trailer for the return of the show, which picks up Feb. 9. Here’s why this season has actually marked a creative improvement over last year, despite some quibbles.