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Ratings: How I Met Your Mother Exits With Its Biggest Audience Ever

"Last Forever Parts One and Two" —Ted finally finishes telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, on the special one-hour series finale of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, March 31 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.   Pictured: Josh Radnor as Ted. Photo: Ron P. Jaffe/Fox © 2014 Fox Television. All rights reserved

How I Met Your Mother didn’t please everybody, but it ended its nine-year run Monday with its most watched episode ever. Per preliminary Nielsen data, the show’s hour-long finale averaged 12.9 million viewers and earned a 5.3 rating among viewers under 50. It easily beat everything else on TV last night in the under-50 demo, with only the very old viewers of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars drawing a bigger overall crowd. HIMYM’s previous high-water mark in viewership came all the way back in season one, when 2005’s (still unsolved!) “The Pineapple Incident” notched 12.3 million viewers; among viewers under 50, its past record (5.2) was set with the September 2011 season opener “The Best Man.” With Monday’s outing, HIMYM joins a relatively rare club of long-running TV series that finished their runs with a bigger audience than when they started. Legendary, indeed.

Photo: Ron P. Jaffe/CBS