HBO has always been known for its groundbreaking and cutting edge shows. It has given us television gems like “Deadwood,” “Six Feet Under,” “Band of Brothers,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Entourage.” Some have generated strong ratings, while others, like “The Wire,” failed to light up the charts even though it played out for five seasons.
There have been blockbusters as well, with the current “Game of Thrones” already considered the second most popular HBO show after “The Sopranos.” In terms of ratings per episode, however, the following are the most watched HBO shows.
5. True Blood, Season 4 Episode 9 (August 21, 2011) – 5.53 million
Alan Ball created “True Blood,” a television series based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris entitled “The Southern Vampire Mysteries.” It is about how humans and vampires exist side by side in the fictional town of Bon Temps, a small community in the northwest part of Louisiana. It focuses on the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a character played by Anna Paquin. Stackhouse is a telepathic waitress with an otherworldly quality. Aside from Paquin, the show stars Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Alexander Skarsgard and Chris Bauer. It premiered on September 7, 2008 and is now on its way to a sixth season.
Season 4 Episode 9 pulled in 5.53 million viewers, making it the most watched episode of the show so far. The episode was entitled “Let’s Get Out of Here” and was written by Brian Buckner and directed by Romeo Tirone. The episode features a severely wounded Sookie being brought to her house where Bill gives her blood. While she was unconscious, she dreamt of having both Eric and Bill in her life. Marnie, however, had cast a spell on Eric, who then went out with other bewitched vampires to attack humans, discredit vampires and attack Bill. Sookie then got help from Debbie to get Eric back.
4. Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 3 (April 14, 2013) – 5.8 million
The tandem of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss created the epic television fantasy series called “Game of Thrones”. The show was adapted from the George R. Martin series of novels called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the first part of which was entitled “A Game of Thrones.” It features interwoven plot lines about inhabitants of the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. It tackles familiar issues like religion, civil war, social hierarchy, sexuality, crime and punishment. The show has given Peter Dinklage Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his supporting role.
Season 3 Episode 3 had 5.8 million viewers, beating the 4.4 million viewership recorded by the season’s premiere episode. Episode 3 was entitled “Walk of Punishment,” with writing and directing credits to Benioff and Weiss.
3. Boardwalk Empire, Season 1 Episode 1 (September 19, 2010) – 7.1 million
The television series called “Boardwalk Empire” was adapted from the book about Enoch L. Johnson, a criminal kingpin who was featured in “Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City.” It debuted on September 19, 2010 and is now headed to a fourth season. It stars Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham. It has won 12 Emmy Awards.
Season 1 Episode 1 was made at a cost of $18 million. Martin Scorsese directed it and it is still considered as the most expensive pilot episode in the history of television. Entitled “Boardwalk Empire,” it was set during the dawn of Prohibition. Enoch Thompson, also known as Nucky, the treasurer of Atlantic County, decided to get himself rich by bootlegging liquor. He got help from Charlie Luciano and Arnold Rothstein. He also formed an alliance with Jimmy Darmody, a former protégé and World War I veteran, after being approached by Darmody’s wife, Margaret Schroeder, for help.
2. Sex and the City, Season 6 Episode 20 (February 22, 2004) – 10.6 million
Darren Star created “Sex and the City,” a comedy drama series that run for six seasons on HBO. It was based on the Candace Bushnell book of the same name that followed the lives of four women. The show discussed several modern issues like sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, femininity and promiscuity. It starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. It won seven Emmy Awards and eight Golden Globes.
Season 6 Episode 20 was the series finale. It was entitled “An American Girl in Paris: Part Deux,” with Michael Patrick King writing it and Tim Van Patten directing. It was the most watched episode of the series. It featured Carrie feeling alone in Paris as her boyfriend spent time on his exhibit. Sam was having chemotherapy that was killing not just cancer cells but also her sex drive. Charlotte, meanwhile, was trying to adopt a baby. Carrie’s ex, Big, finally went after her and said the words that Carrie had longed to hear.
1. The Sopranos, Season 4 Episode 1 (September 15, 2002) – 13.43 million
David Chase created the drama entitled “The Sopranos.” It showed the life of Tony Soprano as he tried to balance his home life and the criminal organization he belonged to. It starred James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli and Lorraine Bracco. Considered as the most financially successful series in the history of cable television, it is still regarded as the greatest television series of all time. During its run of six seasons from 1999 to 2007, it showcased 86 episodes. It won 21 Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes.
Season 4 Episode 1 was entitled “For All Debts Public and Private.” It featured Tony providing Christopher an opportunity to take revenge against Lt. Barry Haydu for killing Dickie Moltisanti. It was also the first episode shown after the 9/11 attacks, with the producers removing images of the World Trade Center twin towers from the opening credits. The episode was also notable after it incorporated a suggestion by a real-life Mafia who told the creator that while all the other elements were authentic, a Mafia don always wear long trousers. As a result, a line was included in which Tony was told that, “A don doesn’t wear shorts.”