HBO's Chernobyl Ends Season 1 Ranked Atop All Other TV Shows

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(Image credit: hbo press)

While the real-life Chernobyl nuclear accident is one of the world's most catastrophic disasters, HBO's Chernobyl miniseries from creator Craig Mazin is the very antithesis of disaster. The critical darling wrapped up its five-episode run on Monday night with a highly lauded finale, and after the dust (and other sediments) cleared, Chernobyl continued to reign supreme as the highest-rated TV series on IMDb, atop international gems such as AMC's crime drama Breaking Bad and the nature doc Planet Earth.

With Game of Thrones bringing some of HBO's biggest audiences of all time during its final-season stretch, the network was already having an excellent 2019 when Chernobyl made its big premiere in May. Things only got better after that, at least when it came to reactions from critics and audience members, and now that the stress-filled drama has wrapped its full run, it has masterfully maintained its position atop all other TV shows listed on IMDb.

Now, for those who were paying attention in recent weeks, Chernobyl rather quickly made it to the top of IMDb's list of top-rated TV shows, where it currently sits with a 9.7 ranking. It likely would have taken a truly rotten pair of final episodes to truly tank the drama and pull its overall rating down. However, not only did the ranking stay in a similarly high range beyond the finale, but it also nearly doubled up on the audience votes between our last report and the most current stats.

Just a week ago, following Chernobyl's penultimate episode, titled "The Happiness of All Mankind," there were around 74,000 votes in place to cement the HBO drama's superiority. Currently, there are 114,755 votes, meaning 70,000 popped onto IMDb to post all kinds of high marks for Chernobyl just in the past six days. In comparison, Planet Earth II in the #2 slot has 71,000 total votes.

The imbalance between high scores and low scores is huge, too. Of the 114,755 votes, only 7,904 (6.9%) of them fell below the 9-10 range, and a whopping 90,789 (79.1%) people scored Chernobyl as highly as they could. It's to the point where one has to wonder if the 1,785 lowest-score votes came from people who genuinely didn't like the show, or if it came from inefficient attempts at devaluing the miniseries' score.

In any case, Chernobyl stands a decent-to-impressive chance to remain the highest-ranked show on IMDb for many, many years, since it would take another extremely precise project to come around and top it. Chernobyl's advantages include a premium cable network's budget, a cast of tried thespians instead of marquee celebrities, an intelligently crafted story about an engaging real-world event, and a fat-trimmed five-episode run that doesn't overstay its welcome. Nothing else like it in the Top 10, that's for sure.

To break things down a step further, even, Chernobyl's finale is currently sitting on a 9.9 rating, which is pretty remarkable. That said, less than 5,000 people have voted for it, so it'll likely end up dipping to around the 9.7 score of Episodes 2 and 3 assuming more people chime in with their star-based opinions. If not, though, "Vichnaya Pamyat" could possibly rank up there with the highest-rated single eps.

While the conversations about "best TV show of all-time" will generally revolve around Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos, is it possible that Chernobyl will have a more vocal place in that mix in the near future? Or will this just be one of those shows that reaps acclaim without ever getting talked about as much as it should, like Halt and Catch Fire?

Chernobyl is currently completed, with Monday night's finale likely the last we'll see from Craig Mazin's dark and distressing miniseries, unless the project's success encourages all involved to move forward with a follow-up. Regardless, Chernobyl can be still be streamed on HBO Go and HBO Now.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.