Excluding the baseball playoffs, the actor's final TV appearance on the ABC comedy "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" was the most-watched program on television Tuesday night, according to early ratings released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Tuesday night's show drew 17.45 million viewers and captured 20% of the 18-to-49-year-old audience that is the primary target of most advertisers.
One minute your daughter is wearing bunny slippers and demanding bedtime stories.
After Ritter's death, the cast and the network mourned, quite publicly, to strong ratings that, overnight, turned the network's modest hit into a legitimate contender bleeding viewers from its comedy competition on NBC.
At Paul's side is his wife Cate (Katey Sagal), who is returning to work after years as a housewife and mother.
She doesn't always agree with some of his more outlandish ideas in getting to better know their children, but she shares his lamentations at the generation gap between parent and child.
Early in the series, "8 Simple Rules" took this route as well, as the first several episodes were mainly about father Paul Hennessy's (Ritter) efforts to understand his teenaged children's behavior.
Usually, he'll falter due to his own shortcomings and ends up learning a lesson about himself or his children.