Home Improvement — 35 million viewers tuned in to see if Wilson would come out from behind the fence when the show ended on May 25, 1999. Actor Tim Allen, one of the stars of the show, is seen here. Newscom/FILE
Family Ties — Alex P. Keaton closed his briefcase for the final time with 36.3 million viewers watching when the show ended on May 14, 1989. Here, Michael J. Fox and other cast members from Family Ties are seen in 2002 during NBC's 75th Anniversary Ceremonies at New York City's Rockefeller Center. UPI/Newscom/FILE
Everybody Loves Raymond — 32.9 million viewers showed their love for Raymond and his family by watching the final show on May 16, 2005. The cast is seen here at the 55th annual Emmy Award show in Los Angeles, Calif., in September 2003. Newscom/FILE
Dallas — 33.3 million viewers bid goodbye to the Ewing clan when the show ended on May 3, 1991. Actor Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the show, is seen handing out fake $100 bills with his face on them in June 1980 at a train station. Newscom/FILE
All in the Family — 40.2 million viewers saw Archie’s true heart when the show ended on April 8, 1979. The cast of All the Family poses in this undated photo. Newscom/FILE
The Cosby Show—44.4 million viewers saw the 'fourth wall' broken between the studio audience when the show ended on April 30, 1992. Here, Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad star as Dr. Cliff and Clair Huxtable in a scene from the show in 1984. Newscom/FILE
Tonight Show with Johnny Carson — The NBC show drew 41.4 million viewers when Carson left the host’s chair on May 22, 1992, after 30 years. Carson is seen here with actor Robin Williams in 1985. Newscom/FILE
Magnum P.I. — 50.6 million viewers said 'aloha' to the mustachioed detective when the show ended on May 1, 1988. Actor Tom Selleck is seen on location for the filming of Magnum P.I. in Hawaii in June 1981. Newscom/FILE
Friends — 52.5 million viewers closed the door on the impossibly fabulous Manhattan apartments of these friends when the show ended on May 6, 2004. The cast of Friends is seen on a billboard promoting the series finale in Burbank, Calif., in May 2004. Fred Prouser/Reuters/FILE
Seinfeld — The official verdict on this series was watched by 76.3 million viewers when it ended on May 14, 1998. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as Elaine, and Jerry Seinfeld are seen here in a scene from the show in 1990. Newscom/FILE
Cheers — 80.4 million viewers bid goodbye to the Boston bar on May 20, 1993. Actor Ted Danson, a star of the show, is seen here in 1982. Newscom/FILE
M*A*S*H—105.6 million viewers said goodbye to Hawkeye and the rest of the docs in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital when the show ended on February 28. 1983. Cast members from M*A*S*H are seen in this 1972 photo. Newscom/FILE
James Gandolfini wasn't a well-known actor when he got the role of Tony Soprano in the HBO drama. But Gandolfini made it his own and the series took flight.
David Bauder, Associated Press /
June 21, 2013
James Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony Soprano represented more than just a memorable TV character. He changed the medium, making fellow antiheroes like Walter White and Dexter Morgan possible and shifting the balance in quality drama away from broadcast television.