Credit: © Copyright ITV plc 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 may have gone down in history as blowing up Twitter on Christmas Day one of TV’s most unexpected season endings, but it’s got nothing on the conclusion of Season 4.

We say that not because anything nearly as devastating took place during the finale, which aired on February 23 in the U.S. Actually, we found the two-hour episode rather subdued after the rollercoaster of a season the fourth installment has been.

No, when we talk about history, we’re talking about ratings history. Season 4 is no stranger to breaking records for PBS; the premiere back on January 5 gave PBS a great start to the new year with an audience of more than 15 million tuning in to see where things stood at the Abbey.

Ratings didn’t end up staying at that supernatural high all season long — hard to do that when you’re sharing Sunday nights with TV spectacles like the Golden Globes and the Super Bowl — but come the end of February, Downton proved it’s still a force to be reckoned with even after an entire season sans Dan Stevens.

PBS reports Sunday’s show brought in an average audience of 8.5 million viewers; that’s an increase of more than 300,000 as compared to the February 2013 Season 3 finale! It’s also a slight spike in the average audience of 8.3 million who tuned in weekly during the last two months.

With this kind of momentum, maybe PBS will reward fans and bring Downton back early? Yeah, we know we’re dreaming.

Sources: PBS, The Hollywood Reporter

Elisabeth Kramer is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Downton Abbey expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!