Credit: ABC; Getty; ABC

A show like The Bachelor doesn’t last for 14 years and 18 seasons (and counting!) without doing something right. Fans always find something to complain about — the lead isn’t hot/interesting enough, the contestants are certifiable, no one is here for “the right reasons” — but the numbers are still good, especially in the 18-49 bracket prized by advertisers.

That said, the franchise is a far cry from its heydey, which was in 2002-2003, with its first four seasons. (They used to air The Bachelor twice a year.)

Which season had the highest ratings? Believe it or not, it was Season 2 with banker Aaron Buerge. The Bachelor Season 2, which aired on Wednesdays, started with 11 million viewers and ended with a massive 25.9 million, with a whopping 11.9 rating/28 share in the 18-49 zone. That’s crazy good. According to SpottedRatings, no other other airing has even come within 20 percent of that November 2002 finale rating.

Credit: ABC Photo: Season 2: Aaron Buerge and Helene Eksterowicz

It was truly a beautiful thing to see Aaron propose to Helene Eksterowicz … not that it lasted. (He dumped her at a Starbucks five weeks after the finale. Ah, l’amour!)

For comparison’s sake, The Bachelor Season 1 with Alex Michel, started with just under 10 million viewers and ended with just over 18 million. Season 3 started with 10.2 and ended with just over 15 million. Season 4 started with 12.5 million and ended with 18.6 million.

The numbers started to slip a bit with Season 5 in 2004, hitting a low in 2008 with poor Matt Grant's Season 12, which started and ended with under 9 million viewers and averaged a 2.71 rating. Things picked up after that, thanks to Jason Mesnick's Season 13 trainwreck drama. And even though Sean Lowe’s most recent Season 17 started low with just under 7 million viewers and a 2.3 rating, it ended with just under 11 million and a finale rating of 3.8. It’s all about how you finish!

Check out more Bachelor ratings scoop here. We'll have to see where Juan Pablo Galavis's ratings land on the list after Season 18 premieres on January 6, 2014. Any predictions?

Sources: SpottedRatings, People