Gary Susman
October 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

There were a lot of TV spectacles Tuesday night, including the California election and the first baseball game of the National League playoff series, but still, some 17.5 million viewers managed to tune into ”8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” to see John Ritter’s final filmed performance. Except for the Chicago Cubs-Florida Marlins game on Fox, the ABC sitcom was the most watched show of the night, according to Nielsen estimates.

Ritter completed only three episodes of the show’s second season before his unexpected death from a heart ailment on Sept. 11. ABC will air reruns for about a month, then reintroduce the show without Ritter, as his TV family copes with his character’s death.

Tuesday’s show ended with a montage of earlier ”8 Simple Rules” clips and outtakes, concluding with a shot of him ushering TV daughter Kaley Cuoco out the door on her way to a driving lesson. He gestured farewell and said, ”Off you go.”

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