After a two-month hiatus, AMC's "The Walking Dead" returned to television Sunday (Feb. 10), posting its best-ever ratings in total viewers and reaffirming our love for all things undead. 

According to newly released numbers, the zombie drama netted 12.3 million viewers (its biggest audience ever) during the 9 p.m. premiere, besting other big series in the coveted 18-49 demographic like "Modern Family," "NCIS," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Two and a Half Men." Including three encores later in the evening, AMC managed to capture 16.6 million viewers for the night. 

"When you look at numbers like this, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful we are to the fans of this show. They embrace ‘The Walking Dead’ in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president. “The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They’re a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved.”

As reported last week, "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman is eager to see the series go well beyond its current slate of four seasons.

"I think we'd be incredibly fortunate if we were one of those shows that got to go seven seasons," he told CNN. "I think that's a good possibility in our future, the way things are going. Hopefully, we'll make it there. At the same time, this is a very unique show. You never know. Personally, if I could wave a magic wand, I'd make it go 20 seasons. This is the kind of story that is exciting to watch these characters grow and change over time."

20 seasons? With ratings like these, don't bet against it.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

'The Walking Dead' returns with ratings surge
AMC's post-apocalyptic zombie drama continues to devour the competition.