“True Detectives” (Jim Bridges/HBO)

“True Detective” went out with a bang on HBO Sunday night, capturing 3.5 million viewers and earning the highest ratings of its eight-episode first season. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s a pretty sizable audience for a freshman pay cable drama, and up from the 2.3 million that checked out the season premiere. Clearly, word spread that the show was worth watching.

For comparison’s sake, the 3.5 million audience was more than fellow HBO drama “Game of Thrones” attracted in its first season finale (just over 3 million people). It’s also higher than “Mad Men” on basic cable, which closed its sixth and most recent season with 2.7 million people last summer.

Compared to other Sunday night Prestige Dramas, however, “True Detective” still has a long way to go. Last season’s “GoT” finale got 5.4 million viewers, while AMC’s “The Walking Dead” regularly kills it at a level even a broadcast show would die for, with around 16 million tuning in for the midseason premiere last month.

“True Detective” also — not too surprisingly — did well in the social media world. Nielsen’s SocialGuide ranked it as the third most-tweeted show of the week, behind “The Walking Dead” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.” (That measures three hours before, during and three hours after the broadcast.)

For the show’s initial airing between 9 and 10 p.m., 23,649 people tweeted using the terms “true detective” or “#truedetective.” Over the last 24 hours, there have been 166,775 tweets using those phrases. As for specific moments, viewers were really excited about the climactic events that happened in Carcosa at 9:41 p.m., tweeting up a storm right then — tweets also spiked at 9:03 p.m. and 9:57 p.m., a more predictable pattern.