When you consider that more than three-quarters of new TV shows are canceled after just one season, shows that have beaten the odds and have been going on for decades are a rarity. But a handful of prime-time shows have done just that.
Using IMDb, an online Amazon movie database, and other sources, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 50 longest-running television series in history. We have only included programs that aired at a specific prime time during their original air time (generally 8pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday, 7pm to 11pm on Sunday), and omitted anthology series, music television and sports programs.
Many of these programs survived despite cast changes, the death of a presenter, drastic cultural changes and scandals. (When calculating the length of a series run, we only took into account the time it was actually on the air, not the time spent canceling or between channels. Therefore, the length of a series run may differ from the specified time span.)
The list spans multiple newscasts, crime novels, comedies, variety shows, documentaries, and reality shows, and includes programs from every decade since the 1940s when television first appeared in American homes. (Here are the best classic TV shows to stream.)
From popular early shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which first aired in 1948 under the title “Toast of the Town,” to modern models of televised humor like “The Simpsons,” these shows have shaped and influenced America’s cultural landscape reflected. The reason for their longevity is their wide appeal and cultural applicability. Factors like award nominations and critical acclaim can keep a series going year after year – although ultimately what shows some of its persistence is an engaged audience. Here are the highest rated shows you can watch today.
Click here for the longest running primetime shows in TV history