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What is the Longest Running TV Series in the United States?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The longest running TV series in the United States is the National Broadcasting Company's “Meet the Press,” which has been airing since 6 November, 1947. Given that television broadcasting began barely a decade before “Meet the Press” started airing, the show's long-lasting run is rather significant. The news show also happens to be the longest running TV series in the world, and the show has consistently high viewer numbers, often beating out the competition.

“Guiding Light,” a daytime drama which first aired on 30 June 1952, could be considered another contender for the honor of longest running TV series in the United States. The show airs on CBS, and it has the distinction of being the longest running soap opera in the world. “The Price is Right” is another venerable television series which has been airing since 1972, and fans of “The Simpsons” may be pleased to know that the animated comedy is the longest running animated comedy series in the United States, with an initial air date of 17 December 1989.

Several other American series have had notably long runs, including “Gunsmoke,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Tonight Show.” The honors of longest running TV series don't belong solely in the United States, however. “Sazae-San,” an animated show, has been airing in Japan since 1969, and “The Late Late Show” has been broadcast to Irish viewers since 1962. A Mexican cooking show, “Hasta La Cocina,” has been airing since 1962, and “Hockey Night In Canada” has been on the air since 1952.

The United Kingdom also has several notably long-running television series which are worthy of a mention. “Dr Who” has aired off and on on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) since 1963, making it the longest running science fiction series, and “Blue Peter,” a children's show which started airing on the BBC in 1958, also has a very long history on the air. The long history of television broadcasting in both the United States and Great Britain can be seen from the huge numbers of American and British shows which tend to dominate lists of the longest running TV series in the world.

Some of these series have episode counts in the thousands, making it remarkable that they have been on the air for so long. “Meet the Press,” being a news show, has an obvious advantage in that there's always plenty of new material to work with, but the staff on scripted comedies, dramas, and action shows definitely deserve some commendation for keeping their shows on the air for so long.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseTour researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon220686 — On Oct 08, 2011

Yes the great thing about this list I have seen most of these shows. It is an incredible accomplishment for any show to last outside of five years, much less decades.

By BrickBack — On Nov 02, 2010

Oasis11-The Lassie TV series also lasted about twenty years. I think Lassie TV show and the Wonderful World of Disney were also long standing programs that aired on Sunday evenings around 7 PM.

If I looked at a TV episode guide I would have to say that I Love Lucy also has to be one of the longest running TV shows ever. The show debuted in 1951 and ended the series in 1957, however because of syndication that show is still on the air.

I remember seeing reruns as a kid in the 70’s and loved the show. It was a fun wholesome show that really made you laugh. The Real McCoys TV show also debuted around the same time and it also is available through syndication.

I know that in terms of children’s shows, Sesame Street is the longest running TV series ever. It has been on the air for the last forty years and it is still going strong.

By oasis11 — On Nov 02, 2010

Many of the longest running TV drama series are usually soap operas. Most soap operas like All My Children and General Hospital have been on the air for several decades.

These shows have continuous storylines that gets viewers hooked. Shows like Dallas and Dynasty were also considered soap operas but they aired during prime time hours.

I think the longest running TV drama series is Law and Order which debuted in September of 1990 and is wrapping up its 20th year.

The longest running TV show, however, is Meet the Press, but after Tim Russert died the show has not been the same. It was nice to watch him because he challenged everyone that came to the show regardless of party affiliation.

His unbiased interviewing style was a refreshing break from the partisan reporters we see on television today. He was a true professional in the journalism world and will always be remembered.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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