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

The longest-running TV series in the United States is "The Simpsons," which has been delivering its unique blend of humor and social commentary since 1989. With over 30 years on air, it's a cultural phenomenon that continues to resonate with audiences. Curious about the secret to its longevity? Join us as we explore the enduring appeal of Springfield's most famous family.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

"The Simpsons" is the longest-running animated comedy in the U.S.
"The Simpsons" is the longest-running animated comedy in the U.S.

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.

"Guiding Light" has the distinction of being the longest running soap opera in the world.
"Guiding Light" has the distinction of being the longest running soap opera in the world.

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.

Soap operas usually retell the same stories with new characters to promote longevity.
Soap operas usually retell the same stories with new characters to promote longevity.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the longest-running TV series in the United States?

The longest-running TV series in the United States is 'The Simpsons,' which debuted on December 17, 1989. As of my knowledge cutoff in 2023, it has been on the air for over three decades and continues to produce new episodes. The show has become an iconic part of American culture, known for its satirical take on a middle-class American family and society at large.

How many seasons and episodes does 'The Simpsons' have?

As of early 2023, 'The Simpsons' has aired more than 30 seasons with over 700 episodes. The show has surpassed several milestones, making it not only the longest-running American sitcom but also the longest-running American scripted primetime television series in terms of seasons and episodes.

Are there any other long-running TV series in the United States?

Yes, there are several other long-running TV series in the United States. 'Gunsmoke' (1955-1975) and 'Law & Order' (1990-present) are notable for their longevity. 'Gunsmoke' holds the record for the longest-running live-action series with 20 seasons, while 'Law & Order' has been renewed for its 21st season as of my knowledge cutoff, making it one of the longest-running crime dramas.

What contributes to the longevity of a TV series like 'The Simpsons'?

The longevity of 'The Simpsons' can be attributed to its timeless humor, broad appeal, and ability to evolve with the times. The show's writers have consistently delivered sharp social commentary and satire that resonates with audiences across different generations. Additionally, its animated format allows for greater creative freedom and longevity of characters, as they do not age like live-action characters.

Has 'The Simpsons' received any significant awards or recognition?

'The Simpsons' has received numerous awards and accolades throughout its run, including dozens of Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It has been praised for its influence on television and its impact on popular culture, solidifying its status as a television landmark.

Mary McMahon
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.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
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.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon220686

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.

BrickBack

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.

oasis11

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.

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    • "The Simpsons" is the longest-running animated comedy in the U.S.
      By: Eric Conrad
      "The Simpsons" is the longest-running animated comedy in the U.S.
    • "Guiding Light" has the distinction of being the longest running soap opera in the world.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      "Guiding Light" has the distinction of being the longest running soap opera in the world.
    • Soap operas usually retell the same stories with new characters to promote longevity.
      By: Forewer
      Soap operas usually retell the same stories with new characters to promote longevity.