The Longest-Running TV Shows of All Time

Television is more popular than ever, and there are more shows available than you could ever have the time to watch. Even with so many shows coming and going, however, there are some series that have stood the test of time. If you’ve been looking for a new show to pick up, you might want to avoid these ones – unless you’re OK with catching up on years and years of past episodes!

‘Meet the Press’ and the Other News Shows

Far and away, America’s popular news shows take the cake for longest-running television series. The longest-running, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” began in 1947, pretty much at the beginning of broadcast television history. In that time, “Meet the Press” has racked up a whopping 17 thousand episodes. “CBS Evening News” isn’t far behind, having premiered just one year after “Meet the Press.” And, with a debut in 1952, NBC’s “The Today Show” takes third place.

Soap Operas

While the longevity of news programs is mightily impressive, perhaps even more remarkable is how long some well-known soap operas stayed on air. “Guiding Light,” the CBS daytime drama that ran from 1952 to 2009, still holds the title of longest-running soap opera, with more than 18 thousand total episodes. “As the World Turns,” another CBS show, ran just about as long, from 1956 to 2010. “General Hospital,” on ABC, is currently the longest-running soap opera still on air. If it stays on air until 2020, it’ll usurp “Guiding Light” as the overall longest-running soap opera.

Primetime Scripted Television

Primetime TV, or the programming that runs during the evening, means less and less as streaming services and DVRs allow consumers to watch their shows at whatever time works best for them. Still, there’s something to be said about prime time, which is when some of today’s most popular scripted shows air. To little surprise, “The Simpsons” is by far the longest-running of this types of American shows, having been on the air for an astounding 28 seasons, all with many of the same voice actors and producers. In second place is “Gunsmoke,” a Western that ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975, tied with the original “Law & Order,” which ran from 1990 to 2010.

Other Long-Running Shows From Around the World

While America was first to begin airing regular TV programs, other countries didn’t start very long after. That means there are plenty of other shows out there that have been going quite long, as well. For instance, the United Kingdom still airs shows that began in the 1950s – mostly news programs, similar to the United States. Germany’s longest-running drama, “Tatort,” has been going strong since 1970, with different broadcast stations taking turns airing the new seasons each year. And Japan’s “Sazae-san,” an animated show that began in 1969, still airs, having run much longer than “The Simpsons.”

It’ll be interesting to see how these standings change as television itself changes. Will we eventually see Netflix shows appear on this list? How long will “The Simpsons” be the oldest American television show still on air? For questions like these, only time will tell.

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