25 Longest-running T.V. Shows of All Time

Longest-Running T.V. Shows

Although they may not be among the best in television history, these shows have endured longer than most of those programs. This article contains the longest-running T.V. shows of all time.  

Even your grandparents may remember watching some shows because they have been aired for so long.

There are many examples of series that have persevered through the decades, becoming icons in their own right as some of the longest-running T.V. shows in the history of the globe.

These series range from children’s programs to daytime television. 

Television’s capacity to run for years on end is one of the reasons it has such a strong ability to connect with audiences and create such a strong, enduring bond. 

Movies are fantastic because they can tell the whole tale quickly, while television series often create hundreds of episodes and cover a wide range of topics with their plot and characters.  

It might be a blessing or a curse for a T.V. show to run for a long time, but it’s amazing to see how long some of these programs have been producing content.

Here are the longest-running T.V. shows of all time. 

1. The Simpsons (1989-present)

One of the longest-running T.V. shows is The Simpsons. This colorful family has endured the decades unabatedly and made people laugh across the generations.

The Simpsons debuted in 1987 as a collection of quick sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show. 

In 1989, a full-fledged series of The Simpsons debuted in syndication and held the record for the longest-running animated T.V. program in history. 

The show inspired future animated series like Family Guy and South Park, both of which have extended runs.

Additionally, The Simpsons still has over thirty seasons to air. 

2. Captain Kangaroo (1955-1984)

The children’s television series Captain Kangaroo first aired in 1955.

The program’s creator, Bob Keeshan, played the titular Captain Kangaroo and several other characters in the series, which was intended to be instructive and entertaining. 

After over 6,000 episodes and an almost thirty-year run, Captain Kangaroo was canceled in 1984.

Although other shows have since eclipsed this record, it was the longest-running children’s program in television history when it came to an end. 

The series has seen numerous reruns, some of which have even included brand-new episodes, even after it ended. 

3. Law & Order (1990-2010)

Next on our list of the longest-running T.V. shows of all time is Law & Order.

The police procedural drama Law & Order debuted in 1990 and ran for twenty seasons, making it the longest-running live-action scripted series in American television history. 

It featured a rotating cast of characters, with some actors appearing in multiple seasons. 

The longest-running installment in the franchise, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has surpassed the original Law & Order.

At this point, SVU has aired for 21 seasons and approximately 500 episodes of horrifying sex crimes. 

4. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)

The drama centers on a Marshal’s attempts to protect his little town from outlaws.

Furthermore, its fundamental structure lends to recurring historical guest stars and simple self-contained plots. 

Although Gunsmoke aired for an astonishing 20 seasons, the show only generated 635 episodes throughout that period due to the various production schedules of the 1950s and 1960s. 

The Western drama Gunsmoke is American history’s longest-running scripted primetime television series.

It aired for twenty seasons and 635 episodes, beginning in 1955 and ending in 1975. 

In the 1870s and 1880s, Dodge City, Kansas, program setting focused on Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) as he maintained order in the Wild West. 

The show was hugely successful and spawned several spin-offs, including the T.V. movie Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge in 1987.

It also inspired numerous Westerns, such as Bonanza and The Big Valley. 

5. Columbo (1968-2003)

Columbo is one of the longest-running T.V. shows of all time. The title character of the American detective show Peter Falk plays Columbo.

Before obtaining a full-series order, the show first broadcast two pilot episodes in 1968 and 1971, respectively. 

The show was praised as a pioneer for skipping the comparable series’ mystery element and focusing on how the offender is eventually discovered.  

Columbo enjoyed several decades on television before it ceased regularly airing new episodes in 1990.

Instead of regular episodes, the series would show lengthier television specials over the next thirteen years. 

Despite being one of the longest-running detective dramas in history, Columbo only has 69 episodes due to its peculiar and occasionally erratic airing schedule. 

6. Search for Tomorrow (1951-1986)

American soap opera Search for Tomorrow first aired in 1951.

Throughout its 35 seasons, the drama followed the life of Joanne Gardner, who Mary Stuart portrayed. 

After more than 9,000 episodes and numerous Daytime Emmy wins, this soap opera ended in 1986.

Kevin Bacon, Jane Krakowski, Kevin Conroy, and other performers who have since gained notoriety for different projects made many appearances on the show. 

7. Lassie (1954-1973)

Next on our list of longest-running T.V. shows of all time is Lassie.

Lassie is an American television series that follows the adventures of a female collie and her human family.

The show aired in 1954 and lasted for 19 seasons, ending in 1973. 

The show was based on the novel Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, published in 1940.

Each episode of Lassie covers a similar amount of ground as the titular dog warns someone of danger in the distance, and the person takes care of the situation in a way that a dog cannot. 

In light of this, Lassie can be relatively easy because it served as entertainment at the medium’s beginning.

Because of the general appetite for programming at the time, Lassie was able to run for 19 seasons and about 600 episodes.

It also featured some of the most iconic animal performances in television history. 

8. Family Guy (1999-present)

Family Guy is an American animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane for Fox.

The show follows the Griffin family’s adventures, consisting of Peter and Lois, their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie, and their pet dog Brian.

The show first aired in 1999 and has since become one of the longest-running T.V. shows in history. It has aired for 18 seasons and over 300 episodes.

Family Guy is known for its irreverent humor, pop culture references, and satirical take on American society. Critics have praised it for its sharp wit and clever writing. 

A cultural phenomenon, the program has also inspired a ton of spin-offs, computer games, and mem Arabia.

It’s still one of the most-watched animated programs on television. 

Because Family Guy has gathered nearly 350 episodes and is almost done with 20 seasons of programming, it’s crazy to believe that the show was momentarily suspended and taken off the air. Since its inception, Family Guy hasn’t altered at all. 

9. The Bold and The Beautiful (1987-present)

The Bold and the Beautiful, one of the longest-running T.V. shows, debuted on television in 1987.

This companion series follows the Forrester family and their numerous dramatic attempts over several decades. 

After airing more than 8,000 episodes, The Bold and the Beautiful, like its sister programs, still produces fresh episodes today.

Denise Richards, Betty White, Wayne Brady, Morgan Fairchild, and many other well-known actors appeared in the series at the time.

It has garnered numerous accolades, including several Daytime Emrys. 

10. Another World (1964-1999)

One of the first victims of the American daytime soap opera industry’s demise was Anoth r World.

The soap opera debuted on NBC in 1964 and ran there until it was canceled in 1999 after 8,891 episodes. 

This soap was unique since it didn’t concentrate on family dynamics but rather contrasts between families from various social classes. 

It was also the first soap opera to collaborate with another soap, Guiding Light, for a crossover r event.

Scott Bakula, Christine Baranski, Marcia Cross, and Morgan Freeman are a few of the show’s well-known actors. 

11. NCIS (2003-present)


NCIS is a police procedural drama that follows the lives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents.

The show debuted in 2003 and has become one of the longest-running T.V. shows in history. 

Another crime-based show, NCIS, has been going strong for 20 years, gained a good sitcom, and keeps attracting viewers by telling consistent stories that don’t upset the apple cart. 

The show has aired for 18 seasons and over 400 episodes, making it one of the most successful series on television.

It has also spawned several spin-offs, including NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. 

The show has been praised for its strong characters, witty dialogue, and suspenseful storylines.

Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, and Cote de Pablo are some of the show’s well-known actors. 

12. Casualty (1986-present)

When Americans view Grey’s Anatomy, they frequently find it difficult to comprehend that the show has been airing for 9 years.

While that is a record for medical dramas in the United States, it pales in comparison to the U.K. 

The longest-running T.V. show in the world for primetime medical dramas is Casualty. 

Casualty began airing in 1986 and is set at the made-up Holby City Hospital and follows the personnel and patients there.

The program is so well-liked that it has produced four spin-off series throughout the years and earned numerous accolades. 

13. EastEnders (1985-present)

Since 1985, the British soap opera EastEnders has been shown in the U.K.

The BBC One program, which follows the locals and their families, is set in a fictional borough in the East End of London. 

The number of 30-minute episodes per week was increased from two to three, and starting in 2001, it began airing five days a week. 

In addition to being one of the longest-running T.V. programs in history, it plays a significant role in British television by covering sensitive and taboo subjects. 

14. Grey’s Anatomy (2005-present)

Grey’s Anatomy is an American medical drama that follows the lives of surgeons at a fictional hospital in Seattle.

The show debuted in 2005 and has become one of the longest-running T.V. shows in history. 

The show has aired for 17 seasons and over 350 episodes, making it one of the most successful series on television.

It has also spawned several spin-offs, including Private Practice and Station 19. 

Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr. are some of the show’s well-known actors. 

Grey’s Anatomy has drifted throughout the years. The show’s following is still fervent even though it has essentially become a soap opera that concentrates too much on roman es. 

15. Late Nights (1982-present)

Late Night’s talk program debuted in 1982 with David Letterman as its host.

The program features comedic interpretations of important news items, celebrity interviews, sporadic sketches, and other inventive elements. 

David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers have all hosted Late Night throughout the program’s more than 40-year history, with each host’s stint frequently being regarded as a separate series in and of itself. 

Seth Meyers is still the host of Late Night, a job he took up when he quit his job as a comedian on the far longer-running program Saturday Night Live.

Over 6,000 episodes of the show have been broadcast over the past 41 years, and it will probably continue for some t me. 

16. All My Children (1970-2013)

All My Children is an American soap opera that aired on ABC from 1970 to 2013.

The show was set in the fictional town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, and followed the lives of its inhabitants. 

The show was one of the longest-running T.V. shows in history, with over 4,000 episodes produced over 3 years.

It was also one of the most popular soaps in the U.S. during its run, with an average of 4.5 million viewers tuning in each day. 

The show was praised for its strong female characters and willingness to tackle difficult topics such as racism, AIDS, and abortion.

Susan Lucci won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role as Erica Kane on the show in 1999. 

All My Children ended its run in 2013 after ABC canceled it due to declining ratings.

The show was briefly revived after ABC canceled it in 2011, producing an additional 40 episodes for a total of 10,755, putting it among the longest-running T.V. shows in history. 

17. American Dad! (2005-present)

American Dad! is an animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker, and Matt Weitzman.

The show follows the adventures of CIA agent Stan Smith and his family. 

The show has been airing since 2005 and is in its 17t season. It has aired over 300 episodes, making it one of the longest-running T.V. shows in the world. 

Amer can Dad! is known for its irreverent humor and willingness to tackle controversial topics such as religion, politics, and sexuality.  

The show has won several awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program in 2006 and 2007.  

Even after changing networks from FOX to TBS, Amer can Dad! has never been funnier or more adventurous with its material. It has found its niche in telling wacky, original stories.

With a recent two-season extension, the sitcom, which has lasted 16 seasons, will be around for a wh le. 

18. Top Gear (1977-present)

Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman hosted the first season of the BBC television program Top Gear in 1977.

Although the U.S. version, which debuted in 2002, is more well-known to Americans, the U.K. version has been on the air since 1977 and has featured its hosts covering vehicles in over 500 episodes. 

When BBC terminated the series in 2002, the series continued.

Instead, the production crew relocated to Channel 5 under the name Fifth Gear, and BBC decided to relaunch Top Gear, which is still airing today as one of the longest-running docuseries on television in the entire globe. 

Top Gear is a British motoring show that has been airing since 1977. The show follows the adventures of three presenters as they test-drive cars and take part in various challenges. 

The show has aired over 600 episodes over the past 43 years, making it one of the longest-running T.V. shows in the world.

It is also one of the most popular television shows, with an estimated 350 million viewers worldwide tuning into each episode. 

Top Gear has won numerous awards throughout its run, including two International Emmy Awards for Best Non-Scripted Entertainment Program in 2006 and 2007. 

19. One Life to Live (1968-2012)

One Life to Live was one of the shortest-running daytime programs in television history, airing more than 11,000 episodes throughout its 45-year career. 

Additionally, it broke the norm of the primary concentration on WASP affluent families by becoming one of the first soap operas to feature such a high degree of d diversity.

After being on television for more than 40 years, it ended in 2013.

The rich Lord family was frequently the focus of the series, along with the working-class Polish American Woleks, the middle-class Irish Catholic Rileys, and the African Americans G ays.

20. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is one of the longest-running television shows in history.

The show aired on CBS in 2000 and lasted for 15 seasons until 2015. It follows a team of forensic investigators as they solve crimes using science and technology. 

It inspired many spin-offs, such as CSI: Miami and CSI: N.Y., as well as other shows focusing on forensic science. 

Not only did CSI run for 15 seasons, but it also reached such a fever pitch that it spawned two spin-off series with hundreds of episodes each and strikingly similar themes. 

The sitcom has a genuine comfort food feel, yet it briefly became so well-liked that notable directors like Quentin Tarantino stepped into the helm in one episode. 

21. Saturday Night Live (1975-present)

In 1975, Lorne Michaels introduced Saturday Night Live to late-night television, and it has endured ever since.

The program tackled racial, class, and political concerns in a way both audiences could recite. It also broke wonderful comedy territory. 

Thanks to the comedic skills of actors like Adam Sandler, Norm MacDonald, and Chris Farley, the program reached its zenith in the 1990s.

Numerous comic stars, like Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase, received their Hollywood start s to it.

One of the longest-running T.V. sketch comedy programs is still airing today. 

22. The Young and The Restless (1973-present)


This show has been running for nearly 12,000 episodes over five decades making it one of the longest-running T.V. shows.

The wealthy Brooks family and the lower-class Fosters were initially the focus of the companion program to The Bold and the Beautiful. 

All the original characters—except Jill Foster—were written off and replaced with the original major families, the Abbotts, and the Williamses, in the early 1980s after a series of changes and departures. 

Despite these changes, one storyline—the most intense rivalry in American soap operas—between Jill Abbott and Katherine Chancellor has persisted for almost the entire duration of the series. 

23. Criminal Minds (2005-2020)

Criminal Minds is an American police procedural crime drama television series that premiered on CBS in 2005.

The program centers on a group of FBI profilers who look into crimes and find offenders through behavioral analysis. 

The show was a hit with viewers and ran for 15 seasons before ending in 2020.

It was nominated for numerous awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards and a People’s Choice Award. 

It’s amazing how popular dramatic crimes have become with viewers. Also, how frequently violent murders and sex offenders appear on television. 

Although many crime series have been on television for years, Criminal Minds ran for 15 seasons and even had a spin-off for a short while.

The show capitalizes on hideous crimes, making it one of the genre’s more aggressive and ruthless crime dramas. 

Criminal Minds was praised for its realistic portrayal of the FBI and its ability to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with suspenseful storylines.

24. Bonanza (1959-1973)

Bonanza is an American Western television series that ran on NBC from 1959 to 1973.

It was one of the longest-running T.V. shows in history, with 431 episodes over 14 seasons. 

The Cartwright family, who resided at Nevada’s Ponderosa Ranch throughout the 1860s and 1870s, is the program’s subject.

Bonanza was one of the first T.V. shows to feature a multi-racial cast and to tackle controversial topics such as racism and sexism. It was also one of the first shows to be filmed in color. 

Although television was still in its infancy at the time Bonanza was developed, it could adapt and grow with the technology and maintain its audience. Bonanza aired through the 1960s and 1970s. 

The Cartwright family is featured in Bonanza as they pass their final years on the Ponderosa ranch.

Although the series has a fairly western style, it has more of an emphasis on family dynamics. 

It was able to operate for nearly 15 years and produce over 400 episodes since it debuted when television’s landscape was much more sparse. 

25. Emmerdale (1972-present)

Last on our list of longest-running T.V. shows is E Emmerdale. Emmerdale, a soap opera that debuted in 1972 and has since aired over 9,000 episodes, is one of several British shows that rank among the longest-running series of all time. 

Emmerdale is also one of the most-watched shows on ITV and a favorite daytime drama in the U.K.

The Sugden family of farmers, who resided in the fictional village of Emmerdale, Yorkshire, were the main subject of the show’s initial incarnation, which was known as Emmerdale Farm (until 1989). 

Some major characters died off as time passed, while new ones with more dramatic plotlines were introduced. 

Long-running television shows have been a staple of the entertainment industry for decades.

From crime dramas to soap operas, these series have captivated audiences with their gripping storylines and memorable characters. 

Each show has its unique style and storytelling approach, and they have all managed to stay on the air for many years.

Whether you’re a fan of crime dramas, westerns, or soap operas, these shows will keep you entertained. 

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