21 Of The Longest-Running TV Shows In History

Longest TV Shows - Gunsmoke, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Law & Order: SVU

(First) Silver Screen Collection / Contributor / Getty Images / (Second) Sesame Street / YouTube / (Third) PBS Kids / YouTube / (Fourth) Law & Order / YouTube

Looking At The 21 Longest-Running TV Shows To Ever Grace The Air

Shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have been on the air forever (both premiered in 2005). But as it turns out, they don’t even make the list of the longest-running TV shows in history! At least, not yet.

Most TV shows end after just a few seasons. Reba McEntire’s Reba sitcom ended after only six. Little House on the Prairie ended its run in nine seasons. Yellowstone is coming to an end at the conclusion of its fifth season.


"Yellowstone" starring Kevin Costner is not one of the longest-running TV shows in history, but it is one of the most popular
Yellowstone / Facebook

But some TV shows have stood the test of time and enjoyed long runs. Many of the longest-running TV shows were/are soap operas since they follow multiple generations of characters. Children’s TV programs, such as Sesame Street, often stay on-air for a long time as well.

As you continue, remember that the number of seasons isn’t always equal to the number of years on the air.

Also, this list does not include reality TV programs such as Survivor (on the air since 2000) and The Bachelor (on the air since 2002). It also does not include any news programs or game shows.

Lastly, this list isn’t a perfectly complete ranking of the longest-running TV shows in history. But it features many of them!

Keep reading to see if your favorite TV show stuck around long enough to make this list.

See 21 Of The Longest-Running TV Shows Ever


The beloved Western series started as a radio show that aired from 1952 to 1961. The TV series debuted on CBS in 1955 and ran until 1975.

Gunsmoke aired across 20 seasons and 635 total episodes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit debuted in 1999. The show is still on the air to this day and just started its 25th season in January 2024.

Law & Order

The original Law & Order series debuted on NBC in 1990. The show ran for 20 seasons before going on hiatus in 2010.

Law & Order was revived in 2022 and is still ongoing. Its 23rd season premiered in January 2024.


Everyone’s favorite aardvark entertained kids who tuned into PBS for a total of 25 seasons.

Arthur aired for 26 years, from 1996 to 2022. The series contained a total of 253 episodes.

Family Guy

Longest-Running TV Shows - Family Guy
Family Guy / Facebook

Like the Law & Order programs, Family Guy is another one of the longest-running TV shows that’s still on the air. The show debuted in 1999.

Family Guys‘ 22nd season premiered in October 2023. The season is scheduled to end in April 2024, and it’s already been renewed for a 23rd season.

Captain Kangaroo

The children’s show Captain Kangaroo ran for 29 seasons on CBS. It remained on the air from 1955 to 1984.

Captain Kangaroo aired every weekday morning during its run. Because of this, it aired an impressive total of 6,090 episodes by the time it finished.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

As mentioned previously, children’s programs have historically been some of the longest-running TV shows. Such was the case with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which premiered in 1968.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for 31 seasons before it came to an end in 2001. The series contained a total of 912 episodes.

Another World

Another World is the first of many soap operas you’ll read about in this list of the longest-running TV shows.

The program debuted in 1964 on NBC. It aired for 35 seasons until it came to an end in 1999. By the time it finished its run, Another World had aired 8,891 episodes.

Search For Tomorrow

The soap opera Search for Tomorrow started airing on CBS in 1951. The show moved to NBC in its later years. It ended its run in 1986, after 35 years on the air.

Search for Tomorrow aired a total of 35 seasons and 9,130 episodes.

The Simpsons

Here’s another one of the longest-running TV shows that’s still on the air!

The Simpsons debuted in 1989 and remains one of the most popular TV shows to this day. The show’s 35th season debuted in October 2023 and is set to conclude in May 2024.

The Simpsons holds the record as the longest-running primetime scripted TV series. Since it was already renewed for a 36th season, it will continue to hang on to that record.

The Bold And The Beautiful

The Bold and the Beautiful debuted on CBS in 1987 as a sister show to another soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

The Bold and the Beautiful is still on the air and has 37 seasons so far. TVLine recently received a tip from a CBS “insider” who says the show will at least continue into the 2025 television season.

The Bugs Bunny Show

The Bugs Bunny Show ran for an impressive total of 40 seasons and 684 episodes. The cartoon remained on the air for four decades, from 1960 to 2000.

All My Children

All My Children was a popular soap opera that ran on ABC for 41 seasons, from 1970-2011.

The show moved to The Online Network for a final installment of 43 episodes in 2013. In total, All My Children aired 10,755 episodes during its run.

Romper Room

Romper Room was a children’s television program targeted toward preschoolers. It ran for 41 seasons from 1953 until 1994.

The main series inspired local spin-off versions in cities such as Los Angeles and New York City.

One Life to Live

Like many of the longest-running TV shows, One Life to Live was a soap opera. The program aired on ABC from 1968 to 2012. It also enjoyed a short stint on The Online Network in 2013.

One Life to Live aired a total of 11,136 episodes across 45 seasons.

The Young & The Restless

Still on the air to this day, The Young & the Restless is currently in its 51st season. The soap opera has been a standout program on CBS since it started in 1973.

The Young and the Restless will continue for at least several more years. The Hollywood Reporter recently reported that the show has been renewed through the 2027-2028 television season.

Sesame Street

The beloved children’s television program Sesame Street has been on the air since 1969. It has aired 4,666 episodes across its 50+ seasons.

The program will continue for the foreseeable future. But, as The Hollywood Reporter shared, Sesame Street will be “reimagined” for its 56th season, which is set to premiere in 2025.

As The World Turns

We’re closing out our list of the longest-running TV shows with FOUR soap operas, including As the World Turns.

As the World Turns was created as a sister show to the CBS program Guiding Light. It aired 13,858 episodes across its 54 seasons during its 54 years on the air.

The program aired its final episode on September 17, 2010.

Days Of Our Lives

Days of Our Lives debuted on NBC in 1965. The program continues today, though it left NBC for its streaming service, Peacock, in 2022.

In March 2023, Peacock renewed the show through its 60th season.

Guiding Light

Like Gunsmoke, the soap opera Guiding Light started as a radio program. Its radio broadcast began in 1937 and ended in 1956.

The television program premiered in 1952 on CBS. It ran for 57 seasons until it ended on September 18, 2009.

General Hospital

In 2010, the Guinness World Records recognized General Hospital as the world’s longest-running daytime soap opera. And it’s still going!

General Hospital debuted on ABC in 1963. The show celebrated its milestone 60th anniversary (and season) in 2023.

General Hospital seems destined to continue its record-setting run. Craig Erwich, the President of Disney Television Group, told Soap Hub in February 2024 that ABC is “deeply committed” to the program. Sounds like a renewal is imminent!

Which of the longest-running TV shows featured in this list is your favorite?