Half Hour Comedies With the Most Episodes
The following is taken from Longest Running TV Shows: Television Shows With More Than 160 Episodes.I am reorganizing his statistics, updating them a little from Wikipedia, and providing some commentary. Three series are still on the air and adding episodes, they have (as of 8/26/15) after them.
Top Twenty American Half Hour Comedies with the Most Episodes
My CommentsNote that in the early days of television they would make 39 episodes for three seasons, fall, winter, and spring, and then rerun the best in the summer. These were called summer reruns. Then they started rerunning all the episodes, so they only needed 26 per year. Summer reruns became spring and summer reruns, but they were still called summer reruns. So early series did not have to be on as long to rack up high numbers.
They further cut the number of episodes from 26 to about 22 today because they wanted to make room for special programming. This is part of the reason so many early series had so many episodes.
Another reason is that successful series today do not run as long is that the talent demands more money with each passing season. I suppose they may have had a little of this problem in the early days of television, but perhaps it was not so bad. Every one demands more money until the show is canceled, even though it is still getting good ratings, then no one gets money.
Note that the three series still on the air, "The Simpsons," "South Park," and "Family Guy" do not have on screen talent. The most recently canceled of the top 20 is "King of the Hill" which was also animated and therefore did not have on screen talent.
While "The Simpsons" may have more episodes than any other single half hour comedy series several half hour comedy universes had more episodes. "All in the Family", and its spin offs "Archie's Place", "The Jeffersons", "Maude", and the spin off of "Maude", "Good Times" plus three other less successful spin offs had a total of 780 episodes. You can read more about the largest comedy and drama television universes on another web page I wrote.