Index of pages on various cultural and media topics
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

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. Four series are still on the air and adding episodes, they have (as of 5/23/2020) after them.

Top Twenty Five American Half Hour Comedies with the Most Episodes

  1. 684 The Simpsons (as of 5/23/2020)
  2. 435 Ozzie and Harriett
  3. 369 My Three Sons
  4. 349 Family Guy (as of 5/23/2020)
  5. 336 Make Room For Daddy
  6. 307 South Park (as of 5/23/2020)
  7. 291 George Burns/Gracie Allen
  8. 282 American Dad (as of 5/23/2020)
  9. 279 The Big Bang Theory
  10. 275 Cheers
  11. 274 Beverly Hillbillies
  12. 274 Donna Reed
  13. 264 Fraiser
  14. 262 Two and a Half Men
  15. 259 Married With Children
  16. 259 King of the Hill
  17. 255 Happy Days
  18. 254 Bewitched
  19. 253 The Jeffersons
  20. 251 Mash
  21. 250 Modern family
  22. 249 Andy Griffith Show
  23. 247 Murphy Brown
  24. 246 Will and Grace
  25. 238 Friends

My Comments

Note 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. They still called them summer reruns even though they were summer, spring, and Christmas season 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 four series still on the air, "The Simpsons," "Family Guy", "South Park," and "American Dad" do not have on screen talent.

An advantage that current series have over past series is that they need far lower viewership to survive because there are many more channels and far more prime time TV programs.

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.

There are many more pages which I hope are correct, original, and important. I have too many ideas and too little time. So I don't want to waste my time or yours.

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Last edited May 23, 2020

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