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17 Longest Running TV Shows of All Time, From “Grey’s Anatomy” to “SVU”

17 Longest Running TV Shows of All Time, From “Grey’s Anatomy” to “SVU”

Updated on 9/16/2023 at 4:00 PM

Within the last two decades, an influx of streaming services like Netflix has completely changed how we consume entertainment, especially TV shows. Instead of waiting week after week to discover the fate of your favorite character, full seasons of shows are often released all in one day on streamers, giving viewers immediate access to binge-watch the series from beginning to end in a matter of hours.

This unlimited access to content has made a significant impact on cable television, with 82 percent of American households subscribing to a paid video streaming service, according to data from Deloitte released in March 2022. With this increase in competition, primetime TV has struggled to keep up. Despite this, plenty of long-running TV shows have stood the test of time and remained on the air after numerous seasons.

If you’re overwhelmed by the plethora of original series on Hulu and Prime Video, consider revisiting one of these longest-running scripted TV shows of all time, like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

Note: This list is limited to US TV shows and does not include soap operas, reality, or true-crime shows.

01

Everett Collection

“The Simpsons” (1989-Present)

  • Seasons: 34
  • Episodes: 750+ (Ongoing)

With well over 700 episodes, “The Simpsons” is the longest-running scripted primetime TV series. It centers around the hilariously dysfunctional Simpson family — consisting of father Homer, mother Marge, and kids Bart, Lisa, and Maggie — as they navigate the monotony of everyday life.

02

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“Law & Order: SVU” (1999-Present)

  • Seasons: 24
  • Episodes: 530+ (Ongoing)

A spinoff of the original series, “Law & Order: SVU” (an acronym for Special Victims Unit) began following Detectives Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), along with other law enforcement officers, as they investigate crimes of sexual nature (the unit additionally investigates crimes that involve the elderly, disabled, and young children). Over the course of over 500 episodes, the cast has changed drastically, with Meloni exiting the series after season 12 (albeit not the “Law & Order” franchise altogether). But two cast members who have stuck around for the long haul are Hargitay and Ice-T as Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola.

03

Everett Collection

“Law & Order” (1990-2010), (2022-Present)

  • Seasons: 22
  • Episodes: 480+ (Ongoing)

The original series that inspired several spinoffs dives into the lives of NYPD detectives and the crimes they investigate, along with the legal proceedings that follow. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the show, the impact of its legacy is undeniable, down to its iconic opening theme, “These are their stories . . . ” And, the show has continued on through 2023, with new storylines but also the comeback of Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson).

04

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“NCIS” (2003-Present)

  • Seasons: 20
  • Episodes: 450+ (Ongoing)

Similar to “Law & Order,” “NCIS” combines the perfect amount of drama with crime to make for an entertaining series. Across over 450 episodes, the show centers around special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as they deal with day-to-day crime cases. Due to its popularity, “NCIS” has spawned several spinoff series, including “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and “NCIS: Hawaii.”

05

Everett Collection

“Family Guy” (1999-Present)

  • Seasons: 22
  • Episodes: 410+ (Ongoing)

Alongside “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” is perhaps the most popular adult animated series of all time, with over 400 episodes in the can. The Griffin family — led by father Peter, mother Lois, and their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie (plus their dog Brian) — try to live normal lives but always seem to be in the middle of some kind of chaos.

06

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“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-Present)

  • Seasons: 19
  • Episodes: 420+ (Ongoing)

In terms of popular TV show genres, nothing can compete with medical dramas. “Grey’s Anatomy” follows a group of interns and residents at Seattle Grace Hospital (now, Grey Sloan Memorial) as they study to become doctors, all while balancing steamy flings, workplace relationships, and personal issues. The show’s 19th season premiered in October 2022, and marked Meredith Grey’s (played by Ellen Pompeo) final season as a series regular.

07

Everett Collection

“American Dad!” (2005-Present)

  • Seasons: 20
  • Episodes: 350+ (Ongoing)

Touching on the absurdity of US cultural norms and standards, “American Dad!” uses humor and complex characters to relate to viewers and entertain them at the same time. Lovers of animated adult humor shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” typically like “American Dad!” which centers around the life of father Stan Smith, mother Francine, children Hayley and Steve, and their pet fish Klaus.

08

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“Bob’s Burgers” (2011-Present)

  • Seasons: 14
  • Episodes: 260+ (Ongoing)

“Bob’s Burgers” follows restauranter dad Bob Belcher as he runs his burger joint with his wife, Linda, and three children. Hijinx ensue as the offbeat family fights to keep the restaurant afloat, with Bob competing with the pasta restaurant across the street run by his nemesis, Jimmy Pesto, and the constant nagging of Linda’s health inspector ex.

09

Everett Collection

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (2005-Present)

  • Seasons: 16
  • Episodes: 170 (Ongoing)

Hollywood heavyweight Danny DeVito stars in this immensely bingeable sitcom about a group of narcissistic friends who run a bar called Paddy’s Pub in — you guessed it — South Philadelphia.

10

Everett Collection

“Gunsmoke” (1955-1975)

  • Seasons: 20
  • Episodes: 635

Historic TV series often appeal to several generations, made evident by the longevity of “Gunsmoke.” Set in the 1870s, the show highlights the daily experiences of Marshall Matt Dillon, who is trying to establish order in the crime-ridden Dodge City.

11

Everett Collection

“Lassie” (1954-1971)

  • Seasons: 19
  • Episodes: 591

For a good portion of the late 20th century, Lassie was America’s Dog. The lovable series recounts the everyday adventures of Lassie (a collie) and boys Jeff and Timmy Martin. Even if you’ve never seen “Lassie,” you most likely know of the show’s influence through pop culture references or the famous quote, “Lassie, come home!”

12

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“The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” (1952-1966)

  • Seasons: 14
  • Episodes: 435

Despite featuring real-life family members Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, along with their two sons, David and Ricky, the show is a scripted sitcom. It highlights family dynamics while also tackling common life topics like dating and working. The show was the longest-running live-action sitcom before technically getting outrun by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” in December 2021, per NPR. However, thanks to its astronomical episode count, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” edged out “Always Sunny” on this list.

13

Everett Collection

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2000-2015)

  • Seasons: 15
  • Episodes: 337

Detectives in the Las Vegas Police Department Crime Scene Bureau utilize forensic science to track down criminals and solve crimes.

14

Everett Collection

“ER” (1994-2009)

  • Seasons: 15
  • Episodes: 331

Setting the precedent for complicated medical dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “ER” centers around the lives of doctors and nurses at County General Hospital in Chicago as they handle the stressful and intense events that happen in the emergency room. The groundbreaking drama served as a launchpad for major stars like George Clooney and Julianna Margulies.

15

Everett Collection

“Supernatural” (2005-2020)

  • Seasons: 15
  • Episodes: 327

Extending past the common crime and medical dramas, “Supernatural” is fantasy based. In the show, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hunt and battle supernatural creatures of all kinds, including demons and monsters.

16

Everett Collection

“Criminal Minds” (2005-2020)

  • Seasons: 15
  • Episodes: 324

While crime dramas like “Law & Order” and “NCIS” take a more technical approach to handling crime, the characters of “Criminal Minds” use psychology to solve the most perplexing of criminal cases. The series revolves around investigators in the FBI Behavioral Science Unit. Their goal? To analyze serial killers and establish behavioral patterns and motives to prevent future murders from happening. Once you catch up, get prepared for more “Criminal Minds,” as Paramount+ has renewed the show’s spinoff, “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” for a second season.

17

Everett Collection

“The Jack Benny Program” (1950-1965)

  • Seasons: 15
  • Episodes: 260

A series on both radio and TV, “The Jack Benny Program” poked fun at comedic entertainer Jack Benny, who played an exaggerated version of himself throughout the show.

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