The Longest Running TV Shows Still on Air in the US

Yes, we’re only counting entertainment shows — not news and sports programming

Thom Geier

Here are the longest running TV shows still airing in the U.S. — not counting news and sports programming.

“General Hospital” Series debut: April 1, 1963 The ABC daytime soap opera started as a half-hour show but it’s been an hour-long staple since 1978.

“Days of Our Lives”Series debut: Nov. 8, 1965 The NBC soap also spent its first decade as a half-hour show and has churned out decades’ worth of domestic drama.

“Sesame Street” Series debut: Nov. 10, 1969 The children’s series, first launched on PBS with its mix of short segments and furry Muppets, has been broadcast in more than 120 countries.

“Masterpiece Theatre” Series debut: January 10, 1971 PBS’ long-running anthology, many adaptations of classic novels, has gone through multiple hosts over the years — from Alastair Cooke to Russell Baker to Laura Linney.

“The Price Is Right”  Series debut: Sept. 4, 1972 Technically, this game show debuted in 1956 and ran for nine years on both NBC and ABC. But the 1972 relaunch, hosted by Bob Barker, has become a daytime mainstay with contestants playing guessing games about the cost of merchandise. 

“The Young and the Restless” Series debut: March 26, 1973 The soap opera joined the CBS daytime lineup in 1973 — and wound up outlasting the network’s “As the World Turns” which ended its 54-year run in 2010.

“Saturday Night Live”  Series debut: October 11, 1975 Lorne Michaels’ weekly sketch comedy series has launched the careers of countless stars over five decades.

“Wheel of Fortune” Series debut: January 6, 1975 The TV version of Hangman started on NBC with host Chuck Woolery; Pat Sajak took over as host in 1981 and stayed with the show when it became syndicated two years later. 

“Jeopardy!” Series debut: September 10, 1984 The syndicated quiz show first aired as a daytime show in 1964. The current syndicated evening version kicked off two decades later, with host Alex Trebek.

“The Bold and the Beautiful”Series debut: March 23, 1987 The CBS soap launched as a sister series to the Wisconsin-set “The Young and the Restless” despite its more glamorous L.A. locale.  

“The Simpsons” Series debut: December 17, 1989 Matt Groening’s animated sitcom helped put the Fox network on the map — and it’s still going strong. Ay, caramba!  

“America’s Funniest Home Videos”  Series debut: November 26, 1989 The collection of wacky clips has survived three decades on ABC.

“Power Rangers”  Series debut: August 28, 1993 The campy and colorful live-action superhero series for kids has jumped among a half-dozen networks over the years, and it’s spawned a series of big-screen adaptations.

“South Park” Series debut: Aug. 13, 1997 Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s lo-fi animated satire has followed the adventures of Colorado fourth graders Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman through countless topical controversies on Comedy Central.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Series debut: Sept. 20, 1999  The spinoff of Dick Wolf’s original cop-legal drama, starring Mariska Hargitay as a detective (and later commander) on an NYPD unit handling sex crimes, has now outlasted its long-running predecessor.
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