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The 20 Longest-Running TV Sitcoms, Ranked By Duration


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Summary

  • Sitcoms that last for over 10, 20, or even 30 years are doing something right in terms of storytelling and humor.
  • Successful sitcoms update their humor and keep their jokes current to stay relevant and avoid falling out of style.
  • Long-lasting sitcoms like Friends, Married… With Children, and The Jeffersons can have an amazingly long life span and surpass even award-winning television shows.

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The longest-running sitcoms in television history come from several different decades and have different styles of humor. Sitcoms have always been a staple of television, as even classic golden age TV was known for shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver gave way to even more groundbreaking sitcoms like All in the Family and The Jeffersons. However, when it came to sitcoms, lasting for 15 or 20 seasons was never easy as humor is subjective and changes over time, so a comedy sitcom won’t last as many years as a police procedural like Law & Order or a medical drama like Grey’s Anatomy.

This means when a sitcom lasts for over 10, 20, or even 30 years, it is doing something right. This includes telling stories that people can relate to, whether it is a group of friends trying to get through life together (Friends), a show about overcoming obstacles (Will & Grace), or a comedy about four foul-mouthed kids in a small Colorado town (South Park). Each of the shows has to keep updating its humor and keeping its jokes current, so it doesn’t fall out of style, and when this is done right, the shows can have an amazingly long life span, often eclipsing the best award-winning television shows.

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20 Friends (1994-2004)

10 Years (236 Episodes)

Friends

Release Date
September 22, 1994

Seasons
10

Stream now on Max

Friends, alongside other popular sitcoms, became one of the longest-running sitcoms to air on television. Even years after its end, the show still remains popular among fans, resulting in an emotional Friends reunion special on Max in 2021. Over the show’s 10 seasons, it became a pop culture sensation, picking up 62 Emmy nominations. The sitcom began in 1994 with a group of friends in their 20s trying to make it in New York City. Among failed relationships, complex love stories, comedy, and relatable moments, Friends easily became a sitcom for the masses. The show came to a close in 2004 ending with 10 seasons and 236 episodes.

19 Married… With Children (1987 – 1997)

10 Years (259 Episodes)

Married With Children cast on the couch

Married… With Children

Release Date
April 5, 1987

Cast
Ed O’Neill , Katey Sagal , Amanda Bearse , Christina Applegate , David Faustino , Ted McGinley

Seasons
11

Genres
Sitcom

Stream now on Hulu

Married… With Children marked Ed O’Neil’s first legendary TV show role, which he played for a decade. The family sitcom centers on the Bundy family, which includes Al, his wife Peggy, and their two slacker children, Kelly and Bud. When Married… with Children ended, it was Fox’s longest-running sitcom of all time, at the time. It lasted 10 years, airing 11 seasons and 259 episodes. The sitcom did not have much success in the way of awards, but it was always a huge hit, with high ratings up until the final season in 1996-1997.

18 The Jeffersons (1975 – 1985)

10 Years (253 Episodes)

The cast of The Jeffersons.

Stream now on Prime Video

The Jeffersons came as the third of seven All In The Family spin-offs (after Maude and Good Times), but it was the most successful. The sitcom centered on George and Louise Jefferson, who move into a fancy high-rise on the East Side. The show is the second-longest-running series with a predominately Black cast. The sitcom began airing on CBS in 1975 and spent 10 years on the network. At its end, it aired 11 seasons and 253 episodes. Over that time it earned 14 Emmy Award nominations and won a handful of them.

17 Cheers (1982 – 1993)

11 Years (275 Episodes)

Ted Danson behind the Cheers bar.

Cheers

Release Date
September 30, 1982

Cast
Ted Danson , Shelley Long , Nicholas Colasanto , Rhea Perlman , George Wendt , John Ratzenberger , Kelsey Grammer , Woody Harrelson , Kirstie Alley , Bebe Neuwirth

Seasons
11

Genres
Sitcom

Stream now on Hulu

Cheers first premiered in 1982 and centered around the bartender and proprietor, Sam (Ted Danson), of a bar called Cheers. For 11 years, fans got to see the quirky characters that came into his establishment. One regular character even got his long-running spin-off show in Frasier. The sitcom came to an end in 1993 and ended after 11 seasons. Across the 11 seasons, there were a total of 275 half-hour episodes filmed. Throughout its run, Cheers was one of the longest-running sitcoms on television and ended up in season 9 as the number one show of the year based on ratings. It also won 27 Emmys in 103 nominations.

16 Frasier (1993 – 2004)

11 Years (264 Episodes)

Frasier

Release Date
September 16, 1993

Cast
Kelsey Grammer , Jane Leeves , David Hyde Pierce , Peri Gilpin , John Mahoney , Jack Cutmore-Scott , Anders Keith , Jess Salgueiro , Toks Olagundoye , Nicholas Lyndhurst

Seasons
11

Fans of Frasier have Cheers to thank for this hit sitcom. Frasier was a spin-off show based on a regular character from the 1983 sitcom. One of the many patrons who visited the bar was Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), a psychiatrist. In the original show, Frasier goes through a lot of love problems and ultimately gets divorced. The spin-off show picks up after the divorce as Frasier returns to his hometown in Seattle, Washington. He starts over as a bachelor, taking care of his father while hosting The Dr. Frasier Crane Show, a call-in psychiatry radio show. The show ran for 11 years, winning 27 Emmy Awards over that time.

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15 M*A*S*H (1972 – 1983)

11 Years (256 Episodes)

The soldiers on Mash posing for a photo.

M*A*S*H

Release Date
September 17, 1972

Cast
Alan Alda , Wayne Rogers , Loretta Swit , Mike Farrell , Harry Morgan , Jamie Farr , David Ogden Stiers

Seasons
11

Stream now on Hulu

M*A*S*H was a sitcom that gained popularity as it combined the morbid reality of war and comedy. The comedy drama’s name stood for “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” and centered around the medical staff stationed in South Korea. It’s no surprise that the show was so popular that it stayed on the air for a total of 11 seasons and 256 episodes. Based on the movie of the same name, the sitcom thrived as a dark comedy. The show remained a staple of television, even after it finished airing thanks to late-night reruns. Its finale was the most-watched episode in TV history until a football game in 2010 beat the record.

14 Will & Grace (1998 – 2006, 2017 – 2020)

11 Years (246 Episodes)

Will & Grace Cast sitting on couch smiling

Will and Grace

Release Date
September 21, 1998

Cast
Eric McCormack , Debra Messing

Seasons
11

Genres
Sitcom

Stream now on Prime Video

Will & Grace was a popular sitcom in the late 90s to 2000s that first met its end in 2006, only having been on the air for eight seasons. The show remains iconic when it became the most prominent and most successful show to star a gay principal character. Despite many believing the show would forever meet its end in 2006, it was revived in 2017 by NBC. Will & Grace continued for another three seasons until it met its end in 2020, making a total of 11 years that the show was on television. This longest-running sitcom won 18 Emmy Awards with 88 nominations.

13 Modern Family (2009 – 2020)

11 Years (250 Episodes)

Modern Family

Release Date
September 23, 2009

Cast
Ed O’Neill , Sofia Vergara , Julie Bowen , Ty Burrell , Jesse Tyler Ferguson , Eric Stonestreet , Sarah Hyland , Ariel Winter , Nolan Gould , Rico Rodriguez

Seasons
11

Stream now on Hulu

Fans of the sitcom Modern Family watched the show’s child actors grow into adults. The show premiered in 2009 and centered around a modern-day family that had its share of issues and drama. Audiences got to see the comical yet resonating issues of three diverse families. The husband and wife trying to raise three kids, the same-sex couple adopting and becoming parents, and the grandfather marrying a younger woman. After 11 years, the show came to an end in 2020 and closed the book on the family’s life chapter. The show won the Emmy for Outstanding Series in its first five seasons.

12 Murphy Brown (1988 – 1998; 2018)

11 Years (260 Episodes)

the cast of Murphy Brown

  • Not available to stream at this time

When Murphy Brown began airing in 1988 it was one of the most groundbreaking shows on the air in terms of female empowerment. The sitcom centers on Murphy Brown, an investigative journalist and news anchor, and her eclectic work family. The comedy series originally ran from 1988 to 1998 before ending after 10 seasons and 247 episodes. When the revival/reboot boom began in the late 2010s, CBS revived the series for an 11th season before ultimately canceling it. The show won 18 Emmy Awards, including twice for Outstanding Comedy Series.

11 Bob’s Burgers (2011 – Present)

13+ Years (271+ Episodes)

Bob’s Burgers

Release Date
January 9, 2011

Cast
H. Jon Benjamin , Dan Mintz , Eugene Mirman , Larry Murphy , John Roberts , Kristen Schaal

Seasons
13

Stream now on Hulu

Bob’s Burgers has become one of Fox’s most successful and iconic animated sitcoms of the 2010s. The sitcom centers on the Belcher family who own a local burger joint they live above. The episodes follow the couple and their three kids as they navigate an ordinary life. Since airing in 2011, Bob’s Burgers has aired for 13 seasons and counting and even had a feature-length Bob’s Burgers movie released in 2022. The show has several awards nominations, including Primetime Emmys, and Fox has renewed it through 15 seasons, extending the run of one of the longest-running sitcoms on TV.

10 Two And A Half Men (2003 – 2015)

12 Years (262 Episodes)

Charlie Sheen points at Jon Cryer in Two and a Half Men.

Two and a Half Men

Release Date
September 22, 2003

Cast
Charlie Sheen , Jon Cryer , Angus T. Jones , Marin Hinkle , Melanie Lynskey , Holland Taylor , Conchata Ferrell , Ashton Kutcher , Amber Tamblyn

Seasons
12

Two And Half Men is a sitcom that is playing constantly in syndication featuring Charlie (Charlie Sheen), a bachelor who writes jingles, after his brother Alan (Jon Cryer), a divorced chiropractor, and his son move in with him at his beachfront home. The show originally aired in 2003 and Charlie Sheen played the main character until 2011 before he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher. The show’s story changed to adapt to the new lead, and in 2015, it came to an end after 12 seasons as one of the longest-running sitcoms on TV. Until Sheen left the show, it constantly ranked among the most-watched episodic shows on television.

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9 King Of The Hill (1997 – 2010)

13 Years (259 Episodes)

Hank and friends standing by the fence

King of the Hill

Release Date
January 12, 1997

Cast
Mike Judge

Seasons
13

Genres
Sitcom

Stream now on Hulu

King of the Hill is one of Fox’s most underrated animated sitcoms despite winning two Emmy Awards during its time on air. The series centers on Hank Hill and his family and friends as they go through the highs and lows of being blue-collar Americans in Texas. The series made its debut on Fox during the 1997 mid-season and quickly became a massive success that helped it get a major syndication deal. At its conclusion, King of the Hill aired 259 episodes across 13 seasons. A revival of the show is rumored to be coming to Hulu, which could extend its lifespan as one of the longest-running sitcoms on TV.

8 The Big Bang Theory (2007 – 2019)

13 Years (279 Episodes)

The Big Bang Theory

Cast
Johnny Galecki , Jim Parsons , Simon Helberg , Kunal Nayyar , Mayim Bialik , Melissa Rauch , Kevin Sussman , Kaley Cuoco

Stream now on Max

The Big Bang Theory made history as one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time with 279 episodes, surpassing Cheers. The show was on air for 13 years, premiering 12 full seasons in that time. The sitcom gained popularity among audiences for its witty storylines and characters. It focused on four best friends, all Mensa-fied and working at the California Institute of Technology. The show also had the added character of Penny, the beautiful waitress across the hall. One of the show’s characters, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) got his own spin-off giving backstory to his childhood. It won seven Emmys in 46 nominations.

7 The Love Boat (1977 – 1990)

13 Years (250 Episodes)

The crew of The Love Boat.

  • Stream now on Paramount Plus

The Love Boat is not about the famous carnival ride of love. It’s a romantic comedy/drama sitcom from 1977. The sitcom originally aired from 1997 up until 1986, and recognizable stars from movies and TV shows guest starred in each episode. During that time, the show produced and aired nine seasons. After 1986, the show wasn’t canceled. Instead, the show had additional three-hour-long specials in 1986, 1987, and 1990. The sitcom took audiences on a different journey of comedy and romance in each episode. It picked up four Golden Globes nominations but never won.

6 American Dad! (2005 – Present)

19+ Years (366+ Episodes)

American Dad main characters.

American Dad

Release Date
February 6, 2005

Cast
Seth MacFarlane , Wendy Schaal , Scott Grimes , Rachael MacFarlane , Dee Bradley Baker , Patrick Stewart , Jeff Fischer

Seasons
20

Stream now on Hulu

Seth MacFarlane followed up Family Guy with another animated sitcom in American Dad! The sitcom aired in 2005 revolving around an upper-class American family whose patriarch works for the CIA. The family included a homemaker mother, a hippie teen daughter, a dorky high schooler, a talking fish, and an alien. Since its first episode in 2005, the sitcom has gone on to air over 350 episodes and 20 seasons and Fox renewed it for a 21st season, which will extend its life as one of the longest-running sitcoms on TV.

5 It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005 – Present)

19+ Years (170 Episodes)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Release Date
August 4, 2005

Cast
Charlie Day , Rob McElhenney , Kaitlin Olson , Glenn Howerton , Danny DeVito

Seasons
16

Stream now on Hulu

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia doesn’t have the high episode count as the other longest-running sitcoms, but it wins in terms of the show’s duration. The sitcom aired in 2005 and is still going strong. The show takes audiences into the dysfunctional yet comical lives of five misfit friends. The twins are played by Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson, Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), and Mac (Rob McElhenney). Danny Devito was later cast in season 2 as Frank Reynolds, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia took off. The show was renewed through season 18. It is mostly a cult favorite, but it has won awards from the People’s Choice Awards and Satellite Awards.

4 Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000- Present)

24+ Years (110+ Episodes)

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Release Date
October 15, 2000

Cast
Larry David , Jeff Garlin , Cheryl Hines , Susie Essman , J.B. Smoove

Seasons
11

Stream now on Max

Larry David is well-known in Hollywood for creating the famous sitcom titled Seinfeld alongside Jerry Seinfeld. In 2000, a new sitcom was born from a one-hour special from 1999 titled Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm. Since its debut, Curb Your Enthusiasm has received critical acclaim and numerous Emmy Awards. David stars in the lead role as himself – meaning his storyline is as a semi-retired television writer and producer who deals with the minutiae of American daily social life. The show is still going strong since 2000 and has aired 11 seasons, with HBO renewing it for a 12th season.

3 Family Guy (1999 – Present)

25+ Years (418+ Episodes)

Chris wearing a suit and looking exhausted in Family Guy

Family Guy

Release Date
January 31, 1999

Cast
Seth MacFarlane , Alex Borstein , Seth Green , Lacey Chabert , Mila Kunis , Mike Henry , Patrick Warburton

Seasons
21

Stream now on Hulu

It is no surprise that one of the longest-running sitcoms is Family Guy. The show premiered in 1999 and was only briefly sidelined by a temporary cancelation in 2002. It’s one of television’s most highly-watched and talked-about television shows thanks to its dark comedy and rapid-fire pop-culture jokes. The show centered around the Griffin family. This includes the clueless father, the stay-at-home mom, the bullied teenage daughter, the awkward son, and the conniving evil genius baby — there’s also a talking dog thrown in for good measure. The show was renewed through season 23.

2 South Park (1997-Present)

27+ Years (327+ Episodes)

Kyle Stan Cartman and Kenny wait for the bus in South Park

South Park

Release Date
August 13, 1997

Cast
Trey Parker , Matt Stone

Seasons
26

Stream now on Max

When it comes to the longest-running sitcoms, animated versions tend to last much longer than those with a live-action cast. South Park has been on the air since 1997 and has already had 26 seasons. Much like other animated sitcoms, the show relies on dark and surreal humor, as well as creating jokes satirizing a wide range of themes. South Park often makes special episodes relating to current world events or pop culture scenarios, often created the week before it aired, keeping it topical. The show follows the lives and exploits of a group of school-aged friends in a small Colorado town. The show has been renewed through season 30.

1 The Simpsons (1989 – Present)

34+ Years (760+ Episodes)

The Simpsons

Release Date
December 17, 1989

Cast
Tress MacNeille , Julie Kavner , Harry Shearer , Pamela Hayden , Nancy Cartwright , Hank Azaria , Dan Castellaneta , Yeardley Smith

Seasons
35

Stream now on Disney+

The Simpsons is the longest-running sitcom of all time, and no one else is close. It’s been on air since 1989, after all, originally starting out as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. The Simpsons isn’t a run-of-the-mill sitcom, boasting more prominent distinctions than its animated style alone. It does have the common trait of focusing on one family and their encounters with other characters. On top of the fact there have been 34 seasons, with The Simpsons renewed through its 36th season, it has also won 35 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most ever for an animated series.

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