Every year, there seems to be a long list of television shows that don’t make it for another season. This is partly because there are so many shows on cable and streaming, but also because it’s really hard for a show to keep up steam.
But there have been a select few that have managed to last against all odds. These shows have managed to be able to adapt to the times and maintain being relevant for decades. Or they have found the one thing that they are really good at and stay true to that formula.
So what are the longest-running American TV shows ever? A lot of them have been around so long ,they actually started on the radio. Others have earned their spot in the Guinness World Records. These are the 15 longest-running American TV shows ever.
15. Mister Roger’s Neighborhood — 33 years
The children’s show was hosted by Fred Rogers and covered different topics for young audiences through music in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. The neighborhood was full of puppet characters. The show first aired in 1963 and was named Mister Rogers. It didn’t get its lasting name until the show moved to Pittsburgh in 1966.
The show eventually made it to PBS and was the longest-running children show until it was passed by Sesame Street. When the show ended it tried to start a new spinoff with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and it’s still currently airing.
Next: This dancing series showed audiences new moves for decades.
14. Soul Train — 35 years
The dance show first aired in 1971 and showed dancers taking the stage. The show started out very focused on talent in Chicago but once it got syndicated it moved to Los Angeles and expanded its scope. The show had multiple hosts but eventually ended in 2006 with Dorian Gregory.
Next: This prank show actually started on radio.
13. Candid Camera — 36 years
Reality television is seen as something new, but it has been around for decades through shows like Candid Camera. The show actually started on radio as Candid Microphone in 1947, which had Allen Funt set up crazy scenarios for unsuspecting people and record them.
Candid Camera made it to television in 1948. The first episode was a prank on an actress named Ann Jillian but eventually more celebrities and even presidents made it on the show. The show jumped around to multiple networks throughout the decades but it eventually ended on TV Land in 2014.
Next: This soap has one of the most iconic soap characters in tv history.
12. All My Children — 41 years
The soap opera first aired on ABC in 1970. The original cast included Susan Lucci as Erica Kane. The show started out focusing on activism, young love, and the Vietnam war. The show ended in 2011 and Lucci was able to wrap up her character’s story.
Next: This comedy variety show has been coming up with jokes almost for 50 years.
11. Saturday Night Live — 42 years
The live variety show was first created by Lorne Michaels and went on air in 1975. It has since launched so many comedians’ careers, including Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and more.
The show is still staying strong, and Michaels is still running the show.
Next: This science show has been on for more than 40 years.
10. Nova — 43 years
The PBS show has interviews with scientists about their research and discoveries. It first aired in 1974 and has been steadily on television since. This isn’t the longest PBS show that has been able to make the list.
Next: This soap opera has been bringing the drama for almost half a century.
9. The Young and the Restless — 45 years
The Brooks and Foster family was originally at the center of this soap opera. It debuted in 1973 but has since moved on to different characters. The show is still going strong and is close to making it to 50 seasons. But it’s still not the longest-running soap.
Next: This soap has moved from cable to streaming services to continue.
8. One Life to Live — 45 years
The Lord family is the center of this soap opera. It started in 1968 on ABC and it made it to 2012. It’s also considered as the first American soap opera to start off with diversity in its cast. The show ended on cable and moved to Hulu and iTunes in 2013.
Next: This game show has had contestants guessing for over 50 years.
7. The Price is Right — 46 years
The game show has contestants guess the price of merchandise in hopes to win prizes. It all started with host Bob Barker back in 1956 and went off the air in 1965. It has since returned in 1972 and moved networks. It’s now hosted by Drew Carey. The game has also become longer with more pricing games.
Next: This show has been entertaining children for almost half a century.
6. Sesame Street — 49 years
The children show is full of puppets trying to entertain and educate kids. It first aired in 1969 on PBS and it is still staying strong. The show has been able to grow with its most successful characters like Elmo and Big Bird.
Next: This soap has lasted thanks to being rebooted.
5. Days of Our Lives — 53 years
The soap opera focuses on a few American families of different financial means. It first aired in 1965 and was expanded from 30 minutes to a full hour. The show has had its roadblocks and was rebooted in 2011, which involved bringing back favorite characters to get fans back.
Next: This anthology series is tied to one of the biggest brands in the world.
4. The Wonderful World of Disney — 54 years
The anthology series has come back throughout the years in different forms from animation to documentaries. It has also had different titles. It all started in 1954 on ABC and the last iteration was in 2008.
Next: This sister show has made it into the Guinness World Records.
3. As the World Turns — 54 years
The show was seen as the sister to Guiding Light. It focuses on the lives of doctors and lawyers. The soap opera first started airing on CBS in 1956 and ended in 2010.
The actress Helen Wagner made it into the Guinness World Records for having the longest run as one role on television. She started and finished with the show.
Next: This medical soap has made it into the Guinness World Records.
2. General Hospital — 55 years
The medical soap opera started in 1963. It notably had famous guest stars like Roseanne Barr, James Franco, and Elizabeth Taylor. The show made it into the Guinness World Records for the longest-running soap opera in production and the second longest-running drama in American history.
The show is still staying strong on television and the longest-running actor is Maurice Benard with 2,188 episodes on his belt.
Next: This soap started as a radio show and ended in the Guinness World Records.
1. Guiding Light — 57 years
The soap opera is listed as the longest-running drama show in America in the Guinness World Records. It started in 1952 on CBS, but even before that it was a radio show in 1937 and didn’t end until 1956. This meant that the actors started out recording themselves twice per day for radio and television. The television show didn’t end until 57 years later in 2009.
The show started out following a German immigrant family during World War I. Over the years, there are many actors who got their start on the show like Kevin Bacon, Hayden Panettiere, Taye Diggs, and more.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.
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