TV's longest-running comedies, ranked

The big bang theory showCBS‘The Big Bang Theory’ has been on air for 12 seasons.

  • We’ve rounded up the longest-running comedies on TV, from “Will and Grace” to “South Park.”
  • Surprisingly, animated shows took the top three spots.
  • The longest-running live action comedy is tied for fourth. “The Jack Benny Program” aired for 15 seasons.

What makes a TV comedy successful is hard to pinpoint – comedy is a fickle thing. A show needs great writing, a hilarious cast, and a special x-factor in order to make people laugh. Sustaining all this over multiple seasons can be difficult.

These shows all defied the odds and stayed on air for at least 10 years. From “The Simpsons,” going on its 30th season, to “Will and Grace” which came back for its ninth and 10th season 11 years after it originally ended, we’ve ranked TV comedies by how long they stuck around.

10 seasons

Rachel last outfit friendsWarner Bros. TV‘Friends.’

“Friends:”“Follows the personal and professional lives of six twenty to thirty-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan.”

“Will and Grace:”“Will and Grace live together in an apartment in New York City. He’s a gay lawyer, she’s a straight interior designer. Their best friends are Jack, a gleeful but proud gay man, and Karen, a charismatic, filthy rich, amoral socialite.”

“Roseanne:”“‘Roseanne’ is the story of a working-class family struggling with life’s essential problems – marriage, children, money, and parents-in-law.”

“Modern Family:”“Three different, but related families face trials and tribulations in their own uniquely comedic ways.”

11 seasons


“Cheers:”“The regulars of the Boston bar Cheers share their experiences and lives with each other while drinking or working at the bar where everybody knows your name.”

“Frasier:”“Dr. Frasier Crane moves back to his hometown of Seattle, where he lives with his father, and works as a radio psychiatrist.”

“The Danny Thomas Hour:”“Thomas starred in the musical-variety and comedy episodes (many drawn from his earlier ‘Make Room for Daddy’) and hosted the more dramatic offerings.”

“Married…With Children:”“Al Bundy is a misanthropic women’s shoe salesman with a miserable life. He hates his job, his wife is lazy, his son is dysfunctional (especially with women), and his daughter is dim-witted and promiscuous.”

“The Jeffersons:”“A nouveau riche, African-American family who move into a luxury apartment building develop close, if occasionally fractious, relationships with other tenants.”

“Happy Days:”“The Cunningham family live through the 1950s with help and guidance from the loveable and almost superhuman greaser, Fonzie.”

“Murphy Brown:”“The personal and professional misadventures of a woman working as a TV journalist.”

12 seasons

Two and a half menWarner Bros. Television Distribution‘Two and a Half Men.’

“Two and a Half Men:”“A hedonistic jingle writer’s free-wheeling life comes to an abrupt halt when his brother and 10-year-old nephew move into his beach-front house.”

“The Big Bang Theory:”“A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.”

13 seasons

It's always sunny philadelphiaIMDB / FX‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:”“Five friends with big egos and slightly arrogant attitudes are the proprietors of an Irish bar in Philadelphia.”

14 seasons

King of the hill20th Television‘King of the Hill.’

“The Adventures of Ozzie and Hamlet:”“Ozzie and Harriet Nelson raise their two sons Ricky and David. As the sons age, they experience teenage dating problems, marriage and careers.”

“King of the Hill:”“A straight laced propane salesman in Arlen, Texas, tries to deal with the wacky antics of his family and friends, while also trying to keep his son in line.”

“My Three Sons:”“Widower Steve Douglas raises three sons with the help of his father-in-law, and is later aided by the boys’ great-uncle. An adopted son, a stepdaughter, wives, and another generation of sons join the loving family in later seasons.”

15 seasons

American dad20th Television‘American Dad!’

“The Jack Benny Program:”“The comic misadventures of the ‘skinflint’ comedian and his friends.”

“American Dad!:”“The random escapades of Stan Smith, a conservative CIA Agent dealing with family life, and keeping America safe, all in the most absurd way possible.”

17 seasons

Family guyFox‘Family Guy.’

“Family Guy:”“In a wacky Rhode Island town, a dysfunctional family strive to cope with everyday life as they are thrown from one crazy scenario to another.”

22 seasons

South parkComedy Central‘South Park.’

“South Park:” “Follows the misadventures of four irreverent grade-schoolers in the quiet, dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado.”

30 seasons

Simpsons‘The Simpsons’/CBS/’Late Show with David Letterman’‘The Simpsons.’

“The Simpsons:” “The satiric adventures of a working-class family in the misfit city of Springfield.”


INSIDER’s homepage

for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.