What TV shows have the most episodes produced?

You might think “The View” hitting 5,000 episodes is impressive — but it turns out it’s nowhere near the record for most episodes produced of an episodic TV show.

  • German children’s program “Unser Sandmännchen” currently tops out the list (as of Nov. 7, 2019) with over 20,000 episodes and is still in production.
  • In the U.S., meanwhile, soap opera “Guiding Light” ran 15,762 episodes on TV (with an additional 2,500 on radio) before it ended in 2009.
  • General Hospital,” another U.S. soap, holds the country’s record for most episodes at about 14,500 and counting.
  • Other notable shows include “The Tonight Show” at 12,400, “The Price Is Right” at over 9,200 as well as “Jeopardy!” at over 8,000 and “Wheel of Fortune” at around 7,000. “Access Hollywood” has racked up over 7,000 (though it did change names to “Access” briefly but, for the purposes of this list, includes show under both names).
  • All told, “The View” actually comes in at about 80th on the list of most episodes worldwide.

Hitting those types of numbers isn’t easy in the cutthroat industry that is TV.

  • Most TV shows that peak in the 5,000-plus episode range air more than once a week, if not daily or at least five days a week.
  • Many of the top episode count shows only take short hiatuses for the summer or other times throughout the year, when repeat episodes will typically air (and these don’t count toward total episode count).
  • Because of this, shows will high episode counts tend to be game shows, kids programming, talk shows, soap operas or similar fare.
  • In the U.S., half hour and hour long shows traditionally had about 24 episodes per year (though that number has gone down in recent years as networks experiment with shorter or split seasons).
  • For what it’s worth, it would take a 24 episode per season show over 200 years to hit the 5,000 mark (100 years if it airs two seasons per year).
  • Because of this, even long running weekly shows tend to top out in the 300 to 400 episode range.
  • One exception to this tends to be reality or competition shows, which often run more than one season per year and also often air more than one episode per week — which can push them over the 500 plus mark.
  • Considering that the majority of scripts shows only last a handful of seasons, it’s tough to rack up even a few hundred episodes.

There are shows that have even higher counts, such as daily news broadcasts, but these aren’t considered episodic in nature.

  • For example, NBC News’ “Today” sits about around 18,000 broadcasts as of November 2019 (“Today” didn’t air on weekends originally and even in 2019, “Sunday Today” is technically a separate program).
  • NBC’s “Meet the Press” holds the honor of being the longest running program in TV industry — 72 years as of Nov. 6, 2019 — though it bears little resemblance to its original format (the show actually began on radio even earlier but those years aren’t counted in here).
  • Consider this: Even if a show debuted, as an extreme example, in 1920, which was right around when television experiments began in the U.S., and aired every single day of the year since then, that would only put it at around 36,000 broadcasts as of 2019.
  • Obviously, however, no shows have been around that long — and only select news broadcasts air seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  • Put another way, if “Meet the Press” broadcast 365 days a year since 1947 (it doesn’t), it would be sitting at around 26,000 broadcasts as of 2019.