Still d’oh-ing, ‘Simpsons’ on verge of breaking longevity mark

Updated April 29, 2018 - 7:08 pm

Ay, caramba!

“The Simpsons” (8 p.m., Fox) will air its 636th episode Sunday, inching past “Gunsmoke” for the record for most episodes ever for a scripted American prime-time series.

Since the comedy’s debut on Dec. 17, 1989, following a series of shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” its characters hardly look like they’ve aged a day — although they are somewhat less pointy.

(Not all of them may sound the same for much longer, though, as Hank Azaria recently offered to “step aside” from voicing Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetilon following an increase in accusations of cultural stereotyping.)

As a testament to the remarkable run of “The Simpsons,” here’s a look at the next 10 active series on the all-time episodes list, not counting “The X-Files,” “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne,” which recently returned after long layoffs.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”

Debuted: Sept. 20, 1999

Episodes: 429

The second-longest-running series on TV needs 28 more episodes to surpass “Law & Order,” which was canceled in 2010.


Debuted: Sept. 23, 2003

Episodes: 350

Yet another spinoff, it’s outlasted its predecessor, “JAG,” by 123 episodes and counting.

“Grey’s Anatomy”

Debuted: March 27, 2005

Episodes: 314

Doctors come and go — McDreamy!!! — but the doors of Grey Sloan Memorial will remain open for at least another season, during which the series will become ABC’s longest-running drama ever.

“Family Guy”

Debuted: Jan. 31, 1999

Episodes: 305

Dating back to the previous millennium, you’d think “Family Guy” would have accumulated more episodes. Then again, Fox did cancel it. Twice.

“Criminal Minds”

Debuted: Sept. 22, 2005

Episodes: 299

The crime procedural that made a star out of Las Vegas’ Matthew Gray Gubler has outlived its spinoffs, “Suspect Behavior” and “Beyond Borders,” by a mere 260 episodes.


Debuted: Sept. 13, 2005

Episodes: 260

The CW’s answer to “The Simpsons,” “Supernatural” dates back to the network’s days as The WB and probably will remain on the air until long after Sam and Dean have to retrofit the Impala to haul a couple of mobility scooters.

“The Big Bang Theory”

Debuted: Sept. 24, 2007

Episodes: 253

Bazinga! America’s current longest-running sitcom is still its most popular comedy not named “Roseanne.” So surely somebody will get around to fixing that elevator any day now.

“American Dad!”

Debuted: Feb. 6, 2005

Episodes: 245

Creator Seth MacFarlane’s second series on this list following “Family Guy,” “American Dad!” also was canceled by Fox, before TBS picked it up in 2014.

“Modern Family”

Debuted: Sept. 23, 2009

Episodes: 207

We’ve watched Manny and the Dunphy kids — and Lily II, who joined the series in Season 3 — grow up. The comedy probably will come to an end, though, before producers are forced to admit that Jay and Gloria’s son Joe is played by a highly advanced automaton.

“NCIS: Los Angeles”

Debuted: Sept. 22, 2009

Episodes: 189

The fact that a spinoff of a spinoff, and a second “NCIS,” is among the 11 longest-running shows on TV is a pretty good indication that there’s something very wrong with America — or at least CBS.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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