Tonight, Fox’s long-running animated powerhouse The Simpsons joins a very exclusive club of U.S. scripted primetime shows when its 600th episode, “Treehouse of Horror XXVII” airs. How rare is this club? The only other scripted primetime show to reach 600 episodes is Gunsmoke, which ran for 20 seasons on CBS from 1955 to 1975.
No wonder then Fox is going all-out for the episode, with a couch gag enabled for VR and visible through Google Goggles (with specially-made branded goggles even produced for the event). And that’s in addition to segments parodying The Hunger Games and Kingsman that, if previous “Treehouse of Horror” installments are any judge, will be among the seasons’s best-reviewed bits.
But while impressive, tonight’s milestone doesn’t land The Simpsons another record just yet. The show is already the longest-running primetime series in terms of total seasons, hitting that milestone in 2009 with the start of season 21, and no other show is likely to touch that achievement for a long time. However, Gunsmoke still holds the primetime record for the most-ever episodes, with 635.
The Simpsons won’t surpass that count until sometime in 2018 when episode 16 of season 29 airs – assuming that the series is renewed. That’s likely to happen of course: the most recent series renewal back in 2015 only covered seasons 27 and 28, but the cast are all optioned through a hypothetical season 30. Which, by the way is when most observers assume the show will, at long last, fade off into the poorly-regulated nuclear sunset. Not bad for a show that began as a series of crudely animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.
Once it hits the all-time episode count, The Simpson will probably hold that record for a very long time, as a look at the show’s closest competitors demonstrates. Here are the top ten longest-running scripted primetime shows in U.S. history by episodes:
1) Gunsmoke (CBS): 635 episodes; 20 seasons
2) The Simpsons (FOX): 600 episodes; 28 seasons
3) Lassie (CBS and Syndication): 591 episodes; 19 seasons.
4) Law & Order (NBC): 456 episodes; 20 seasons.
5) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (ABC): 435 episodes; 14 seasons.
6) Bonanza (NBC): 431 episodes; 14 seasons.
7) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC): 393 episodes; 18 seasons.
8) My Three Sons (ABC/CBS): 380 episodes; 12 seasons.
9) Dallas (CBS): 357 episodes; 14 seasons.
10) Knots Landing (CBS): 344 episodes; 14 seasons.