Long-Running Media: Can it Ever End?

Geoffrey Chaucer once said, “All good things must come to an end.” While this does typically apply to everything in life, there are sometimes exceptions to that rule. We call these very, very strange exceptions long-runners. Long-runners are unique because they have had quite a long shelf time. These times can last anywhere from ten to 59 years and span multiple authors, actors, and even corporations or shareholders. We wanted to highlight a few and discuss why they have lasted so long.

When you look at a list of long-runners, you’ll see a trend; most long-running shows fall under the genre of comedy, specifically the situational category. Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and of course, Friends are prime examples. These shows lasted around ten years, meaning that there’s a very high chance that many of you readers grew up watching these shows. Even if you weren’t around during the original air times, modern streaming services have allowed younger audiences to experience these 2000 classics. The shows lasted so long because of the devout fanbase and, of course, the sheer amount of writers the shows employed. Friends had nine writers and Modern family had a total of 35.

There are a few exceptions to sitcoms that are considered long runners. One of my personal favorites is Doctor Who. It is possibly one of the longest run shows to ever publicly air, technically. For people who don’t know, Doctor Who had an original run in 1963 that lasted 26 seasons until it was canceled in 1989 due to low ratings. While 26 years of airtime is nothing to sneeze at, Doctor Who seemed to be destined to fall into obscurity, drowned out by the myriad of British Science-Fiction shows that were ongoing at the time. But in 2005, an up-and-coming BBC writer, Russell T. Davies pushed for them to bring back Doctor Who as an entirely new reboot. BBC relented and began airing an entirely new show in late 2005, which has been ongoing ever since, leading to a total of 43 years on air and counting, with a whopping 107 different writers throughout the years. Needless to say, Doctor Who has dwarfed the previously mentioned sitcoms. I would love to do a full article about Doctor Who and the absolute absurdity of its episodes, but this article is about long-runners as a whole, and it would be unfair to just focus on one show, even if it is the best show mentioned in this article, and I’m definitely not biased at all.

So many shows have lasted for years, even decades because of the devoted fans and their popularity in the common media. Even though Friends is almost 20 years old, think about how many younger people know about the show, and the constant influx of new merchandise based on the series. While the show itself may be long over, the effects on the world of television and the human collective as a whole. These shows are cornerstones of generations and will be for quite a while. Go Knights!