Nothing lasts forever, especially not television shows. However, here are some institutions that keep on chugging.
With the recent retirements of Jay Leno, David Letterman, and (soon) Jon Stewart, late night TV is in the midst of a major personnel change. It’s hard to believe, but that means the “elder statesman” of late night talk show hosts is Conan O’Brien. He first went on in the air in 1993 with Late Night, moved up briefly to The Tonight Show and now hosts Conan on TBS. He’s been on the air for 22 years, not long behind Johnny Carson’s 29-year tenure.
Daytime talk show host
Live With Regis and Kathie Lee debuted nationally in 1988, with co-host Kathie Lee Gifford leaving the show in 2000. After a number of personalities tried out on-air with guest-hosting spots, the job went to soap actress Kelly Ripa. She’s been on the show for 15 years now, which is now titled Live! With Kelly and Michael, after ex-football star Michael Strahan replaced original host Regis Philbin in 2012.
Longest-lasting show from a dead network
In 2006, the low-watched UPN and WB networks merged to form The CW. Show from both networks survived the merger, but the only one still on the air: WB refugee America’s Next Top Model.
Technically, the longest-running prime time comedies currently on the air are both animated: The Simpsons (airing since 1989) and South Park (which debuted in 1997). The most enduring live-acting sitcom is FX’s dark comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which after nearly being cancelled after its first season in 2005, remains on the air.
A dozen cast members have come and gone from the ABC medical soap, but Grey’s Anatomy is still a top 30 hit. It debuted in the middle of the 2004-05 TV season and will return for its 12th season this fall.