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15 Longest-Running Live-Action Sitcoms, Ranked


In 1947, Mary Kay and Johnny debuted, the first sitcom in the United States. The sitcom followed the lives of Mary Kay and her husband Johnny in New York. Sitcoms or situation comedies rely on a group of reoccurring characters having specific goals that they needed to accomplish by the end of the episode.

Since 1947, sitcoms have come a long way, and some of the longest-running live-action sitcoms capture the many transformations the format has undergone throughout the years. Viewers who need a good laugh and have ample time on their hands should watch or re-watch a few of the longest-running sitcoms of all time.

Updated on June 8, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

With the premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 16, the gut-busting series continues to cement itself as the longest-running live-action sitcom ever. It has a permanent place in television history alongside other iconic shows from the genre.

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15 ‘Home Improvement’ (1991 – 1999) – 8 Seasons

homeimprovement

Who do the neighbors turn to for advice on remodeling a home, fixing a leak, or any hardware work? They turn to Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) and his co-host, Al Borland (Richard Karn), on the show “Tool Time.” Besides giving advice on the television show, Tim supplied life advice to his three troublemaker sons.

Home Improvement ran for 8 seasons. Allen would later star in the sitcom Last Man Standing, which ran for nine seasons from 2011 to 2021. Similarly, in the 2011 sitcom, he hosted a series of videos for the store Outdoor Man, providing advice when it came to hunting, fishing, or camping outdoors.

Watch on Hulu

14 ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (2013 – 2021) – 8 Seasons

Andre Braugher and Terry Crews in 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
Image via NBC

Protecting the streets of Brooklyn was the team of officers from the Brooklyn 99th precinct. Under the strict command of Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), he ensured that his employees were maintaining some level of professionalism. However, he didn’t hesitate to participate in the series of pranks that the employees came up with.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine ran from 2013 until 2021. The show survived a cancelation from Fox in 2018 after NBC saved and renewed the show for three additional seasons and delivered an emotional and memorable finale for the characters.

Watch on Peacock

13 ‘Family Matters’ (1989 – 1998) – 9 Seasons

Kellie Shanygne Williams and Jaleel White in 'Family Matters'
Image via ABC

The Winslow family lived in the suburbs of Chicago. Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) worked as a police officer and lived with his wife, Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), and their three children: Eddie (Darius McCrary), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), and Judy (Jaimee Foxworth). Their day-to-day life wouldn’t have been interesting if they weren’t visited by their outgoing, kind, and sometimes clumsy neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White).

Family Matters originally was a spin-off of the series Perfect Strangers, where Harriette appeared as the elevator operator. She worked in the same building that the main protagonists and their families lived in.

Watch on Hulu

12 ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (2005 – 2014) – 9 Seasons

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in 'How I Met Your Mother'
Image via 20th Century Fox Television

Hopeless romantic Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) described to his children how he fell in love and met their mother. Though Ted didn’t narrow down his narrative to only include his first encounter with their mother but explained his relationship with his best friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and Robin (Cobie Smulders).

Relationships between friends and former lovers are the crux of the show, How I Met Your Mother. The show ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2014 before fans anxiously awaited their anticipation to finally find out which of Ted’s “The One” would be the final “The One.”

Watch on Hulu

11 ‘Seinfeld’ – (1989 – 1998) – 9 Seasons

Jason Alexander, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards in Seinfeld Finale
Image via NBC

Set in the vibrant metropolis that is New York City, Seinfeld is a legendary ‘90s sitcom centered on four main characters’ daily lives, no matter how mundane they were. Jerry Seinfeld (played by Jerry Seinfeld), George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Cosmo Kramer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have misunderstandings that turn into hilarious misadventures in the beloved sitcom.

Seinfeld improved the genre by proving that it is possible to make trivial moments interesting on the small screen. Armed with a clever script full of witty lines delivered by relatable (often eccentric) characters, it made history and is part of many viewers’ lives even today.

Watch on Netflix

10 ‘Murphy Brown’ (1988 – 2018) – 10 Seasons

still of murphy brown

The news never sleeps, and the trusted journalist to report on it was none other than Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen). Considered the toughest journalist in her profession, the investigative journalist Murphy reported the news for the television news network FYI. Alongside her, were journalists Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough), and Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto).

Originally Murphy Brown ran from 1988 to 1998. CBS revived the show in 2018 with a continuation of where the show left off, this time, Murphy returned to her profession after retirement to host the morning news show “Murphy in the Morning.”

Watch on DirecTV

9 ‘Friends’ (1994 – 2004) – 10 Seasons

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer in 'Friends'
Image via Warner Bros. Television

Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) left her fiancé at the altar, as she ran into the Central Park coffee shop where she met her friend Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) and her soon-to-be-roommate along with Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), and Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc). From then on, their lives were intertwined as they sorted out their changing jobs and relationships.

For ten seasons, Friends had plenty of surprising guest-star appearances such as Winona Ryder and Billy Crystal. The six friends concluded their life in New York City with its last episode in 2004, but that wasn’t the last time fans would hear from about Friends. In 2021, the cast of Friends reminisced their favorite unforgettable moments from the TV series on the television special Friends: The Reunion.

Watch on Max

8 ‘Happy Days’ (1974 – 1984) – 11 Seasons

Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, and Erin Moran in 'Happy Days'
Image via ABC

The classic sitcom Happy Days was centered on the Cunningham Family. Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) was a teenager attending Jefferson High, and he lived with his father, Howard (Tom Bosley); his mother, Marion (Marion Ross), and his younger sister, Joanie (Erin Moran).

Happy Days gave viewers a glimpse at the styles, and trends of the 1950s, as the series was set during that time. The show ran for 11 seasons and concluded in 1984, with the actors “breaking the fourth wall” and thanking the audience for the time they spent together.

Watch on Prime Video

7 ‘Married with Children’ (1987 – 1997) – 11 Seasons

The cast of 'Married With Children' eats together at the table
Image via Variety

Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) peaked in high school. He was a high school football player turned shoe salesman living in the suburbs with his wife and two children. Al’s wife, Peg Bundy (Katey Sagal) was a housewife but was notoriously viewed as lazy, one of the running gags on Married with Children. Al’s daughter, Kelly (Christina Applegate), a high school graduate (after being held back), and Al’s son, Bud (David Faustino) would do anything to get a girl.

Their family dynamic relied on sarcasm and quips at each other’s behaviors. Married with Children ran for 11 seasons. The original cast is set to join the upcoming animated version of the beloved series.

Watch on Hulu

6 ‘Will & Grace’ (1998 – 2006, 2017 – 2020) – 11 Seasons

Eric McCormack and Debra Messing in 'Will & Grace'
Image via NBC

Eric McCormack as Will Truman and Debra Messing as Grace Adler started in the hilarious sitcom Will & Grace. After Grace broke off her engagement with her fiancé, she moved in with her best friend Will into a New York City apartment. They learned more about each other and their chaotic lifestyles.

Will & Grace debuted in 1998 and aired episodes regularly. NBC revived Will & Grace after 11 (long) years, with some of the original cast reprising their roles. Will and Grace turned off the lights in their apartment for the last time at the end of the emotional 2020 series finale.

Watch on Prime Video

5 ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (2000 – ) – 11 Seasons

Larry David shrugging in Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

An iconic semi-improvised sitcom that highlights Larry David’s creative mind, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a renowned comedic series that follows the protagonist’s wacky daily life. Often finding himself in awkward and cringe-worthy situations, Larry has to choose the best course of action based on his own skewed perceptions of social norms.

Full of comical misunderstandings and hilarious predicaments, Curb Your Enthusiasm takes seemingly normal interactions and turns up the humor. Its sidesplitting satirical take on these situations is heavily dependent on its main character and creator, who thankfully carries the series so well.

Watch on Max

4 ‘Cheers’ (1982 – 1993) – 11 Seasons

Woody Harrelson, Ted Danson, John Ratzenberger, and George Wendt in Cheers
Image via NBC

For fans wanting to return to the bar where everybody knows their name, Cheers is an unforgettable sitcom full of well-written characters. Set within the iconic bar, the series is centered on the lives of the regulars and the business’ staff, who develop and break platonic and romantic bonds over the years.

Despite numerous major cast changes, Cheers never loses its essence of showcasing the comfort of connection, all set within a familiar environment. Decades after its release, it’s just as inviting and rewatchable for both old and new fans.

Watch on Paramount+

3 ‘M*A*S*H’ (1972 – 1983) – 11 Seasons

Playing Hawkeye Pierce

M*A*S*H is an award-winning comedy-drama series set against the backdrop of the Korean War. Specifically set within a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the show manages to find comedy in the darkest places, with its likable group of doctors and support staff relying on humor to get through each horrific day.

A sitcom unlike any other, M*A*S*H introduced iconic characters like the surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and his closest friend, B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell). The series delves into the power of friendship in such a horrendous situation, and serves as a reminder of a different time that should not be forgotten.

Watch on Hulu

2 ‘Frasier’ (1993 – 2004) – 11 Seasons

Kelsey Grammer conducting an orchestra in Frasier

An unexpected hit that serves as a spin-off of Cheers, Frasier focuses on Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), who deals with the ups and downs of his personal and professional life as a psychiatrist and radio show host in Seattle. Alongside his eclectic family members, including his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), his father Martin (John Mahoney), and his live-in housekeeper Daphne (Jane Leeves), the protagonist is often placed in outlandish situations on and off the airwaves.

Although parts of the series have undeniably lost their charm, Frasier is still endlessly rewatchable for fans who want to relive some of the wackiest moments to ever air on television. A true sitcom classic, viewers are undoubtedly hoping that the Paramount+ revival will be just as good as the original show.

Watch on Paramount+

1 ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (2005 – ) – 16 Seasons

Danny DeVito, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson and Glenn Howerton in 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
Image via Bluebush Productions/FX Networks

Charlie (Charlie Day), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) ran Paddy’s Pub, a bar in South Philadelphia. In the first season, the gang experimented with different marketing tactics to gain customers. Some of the most memorable moments from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia involve the gang coming up with alternative ways to earn money fast such as creating a load of wild inventions.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is considered the longest-running sitcom to date. Its cringe comedy and handling of sensitive issues in humorous ways have earned it a loyal fanbase who eagerly wait for each new episode of the series.

Watch on Hulu

NEXT: The Best Sitcoms on Netflix Right Now

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