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TV's Longest Running Shows Continue To Thrive

January 24th, 2008 10:16am EST
The SimpsonsWith the writers' strike still in effect, TV viewers are in limbo. No one knows for sure which "bubble" shows will make it through another season. The fate of series such as "Moonlight," "Medium" and "Supernatural" is unknown. The pilot season, which usually gears up in January, is not gearing up.

While viewers wait to see when and if their favorite TV shows will return, we take a look at some of the small screen programs that have not only survived but thrived over the years. The writers' strike is just a blip on the radar for these heavy hitters.

This is a list based on fact. We had to be fair and give credit where credit is due. Looking past our personal favorites, we saw the light and pinned down the real survivors of the television era. Here are the mothers of them all:

Meet the Press, NBC
61 seasons, 4,750 episodes, debuted 1947

There was a time when the news meant something. Check your history books. Born from radio, "Meet the Press" holds the crown as the longest running television show in broadcasting history. The guests are mostly those involved in politics, economy, and foreign policy. Tim Russet leads the one-on-one interviews and the round table discussion panel and has been the face of "Meet the Press" since 1991.

The Tonight Show, NBC
53 seasons, debuted 1954

Jay LenoSteve Allen, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson and, currently, Jay Leno, all share one thing in common. They all hosted "The Tonight Show," entertaining and interviewing their way into the homes of millions.

Monologues, gags, skits and celebrities have shaped "The Tonight Show" over its half-a-century run. Johnny Carson set the bar as host from 1962 to 1992. Jay Leno filled his shoes, and Conan O'Brien will take over in 2009.

Sesame Street, PBS
38 seasons, 4,160 episodes, debuted 1969

Sesame StreetProbably the best use of puppets in the history of television, several generations have grown up watching and learning from Big Bird, Elmo, Burt and Ernie. Its targeted audience is pre-schoolers, and "Sesame Street" would set the standard for educational children's television.

Currently, it airs in 109 countries. Jim Henson's Muppet creations inhabit "Sesame Street" and have appeared in dozens of movies and spawned a plethora of merchandise (Tickle Me Elmo, anyone?). "Sesame Street" has even been at the center of controversy and myths. "Sesame Street" has gone on to influence adult interpretations and parodies of the children's program, including "Avenue Q" (Broadway) and "Wonder Showzen" (MTV 2).

The Simpsons, Fox
19 seasons, debuted 1989

The SimpsonsMany of us grew up with "The Simpsons," and now we're old enough to understand the jokes. "The Simpsons" is the longest running animated series in television history. Matt Groening's creation, as first seen on the "Tracy Ullman Show," gives us universal, timeless characters. Episodes that were made 10 years ago are still relevant and fresh today when viewed in syndication.

The show has a cult following, with viewers that tune into the show several times a day. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie make up all of us. They are our favorite dysfunctional family.

Story by Destiny Lopez
Starpulse.com contributing writer