The Simpsons shoots past Gunsmoke to become the longest-running primetime show

It's Dillon vs. Simpson, and this Sunday, the family man pulls ahead.

Image: AP Photo

TV fans have long seen the day coming when the hit animated hit The Simpsons would overtake Gunsmoke to become the primetime show with the most episodes aired, but that day arrives this Sunday. That's when The Simpsons will air its 636th episode in its 30th season and surpass Gunsmoke's record of 635 episodes across 20 seasons.

Of course, fans of TV Westerns, a genre of television where Gunsmoke represents the uppermost top tier, will always hold the series dear for the tremendous job it did walking the line of adventure and high drama. The Simpsons, on the other hand, walks that line between genuine family sitcom and outlandish parody/satire, and once even poked fun at TV Westerns. An episode from the twelfth season, "The Lastest Gun in the West, where Bart idolizes a Western star named Buck McCoy, is one of the most controversial episodes in The Simpsons history. Perhaps it was a disconnect with their modern fans who didn't pick up on jokes or perhaps it proves that Westerns are just too sacred.

With The Simpsons' upcoming episode, "Forgive and Regret," Homer's family joins an elite class of long-running primetime TV shows, including:

Gunsmoke - 635 episodes (1955-1975)
Kraft Television Theatre - 525 episodes (1947-1958)
Lassie - 507 episodes (1954-1971)
Law & Order - 456 episodes (1990-2010)
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - 435 episodes (1952-1966)
Bonanza - 431 episodes (1959-1973)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - 427 episodes (1999-present)
My Three Sons - 380 episodes (1960-1972)

The Simpsons record, however, is even more impressive, when you consider how few other cartoons ever had the opportunity to air in primetime, and of those that did, how many episodes they were able to reach in that optimal time slot. These are the longest-running animated primetime TV shows:

The Simpsons - 636 episodes (1989-present)
Family Guy - 300 episodes (1999-present)
King of the Hill - 255 episodes (1997-2010)
The Flintstones - 166 episodes (1960-1966)
Futurama - 140 episodes (1999-2013)
The Jetsons - 75 episodes (1962-1963)

Gunsmoke, of course, had a great run, holding onto the record of longest-running primetime series for more than 40 years.

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