The Children’s TV industry has one of the highest turnovers of new programs in show business.
Dozens of new shows hit the channels every year, and only a small fraction of those survive beyond a single season. However, the ones that do make it, often make it big. Here’s an overview of the top TV Kids shows of all time, according to number of seasons and episodes.
Sesame Street is an absolute classic, and is shown in many countries around the world. Some of us parents still remember watching it as children, and it’s a delight to re-live the experience with our own kids. It’s the longest running kids TV show, spanning a mammoth forty one seasons and clocking up over four thousand episodes.
Sesame Street premiered in the USA in 1969. It’s gone through significant changes over the years, but the core premise remains the same – teaching basic letters and numbers with a variety of short skits involving amusing interactions between people and Muppets. The main characters are still going strong, and if you watch an episode today you’ll encounter the familiar faces of Elmo, Big Bird, The Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.
Another oldie, The Smurfs spanned nine seasons and clocked up nearly three hundred episodes. Starting out life as a series of comics, Smurfs made their television debut in the US in 1981, lasted a decade and have secured repeat showings around the world ever since.
The premise of the show certainly makes a lot less sense when you look back on it now as an adult – a village of miniature blue characters, all kitted out in white trousers and caps, periodically terrorized by an evil wizard and his cat.
The fun came from the wide variety of characters in the Smurf village and the antics they got up to. Each Smurf embodied a simple archetype – grumpy Smurf, Lazy smurf, etc – which made them predictably enjoyable for young viewers.
Smurfs have since become popular icons worldwide, so much so that they often form the basis for fancy dress events and have become the butt of more than a few jokes in their time. The shows look a little dated now, but the stories have stood the test of time.
Arthur is another interesting show that’s proven to have serious staying power.
Although not so widely known outside the US, it’s reached international audiences in the UK and Australia, and the show has lasted a whopping thirteen seasons and 135 episodes.
It’s based around groups of friends in high school, and the ups and downs they experience during their time together. Of course, a kid’s show needs to have a twist, and in Arthur it’s the fact that everyone happens to be different animal.
The series is lighthearted, but also touches on issues such as racism and discrimination, with a view to helping young viewers understand them and learn how to respond to them effectively.
You might be surprised by this entry, and you might not be too familiar with it – but The Rugrats is a longstanding US show that’s done the rounds internationally. Stretching for 172 episodes over twelve seasons, it’s been a big hit among the little ones.
Interestingly, the show itself is based around the trials and tribulations of a group of toddlers. The adults in the program are generally oblivious to the interactions between their children, who are in their own little world for most of the show – which might explain why it’s so captivating for the children who are watching.
Sponge Bob Square Pants
Clocking in at eight seasons and 165 episodes, Sponge Bob is one of the more bizarre top kids TV shows. Another American series, it’s fairly comedic, although not afraid to tackle the serious issues that children experience from time to time.
The series is set underwater and chronicles the adventures of Sponge Bob, a lively talking sea sponge, and his various aquatic friends. Interestingly, the show was actually created by a marine biologist.
The oddball and sometimes sophisticated humor has gained a cult following amongst teenagers, students and adults, as well as being a hit with children of all ages. The show is still in production, and is expected to be gracing our screens for years to come.
So that about does it for the top kids TV shows of all time… so far. We wait with baited breath to see what the next few years of modern entertainment bring – we hope to be revisit the topic in a decade and update the list.