The Western drama “Gunsmoke” aired an extraordinary 635 episodes over the course of 20 seasons. That’s an episode count that’s unlikely to be bested by any other drama, except maybe “SVU.” “SVU” just aired its 500th episode, which means it would have to run for six more seasons of 24 episodes per season to catch up. “SVU” may or may not have that much gas left in the tank, but we’ll see. “NCIS” definitely won’t catch up, as it’s still more than 200 episodes behind.
“Gunsmoke” aired from 1955 to 1975. Back in the early days of “Gunsmoke,” seasons were 39 episodes long, an unimaginable number in modern times, where even 24-episode seasons are a relic of an earlier era of broadcast TV.
The series was about life in Dodge City, Kansas, in the Old West era. The main character was Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness. It both reinforced and experimented with the rules of the Western genre and the American mythos of the Old West.