While some TV stars choose to leave their popular shows for bigger and better things, others stick around — sometimes for decades. For example, Kelsey Grammer played iconic character Dr. Frasier Crane for about 20 years on Cheers and its spin-off Frasier. However, he is far from the longest-running character on TV.
Soap Opera Stars That Have Stuck Around
Whether it’s cartoons or crime shows, there’s no rhyme or reason to what makes an actor stick with one character for so long, but one thing is clear: soap operas have the market cornered on long-running characters.
Suzanne Rogers has starred on the popular soap opera Days of Our Lives as Maggie Horton. Rogers has been on the show since 1973, appearing in 986 episodes and counting. She’s racked up almost 40 years on the soap opera, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Helen Wagner, a star on As the World Turns, once held a Guinness World Record for how long she played Nancy Hughes McClosky. The actress was on the show from 1954 up until her death in 2010, for a whopping 56 years on screen.
However, one actor has them all beat: William Roache. The actor first appeared on popular UK soap opera Coronation Street in 1960, and he’s still going strong, with 62 years on the show under his belt.
The Longest-Running Cartoons
Animated shows have some long-time actors, too. The South Park boys, all four voiced by the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have been on the air since 1997. The show celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. However, they’ve got nothing on The Simpsons.
The Simpsons has been popular ever since it began airing in 1989. The voice actors for Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa have been making us laugh for 33 years now, making it the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated series, and the longest-running American scripted primetime television series.
Who Is The Longest-Running Primetime Character?
When it comes to primetime dramas, the number of years gets a little lower, but no less impressive. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki starred in the hugely popular Supernatural, playing brothers Sam and Dean Winchester for 15 years. The show ultimately went off the air in 2020, making it the longest-running American live-action fantasy TV series.
Who holds the crown for the longest-running primetime character? Mariska Hargitay, playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. Hargitay has been on screen since 1999, giving her 23 years and counting as the beloved detective.