Here Are The Most Ridiculously Long Binge-Watches Available For Anyone With 200+ Hours To Kill

Image courtesy of Al Ibrahim

If you’re like us, you like your TV. Sure you do! But let’s say you’ve been busy: you’re all caught up on the big prestige dramas. There are no secrets or spoilers left for you in Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or Orphan Black. There’s a TV-shaped void in your life to fill, and endless reruns on cable just aren’t cutting it. You need something that can really occupy your time. Not just a few hours, but days. Weeks. You have months to kill, and you need something to binge-watch right now. And lots of it.

And so what, we wondered, is the longest possible single binge-watch you can swing?

We dug deep to find out. There’s a lot of TV out there, and narrowing it down was tricky. There are two main criteria we decided programs needed to meet to make the list.

First: the shows need to be regularly-released, scripted, narrative programming. That ruled out, among other things, game shows; “reality” shows; educational or how-to shows; competitions or sports; commentaries or talk shows; church, church-like, or religious programs; news, news-like, or newsmagazine programs; or sketch and variety programs.

Second: the programs have to be available to stream with a subscription to Netflix, Amazon (Prime), and/or Hulu (Plus). Being able to buy episodes individually from iTunes, Amazon, or another service doesn’t count. These have to be series you can plant yourself on the couch and blow an entire weekend on without racking up a four-digit credit card bill.

Within the boundaries of a single series, that bar was much harder to cross than you’d think.

The longest-running scripted narrative shows, by far, are soap operas: Guiding Light has been running continuously since 1952, and Days of Our Lives and General Hospital both started in the 60s. However, the soaps aren’t available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon and so, for our purposes, they don’t count. Likewise the UK’s venerable Doctor Who, of which only about 15% (of the classic series) is available to watch digitally.

Animated programming also has a way of hanging on forever, it turns out, but you can’t catch The Jetsons in a properly futuristic manner anywhere just yet. Famously long-lasting prime-time cartoon The Simpsons finally dared to stream recently, but only on a proprietary service and so Springfield’s favorite family also doesn’t make the list.

And of course, contracts change. Shows leave streaming services, or get added to them, all the time. This list may be accurate in a year’s time, or it may be a brief and fleeting snapshot. All data were accurate as of the end of the business day on April 15, 2015.

With all of our caveats therefore in place, here’s what we have.

Single Series Winners

These are not the longest-airing series in TV history. But within our criteria, they are the ones you can sack out in your living room for the longest with.

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The Winner: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
First aired: 09/20/1999
Ended: still running; season 16 will wrap up in May
Number of episodes: 366 at the end of the season; 362 currently
Available on: Hulu Plus

If you guessed Law & Order and its 456-episode run would take it, you’re almost right — except you can’t currently stream the original series. However, its younger-sibling spinoff is happy to take the crown.

The runtime of most SVU episodes averages at 43 minutes. With 362 episodes available at the time of writing, that’s 15,566 minutes of crime-busting.

If you set yourself to a Benson & Stabler-a-thon, without commercial breaks, and playing episodes continuously, you’d be streaming for 259.4 hours, or just shy of 11 full days.

Runner-Up: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
First aired: 10/06/2000
Ended: still airing; season 15 finished in February
Number of episodes: 335
Available on: Hulu Plus

The procedurals strike again, this time in Las Vegas. Yes, CSI really has been on that long.

Of the 335 episodes, 317 are currently available on Hulu Plus. The episode lengths vary a little (in the 42-45 minute range), but assuming a 43 minute average runtime for parity’s sake, that’s 13,631 minutes of Gil Grissom and Company.

Do the math on that, and you’ll be squinting in a dark, stylish lab at 3 a.m. Vegas time for 227.2 hours, or just about 9 ½ days.

Second Runner-Up Hawaii Five-O (original)
First aired: 09/20/1968
Ended: 1980
Number of episodes: 279
Available on: Netflix

Procedurals seem to have this way of being unkillable — and also of being available on Netflix. The rebooted show can only hope for the longevity of its oh-so-seventies predecessor.

If you want to book ’em, Danno, you can do it for 12,276 minutes straight on Netflix. That’s 204.6 hours, or about 8.5 days.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Murder, She Wrote: 264 episodes, 11,616 minutes / 8 days (Netflix).
  • NYPD Blue: 261 episodes, 11,484 minutes / 7.9 days (Amazon Prime).

But if you really want to kill some time, you’ll need more than one series. You’ll need a series of series. And for that, we have…

Franchises

Some shows lend themselves really well to spin-offs, reboots, sequels, and related media. Science fiction is particularly known for it, and well-represented here. If you have not just days to fill with endless TV marathons, but weeks or months, these franchises are for you.

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Star Trek
Gene Roddenberry’s original optimistic vision of a spacefaring future lasted only three seasons before being cancelled. And yet if any show could ever be considered to have boldly gone into the wide world of greater media, Star Trek is it.

  • Show 1: Star Trek (The Original Series)
  • Available on: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
  • Number of episodes available: 79
  • Total number of minutes: 3,950
  • Show 2: Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Available on: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
  • Number of episodes available: 178
  • Total number of minutes: 7,654
  • Show 3: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Available on: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
  • Number of episodes available: 176
  • Total number of minutes: 7,568
  • Show 4: Star Trek: Voyager
  • Available on: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
  • Number of episodes available: 172
  • Total number of minutes: 7,396
  • Show 5: Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Available on: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
  • Number of episodes available: 98
  • Total number of minutes: 4,214

If you set yourself a continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, you’re going to be at it for a while. The five main series add up to a total runtime of 30,782 minutes. That’s 513 hours of Klingons off the starboard bow, more than 21 days — three weeks — of impassive Vulcans and rascally Romulans.

And that’s without counting any of the 12 films or The Animated Series.

CSI
The venerable and prolific CSI has not only run for 15 years, but also spawned three spin-offs. Not all are available to stream, but one of them, CSI: Miami, is only a few seasons shorter than the original. Together, the two make a formidable force.

  • Show 1: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
  • Available on: Hulu Plus
  • Number of episodes available: 317
  • Total number of minutes: 13,361
  • Show 2: CSI: Miami
  • Available on: Hulu Plus
  • Number of episodes available: 232
  • Total number of minutes: 9,976

If you decide to challenge yourself to a CSI marathon, you’re going to need to set aside more than two weeks of your life. The two shows together boast 23,607 minutes of programming. That’s 393.45 hours, or about 16.4 days.

Power Rangers
Power Rangers purists may argue that the adventures of their heroes should be considered a single series and not a franchise. However, the seasons have had different titles, different casts, different episode lengths, and run on different networks. That breaks them up into discrete chunks more like a franchise than like a continual single series, in our judgement.

The program also exists under a whopping 20 different names, not even counting the currently-airing season, so we’re going to take the highly simplified version of the list.

  • Show 1: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • Available on: Netflix (partially available on Amazon Prime and Hulu)
  • Number of episodes available: 145
  • Total number of minutes: 2900
  • Shows 2-20: Power Rangers (various subtitles)
  • Available on: Netflix (partially available on Amazon Prime and Hulu)
  • Number of episodes available: 674
  • Total number of minutes: 13,539

Not including the questionable major motion picture release or the remastered version of season one, you can watch 16,439 minutes of ninja, dino, and magic morphin’ mayhem. That’s 273.9 hours, or 11.4 days.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Stargate (3 shows): Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe. Total 15,222 minutes / 10.6 days (Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus).
  • Cheers (2 shows): Cheers and Frasier. Total 11,858 minutes / 8.2 days (Netflix).
  • Buffy (2 shows): Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Total 10,922 minutes / 7.6 days (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus).