I'm curious as to how episodes of shows are selected for re-runs. I ask because I've noticed over the years of watching re-runs of various shows that they seem to favor certain episodes. I've noticed they usually don't re-run season/series premier/finales. Seems to be the same in both cartoon/animated series as well as live action shows.

One would assume it's based on popularity, but I'm not so sure about that. Do DVD sets play a role in re-run selections? Meaning they only show certain episodes in an attempt to increase sales? These are only speculations and guesses.


To @Crow T Robot's point, it does seem to matter if the show has a story line or not, but my wife has been watching Forensic Files since it first came out in 2000 and we have not seen a re-run of any episode in the first season (she records them all) in 5+ years but the same episode will get recorded on the DVR multiple times a week.

To @Sonny Burnett's point, I live in the US. Unless they are airing a marathon of a series, it's usually not in sequential order.

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    I suppose it depends on the kind of show. I know what you mean about rarely seeing season premieres or finales, but the exception seems to be shows with no overall plot where those episodes are indistinguishable from the rest. +1, I'd love to see more information about this. Aug 4, 2014 at 0:13
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    I have only ever experienced re-runs to be entirely sequential, airing all episodes in the same order as they initially aired. But that may just be a question of locality.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 4, 2014 at 0:29
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    @SonnyBurnett. I would definitely agree with you for here in Britain. The vast majority of shows are broadcast in their entirety in their reruns. It can be confusing sometimes though with different channels showing the same series but different seasons, especially when compounded with all the +1 channels and the repeats. Exceptions though are the 'classic' episodes which regularly get aired as tributes/anniversaries/quick fillers.
    – queeg
    Aug 4, 2014 at 1:40
  • "Unless they are airing a marathon of a series, it's usually not in sequential order." - Whoa, now that indeed sounds like an awfully unreasonable rerun policy. Nobody can ever conciously watch a TV show that way if he hasn't seen it at the initial release.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 4, 2014 at 2:46
  • @NapoleonWilson: In France, some broadcasting companies are famous for showing a series not in sequential order, even for the first-run! This is due to the fact that episodes are usually broadcasted 2 by 2 and that there is a strict policy prohibiting the broadcast of violence before 10PM. So, if the episode say 11 is considered as too violent, episode 12 will be broadcast just before episode 11 :(
    – Taladris
    Oct 3, 2014 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Obviously there's a lot of reasons, but two to consider are;

  1. That some episodes will actually be cheaper to rerun due to the various cast/crew rerun terms - for instance most actors have at least two ways to get paid for a role; base pay plus rerun payments or base pay plus a buy-out fee that comes once no matter how often a show is reran.
  2. Ratings-weighted - the episodes that got the best viewership first time around are more likely to be rerun.

On top of this there will be a degree of sequential/randomness introduced, also there will be mistakes in scheduling, more than you'd like to know. :)

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