I noted that there is typically a maximum of 24 episodes per a season in a TV show. What is the reason for that?

  • 5
    Used to be more in the 70s and before, plus this is a US centric question. TV seasons tend to be 13 or less in the UK for example.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 3:53
  • Cable shows (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter,...) usually have only 10-13 episodes per season. Although Burn Notice had 18 for the last three seasons.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 12:10
  • 5
    i know, all this wait 10 months to see the next season of some show is for the birds, i wait until the whole series is over and then watch them, i dont have to wait and forget and become uninterested in a show that way, its how i watched several shows, its SO much better than watching recap junk or going back and re-watching the last 2 episodes of lets say lost just to remember whats going on and where are we now. i usually see the entire series in less than a month....its fanatastic to actually keep a plot fresh in your mind and on going!!!!
    – user4720
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


There are 52 weeks in a year. American TV series usually go from the end of September to May, about 34-35 weeks.

Before the late 1960s, a television season was closer to about 30 episodes in the United States.[Wikipedia] [Version]

Most shows go on hiatus over the winter holidays and thanksgiving, due to lower viewership. Events such as the president of the United States giving a speech, also usually means that there will be no new television that night. In the 2012-2013 year, there were 3 presidential debates and election night, so there was no new television for any of those nights. Some episodes end up not being shown on the originally-planned day because of being pre-empted by athletics games. There are some series that have 2-hour specials which cut into other shows at certain points in the season.

In order to have time to air all the episodes produced, the networks generally order seasons of 22-26 episodes.

  • +1 for the answer! I hope m not being too nosy, but you seemed to b involved in the TV industry to present such a detailed and sound answer.
    – Sayan
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 5:51
  • 7
    Nope, lot of wikipedia and annoyed whenever only reruns are on :)
    – Max Burns
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 6:19
  • 1
    also, if the show time is ~1 hour then only 10-12 episodes will be in the season compared to show time ~ 30min which are 20-24 episodes per season!!
    – ashveli
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 9:54

Television has changed in the past 40+ years. In the early 50's, 60's and some 70's, many television shows did 39 episodes, tho only 13 were guaranteed for returning shows and even the newer premiering shows. Once the ratings after 6 to 8 shows said Good, the show was given 13 more, then another 13 if the show was really good in ratings. Thus 39 episdes per year. As time went on, TV decided the number of guaranteed yearly shows would be reduced to 26 or less. When that happened, often a good number of newer shows only began to last no more than 10-12 episodes, especially when the ratings showed "Flop". Some shows have the bad luck of being so bad, they get canned in one or two episodes. Others manage a 12 to 15 number, then go bye-bye. You would be surprised at the number of TV shows under 26 episodes, which either meant, not doing well, or in many cases, doing terrible, lucky to get 5 to 8 aired.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .