->''"Not hard to see why it's England's longest running series, and today, we're showing all seven episodes."''
-->-- '''Creator/{{PBS}} Guy''', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''

PrimeTime shows are made differently in Britain, and perhaps the biggest sign of this is season length. With few exceptions, Brits do ''not'' like {{Filler}}. In the United States prime time shows generally run 22-24 episodes per full-length season. British shows, on the other hand, tend to produce only up to about thirteen episodes a year if they're dramatic, or about six if they're comedies.

There are a number of reasons for this, the simplest being that British shows usually have a fairly small creative team. It's not uncommon for one person to single-handedly write every episode of a show, as Creator/StevenMoffat did with ''Series/{{Coupling}}'', or David Renwick with ''Series/JonathanCreek'' (compare to American sitcoms, which are almost always "written by committee"). The shorter working schedule means that a British show can often focus more on a tighter cast of regular characters, whereas American shows frequently have to create more of an [[EnsembleCast ensemble]], to allow their actors to have sufficient breaks during the long, grueling shooting schedule. British TV can also spend a year producing as much screen time as an American show produces in less than two months, resulting in a more concentrated "series" (called a "season" in the US; so a UK series [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage can consist of 10 "series"]]). The unpredictable weather and long winters in the UK may be a contributory factor, as it may be difficult for production teams to commit to long filming schedules.

There's more pressure to succeed, and less of a chance to make a lasting impression or develop long plot arcs. Ruin two episodes and that's a third of a season down the tubes. Some American shows that start off weak can [[GrowingTheBeard grow their beard]] when the show would have long been over in the UK.

On the other hand, British shows tend to have the entire series filmed before broadcast, so shows are rarely canceled mid-season, or affected by events like a [[TVStrikes writers' strike]]. Additionally, short shows are less vulnerable to dragging out way past their creative prime and JumpingTheShark.

Short seasons are generally the preserve of big terrestrial channels. The downfall of smaller satellite channels can be that they need long series to fill airtime, and struggle to produce or syndicate enough content without repeating it too often.

British Brevity doesn't apply to every series. {{Soap Opera}}s, talk shows, kids' programs and other daytime TV can run for far more than 24 episodes a season, in the UK as elsewhere. Britain's LongRunners include ''CoronationStreet'' and ''{{Eastenders}}''; ''CoronationStreet'' alone shows 260 episodes a ''year''. This trope, like the 24-episode US standard it contrasts with, applies mainly to scripted series in prime time and nighttime slots.

{{Radio}}, in the 1950s and 1960s, had a number of aversions. ''Radio/TheGoonShow'' clocked up about 26 episodes per series (though the final series only had 6). Others such as ''Radio/HancocksHalfHour'' and ''Radio/RoundTheHorne'' ran to about 16.

See also TwelveEpisodeAnime. Contrast FranchiseZombie – in the UK it's getting renewed that's difficult, rather than calling a halt.

----
!!Examples:

* Perhaps most notable is ''Series/FawltyTowers''; one of the more famous and well-regarded {{sitcom}}s and indeed television series of any kind ever made, and there were only ever twelve episodes, from two seasons made four years apart.
* The series of ''TheMightyBoosh'' were all about 6 or 7 episodes long each, with 20 episodes altogether.
* Ricky Gervais has a specific limit to his shows: two six-episode seasons, and a Christmas special to wrap everything up. Both ''Series/{{The Office|UK}}'' and ''Series/{{Extras}}'' have followed this format. On the other hand, the American version of ''Series/{{The Office|US}}'' lasted for nine years and 201 episodes. Gervais felt there was only so much that viewers could accept [[RealityIsUnrealistic before the "fly-on-the-wall" show became unrealistic]].
* ''Series/MrBean'' posed an enigma to its viewers: when does a TV series stop being a TV series and start being a succession of made-for-television comedy specials?
* ''AbsolutelyFabulous'' was a big hit in both Britain and America. Its original run had just 20 episodes, over three series plus a two-part special. It has since been revived twice in both new series and specials, for a total of 39 episodes.
* ''Series/CrimeTraveller'''s only season lasted for eight episodes.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'' consists of six series of six episodes each (broadcast 1988-1993), followed by two series of eight episodes each (broadcast 1997 & 1999), followed by a three-episode special (broadcast 2009), and then another six episode series (broadcast 2012). This makes for an uncommonly mighty total of 61 episodes now, but spread over 25 years and counting.
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' series three, ''Children of Earth'', was five one-hour episodes forming a single serial, in comparison to the two ''Series/DoctorWho'' length (13-part) series beforehand. Series 4, ''Miracle Day'', was another single serial but this time ten episodes long.
* ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'' wound up its plot after two seasons of eight episodes each. Its follow-on series ''AshesToAshes'' mustered three seasons, or twenty-four episodes total: about the same as ''one'' US season. The whole lot together made forty episodes in five years.
* ''TheVicarOfDibley'' had seasons of four to six episodes each, and then wound down to one or two specials per year a total of 20 episodes (plus four UsefulNotes/ComicRelief shorts) across a dozen years.
* ''Series/TheYoungOnes'' was a very influential 'Alternative Comedy' series, and retains a cult following. Only twelve episodes (two seasons) were ever made. The majority of the actors and writers went on to create ''Filthy Rich & Catflap'', which lasted only six episodes. ''Series/{{Bottom}}'', also with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, did rather better, three seasons and a total of 18 episodes (as well as five stage shows). WordOfGod says ''TheYoungOnes'' was only ever meant to have 12 episodes in two seasons, like ''Series/FawltyTowers''
* ''Series/{{Blackadder}}'' is actually 4 different six-episode series (set at different periods of history but including IdenticalGrandson characters), each one launched with no expectations of making another. In fact, each series was picked up a year after its predecessor had ended.
* ''Series/TheGoodLife'' was a big enough deal during its run that the Queen herself attended a taping. There are 30 episodes (4 series of 7 episodes apiece, one Christmas special, and the Royal Command Performance).
* ''Series/EverDecreasingCircles'', written by the same duo as ''Series/TheGoodLife'', also ran for four seasons plus a GrandFinale for a total of 27 episodes.
* ''Series/HiDeHi'' 58 episodes in 9 seasons over 8 years, and there almost certainly would have been more if the real-life holiday camp used for all the location shooting hadn't been [[RealLifeWritesThePlot closed, sold off and bulldozed for housing]].
* ''Series/DadsArmy'' 80 episodes in 9 seasons over 9 years. And a feature film.
* ''Series/AreYouBeingServed'' 68 episodes in 10 seasons over 13 years. And a feature film.
* ''Series/ThePrisoner'' was originally planned as 7 episodes, but extended to 17 at the request of Lew Grade to make the series more attractive to overseas (i.e. ''American'') markets. Star [=Patrick McGoohan=] just couldn't see it stretching to a full 26.
* Channel 4 Sitcom ''Series/{{Spaced}}'' had seven episodes in each of its two series. Many fans clamored for some sort of concluding special, with the expectation of seeing the two main characters finally hook up, but never received it. The writers did send a little kiss to the fans in the form of the last minute of the Skip To The End Documentary check out the DVD and, erm... skip to the end.
* ''{{Primeval}}'' had six episodes in its first season, and seven in the second, giving it a grand episode count of thirteen episodes. It got a surprisingly larger 10 episodes in its third season, while Series 4 and 5 had seven and six episodes respectively, for a total of 36 episodes.
* ''Series/JeevesAndWooster'' was 4 seasons long, each with 6 episodes that clocked in at about 55 minutes each (with the exception of season 1, which only had 5 episodes). And proved ruinously expensive, at that, mostly due to the length of the episodes and the fact that almost all of them were set in stately homes.
* ''{{Sharpe}}'' episodes consist of 16 feature length television films, each one clocking in at just under 2 hours.
* All too common in BBC children's animations. ''Mr Benn'', ''Bagpuss'', ''Camberwick Green'', ''Trumpton'' and ''Chigley'' all had just 13 episodes each, which were repeated (to rapt audiences of youngsters) over and over during the 70s and 80s.
** Not just up until the 80s. This troper was born in 93 and still managed to be able to see all of those on TV except Bagpuss as a child
** Likewise, ''Postman Pat'' featured just 13 episodes throughout the 80s (huge popularity led to a 10th anniversary special in 1991, further specials in 1992 and 1995, a one-off series of 13 more episodes in 1997 and, finally, regular ongoing series from 2004 on).
** When ''Bagpuss'' co-creator Oliver Postgate died, the British newspapers ran so many pages of tributes it was like Lady Di had died all over again. There were ''thirteen'' episodes, all broadcast in 1974. Postgate made other series like ''Ivor The Engine'' and ''The Clangers'', of which about thirty episodes each were made.
* ''Series/{{Ultraviolet}}'': Six two-part episodes. [[WordOfGod The creator explicitly stated]] it was exactly as long as he wanted it to be, so as to avoid screwing up the intelligent plots and premise.
* ''Series/AlloAllo'' had 6-10 episodes per series with the notable exception of series 5, which had 26 episodes as much as the previous four series combined. They planned to sell the series for syndication in America. Each episode was only 25 minutes, to account for commercial breaks. Series 6 returned to the regularly scheduled BritishBrevity.
* ''Series/TopGear'' tends to vary. Various series range from six episodes to eleven. However, two series are produced a year: a summer and a winter one.
* ''{{Taggart}}'' has reached the age of 26 years with only 100 "stories"; most of these are single episodes, but many earlier stories consisted of three one-hour episodes. Some of these were later edited down to a single episode of around two hours (without adverts).
* ''Series/FatherTed'' achieved iconic status in the UK and Ireland despite producing just 25 episodes over three seasons.
* ''Series/BlackBooks'' has three seasons, each with 6 episodes each. This results in three remarkably short, but incredibly consistent and humourous series.
** ''Series/TheITCrowd'', also created by Graham Linehan, follows the same formula into four series.
* Most of Chris Morris' series: ''Series/TheDayToday'' (6 episodes), ''Series/BrassEye'' (7 episodes), ''Series/{{Jam}}'' (6 episodes), ''NathanBarley'' (6 episodes... so far). Chris Morris seems never to have made anything with the intention of there being more than one series, though. The exception was ''Nathan Barley'' where the writers (Morris and Charlie Brooker) seemed to desperately ''want'' a second series but weren't given one because the ratings for the first were pretty dismal.
* The American producers of ''Series/LawAndOrderUK'' were frustrated by the length they had to work with: only 13 episodes per season. The UK producers were also frustrated by the length they had to work with: a grueling ''13 whole episodes per season!'' This went even further-- when it came time for the episodes to air, knowing that British viewers wouldn't be keen on a long season either, they were split into series that were either 6 or 7 episodes long, for a total of 54 episodes across the first eight series from 2009-14.
* ''Series/TheAmazingMrsPritchard'' got one series of six episodes (before being shitcanned due to shoddy ratings).
* ''Series/{{Skins}}'' got seven series, of 9, 10, 10, 8, 8, 10 and 6 episodes.
* ''TheInkThief'' lasted for all of seven episodes. Ever.
* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'''s first three series each consist of three 90-minute episodes. Creator/StevenMoffat and Creator/MarkGatiss comment on this trope on the Series 2 DVD commentary, stating that they would love to do more a season, but the time and logistical constraints involved in filming a series of feature-length productions in a relatively short span prevent this (made worse by the fact that the show catapulted Creator/BenedictCumberbatch and Creator/MartinFreeman to the A-List; in fact Peter Jackson had to rearrange the filming of ''The Hobbit'' so Freeman could fly back to film ''Sherlock.'' Similarly, Moffatt has to juggle Sherlock around his commitments to ''Series/DoctorWho'', for which he is also serving as Head Writer and Showrunner.
* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' takes after ''Series/InspectorMorse'', another British detective show that had three to five episodes per series (for a total of 33 episodes), though each is a whopping 100 minutes long. Its spinoff show ''Series/{{Lewis}}'' followed the same pattern, with six series of four 100-minute episodes each and a final series of three two-part stories for a total of 30 episodes.[[note]] Creator/{{ITV}} have not ruled out the possibility of a final series or one-off episode for 2014.[[/note]]
* ''TheInspectorLynleyMysteries'' consists of a mere 23 episodes (at five complete seasons, a double-length pilot and an aborted sixth season) of ninety minutes each.
* ''Mistresses'' had three series - the first two of six episodes, the last one with four.
* ''Series/PeepShow'' and ''Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook'' both run six episode seasons. ''Peep Show'' has made it to 42 episodes after 7 series, which makes it the ''longest running sitcom in Channel 4 history''.
** When not counting the {{FOX}} shows it has broadcasting rights for.
* ''Series/GarthMarenghisDarkplace'' was only 6 episodes.
* ''RippingYarns'' by Michael Palin and Terry Jones had one pilot episode (and originally it wasn't clear whether this was actually meant to be a pilot or a one-off), followed by five episodes in its first season and only ''three'' in its second season.
* ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' consists of four series, the first two of which only contained ''three'' 30 minute episodes (barely an hour and a half in total) each while the third one had eight episodes and the fourth (and seemingly final) series had seven. There are also two specials, one of which lasted an hour, and a film SpinOff, ''Film/InTheLoop''.
* ''KnowingMeKnowingYouWithAlanPartridge'' played this trope for laughs: Alan's desperation for a second series is obvious by the end of the first season, and is one of the main themes of the Christmas special. Suffice to say, he doesn't get it, for reasons too numerous to list.
** The above TalkShow {{parody}} was followed by SitCom ''ImAlanPartridge'', which hit the magic 'two series of six parts' formula exactly, with bonus points for leaving a five-year gap (1997-2002) in between.
* ''GettingOn'' so far has two series, each containing 3 episodes.
* ''Series/YesMinister'' consisted of three series of seven episodes each plus an hour-long special, while the follow-up ''Series/YesPrimeMinister'' had two series of eight episodes each.
* ''Series/{{Whites}}'' ran one season of six episodes.
* While '90s ExoticDetective (he's trying to retire from policing and run a restaurant) light-hearted drama ''Series/PieInTheSky'' had five seasons, the first two had ten episodes each, the next two only had six apiece and the final season had eight -- making a total of forty episodes.
* ''Series/TheShadowLine'', which consists of just one self-contained series of seven episodes.
* ''Series/BlackMirror'' only had three episodes in each of its two series. It was not a serialized format however, but a trilogy of drama short films in completely independent worlds.
* ''Series/JamesMaysManLab'' had three episodes in series one, and five episodes each in series two and three.
* ''Rock & Chips'' (a prequel to ''OnlyFoolsAndHorses'') ran for three 90-60 minutes specials (January 2010 pilot, Christmas 2010 special and Easter 2011 special), but creator and writer John Sullivan died before a full series could be made.
* ''Series/MadDogs'' series 1 ran for only 4 episodes. As did series 2 and 3. Series 4, due for release Christmas 2013, is due to be two hour-long episodes long.
* ''Series/DowntonAbbey'' has 7 episodes in the first series, 8 in the second through fourth series--depending on whether you count the Christmas specials, which properly speaking make it 9 episodes each for series 2-4.
* While ''Radio/ImSorryIHaventAClue'' doesn't fit this trope ([[LongRunners currently in its 57th series]]), its SpinOff, ''The Doings Of Radio/HamishAndDougal'', definitely fits. There are three series of six episodes each (except the first, which has four) and two specials which is made even worse by the fact that all the regular episodes are ''fifteen minutes long''. One can get through the show's entire run in five hours.
* Two new examples from 2012 are ''Series/TheBleakOldShopOfStuff'' (Christmas special + 3 episodes) and ''Series/DirkGently'' (pilot + 3 episodes).
* ''Series/HaveIGotNewsForYou'': 377 episodes aired (as of November 2012) across 44 seasons.
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' lasted from 1969 to 1974, with three 13-episode seasons and one final six-episode season. The movies, not counting 1971's ''And Now for Something Completely Different'' (a compilation of older TV sketches re-shot on film for the American market, who had yet to see the original series) were released in [[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail 1975]], [[Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian 1979]], and [[Film/MontyPythonsTheMeaningOfLife 1983]] respectively.
* The ''WallaceAndGromit'' series has been active since 1989. In those twenty plus years, there have been a grand total of ''six'' full-length instalments, only one of which was a film (though there have also been a number of >5min shorts).
* The iconic '70s [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalypse]] drama series ''Series/{{Survivors}}'' had three series of 13, 13 and 12 episodes a middling example of this trope, but outdone by its 2008-10 {{Remake}}, which consisted of two six-episode series (though this was cancelled due to low ratings and ended on a cliffhanger of sorts).
* ITV 1's detective show ''Vera'' has thus far had two series of four episodes.
* BBC 2's police show ''Vexed'' had a debut series consisting of three episodes, though a second series of six episodes followed.
* ''Series/TheFades'' had one season of six episodes.
* ''Series/{{Cuckoo}}'' the BBC Three comedy whose first series consists of only five episodes.
* ''Series/{{Sirens}}'' the ChannelFour comedy focused around a group of ambulance-men lasted a total of 6 episodes.had
* ''{{KYTV}}'' had three seasons, each with six episodes, making for a total of eighteen episodes plus pilot. Its radio predecessor, ''Radio Active'', clocked in at an impressive 54 episodes, over seven seasons, including a pilot and a later one-shot special.
* Creator/{{BBC}}2 standup/sketch variety series ''Victoria Wood As Seen On TV'' ran for two series of six episodes each in 1985 and 1986 and a Christmas special in 1987 for a total of 13 episodes.
* Victoria Wood's 1998-2000 Creator/{{BBC}}1 sitcom ''Series/{{dinnerladies}}'' (''sic'') featured many of the same performers and the same producer as ''As Seen On TV''. It ran for two series, one of six episodes and one of ten episodes (the second one deliberately designed to wrap up the plot rather than lead into a third series), for a total of 16 episodes.
* ''Series/WireInTheBlood'' has five seasons and a total of 19 episodes (3 in the first season, 4 in the rest), each 90 minutes long.
* ''Series/JonathanCreek'' has four seasons of 5-7 episodes, and a couple of specials.
* ''Prisoners' Wives'' has thus far had two series, comprising six and four epsiodes respectively.
* ''Accused'', a legal drama consisting of ADayInTheLimelight stories based on characters in a shared universe, has had two series; the first of six episodes, the second of four episodes.
* ''Series/CallTheMidwife'' had six episodes for its first series; series 2 had eight, as will series 3. This doesn't, however, include the yearly [[ChristmasEpisode Christmas Special]].
* ''Series/{{Misfits}}'' had six episodes in its first series, rising incrementally to seven it its second (including a Christmas Special), then eight each in the third, fourth and fifth series.
* ''Series/DocMartin'' has had currently 38 episodes over 7 years.
* ''Series/TheInbetweeners'' is unusually short even for an examples on this page. 18 episodes - three series with each six episodes - though the series has been followed up by [[TheMovie two feature-length films]] - one from 2011 and a sequel which is coming out in August this year.
* ''Mr. Selfridge'' leans towards the upper end of this trope, with two seasons of 10 episodes each thus far.
* ''Series/DoctorInTheHouse'' and its sequel series sometimes followed this path and sometimes averted it. ''Doctor in the House'' aired for two series of 13 episodes each in 1969 and 1970, ''Doctor at Sea'' aired for a single 13-episode series in 1974, ''Doctor on the Go'' aired for two series of 13 episodes each in 1975 and 1977, ''Doctor Down Under'' aired for 13 episodes across two series in 1979, and ''Doctor at the Top'' aired for a single 7-episode series in 1991. However, ''Doctor at Large'' aired for a single 29-episode series in 1971, and ''Doctor in Charge'' aired for 43 episodes across two series in 1972 and 1973.
* ''Series/TheThinBlueLine'': Only two series of 7 episodes each were made.
* ''Series/RumpoleOfTheBailey'' was aired on ITV from 1978 to 1992 (14 years) for a grand total of 42 episodes over Seven Series, plus one feature-length special in between Series Two and Three, not to mention the pilot that aired on the BBC in 1975 as an episode of Series/PlayForToday.

!!Exceptions:
* The third season of ''WaterlooRoad'', with 20 60-minute episodes, must set some kind of 21st-century UK record for a non-SoapOpera, being longer in screen time than most American seasons.
* The council estate comedy-drama ''{{Shameless}}'' is competing fiercely for the title of most prolific UK non-soap. It has featured 16 hour long episodes from Series 5 to Series 7 with 22 episodes confirmed for Series 8 in 2011.
* Rather ironically, this trope is somewhat averted with British sitcom ''LastOfTheSummerWine'' which is in the Guinness Book of Records for the [[LongRunner longest running sitcom ever made]]. It started in 1973 and ran until 2010, despite the death of several cast members (including at least [[TheCharacterDiedWithHim two main characters]]), having a grand total of ''31 series'' and 295 episodes.
** It's worth noting that the only competition for this title comes if one includes animation, with ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' beating it by sheer quantity of episodes produced, over 500 in 24 years (and still ongoing).
* ''Series/TheBill'' is also an example of averting this trope even before it became a CrimeTimeSoap, this British PoliceProcedural would regularly have clocked up 150+ episodes ''every single year''. The secret? Each season was broadcast all year round, with no production gaps. That must have been really gruelling work for the writers and the actors. No wonder there's a high cast turnaround...
* [[PanelGame Panel Games]] tend to avert this trope, to a certain extent while few have series as long as US shows, often run for much longer (and much more variable) series, and like a handful of shows listed above, have two series in a year. ''Series/AQuestionOfSport'', in particular, has managed over 800 shows in its [[LongRunners forty-year run]], which comes out at an average about 19 episodes a year.
* ''{{Casualty}}'' (1986-present), one of Creator/TheBBC's, is a definite aversion to this trope; it has aired somewhere in the region of about 700 episodes (50-minutes to 1 hour, primetime Saturday) over the last 25 years, and is increasing. The show's first two seasons were a mere 15 episodes long each; the third was 10. After that, each later series (up until series 25 when it started decreasing) was at least as long as the one that went before it, until the show progressed to practically year-round barring a brief summer break of as little as a couple of weeks (with no break at all between series 24 and 25) with series 24 being the longest so far at 49 episodes. There have been several calls over the years to simply extend it to a permanent weekly slot throughout the year, thus cementing its transition into a full-blown medical soap opera, but this has yet to happen.
* ''AsIf'' was relatively an aversion; four series of 18, 19, 18 and 20 episodes (plus two specials).
* ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'' lasted from 1988 to 1998, totaling 136 episodes. While the length of the seasons (or "series", as they're called in the UK) varied, series 9 lasted for 19 episodes, which is roughly the length of a typical American season (although the American version's seasons lasted as long as 39 episodes).
* A partial exception is ''Series/DoctorWho'', the first six seasons of which (in the mid to late 1960s) had up to 42 episodes of around 24 minutes each; this was reduced to 25 (later 26) per season from the seventh season on due to concern about the regular cast's endurance, and subsequently whittled away by budget restrictions, eventually settling at 14 half-hour episodes per season by the time the show came to an indefinite hiatus in 1989. However, each episode was part of a larger serial, and there were generally fewer than ten serials in a season, with the average being around six or seven and only four in the latter years.
** The 2005 revival series, in contrast, has 13 45-minute episodes per season, plus a Christmas special 60-75 minutes in length. These generally run to an hour and an hour and a half in foreign syndication, due to the addition of advertisements (which are not shown on Creator/TheBBC). Between December 2008 and January 2010, in lieu of airing a regular-length season, the show aired 5 extended-length specials (two of which were Christmas specials and two of which constituted a two-part story). Officially, the BBC considers these specials to be a continuation of Season 4, which already had 13 regular episodes, resulting in an unusually long 18-episode season aired over the course of about 18 months.
*** 13 (or 14 if you count the Christmas specials) nearly-hour-long episodes per year is actually pretty close to the standard season length for American hourlongs originating on cable (usually 13 to 16 depending on the network).
** Beginning in 2012, the show's seventh series will be split across two years, with six episodes airing the first, including the Christmas special, and eight in 2013 (incidentally, the show's 50th birthday).
* ''Series/LawAndOrderUK''. Despite the typical briefness of each season as mentioned above, overall, the series has gone six seasons (with a 7th due to air sometime soon), totaling 40-something episodes, to the point where there is now only one original cast member remaining.
* [[GameShow GameShows]] tend to avert this trope, even in the UK. Well sort of, they usually start by not averting the trope (with about 10-30 episodes a season), but then end up getting seasons of hundreds of episodes when they become established. Examples include ''Series/TheChase'', which went from 10 episodes in season one to 150 episodes in the latest seasons, ''Eggheads'', which went from about 30 episodes in season one to about 150 episodes in the later seasons and ''Pointless'', which went from 30 episodes to about 70 episodes a season as it went on. The latter two run nearly all year round (usually only taking breaks for major sporting events which require the timeslot) with a sequence of new episodes alternating with a sequence of repeats (both shows ideally change from old to new when their jackpot is won, and thus reset to 1000)

!!On the other side of the pond:

On the opposite token, the reason American shows tend to be so long is boiled down to simply Money. Most American TV series are produced barely breaking even, and some will even operate at a loss. The magic word for any show to make a profit is "{{syndication}}"; the real money comes when a show makes it into reruns, which can last indefinitely and don't have the overhead costs of actually producing the show. However, the minimum episode number for syndication tends to be extremely high, often "88". Most networks are shy about airing reruns of a series unless they hit 100+ episodes, so they don't end up rerunning the episodes too often (and risk annoying viewers, who would tune out, resulting in fewer people watching the commercials). It's not unheard of for a low-rated and/or critically savaged series to get [[OnlyBarelyRenewed inexplicably renewed for a fourth or even fifth season]] simply to reach this 88-episode threshold (''Series/TilDeath'' is held up as a shining example, as the creator readily admitted he sold the show to the network for an absolute pittance to reach this. Similarly, ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', which misfired at its start and didn't recover fast enough, reportedly only got a fourth season for the same reason.) Because of this, the standard contract for a production company (and often for the actors) when a new show is bought by a network is seven years/seasons, regardless of whether or not that many episodes end up being ordered.

For children's series, the magic number is instead [[SixtyFiveEpisodeCartoon 65]], or three such seasons[[note]]though many such cartoons are technically just one extremely long season[[/note]] this is done because it is believed that since [[FleetingDemographicRule kids will age out of the target demographic so quickly, episodes will stay "fresh" longer since the audience turnaround is faster]]. Also, [[ViewersAreMorons they assume kids either won't remember or won't care that they'd seen an episode before.]]

Nowadays, however, a production company can make profit other ways, such as DVD sales and merchandising, so this is loosening up a little bit.[[note]] Fun Fact: In the early days before the switch to color, an American TV season used to be even ''longer'' than it is today. Seasons of 36 episodes were not uncommon. This length was due to several interconnected factors: the major networks (in a rare case of assuming viewers ''weren't'' morons) figured that people would only watch content if it was "fresh". As a result of this and the general lack of any back-catalog due to the newness of the medium reruns were rare. Also, many of the earliest TV actors got their start in Vaudeville and later moved to radio, meaning they were quite used to a gruelling production schedule. As filming technology advanced (and as writers and actors unions started flexing their muscles regarding salary), production costs went up, meaning that fewer episodes could be made on the same relative budget. This, coupled with the networks finally realizing that reruns were an absolute gold mine, sent the number of episodes in a standard season tumbling downwards to where it is today.[[/note]]

American television has experimented with shorter seasons as well. The "mystery movie" series that dominated TV, especially NBC, in the '70s were broadcast in a "wheel" format, rotating with three other shows in the same time slot. For example, in the seven years that ''Series/{{Columbo}}'' originally ran on NBC, it produced 3-7 episodes per season. Most shows that are picked up during mid-season to replace cancelled shows also tend to experience this by default, rarely running more than 13 episodes due to the abbreviated amount of time available before the season ends.

More recently, cable television channels have begun airing their scripted original programming in shorter seasons. Such shows may either retain the wheel format, alternating with another original series, or they may show reruns and other programming during the offseason. Though these shows often run for several years, each season is considerably shorter than the 24-episode standard for American shows, though a bit longer than the usual British season; 10-13 episodes per season, give or take, seems to be the norm. Many of these shows are praised for their quality and ingenuity, likely because the season is only as long as the writers need it to be.

There exist a number of factors behind this trend. First, many cable networks are too small to afford full seasons of scripted series. Second, most of the cable networks that currently specialize in original scripted programming began life as either movie networks (Creator/{{AMC}}, {{HBO}}, Creator/{{Showtime}}) or rerun farms (Creator/{{FX}}, Creator/{{TBS}}, TNT), meaning that they have a large library of content to throw on the air in lieu of constantly producing new shows. Third, many of the first major cable series (particularly those on HBO) aired during the summer months when the major networks were on break airing reruns and low-quality "burn-off" programming; 13 episodes is close to the maximum that one can fit into that timeframe. Lastly, the shorter, less hectic schedule makes such shows more attractive to big-name film stars, as they can more easily maintain their film careers while getting the steady paychecks that TV provides; this is another reason why many cable series are praised for their quality.

''Note:'' Many "slice of life" reality shows use shorter seasons but run multiple seasons per year, or rotate with other shows featuring mostly the same cast. This isn't really the same thing, as they're still showing 20-30 episodes per year. In some cases, the headline show alternates with a DayInTheLimelight series which features most of the same cast, which runs counter to the spirit of British Brevity.

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[[folder: Creator/ABC ]]

* ''Series/{{LOST}}'' started off with the usual American style of 22-25 hour-long episodes per season for the first three years (25, then 23, then 22, respectively). The final three seasons, however, were shortened -- each was going to have 16 episodes originally, before the 2007 Writer's Strike forced the creative team to modify their plan. The final result: about 70 episodes from the first three seasons, around 50.5 from the last three seasons (the last episode being 2 1/2 hours, including commercials).
* ''[[WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM Sonic The Hedgehog]]'' had two seasons, each 13 episodes, curiously brief for a kids' show. It was [[Main/WhatCouldHaveBeen planned to have a third season]] which would presumably have been the same length.
* ''Series/PoliceSquad'' -- One season, six episodes. Although the producers did not choose to end the series (it had been cancelled by ABC after a few episodes aired), said producers later revealed that it was probably for the best, as by the sixth episode, they felt their ideas were already running thin, and the recurring gags were starting to wane. They said there was probably no way they could keep up the quality doing 24 episodes a year.
* ''Series/OnceUponATimeInWonderland'' was planned as a single season format from the beginning as a precaution, with the story developing afterwards. As it was never picked up for season 2, it works out fine telling a coherent 13 episode story, adding to the "Once" mythos and giving plotted character arcs from the beginning.

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[[folder: Creator/ABC Family ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/SlackerCats'' -- Two seasons, six episodes each.

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[[folder: Creator/Adult Swim ]]


This trope is almost a rule across Creator/AdultSwim, with most new shows getting six-episode seasons, although successful shows may have two seasons per year.
* ''Series/TimAndEricAwesomeShowGreatJob'' -- Five seasons, of ten episodes each, each episode being 11 minutes long.
* Oddly enough, the long-awaited fifth season of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' was only 8 episodes. Some fans were less than amused.

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[[folder: Creator/AMC ]]

* ''Series/BreakingBad'' -- Five seasons, 62 episodes. The first season had seven episodes, the following three had 13 each, and the fifth and final season had 16 episodes split over two eight-episode mini-seasons.
* ''Series/MadMen'' -- The first six seasons had 13 episodes each, while the seventh and final season will have 14 episodes, split into two seven-episode mini-seasons much like ''Breaking Bad'' did.
* ''Series/TheWalkingDead'' -- Particularly the first two seasons; the first had only six episodes, while the second had 13. The third and fourth seasons both have 16 episodes, though.

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[[folder: Creator/Comedy Central ]]

* ''Series/TheSarahSilvermanProgram'' -- Four seasons, one of six, one of seven and two of ten.

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[[folder: Creator/FOX ]]

* ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' -- Two seasons, 13 episodes each. This was justified in the first season by it being a mid-season pickup, and in the second by ExecutiveMeddling.
* ''Series/{{Sleepy Hollow}}''-- The first season will be 13 episodes, and the show has already been renewed for a 13-episode second season. This is likely due in some part to the show's somewhat spooky nature, meaning it works well around the Halloween season in the fall, but not so much during the spring.

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[[folder: FX ]]

* ''Series/AmericanHorrorStory'' -- Each season is its own self-contained miniseries twelve or thirteen episodes long.
* ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' -- So far there has been 8 seasons. Each season averages between 10-13 episodes. The longest season has been 15 episodes.
* ''{{Louie}}'' -- Three seasons of thirteen episodes each, and a fourth with fourteen.
* ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'' -- Four seasons, 13 episodes each.
* ''Series/TheShield'' -- Seven seasons. One is 15 episodes long, four are 13 episodes long, one is 11 episodes long, and one is 10 episodes long.

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[[folder: HBO ]]

* ''Series/BigLove'' -- Two seasons of 12 episodes, one of 10.
* ''Series/CurbYourEnthusiasm'' -- Eight seasons, 10 episodes each, sometimes more than a year between two seasons.
* ''Series/Deadwood'' -- Three seasons, 36 episodes.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'' -- Four seasons so far, ten episodes each.
* ''Series/{{Girls}}'' -- Two seasons so far, each with 10 episodes.
* ''Series/MrShow'' -- Four seasons, 32 episodes (including two best-of specials).
* ''Series/{{Oz}}'' -- Five seasons of eight episodes each, one season of 16.
* ''Series/SixFeetUnder'' -- Five seasons, 63 episodes.
* ''Series/TheSopranos'' -- Ran for six seasons and 86 episodes, broadcast over the course of 8 1/2 years.
* ''Series/TrueBlood'' -- Six seasons so far, 12 episodes each, except for season six, which had 10.
* ''TheWire'' -- Five seasons, two of 13, two of 12, one 10.
* ''Series/TheNewsroom'' -- Two seasons so far, one of 10 episodes, one of 9.

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[[folder: MTV ]]

* ''Series/{{Awkward}}'''s first two seasons had 12 episodes. The third had 20 and the fourth originally had a 10 episode order before MTV extended it to 20.
* The American remake of ''Series/{{Skins}}'', like its predecessor, had only 10 episodes in its lone season.
* ''Series/TeenWolf'' -- The first two seasons each consisted of 12 episodes. Season 3 ''technically'' consists of 24 episodes, but was split into two distinct 12-episode arcs (referred to as 3a and 3b) with a three month break in-between. The show was also renewed for a fourth season of 12 episodes.

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[[folder: Showtime ]]

* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' -- Eight seasons, all of which are 12 episodes in length.
* ''Series/NurseJackie'' -- Three seasons, 12 episodes each.
* ''TheTudors'' -- Four seasons of eight to ten episodes each.
* ''{{Weeds}}'' -- Seven seasons, 89 episodes. The first season had 10, the second 12, the third 15, the rest 13 each.

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[[folder: [[Sci Fi Channel Sy Fy ]]
]]
* ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' -- The first three seasons ran for 12, 13, and 13 episodes respectively. Season four is scheduled for 20 episodes, but with a seven-month break between the two halves of the season, and the last season is 6 episodes, which makes seasons 4-5 the equivalent of having two 13 episode seasons and splitting them up differently.

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[[folder: TNT ]]

* ''Series/TheCloser'' -- Seven seasons, 15 episodes each, with an extra 6 episodes to set up the {{spinoff}}:
* ''MajorCrimes'' -- Well, the first season had 10 episodes, anyway.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' -- Seasons hovered between 13-15 episodes, with season four being the highest at 18 episodes.

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[[folder: USA Network ]]

* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' -- Eight seasons, the first one having 15 episodes and the subsequent ones 16 with the final season being shortened down to 10.
* ''Series/{{Suits}}'' -- The first season had 12 episodes, and the second is scheduled to have 16.

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[[folder: Other ]]

* ''{{Series/Damages}}'' ([[ChannelHop FX, then Netflix and DirecTV]]) had 13 episodes per season for three seasons, and a fourth and fifth season with 10 each.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' -- Was a [[SixtyFiveEpisodeCartoon 65 Episode Cartoon]] in its first season, but due to various complications involving the show's [[ChannelHop move from FOX to WB]] the remaining four seasons had 4, 9, 13 and 8 episodes respectively.
* ''Series/TheKilling'' ([[ChannelHop AMC, then Netflix]]) had two 13-episode seasons and one 12-episode season in its initial run on the former channel, with a 6-episode fourth and final season after its [[UnCanceled uncancellation]] by the latter. For the record, ''Series/{{Forbrydelsen}}'', the Danish show that inspired it, averted this with a 20-episode first season, but played it quite straight with two more 10-episode seasons.
* ''Series/TheStoryteller'' - Co-produced by American and British companies. One season of 9 episodes and follow-up season of 4, but Creator/JimHenson regarded it as his artistic masterpiece.
* ''Series/HouseOfCardsUS'', two seasons of 13 episodes each.

!! Australian examples:
Australia television also has a tradition of short TV series, particularly on Creator/TheABC.[[note]]Possibly relevant to this is the fact that the ABC is Australia's home for British television.[[/note]] In some cases, however, two series a year are made.
* The [[Music/DougAnthonyAllStars Doug Anthony All Stars]]' series ''DAAS Kapital'' ran for two seasons, with seven episodes in each.
* ''Series/TheLibrarians'' had six episodes in its first series.
* ''ThankGodYoureHere'' has 13 episodes a series.
* ''Series/TheHollowmen'' has six episodes a series, with two series over one year.
* Chris Lilley has done four one-season shows so far: ''SummerHeightsHigh'' ran 8 episodes and ''We Can Be Heroes'' ran 6 episodes. His new show ''AngryBoys'' ran for 12 episodes. The ''Summer Heights High'' SequelSeries ''Ja'mie: Private School Girl'' also ran 6 episodes.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_Seconds_%28TV_series%29 :30 Seconds]]: an [[LandDownUnder Australian]] series that aired for six episodes on the Comedy Channel[[note]]The Australian version of ComedyCentral[[/note]]
* ''Series/{{Danger 5}}'' is a series consisting of six 25-min episodes.
* ''RoundTheTwist'' has four seasons, about 13 episodes each. The last two seasons were a late revival commissioned about ten years after the show first aired.
* ''Series/RedfernNow'' had two six-episode seasons.
* For ''{{Housos}}'', the first season went for nine episodes, although a second season has been confirmed.
* ''Series/TheSlap'' ran for only 8 episodes.
* ''Series/TheStraits'' ran for only 10 episodes.
* ''Series/NowhereBoys'' ran for only 13 episodes.

!! Other countries:
* Appropriately enough for a Canadian show, the ''Franchise/{{Degrassi}}'' franchise started out this way and has moved away from it over time, with 26 episodes of the original ''Series/TheKidsOfDegrassiStreet'' made between 1979-1986 (with a progression from one a year to four a year to an actual series within that), and [[Series/{{Degrassi}} The Revival]] having 48 episodes in the current (10th) season alone.
* ''Series/SevenPeriodsWithMrGormsby'': two seasons, seven episodes each.
* ''Series/SlingsAndArrows'' has three six-episode seasons.
* The JapaneseSeries ''Literature/TheConditionsOfGreatDetectives'' ran for ten episodes.

!! As DiscussedTrope or as ConversationalTroping:
* As noted in the page quote above, ''TheSimpsons'' joked about it in the 11th season episode "Missionary: Impossible".
* Referenced in ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice: The Devil's Playhouse''.
--> '''Max''': I'm feeling a mite peckish.
--> '''Sam''': 'A mite peckish'? Have you been watching British TV again?
--> '''Max''': The six-episode seasons are good for my short attention span!
** It's also a bit of [[SelfDeprecation tongue-in-cheek self-mockery]] related to the episodic release of ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'' games, as each season has five or six episodes.
* ''Episodes'', the joint production between the BBC and America, had a comment about how the show that was being remade in America required a lot more episodes than the 24 made in Britain.
* Back when Tachyon TV was the cult-telly version of NewsBiscuit, it had a spoof article about the TransatlanticEquivalent of ''Series/TwentyFour'': It was called ''4'', and was about a British special agent who was having the longest mid-afternoon of his life.
** in an example of the joke turning real, the series "24: Live Another Day" was filmed in the UK, and it lasts for ... 12 episodes.
* On ''Series/{{Community}}'', the ShowWithinAShow ''[[DowntonAbbey Cougarton Abbey]]'' (the fictional TransAtlanticEquivalent of ''CougarTown'') ran for only six episodes before [[KillEmAll having all the characters kill themselves]]. Then [[JustForFun/InspectorSpacetime inverted with]] an AffectionateParody of ''Series/DoctorWho''.
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