You've just discovered a new webcomic. Maybe a friend told you, maybe you were pointed to it by another site. Heck, maybe it was This Very Wiki or the other one.
Like any new reader, you read the strip on the main page. It looks good; the art passes muster, the writing's okay... Sure, you'll read this comic. So you hit the "First Strip" button.
And then you see the date. This strip started six years ago. Beads of sweat form on your forehead. You hit the "Archive" link...
Mother of Shakespeare! There are hundreds upon hundreds of comics in here! Even with the longest Archive Binge of your life it'll take you forever to read all of these!
It gets worse. If you have never read Kevin And Kell or Sluggy Freelance, and want to start, you can forget about merely packing a lunch. You'll need a couple weeks of rations.
An Archive Panic is when a reader is scared off from reading a comic by the sheer volume of its archives. This is far more common with daily comics, which can easily have lengthy archives by sheer weight of longevity.
Consider: if a strip updates once per day, Monday through Friday, then at the end of five years there will be 1,315 strips. The number increases to over 1,800 strips if the strip updates on weekends as well. (This doesn't count to Andrew Hussie, who can post several dozen updates in a day and then pause for two months to work on a Flash animation.)
Now consider a person who has a lot of free time and a fast connection to the Internet, and who reads five strips a minute. To get through that Monday through Friday comic, he would need almost five hours of continuous reading.
Now, while five hours isn't a lot, ask yourself: when was the last time you had five uninterrupted hours? Heck, when was the last time you had one? Broken up into short shots, that time can stretch into months; it's easy to imagine someone not having that sort of willpower. This problem is exacerbated when strip a day comics are archived on one day per page, rather than one week per page. Thus the time to click the 'next' button and the time for the page to upload can equal the few seconds needed to read each day's strip.
What's worse is that the strip is continuing to update while you're reading through the archive, making it even harder to catch up. Even worse is if the strip doesn't continue to update: there's the risk of it coming to an end. Few things are more disheartening than finally catching up with the current strip and seeing an author's note listing the end of the comic. In two weeks from now.
Strips with less intense update schedules (say, three times a week) rarely suffer Archive Panic, nor do strips that have suffered various Schedule Slip incidents. (It's less of a hassle to read five years' worth of strips if there are none from June 2008 to July 2009.)
The site Archive Binge lets you subscribe to a webcomic's archive via an RSS feed at a rate you choose, allowing you to attempt to avoid panic. Another tool to help is Piperka which helps you keep track of a few thousand webcomics you might be reading.
See also Doorstopper, Commitment Anxiety. May be eased if the author has decided to make some New First Comics to give readers a safe starting-off point. Can lead to thinking "Are We There Yet?"
Currently holding the record (for those who can read it): Golgo 13, 155 volumes running for nearly 50 years — and that's just the manga.
Yu Gi Oh has been going strong since 1996, with no less than four manga series, three TV shows, and two movies.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The original manga ran weekly for nearly 15 years with one hiatus between Part 5 and Part 6. If you add up the number of chapters between all six parts of JoJo and the pseudo-sequel Steel Ball Run, that adds up to 790 chapters and counting.
The Dragon Ball manga by Akira Toriyama ran for 42 volumes and 519 chapters for 11 years. The anime spans for 508 episodes, counting 153 episodes from Dragon Ball, 291 episodes from Dragon Ball Z , and 64 episodes from Dragon Ball GT.
Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kouen Mae Hashutsujo, or Kochikame, has been running for more than 30 years in a weekly magazine and legend says the author/studio never went on hiatus. They have 166 volumes and are still going strong.
One Piece. Add the Kudzu Plot and Loads and Loads of Characters, and you'll understand why it can be hard to catch up with the story. Skimming it only makes you miss plot points that come up volumes later. New readers are sometimes directed to start as late as Volume 50 to prevent Continuity Lock-Out (at least it supplies recaps), although most fans would strongly suggest to start the series from the beginning.
InuYasha has over fifty of those little yellow books to read. In total, it has 558 chapters, done over a course of ten years.
The Pokémon anime and the Pokémon Special manga have both lasted over a decade, adapting five installments of the video games with 39+ volumes and 750+ episodes and counting.
To a somewhat lesser extent is the slapstick Japanese only Pocket Monsters manga, the first adaptation of the games. It's 26 volumes long and still going strong.
Detective Conan/Case Closed. Hundreds and hundreds of chapters...and the damned detective is ''still'' stuck as a kid! To be exact, As of February 2012, there's 805 chapters and 74 or 75 volumes published in Japan.
Berserk, at 35 volumes and still going. However, given the amount of Schedule SlipBerserk suffers, it would be a little easier to catch up.
Sazae-san has over 6,400 5-minute episodes, making it the longest running animated program and longest running non-soap opera fictional show in the world. And it's still in production.
Naruto is pushing into this territory, exacerbated by the infamous Filler Hell in the anime adaptation.
Scratch that. With currently 60+ volumes, Naruto is already deep in this territory.
Legend of Galactic Heroes is 110 episodes long, not counting gaiden materials or movies, and each episode is 25 minutes long. Watching all of them consecutively will take over 45 hours.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is 232 chapters long plus an epilogue. Not much compared to the other examples here, but if you want to understand what's going on in the background, you have to read xxxHOLiC, which is itself 213 chapters.
Mahou Sensei Negima! has 355 chapters over 38 volumes, though the original goal of ~400 chapters was aborted due to being Screwed By The Diet. Count the side mangas, the Negima Neo manga, the anime adaptation and various OVA and you will be busy for a while — though even 38 volumes is still not long enough to even make the list of long runners on The Other Wiki.
While only 5 minutes long per episode, the anime version of Axis Powers Hetalia runs at a close second to Legend of the Galactic Heroes in terms of (non-TV anime) episode count. And with a an upcoming new season slated for January 2013, watching all of it is still bound to take much more than a day.
Pokemon Trading Card Game has about similar numbers to the above with around 50 sets. It's been going since 1996 (in Japan) and 1998 (in the U.S.A. and elsewhere).
Print comics "win" by decades. If you start reading Superman, Batman, X-Men, etc. where do you start? Origin retellings? After or before Infinite Crisis (whatever that is)? Silver Age? Golden Age? Most of them are also still ongoing, and that's not even counting the spin-offs, team-ups, and guest appearances. This is the reason DC has "Year One" comics and Marvel launched its "Ultimate" line.
The DC series Fifty Two has fifty-two issues spread over four collected volumes. You're going to be a while.
Trinity, being another year-long weekly, has a similar problem - except this time it's 52 issues over three volumes.
The complete Bone series took thirteen years and fifty-five issues to complete. It has since been collected in a handy phonebook form.
Cerebus clocks in at 300 issues, spread over about a dozen phonebook volumes (though some are a bit thinner).
Spider-Man has The Amazing Spider-Man (700), The Spectacular Spider-Man (300), Web of Spiderman (141), Peter Parker: Spider-Man (155), and Marvel Team Up (186) as his longest running titles. Then add in some 55 limited series about him and his appearances in other comics.
Many Marvel comics in general would qualify such as Ironman and the X-men
While the Civil War crossover is only 7 issues long, with all the various tie-ins across the various series', the issue total comes in around 200.
Judge Dredd has appeared in around 1700 issues of 2000AD and 300 issues of the Judge Dredd Megazine. However, the Dredd segment in 2000AD isn't particularly long.
The trade paperbacks for Hellblazer aren't even numbered!
The Beano and The Dandy have both been running for more than 70 years and have been going for over 3500 issues each so there is a lot of stuff to read if you must read it all. The comics are Anthology Comics which means some strips have been running for a shorter time, but even then some strips such as Dennis the Menace (UK) have had over 3000 episodes.
The Dandy will finally end after 3610 issues in December 2012.
Commando has had over 4000 issues so there's a lot to catch up on. But currently half of the new issues are reprints of older issues.
The entire Dilbertarchive available to registered members. Dilbert has been running more-or-less continuously, 3 panels a day (8 on Sundays) since late 1989. The archive at the official Dilbert site has 5300+ strips.
The complete archive of Peanuts, which ran from 1950 to 2000. That's nearly 18,000 strips, not counting reruns. The Complete Peanuts plans on printing every strip in 25 volumes; they're nearing The Nineties as of 2013.
After Narbonic, there's the spinoff fanstory, The Mad Scientist Wars. The story (at the current time of writing) has reached around 2200 posts (it's a forum story), and the "shop talk" topic is nearing 3300. Did we mention that it's a good idea to read the shop-talk topic, or else you may miss out on exposition that isn't in the story?
A Yu Gi Oh fanfic, appropriately titled Yu-Gi-Oh! Forever. The sequel however has been discontinued at chapter 70. Roughly 1,400,000 words in total.
Cyber Moon: Chronicles clocks in at 210 chapters, nearly half a million words. It has a prequel, a sequel and side stories, adding up to roughly 640,000 words in total.
An Entry With A Bang: the story-only thread is fairly digestible, but if you want to go the story+ discussion threads, with their old/rejected segments and what-not, the amount of reading you'll need leaps to around 90 (fo' rly) times. Mind you, that's without considering the other technical threads you may need to "dig" everything.
That Damn Mpreg by Dorksidefiker has a timeline spanning over three hundred years with over four hundred stories and a cast list in the hundreds, and the author shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Of Men And Mugic will make you cry the moment you see how many pages long it is. (140 at this time) The author has suggested taking the story slowly. It has been finished, though, so you don't have to worry about falling further behind. That's just how many pages the topic is. Try over fifteen books, nine chapters each.
Shinji And Warhammer40k, anyone? Its reputation on This Very Wiki is memetic for how awesome it is, but considering that the prologue is long enough to be a fanfic by itself, and that there are more than seventy chapters, many people have decided not to attempt reading it. Oh, did I mention that it's still ongoing?
Undocumented Features has been updated continuously since 1991, and is currently over 20 megabytes long. And it's still going.
Forward is a Firefly fic that is seventy chapters long as of July 2012. It gets even more daunting when one looks at the sheer wordcount; the story is edging toward half a million words now, and is still ongoing. And almost all of the story is relevant, as every "episode" is interconnected.
The Dangerverse, a Harry PotterAlternate Universe fic, currently clocks in at nearly 1,300,000 words, one chapter into the final book. With AUs,note 250,000+ words crossovers,note 425,000+ words oneshots,note 35,000+ words songfics and more, note 250000+ words the total word count is over two million words.
Glee fanfic Story of Three Boys is, as of 26 April 2013, 2,036,133 words and the writers show no signs of planning to finish anytime soon.
The Pony POV Series is a massive piece of fanfiction. The Audio Adaptation producer put it best by saying it could be made into a respectively long TV series (which they intend to do), and still going. And that doesn't include the massive amount of Recursive Fanfiction produced, some of which has become Ascended Fanon. Mercifully, its divided into seasons, each with a rather self contained story arc that, while they all need to be read, makes it a bit easier to get through.
Films — Live-Action
Film is actually the savior of many a non-reader who want to read a series, but aren't particularly good readers. Sitting through, for example, nine hours of the Peter Jackson's extended The Lord of the Rings is a actually lot faster than most people can read the three-book Door Stopper series, and will cover all the important plot points. Purists will say that the book form of any series is superior, however there are people in the world who have difficulty reading.
Well, if you want to talk about Archive Panic, talk about the 92 hours combined on all of the Extended DVDs. Shorter than reading the books? I don't think so.
Fans of old film serials run into many problems. Lost Episodes, crappy distributors, Filler, and then this. Most serials were twenty minutes long (except for the famous Republic Studio serials, which were thirty minutes), the successful ones ran for well over a hundred episodes, and there's no way to just read faster.
If you wanted to show those film buffs who's boss and knock off the entire Criterion Collection, it's going to take some time. There are 600+ entries (some of which contain 3 or 4 full-length films or a multitude of short films). So even if you watched one movie every day, it would take you nearly two years. Don't forget the occasional movie in there like Berlin Alexanderplatz or The Human Condition, both of which are 10+ hours long.
One of the longest film series is Zatoichi with 26 films, a few remakes, and a 100-episode-long TV series.
Not as bad as some, but The Dresden Files is getting there, as it sits, there are 12 books, any of which qualified as a doorstop (the most recent clocks in at 438.) And Jim Butcher has stated that he plans to have 20. There's also the occasional novella and short story thrown in there.
Literary/scriptural example: The Archive Trawl with the greatest number of faithful participants is arguably the Daf Yomi ("Daily Folio") in which, by studying an entire densely-packed Talmud folio (both sides of a page) with commentaries an hour each day, one completes the entire Talmud (over sixty tractates, or three million words) in seven and a half years. Then there's a big party with worldwide satellite hookups. No foolin'.
The Total Dragonlance universe contains over 190 novels, and that doesn't include Dungeons & Dragons campaign guides, short stories and other official material.
Discworld has 39 novels in its entirety, five of which are Young Adult novels. Fortunately they can be read in any order, although they make more sense if you read specific Cast Herd ones in sequence. And then there's the book on the mythology, which has a rewrite, and will probably have a second one, then the book on the best quotes, then all the extraneous material... there could easily be over fifty or sixty books all total related to Discworld.
Perry Rhodan (well, the German original at least) has, as of mid-2009, one hundred and six 400+ pages books of the main plot (covering the first 911 of over 2500 60+ page booklets, with around 20% already left out), fifty-something books of half-independent story arcs, 34 books of the Atlan-spinoff and 415 independent pocket books. Not to mention the tons of anniversary re-prints, story collections, fact books, star atlases and so on. You can fill a library just with Perry Rhodan stuff.
Raymond E. Feist's The Riftwar Cycle has been running since 1982 and is composed of 32 books in a series of trilogies (a couple have 2 or 4 books). The in-story running time is also fairly lengthy: well over a hundred years pass between the first book and the current one, and only the most durable and long-lived characters have managed to survive the entire run.
Balzac's La Comédie Humaine is a novel sequence of 88 books, and represents the most fiction ever written by anyone.
The Wheel of Time consists of fifteen books (fourteen plus a prequel), and on average, books in the main series are 800 pages long. The Other Wiki estimates the series page-count to be around eleven thousand total—while the total running time of the unabridged audiobooks is 17.5 days. And EVERY SINGLE named character plays a part in the story. The whole thing can get really confusing when trying to remember which Aiel, Aes Sedai, woman with a dress, darkfriend or lord did what to whom in what way, and then realize it wasn't even essential to the plot. Or even worse, knowing that the character is relevant to the plot, but you can't remember which one.
In a similar vein, A Song of Ice and Fire consists of five (of a promised seven) doorstoppers, the shortest of which is about 800 pages long. Just as with The Wheel of Time, there is an entire galaxy of named characters swirling around the world and driving the plot forward, but for the sake of the reader's sanity we're only given detailed looks into a few (read: ~20) of their lives.
How many Redwall books are we up to now? (At least if you've read one, you've basically read them all...)
The Animorphs core series consists of 54 books, with 8 more (canon) companion books. Even considering that most of them are quite short, it's not a series designed for the average bookshelf length.
The Xanth series consists of 34 books (as of late fall 2010). Pretty much all of which are between 300 and 400 pages. And the author is still writing.
All things considered, that's nothing; between Xanth and his other works, he's written over 140 books since 1956. And he's STILL GOING STRONG.
Terry Brooks' Shannara Series. Fourteen books with three more on the way. Made even longer with the connected Word & Void and Genesis of Shannara series.
Lois McMaster Bujold is up to 14 books in the Vorkosigan Saga, 2 more not quite in series but set in universe, and at least 3 series novellas which may or may not be included in some versions of the series books. Her list of awards for said books might also induce the trope name.
The Liaden Universe. It's difficult to count high enough to figure out how many books and short stories are in there.
There are more than six hundred Mack Bolan "men's adventure" books... and twelve more are published every year. They've been ghostwritten since 1980, but they started in 1969. This doesn't count the spinoffs and crossovers.
Warrior Cats has 24 books in the main series, four super editions, 13 manga and 4 guides. And counting.
The Honorverse is getting up there. 12 books in the main series published as of the start of 2012, with the thirteenth due in March 2012. That book was so long that it was split into two parts, with the second half due to be published as the 14th novel later in 2012, and the 15th novel is apparently completed but with its publication window unknown. That's not counting the 5 short story anthologies, two spinoff series contemporary with the main series of two books each (a third book in one of the series is in progress, and in fact the 15th main book depends on this one being released first), and a prequel series that's currently only at one book published, but which has another one in progress and plans for at least one more. All told, there's 28 books that are known to exist or which are planned for, and there's a very good chance it won't stop there.
Let's not forget about Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries. He published 46 titles during his lifetime; most of those were novels, while the rest were compilations of short stories and novellas that originally appeared in various magazines. Ten years after his death, the executors of his estate found some of his old manuscripts and published them as one more short story collection. Add in the two seasons of the A&E series based on Stout's works and the TV movie that kicked it off (30 one-hour broadcasts altogether), and you have quite a pile on your hands.
The Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series (aka Master and Commander) covers 20 completed novels (and one unfinished), each about 300-400 pages.
At two episodes a week, it would take a year and a half to finish all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (On the other hand, 144 episodes at around 45 minutes per episode only makes for 105 hours of continuous viewing. Allowing time to sleep, you could still watch the whole show in less than a week, if only barely.) If all you did for one week was watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sleep, you would have about 63 hours total to sleep, which comes out to 15 hours of television a day.
If you try to watch everything from the Buffyverse, ''Angel adds in another 110 episodes.
Not to mention the original movie, and Joss Whedon's original script which was quite different, and the unaired pilot, and the 100+ comics which are considered "canon". There are also dozens of non-canon comics and over 70 non-canon novels. Basically, there's an awful lot of stuff.
With 125 episodes over 8 seasons, it can take you a while to get through Monk. Assuming you're watching four 45 minute episodes a day, you will take the equivalent of a full month to go from the pilot to the end.
With 232 episodes over 10 seasons, it's gonna take you quite awhile to get through Friends, it doesn't help that most of the episodes are actually LONGER on DVD then they are on TV due to a lot of scenes being cut for time in the original airings(some episodes are at least TEN minutes longer, and that's not counting the super-sized 40 minute episodes), at the very least it'll take you about a month or so to finish the series, and of course there's also the spin-off Joey.
UK cop show The Bill has run continuously on British television from 1984 to 2010, and as of 2009 has more than three thousand episodes overall. The situation got so bad that the production team has twice decided to reset the episode numbering to "001" in an attempt to stop it seeming overwhelming to a more casual viewer.
Further nerd maths. Watch (or listen to) one Doctor Who serial a week and you'll finish the classic series in a little over three years.
In 1999, Doctor Who Magazine introduced a feature called "The Time Team", in which a group of fans would watch the whole of Doctor Who, in order, from the start. At a rate of one or two serials per month (or longer if there's no room for the feature in that issue), they wrapped up the classic series in December 2009 and then took a break before starting on the new series. Assuming one story per issue, it would take them around fifteen to twenty years to catch up.
This blog, "Survival", details one person's attempt to watch all 700-odd episodes in four months due to extenuating circumstances (imminent moving to New Zealand). It makes for quite a read while it lasts, although the commentary peters out early in the Fourth Doctor's career – when a sort of mid-flow Archive Panic sets in and it becomes clear that stopping to type has to be sacrificed in order to actually watch all the damn episodes in time. He makes it.
One of the shows done on Mark Does Stuff was Doctor Who, and Mark was understandably a bit daunted by it all. He started with New-Who, with a Classic Serial at the end of each season. Starting in December 2010, it took him about four months to catch up, and then he reviewed new episodes as he aired. After that much concentrated fandom, he became somewhat obsessed.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 went through nearly 200 movies of varying quality. For the most part, if the feature presentation wasn't long enough to fill the show's two-hour slot (about one and a half hours when ads are cut), they'd pad it out with shorter clips as well. To wit: if one wished to experience all the (available) episodes of this show, not including special features, it would take about 300 mind-numbing hours. That is more than 12 whole, uninterrupted days.
The Colbert Report deliberately tempts fans by casually mentioning over the end credits that "every clip ever" is now available on the show's website. The Report runs half an hour, four days a week, and has been airing since late 2005. That's not so bad. But what's this - its parent Daily Show has a complete clip archive too? Half an hour, four days a week... since Jon Stewart took over in January 1999. Oh yes, and it has a You Tube-esque 'Related Clips' feature. Abandon all productivity, ye who enter here.
Star Trek has arcs and the occasional Continuity Nod, but it's still episodic enough that you can start in the middle and not suffer for it. However, if you do decide to do the homework, there are six different series adding up to a grand total of 727 episodes across thirty seasons, plus eleven movies. Good luck with that.
The entirety of Star Trek (as of 2010) come to about 567 hours — that's almost 24 days of solid watching, or about an hour and a half every day for a year.
24 can be one of the worst of these. Not only are there eight seasons x 24 episodes each = 196 episodes PLUS the movie, but watching them on DVD is extremely addictive. The main reason for the addiction is the real-time format of the shows, and the fact that EVERY episode ends on a cliffhanger, which is picked up at the very next minute of real time at the start of the next episode. There is no real conclusion until the end of the season, which can make it tempting to use up an entire weekend watching all 24 episodes of a season practically back to back. Rather spookily if you watched each Season over the course of three days, it would take you 24 days to watch the whole show. Skipping past all of the scenes filled with pointless interpersonal conflict easily cuts the runtime of each episode to below 30 minutes and makes it feasible to watch one or more seasons per day without loss of content. Warning: Watching 24 in this fashion may cause terrorists to invade your dreams.
Guiding Light ran for 57 years and has over 15,000 episodes, and that's not even counting the 16 years it ran on radio before switching to television. If you count both the radio and TV shows, Guiding Light is the longest single narrative story in human history.
Funnily enough, even Spanish-language "telenovelas" are prone to this... and unlike American soap operas, they eventually end.
Stargate SG-1 ran for ten full seasons, totalling over 200 episodes and making it the longest-running US-made scifi series ever broadcast. Then there's the extra TV-movies made. And the spinoff series. And the other spinoff series. And the books.
Add to that the fact that though the series has many stand-alone episodes, SG-1 often learned from experiences, and if they had solved a similar problem in an earlier episode they would mention it or try it again. This adds a lot of continuity to the series, meaning you're never sure if the next episode is important to future episodes or not.
Power Rangers has 750+ (and counting episodes,) which is about 254 hours of material. For Power Rangers watching for 12 straight hours a day, it would take you over 21 days. It's over 9 days of viewing if done continuously. It also has twomovies.
Though all series Lost Galaxy and after are stand alone and don't really require viewing of the previous series to get into the story. Those before, 303 episodes, are the only ones really required to watch from start to finish. Though each series (even the early ones) are still easy to jump in at the beginning of each one.
Kamen Rider. Over 1000 episodes, nearly 50 movies, 80 chapters on the S.I.C Hero Saga stories (good luck finding back issues of Hobby Japan), 20 episodes in TV specials/Hyper Battle videos, the SD Rider OAV featuring the Showa Riders, and close to 40 episodes of the Imagin Anime (more coming soon for the Imagin Anime, at that). Not to mention the Kamen Rider Spirits manga, the occasional novel, and the numerous artbooks dedicated to the franchise on background info (production, story, merchandise). See you at the next MOTW fight!
Easily the winner of the Toku Shows Archive Panic Award Super Sentai with around 1831 episodes (start of Kyoryuger) plus movies. Assuming the same 22 minute viewing time as American TV it would take 27 days, 22 hours+ to watch the 1831 episodes mentioned without any sort of breaks. And it is only getting worse with more being made every year.
Unlike the early Power Rangers series, each series can be watched independently though each clock in at around 50 episodes each (Gorenger clocks in at over 80 and JAKQ at around 30.) Though It does improve viewing of Gokaiger if one is familiar with at least some of the series.
Neighbours. The 5-a-week Australian soap, broadcast its SIX THOUSANDTH episode in August 2010. At around 22 minutes per episode, that makes for some scary maths: 2200 hours, or around 91 days worth, of Aussie soapiness to get through. And that's without any breaks!
Better still, British soap opera Coronation Street has been running continuously since 1960 and has aired over 7,000 episodes, most of 30 minutes and some of 60 minutes. If the idea of watching the whole series over makes you panicky, imagine how its star, William Roache, feels — he's been on the show since day one.
The Atheist Experience has the show's weekly archive from January 2004 available online. With around 370 archived episodes, each 90 minutes long, you're looking at around 550 hours (or 23 days) of viewing material.
By the end of season 11, there will be 296 episodes of Degrassi, plus the movies and the original series (which contained 70 episodes). If you watched one episode a day, it would take about a year. And watching Degrassi every day for a year is not recommended — that amount of teen angst is bad for your health.
Dallas had 357 episodes in its original run, plus a prequel TV movie, two reunion movies (and this without getting into the Spin-OffKnots Landing.) Fortunately the 2012 revival series has a set up a Facebook page with timeline so new viewers can at least get the gist of what is going on.
Saturday Night Live: 726 regular 90-minute episodes and counting, 37 completed seasons (with a 38th just starting), 54 special episodes (most of which are "Best Of" clip shows highlighting the best performances from a cast member or frequent host [in the cases of Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and Christopher Walken], and one of which was a live show that was performed onstage and not televised because of the Writers Guild strike of 2007-2008), and 16 movies based on SNL recurring characters (with The Blues Brothers and Wayne's World as the only ones that don't suck as bad as critics claim). Have fun combing through that mess!
Eastenders. 4598 episodes and counting. And let's not get started on the spin-offs. Have fun, newcomers!
Many classical musicians produce hundreds of hours of music over their lifetime — sample "Complete Works" sets include Mozart (170 CDs), Beethoven (85 CDs) and J.S. Bach (155 CDs).
For fun, check out the discographies of Throbbing Gristle, Skinny Puppy and Cabaret Voltaire on Wikipedia.
On the subject of Skinny Puppy, try looking for all of their side projects — in addition to the original 30 or so albums, there's Download (10 albums), Ohgr (3 albums), The Tear Garden (8 albums), RevCo (10 albums), Cevin Key's solo work (3 albums), Doubting Thomas (4 albums), Hilt (6 albums), Cyberaktif (1 album), Ritalin or Rx (1 album)... that brings them up to 76 albums. With one in the works.
Many artists on Zang Tuum Tumb Records' 80s heyday (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Art of Noise, Propaganda, etc.) fall victim to this. ZTT was notorious at the time for releasing different edits of each band's singles across every format available at the time. Many of these obscure singles are now being digitized and re-issued by the label, including several edits not heard before.
The band Tangerine Dream has recorded over 100 albums and EPs. If you're a sucker for getting the back catalogue of any newly-discovered band, this one might bankrupt you. Panic ensues until you realize a lot of them are EPs with two to four tracks. So if you can find a music download site that sells by the track, you can grab up to ten of them for under 20 bucks.
Paul McCartney has released approximately 30 solo studio pop/rock albums. Add in Beatles albums, live albums, and classical albums, and it's closer to 60. (We will try not to think about the albums with multiple editions.) Fortunately, there is also at least one good Greatest Hits Album (and there was a period when All The Best! and Wingspan were both readily available). Unfortunately, you'll have to do a literal Archive Trawl to get many of his solo albums — they can be found on iTunes more easily than in stores.
The Beatles themselves probably qualify when you throw in all the different editions of their music. They only have thirteen "official" studio albums (if you count Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine) plus the two Past Masters albums to comprise their core discography, but throw in the fact that most of these have at least a mono and a stereo version, which often differ substantially (in particular, the mono version of Sgt. Pepper's often differs radically from the stereo version, and is usually considered superior), and then all the supplemental material that has been released since (Let It Be... Naked, the Anthology releases, etc.), and it gets a bit more complicated. And if you want to track down everything each musician did in their solo careers and, often, in collaboration with each other after the band broke up, good luck.
There's also The Beach Boys, who on top of 29 studio albums have the Pet Sounds and Smile Sessions box sets, many singles, plus various members' solo albums. And then there's a needless amount of Greatest Hits and other compilations to collect.
Coming in a distant third has gotta be Chicago, with 30+ .
Latin Jazz musician Cal Tjader released over 70 albums in his lifetime, across a period of around 30 years. Luckily, "where to start" is pretty well defined as only a few of these albums have appeared on CD and they're usually the most popular ones.
Bob Marley and the Wailers. Hundreds of songs were recorded during the 60s and early 70s that were not released on album until the 90s. Whilst getting them on CD or digitally is manageable thanks to the compilations (a lot of which feature the same tracks and a few exclusives) acquiring the original 7" singles is a lifetime's work, not helped by the fact that Jamaican vinyl is not usually well looked after and can often have blank labels. And to make matters worse, due to the poorly managed copyright there are millions of unofficial CD compilations of poor sounding versions of material from the period, something which has caught out many a journalist/collector/casual fan. The official releases on CD don't collect all the band's work nor do they always present it in the correct order.
Richard D. James has released 5 studio albums and several EPs under his most prominently known name (Aphex Twin), but has released two other albums and many other EPs under many different pseudonyms, some of which are just speculated to be him. Obtaining his entire discography can be an exercise in confusion and frustration, which only worsens when he also has older stuff leaked out on the net, old recordings of songs played on the radio, and remixes that were submitted for various contests or given to friends but have never seen the light of day on an official release.
Even the artist himself suffers from Archive Panic with his own works, with having over 100 hours of material that remain unreleased. James once stated in an interview that if anyone left a message on his answering machine, it would record over a song he had put on the cassette beforehand.
Frank Zappa's discography is very large and confusing, especially since many of his albums sound very different. Knowing where to start is difficult to the point that some fansites have lists of albums they recommend as starting points. They also tend to advise new listeners not to be put off if they don't like a particular album, due to the aforementioned variety of musical styles. Zappa's live discography includes six two-CD volumes of concert performances and three volumes that consist entirely of guitar solos. Whilst Zappa's discography is large, it can easily be divided into groups based on what style of music he was playing at the time: The Mothers of Invention, Experimental period, Jazz period, Pop-rock/Jazz-rock period, classically influenced period. It's usually quite easy to tell what comes from what period.
Factoring in live albums and EPs, Motörhead's 31 album discography occupies over a full gigabyte.
Those curious about famed hippie-band The Grateful Dead and their legendary live performances may be a little intimidated by over 6,000 complete concert recordings (spanning from the late-60's to the mid-90's) at the Internet Archive. This is in addition to their 13 studio albums and their almost 100 official live albums.
Prolific noise-artist Merzbow will put most other artists to shame- in 20 years of making music, he's recorded about 300 albums, many of which are multiple discs long. One specific release he put out this decade is (by itself) 50 full (CD) discs long. And remember here, Merzbow is a noise-artist. His music is mostly composed of experiments with static and noise, toying with tape loops and all kinds of insane mastery. A downloaded of all of his released material comes to 11.67gb.
"Wordcore" Group The Tournament Wraiths currently have over 25 albums, all of which are about 4 hours long a piece. Of course, being a group which simply records events of their lives, most of the albums consist of silence, random conversations, and in-jokes, but still. Some of their work can be found here.
The Mountain Goats' nearly twenty year career has spawned dozens of releases, including some infuriatingly rare cassette only releases, tour only EPs, multiple versions of the same song and whole albums of unreleased material. All said and done, Mountain Goats have released 22 releases, most of which were recorded on frontman John Darnielle's boombox in his basement. The joys of Lo-Fi musicians!
Legendary British alternative rock band The Fall has 28 albums with no clear point of entry. What's worse is that all their "greatest hits" compilations are considered to be unreliable with the exception of one (50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong, and even that one has eclectic track choices and consists mostly of deep album cuts) and their definitive release is The Complete Peel Sessions, a six disc box set of performances they did on British DJ John Peel's radio show from 1978 to 2004.
El Paso's The Mars Volta are another brilliant example of this. A torrent of all their live bootlegs was over 50gigs in size. And even if you stick with just the studio albums, if you decide to delve into guitarist/mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's solo and spin-off albums (including At The Drive-In) then God help you.
Jazz musician Miles Davis has a very large discography of over 100 albums.
Jazz experimentalist Sun Ra, who was active as a musician from 1934 until his death in 1993, released well over 100 albums, comprising over 1000 songs. Good luck if you would like to tackle that one.
Also try finding some of the seriously limited editions pressed and printed by Ra and The Arkestra themselves. They used to doodle on the album covers before it was cool. These releases often had tracks available nowhere else.
Sonic Youth made music consistently from the release of their first album in 1983 until their apparent dissolution in 2011. According to the Other Wiki, they have released 15 albums (16 if you count the album released under the name Ciccone Youth), 4 compilations, 8 EPs, and 8 Sonic Youth Recordings (SYR), a series of noise experiments with other musicians (one of which happens to be the aforementioned Merzbow). Sonic Youth is an interesting case, because of the way their music evolved. So for example, although their Magnum OpusDaydream Nation has some of their most accessible songs ("Teen Age Riot", "Candle"), it also contains long drowning feedback not found on some of their previous albums, such as Evol or Sister.
It is also worth mentioning that the seminal grunge band Melvins have released 19 albums, 7 live albums, 6 EPs, and 8 compilations, as well as Chicken Switch, the recent remix album of their work. And if you're really a completist, there's such oddities as a completely silent 7" single and a live album that was only released on 8-track (apparently just for the novelty of putting out an 8-track in the year 2000).
Tori Amos. While 11 studio albums may not seem much, they're often over 70 minutes. Also, she has over 30 official bootlegs, and lots and lots of b-sides and covers. Good luck.
From 1962 to 2012, Bob Dylan put out thirty-five studio albums.
Phish has about 15 studio albums. But like The Grateful Dead, they were known best for their great live albums. So throw in all the live albums and you have over 50 albums. Let us not forget the bootlegs too...
Let's have some fun: try to listen to every Buckethead album... then listen to all his albums under a different name... then check out his side projects' albums... then try to find some bootlegs of his jams or live only songs.
Ali Project, a Japanese neo-classical band, got their start in the eighties. Not too long ago, right? Well, they tend to release singles rather frequently, totalling 29 as of July 2012. Next, their albums. 30 as of July 2012. Note that the tracklists are usually long, and over half of them are all new (meaning not containing songs from previous singles). Oh, and did I forget to mention Mikiya Katakura, the composer of the duo, does anime soundtracks? And then you forget that they perform at the Animelo summer concerts a lot... They also perform a "Gekko Soiree" — a classic-style inspired concert with respective remakes of their songs — almost each year. Surely, it is released as a studio album, too. Oh, and the DVD with the video of the concert goes along.
Prolific songwriter Robert Pollard has over 1200 songs in his name registered with BMI. His sizable output stems from his work with a myriad of bands, most famously the beloved indie band Guided By Voices — which he led for two decades and dozens of albums.
Electronica artist Machinefabriek has about 80 releases credited to his name, most of which are EPs with a few scattered albums and singles. This becomes slightly more amusing when you know his first release was only in 2004.
King Crimson have 13 studio albums, one or two EPs... and about a million live albums. They have recorded perhaps every concert they have other done, and put a new one up on their website which you can download for a price, so not too bad (until you see how many there are...) also their albums are rather hard to come by in shops. Said website also has everything Robert Fripp has ever done live as well.
Neil Young has released 37 solo studio albums to date. That's not counting live albums, video albums, his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, etc. Plus, in the last few years he's begun an extensive and ongoing Neil Young Archives series dedicated specifically to releasing even more stuff from the vaults.
Pearl Jam attempted to subvert the tendency of fans to bootleg live performances by creating the Official Bootlegs series, CD editions of those performances. This resulted in them setting records for the most albums to debut in the chart simultaneously; by the end of 2010, this series will amount to over 300 double disc albums.
Steven Wilson, most famously of Porcupine Tree, has released huge amounts of material under various names, bands and collaborations; a comprehensive list of his discography runs to 369 pages over twenty years. (Much of this is promos, 5.1 releases, samplers, etc., but there would be coming up to 100 original releases of any worth, which still makes a SW completist despair.)
Elton John has 30 studio albums. Add in live albums and the figure jumps up to 35. If you then include soundtracks on which he was the primary artist or primary composer, it increases to 42. And on top of that, he has enough non-LP singles and B-sides to fill several more.
David Bowie, according to The Other Wiki, has 26 studio albums (24 solo, 2 as part of Tin Machine). Then add live albums and movie soundtracks...then one-off songs for soundtracks, duets, etc...he really gets around. It doesn't help that he's another artist prone to the New Sound Album trope. (Compilations are plentiful, at least.) This doesn't even get into his live performance films/videos, a lengthy run of music videos, and a side career as an actor.
Prince. He has put out 23 physical albums in his 30 some year career. Add on that side projects (i.e. The Time, The New Power Generation, Madhouse, etc.), albums with tracks written by him, Internet only albums, vinyl only b-sides, remixes, and Compilations, that adds up to around 125 albums (Source). If you think tracking down all those albums is going to be hard, it gets better. A majority of those albums are not in print any more. And that's not including his Unreleased Material. A 34 Disc compilation of said material is circulating. If you are thinking of getting into collecting his live shows, Good Luck.
The band Bull of Heaven goes to Up to Eleven. Not only do they release many, many albums every year (including 148 in 2009 alone!), they are also responsible for some of the longest albums in existence (their latest, 210: Like a Wall in Which an Insect Lives and Gnaws, is 5+ years long). It should be noted that much of this is not exactly music by most people's definition; the exceptionally long tracks are just arrangements of ultra-slowed-down sound effects and loops thereof. Much of it has never even been listened to by the creator, simply queued with software and released.
Bill Laswell (originally bassist for Material) is prolific as a recording artist, collaborator, producer and remixer. Check out this complete discography...but don't plan on doing a Wiki Walk through the links unless you won't be busy for a few months.
He has 74 albums in total on his own record deal. He also is a cofounder of another record deal... and then this is for just the past 5 years.
Oh sweet Jesus, Backseat Goodbye. He has B-sides and covers and unreleased for download on his Purevolume, over one hundred songs on iTunes, more music on his website, and this is all from an indie pop-folk band who has only been active for six years. Good luck. And bring some electronic cash. Thankfully, he loves his fans and sporadically gives away free copies of his albums. The Good Years, his most recent album, he gave away FREE to 100+ lucky people. He is that productive.
Muslimgauze was so prolific that there are 210 releases as of 2010... and he (yes, he) died in 1999 (when there were 114 releases out).
While not as prolific as some artists, Japanese pop artist Ayumi Hamasaki has an impressive back catalogue. Her career spans 11 years, and in that time, she's released 12 studio albums, 50 singles, five compilation albums, 19 remix albums, 18 DVDs and four box sets. This adds up to hundreds and hundreds of songs, especially if you want all her remix albums.
Country singer Johnny Cash has released 55 studio albums in addition to live albums and compilations.
As of 2012, the Canadian band Rush has released 19 studio albums, 8 live albums (including 2 double- and 2 triple-CD sets), 7 live DVD's (3 of which were remastered from VHS), and an EP. Perhaps a dozen compilations of singles and videos have been available at different times as well.
Yes themselves qualify. Twenty studio albums (twenty-one if you count Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe), ten live albums, thirty-two compilations, and that's not even getting into all the side projects formed by the various band members. Good luck if you ever want to tackle that herculean task.
A unique example is Argentinian songwriter Juan Mutant. What happens when you have access to CDbaby, a mental health fund from the government and no job? You release all your back catalog on over 150 unique releases which are a minefield to traverse. Don't Panic. Get Extreme File X first, it's his version of a greatest hits, all 97 tracks of it. Oh and have fun trying to fix the tracklist if you don't know his catalog.
Any mentally unstable musician who has access to funds, time and CDbaby is capable of this. Chief Koofreh, for example.
Go look up the discography of Aerosmith. 15 studio albums, 5 live albums, 12 compilation albums, 2 boxsets, 70 singles, 6 reissues of singles, 7 music video VHS and DVD releases, and 36 music videos. In total, that's 153 releases by the group. Have fun!
Black Metal bands can sometimes fall under this trope, not so much for the releases of the bands themselves (although they can be hugely prolific - Darkthrone has released sixteen albums and a rather large quantity of EPs and demo recordings, for example), but because the musicians in the scene often form solo projects or collaborate extensively with musicians from other bands, leading to numerous side projects that are often difficult to track down for people who want to hear everything the band members have recorded. It doesn't help, either, that the releases often tend to be pressed in extremely limited quantities, making it difficult to track down physical copies.
U.S. black metal Njiqahdda are an example of a particularly productive black metal act. Since their founding in 2005, they've produced fourteen full-lengths (many of these double-disc sets), a "box set" which is basically another hour of music, and more than forty EPs, splits, and demos. That's just as Njiqahdda, mind you - they also have more recordings released as Njiijn, Oaks of Bethel, and Funeral Eclipse. The discography of Funeral Eclipse isn't too big yet but Oaks of Bethel has seven full-lengths (again, some are double sets) and fifteen EPs, while Njiijn has four albums and an EP. You can stream their discography here.
The Dutch musician Mories, who is the sole musician behind such projects as Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak of Altering, De Magia Veterum, Aderlating, and other projects, is another example of an absurdly productive metal musician. Gnaw Their Tongues alone has seven full-lengths and more than twenty EPs/splits since 2005. Most of the other projects aren't as prolific yet, but it's still a massive output for one man.
Polish project Hellveto, the work of a man going by the name of L.O.N., was, for awhile, close to the output pace of the two groups above, although he's slowed down somewhat - he didn't release anything in 2011, for example. Still, he has fifteen full-lengths released starting with the first in 2002. There are also a handful of EPs and splits, plus the several demos he recorded before his proper albums.
The output of Russian industrial/doom metal/ambient/electronica musician Senmuth, though, dwarfs most of the projects listed above. He has been releasing music since 2004 and has more than one hundred releases, most of which are full-lengths. And if that's not enough, many of these are multi-disc sets, with at least one, Ахет Мери Ра (Akhet Mery Ra, or roughly, The Horizon [That Is] Beloved of Ra), being a four-disc set running roughly three and a half hours. All of his material is released for free on the internet, too (albeit only in mp3 format), so it's not entirely clear how he makes his money.
As of March 29, 2010, there are 17916 tropes on the wiki, and the number is growing very rapidly every day. Even if you just skim each one, it will take you a lot of time... especially considering that there's no page which lists just the tropes - the most you can hope for is either the complete list of articles (which is so long that it will likely break your browser) or reading every single index. Have fun!...?...
We've even cut back a lot by cutting out natter and Troper Tales, even though a lot of it was interesting!
The Funday Pawpet Show's episodes are only available for download that week...which is just as well when you consider there are over 480 episodes of four hours per episode. Yappy recently uploaded the entire archive (except for the 9/11 episode) onto the website. Have fun locking yourself in your room for the next 6 months!
Warhammer 40000 with its five editions, numerous sourcebooks, and many, many spinoffs...
British radio-only soap The Archers has recently surpassed Guiding Light in terms of volume and is showing absolutely no signs of stopping any time soon. SIXTEEN THOUSAND EPISODES.
The long-running web cartoon Homestar Runner. Heavy on in-jokes, updated nearly every week between 2002 and 2009. The Strong Bad Emails are a start, but those alone have over 200 episodes. Maybe the rather long seemingly indefinite sin hiatus since 2010 isn't a bad thing after all. There is a way you can watch them all in order. But still, DAMN! Look at that list! Adding up all the non-"(N/A)" values, that is 22 hours, 11 minutes and 2 seconds of Flash animation to go through.
After 100 episodes, the Red vs. Bluemachinima series started with a fresh scenario specifically to avert Archive Panic. This worked out well for new viewers, since only subscribers can even view all the old episodes at once... but now all the episodes have been uploaded to Youtube. Currently it's on its ninth season, with each season consisting of around 20 episodes of anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes long. Each season's DVD has all of the episodes cut together into one "movie", lasting about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the season.
Now sorted by page/strip count.
MS Paint Adventures finished Problem Sleuth in 2009. Since the reader/player starts at the beginning, they have no way of knowing that there are nearly 1900 pages ahead of them unless they go to the log and scroll down the list of pages.
Homestuck (quoted at the top of the page) has approximately 5700 pages as of January 2013. Its wordcount alone bests some translations of War and Peace without taking into account the visuals and frequent several-minute cinematic flash animations (the more important of these have been as long as 15 minutes) or playableflash gamesegments that can run anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours to completely explore. In addition, Hussie's sporadic but rampant update schedule and usual One-Man Army nature (since he does most of the work himself) means that by the time you catch up, he could have added any number of pages - he once claimed to be taking a break, and then updated eighty pages within the span of a week.
It is worth noting that Homestuck actually has Save and Autosave buttons to return you to where you left off. It is also worth noting that, compared to nearly every other webcomic on this page, MS Paint Adventures is very new, only having started in 2007, yet has ranked up over 7,500 pages as of 2013. Did we mention Andrew Hussie is a One-Man Army?
To make matters worse, Homestuck starts very casually, and picks up speed after the first two Acts, which are easy enough to blow through rapidly. Thus, it is extremely easy to start reading in the evening or at night under the mistaken impression that it is easy to stop reading, and then look out the window and notice that the sun is rising. Most of that bulk of writing doesn't kick in until Act 5, whereupon to have any idea what's going on, you'll need to read about two thousand pages of dense content and sudden twists. What's even worse is that the comic is rife with foreshadowing and explanations which can be easily missed, so skimming often leads to having no clue what happened in already-confusing plot twists.
Overall, this website provides an interesting analysis of MS Paint Adventure's total wordcount: the total number of words including transcribed flashes is 715,611, longer than the King James Bible, and when the images and flashes are converted into a wordcount (basically, the number of words it would take to communicate the same information in words) it reaches a whole 1,061,314 words, or 98% of the entire Harry Potter series. Now that's an Archive Panic!
Kevin And Kell has been publishing continuously since September 1995. It was weekdays-only for a while, but went to every day in the summer of 2000. The strip has had no break for 17 years, meaning it's pushing 6,000 comics in its archive.
Sluggy Freelance is nearly as bad as Schlock on that score, consisting of over 5000 comics, all of which (including the filler) are important to the plot.
The comic has run daily since August 25, 1997. Including filler and guest strips (many of which are actually part of the plot), that comes out to 5355 strips at the time of this editing.
Finally slowed down in early June of 2012, at least temporarily, to a less-than-daily schedule after a family health scare involving Pete's younger daughter and later Pete himself getting a horrible flu, which resulted in one week of pure filler followed by one week of no content (save for a guest sketch by his older daughter) and then the comic going onto MWF while he gets things back together, with plans to go to MTWTF rather than all seven days once things start to stabilize again.
David Willis' epic webcomic verse, the Walkyverse, started in September 1997 with Roomies!, which ran weekdays for 2 years. It quickly became It's Walky!, which ran weekdays for 5 years, folloed by Joyce and Walky! and Shortpacked!. The latter has run every weekday since the beginning of 2005; the former runs three days a week, with only one of those strips for non-subscribers. If you want to read that archive, it's 4 years’ worth of reading and over $100 in "donations."
User Friendly has been daily since November 1997 and is now over 5000 pages long.
Pv P started in 1998 and is currently five strips a week rather than seven, but it still has over 4200 strips.
Sinfest has a little bit of continuity, although it isn't necessary to read all 4000 or more previous comics to understand the current strips.
Superosity has been running daily since March 1999 and has over 3650 pages.
Castlevania RPG has updated most weekdays since early 2005 (sporadically since 2003). The main storyline includes over 1900 comics, and with the backstories (one for each of the main characters except Princess), bonus story arcs, filler strips, and the related Darkmoon's Silly Webcomic (which exists in the same continuity), all of which are referenced in the main storyline, the total archive includes over 4300 strips and counting.
Irregular Webcomic! has updated almost daily since 2002 and has over 3000 strips. Writer David Morgan-Mar once boasted that he had overtaken Freefall in number of strips and has stated a goal of publishing at least as many comics as Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson: 3,160. At least you can read them five at a time.
Funny Farm Over 3000 in the archive, perhaps 50 of which are filler. Have Fun.
In order to compensate, Greg Dean has created a kind of Cliff Notes to Real Life Comics, only featuring the important strips. Of course, you have to pay for it and you can only get it if you live in the United States, but whatever. Over 2800 pages.
Wapsi Square has been running since 2001, has over 2000 strips, and has heavy enough continuity that you can't merely skim read if you want to be able to understand what is going on.
Freefall has been running since March 1998, on a three-strip-per-week plan (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), plus a very occasional bonus strip (usually shown in the archive on the same page as a regular strip). Passed 2,000 strips in 2011 (although a few fans considered it more significant when it posted its 2,011th strip in 2011).
Dinosaur Comics not only has well over a thousand comics (now 2000), but each is extremely wordy and contains little variation in art throughout. One of the most rewarding to get through but wholly unnecessary due to the lack of common plot.
Nukees has been running continually since January 1997 updating mostly 3 times a week With over 2000 comics. Good luck.
Questionable Content has over 2000 strips, and most are of decent length, and the story is continuous (mostly), making it quite addictive. It's difficult to get through quickly since they're almost always 4-paneled, vertical, and all too often wordy.
Misfile has over 2000 strips, and updates every weekday.
Penny Arcade is a double-shot. Not only has it been updated three times a week for nearly a decade with over 1800 strips, Tycho has a blog post that explains what's going on in the strip.
Scary Go Round. Six years of weekday strips as of 2008 or ten years of strips if you read all of Bobbins as well - and Scary-Go-Round essentially is Bobbins with a new title and a spruce-up. This is part of why John Allison started Bad Machinery. While it is a sequel to Scary Go Round, you do not have to know anything to get into it. Over 1700 comics.
Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has been updating daily for 4 years and has over 1600 strips. Also given the story format, is not likely that it will be over any time soon.
Jack has been around for over 10 years, publishing a full comic page three days a week for the entire time with over 1500 pages.
PHD has been published since 1997. Although at first it was published in college newspapers and now it runs three times a week, clicking on "first" and getting "originally published 10/27/1997" is scary. Over 1400 comics. (Find it here)
Sam And Fuzzy has been running from 2002. Luckily, the author's archive page has a number of helpful links for new readers. Over 1400 pages.
Red String has been running since 2003 with regular updates three days a week and a long history for the new readers to get into. It's expected to end with 54 chapters. The comic is currently running Chapter 49. It'll be a while. Over 1350 comics.
Girl Genius averted this for a while — it started out as a print comic before moving to the web, and Foglios eased new reader access considerably by including a "101 class" (which started from the beginning) and an "Advanced Class" (which started where the print series left off), and updating them concurrently. Then in June 2007, the 101 class caught up with the beginning of the Advanced Class, giving 101 readers and newcomers a couple years of panic-laden archive trawling to catch up on, promptly breaking the site for a few days. Over 1300 pages.
MegaTokyo has heavy continuity, so archive binges are necessary for new readers. Even after running for over ten years and 1300+ comics, it goes pretty fast with all of the Filler Strips that you can skip.
School Spirit started on June 12, 2004, and as of May 30, 2013 has 1300 strips.
Least I Could Do deserves a mention, having run since 2003 on a primarily daily basis.
El Goonish Shive has over 1600 not counting filler and newspaper style strips. It's over 100 chapters (though about a third of them have 10 or fewer strips). It's one of those things where once you get going you keep reading because you have to know what happens next.
8-Bit Theater exactaly 1227 comics, and to make matters worse, each strip has around a dozen panels, instead of just three. And this doesn’t include the filler.
Faux Pas is in its 200th week, with each week consisting of six three-panel comics.
Ctrl+Alt+Del has been posting 3 comics a week, most of them 4 panels, since October 2002.
Flipside has well over 1000 pages, counting both its incarnations. Luckily it's quite the easy read.
The Cyantian Chronicles: 1000+ updates for Akaelae alone, not to mention the additional strips for Genoworks Saga, Campus Safari, Gralen Cragg Hall, No Angel, and Sink or Swim.
xkcd has over 1070 strips as of June 2012 and updates 3 times a week. Luckily, some great iPhone apps make it easy to catch up on all of them.
The Order of the Stick has over 850 online comic. (This is not including the "bonus comics" included in the print editions, or the prequel books.) While this may not seem like much, keep in mind these are full-page comics with 12 or more panels each, and it's probably one of the wordier comics out there. And except for a few of the first 100 strips, every single strip is part of an arc and will contain important plot points, so it’s unwise to skip any.
Captain SNES has 600 story strips. That seems small in comparison to the others, but they are very dialogue-heavy, and it's written in small letters.
The B-Movie Comic has quite an Arc Fatigue (more than 450 pages for the second chapter, while the first one only had 85) and a quite instructive rant under most pages. Totals around 800 pages as of April 2013.
Thankfully, Looking for Group avoids this by organizing the strip into various story arcs, rather than an increasingly-colossal list of past installments.
Goblins is relatively short, with only about 350 strips or so, but they're full-page images that simply cannot be skimmed.
Averted by the "first comic created specifically for web distribution", Argon Zark. It has been running since June 1995, still updates almost every year, and has a grand total of 77 strips.
Volklore avoids this, in a sense, by running backwards, so that taking an Archive Trawl is actually moving forward in the story.
The Kamics — "I was told by a friend that he was intimidated by the number of comics in my archive... pshaw! There was just under 800 at the time!"
Youtube LP'er S So HPKC has over 8000 videos spanned over 3 years, with a lot of games that he has played on release date, and most Minecraft custom maps. If you don't know exactly what you're looking for in his videos, then you're not going to find it. He even has a second account, only with a hundred videos on there.
Nintendo Capri Sun has over 2300 videos spread out over three accounts with more added each day.
Youtube LP'er Zeta Plays has over 1600 videos, most of them singular videos of games that he only played for five minutes because they were too boring. Want to find a game that he played? Good luck.
Flash archives like this have wasted days and days of free time. It doesn't help that many of them are simple loops that one can play for hours upon end.
The 4Chan Archives. Whenever a thread becomes considered "epic" on 4chan, it can be voted to go to the Archives. Almost every board has a section in said Archives. Each page has around ten threads on it, and page numbers vary from a few to the infamous /b/'s section, which, to say the least, is huge. Also note that Epic Fail Guy moments, memes, and various other categories get their own sections, and you've just taken out a good chunk of your free time trying to read them all. Oh, and there's always more coming in. Enjoy your lulzy prison...
There are now sites dedicated to automatically archiving whole boards. Anything that gets posted to the majority of Popular boards are now forever archived.
Not only is the Protectors of the Plot Continuum a large set of stories, it's really freakin' confusing for a newbie to try and track down them all - especially with the collapse of Geo Cities taking out what seems like half of it. The people at the group's board tend to be helpful, though.
The Whateley Universe. You're fine when you look at the homepage and see some stories, but then you go find the list of stories in chronological (in-universe) order, and you realize there's a huge amount of text there. The Phase stories alone are nearing the number of words of all seven Harry Potter books combined, and s/he's only one of a couple dozen main characters.
The Global Guardians PBEM Universe had close to ten thousand individual whole-page character entries in its character archives. Add to that an in-universe Encyclopedia with nearly two hundred thousand entries (most at least three paragraphs long, and some as long as a full page), plus over a hundred campaign pages (each with their own archive), and you'd better be prepared to spend a lot of time if you want to read the whole thing.
Like motivational posters? Here are most of the ones from RPG.net's forum threads. At the bottom of the page? Links to over a half a dozen other archives of different posters. Have fun.
That Guy With The Glasses. Even just catching up to the more popular series like The Nostalgia Critic, The Spoony Experiment, and Atop The Fourth Wall is pretty intimidating by this point...then you consider that as the site goes on there's more and more crossovers and in-jokes between an ever-growing number of contributors, meaning that for everything to make sense you'll need to go all over the site trying to watch everything in chronological order. It's even worse if they happen to have stories that arc over dozens of reviews.
LoadingReadyRun has being producing at least one video a week for over 7 years. Even at an average of only of 3 minutes per video, that's 18 hours of video to watch. Then there's all the bonus videos and spinoffs....it will take you a while to watch them all, fortunately continuity is only important within the commodoreHustle sub-series. LoadingReadyRun recently struck a deal to produce their shorts for The Escapist, and from then on their video appeared there. There's only a few months worth of material there (so far), so starting with the stuff on The Escapist is a good idea.
Classic Game Room has uploaded over 1400 videos of variable lenght since the debut of its You Tube channel in late 2007, and new videos gets added pratically every days. And that's not counting the sister "CGR Undertow" channel.
Neopets has a self-maintained in side newspaper titled The Neopian Times. While the Editorial and Comics are fairly short, there's also been roughly ten short stories, ten sections of longer stories, and ten articles about the site for twenty issues short of ten years solid, and about 500 issues total. The comics section alone is longer than most of the long-running webcomics here. What's worse? A comic could die mid-arc, before the Neopets Team told people to send in the whole arc at once to prevent that.
Damn You Autocorrect, which has only been in existence for ten months, has an archive of, at the time of writing, 3786 images. It adds upwards of 15 images daily. Ulch. Scratch that. Seven months later and it has almost 6000.
Raocow has over 3000 videos in several host websites, and he usually uploads two new videos every single day, each one of an average length of 15 minutes or so. You'll literally spend months just to watch his most emblematic series.
The SCP Foundation. There are over a thousand anomalous items documented, and more are written up every day (even if about half of them quickly get deleted). And once you make your way through the entire list? There's still the Foundation Tales section (as well as the collection of general creepypasta stories). Make sure you have a comfortable chair... and can handle being afraid to sleep at night.
The Vlog Brothers have been making You Tube videos since January 2007 for a rough total of 980 videos, a number that continues to rise at a rate of two per week. That's not even counting the numerous other channels that they have, including Hankgames, the Lizzie Bennet diaries, Sci Show, Crash Course, Truth or Fail, and Hank's Channel, almost all of which have referenced or nodded to each other in various ways and played off of knowledge of events from previous videos, bringing the total number of videos to 2000. While it is possible for new Nerdfighters to follow them without knowing exactly where these injokes came from, the urge to watch the 980 main-channel videos from the beginning can be too great to resist, leading to many a Nerdfighter wasting their summer. They do, however, try to ease this anxiety by providing a playlist of twenty essential videos, including the one that shows the origin of the term 'Nerdfighter'.
Internet Killed Television, a vlog series made by Charles and Alli Trippy, where they put up a 10-20 minute video daily. They done this for over 3 years and has done over 1190 days. Then there is Charles main channel that is a skit channel with nearly 200 videos, plus a channel where he uploads short iPhone clips that have about 250 videos. And lets not forget about Alli's channel, that hosts their movie reviews, as well as drunk gaming, in which that they are drunk and play games, with about 60 videos so far. Oh, and Charles sister Mel also vlogs, but on a less consistence basis, and Alli's brother Justin has a vlog, with a vid count of 127 and 101 respectively. That close to 2000 videos you have to plow through.
Parodied ny The Onion in an "American Voices" interview asking people what they considered the biggest international news story in 2012. One respindant says "Ugh, I have no idea. I’ve been putting off reading this one article from Feb. 17, 2003 that I started, and I don’t want to skip ahead until I’ve finished it."
Not Always Right currently has more than 1000 pages at ten stories a page. And when you're done with them, there are four spin-off sites (though none of them are nearly as long.)
Some cartoons are so Strictly Formula that they can be hard to get through. For instance many of the shorts from the pre-Television era were shown before movies or between features, but watched now on DVD can seem annoyingly repetitious after ten consecutive episodes in the space of one hour, each with the same basic plot.
The Simpsons, as of 2012, has run for 48 shorts, 508 episodes and counting, 23 completed seasons (with seasons 24 and 25 greenlit after FOX resolved its money issues with a pay cut in order to keep the show from getting canceled), and 1 film. That makes over 173 hours, or one solid week without sleep just to watch them all. If you watched it for 5 hours a day, it would only take you a month to see every episode (yes, including the seasonally rotten current episodes). All that Negative Continuity the show was critically derided for early on? A Godsend. Although there are subtle in-jokes for viewers that have watched for 20+ seasons, you do not need to Archive Binge in order to enjoy the show from any starting point. And it will go on forever. FOX can't stop it. Bitchy former fans who say the show stopped being funny when Mike Scully took over (or when Homer got raped by the panda, or when the celebrity cameos became needless filler, or when Homer became an uncaring asshole and Lisa became a preachy brat, or when Principal Skinner revealed that he was Armin Tamazarian or when Al Jean took over and proved to be worse than Mike Scully) can't stop it. Seth MacFarlane tried to stop it with his Flintstones remake, but he put that on hiatus after FOX announced that The Simpsons was going to be renewed for two more seasons. Only cockroaches, Twinkies, Keith Richards, and The Simpsons will survive the nuclear holocaust (or as Bart put it in a chalkboard punishment gag, "The world may end in 2012, but this show won't").
South Park has just 2 shorts, 219 episodes and 1 film, a much more manageable 81 hours' work.
Sponge Bob Square Pants has been going for over 10 years now, with 200+ episodes, 5 movies, 13 videogames, 4 shorts, and no end in sight. One can safely skip Seasons 5 and 6, however. After the SpongeBob movie, the quality of the episodes started declining, fell into a pit during Seasons 5 and 6, and are slowly starting to climb out again.
Whereas a series like Woody Woodpecker has a much more manageable 198 shorts total. But that's just counting one series and not all of Walter Lantz' output. Mickey and Bugs have starred in about the same number of shorts as Woody.
Human History is pretty long. Compounded by its sheer number of editors, updated continuously for over ten thousand years. Thankfully, though, there are many parts you can gloss over if you just want to focus on one storyline. Heck, there are some storylines you can get into part way through without too much problems. However, while many parts can function independently of each other there are still hundreds of thousands of stories to look at. And with the world's nations becoming increasingly more dependent on each other, glossing over parts can remove some much needed clarifiers.
Of course, human history is nothing compared to the history of the universe. 13,700,000,000 years, and still going strong.
Human/Universal History is that bad because it's optional. One can go about their lives without having to know the minutiae. The History for a Specific Discipline is much worse because everyone is responding to someone.