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In the U.S. television industry, 100 episodes is the traditional threshold for a television series to become viable for syndication. 100 episodes are advantageous for stripped syndication because it allows for 20 weeks of weekday reruns without repeating an episode, and such shows can be sold for higher per episode pricing.
Syndication is often a profitable enterprise because series can be rerun for years after they end production. Shows of limited profitability during their first run will still prove to be viable to the production company if they can last 100 episodes. This point is usually reached during a series' fifth season.
|1950s||I Love Lucy||31 (1952–53)|
|1960s||The Beverly Hillbillies||36 (1963–64)|
|The Andy Griffith Show||30 (1966–67)|
|1970s||All in the Family||24 (1974–75)|
|Happy Days||26 (1978–79)|
|The Cosby Show||25 (1986–87)|
|2000s||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||23 (2003–04)|
|The Mentalist||23 (2008–09)|
Shows of fewer episodes have become syndication successes. WKRP in Cincinnati was a major success in syndication despite having only produced 90 episodes. The Honeymooners was a series spun off in 1955-56 from sketches of the same name on The Jackie Gleason Show, an hour-long variety program (1952-55). While only 39 episodes of The Honeymooners were produced, there were enough Honeymooners sketches from The Jackie Gleason Show (which ran again in the 1956-57 season and would be revived in the 1960s) to compile a syndication package with over 100 episodes. More recently, Clueless had reasonable success in syndication, especially on cable, even though only 62 episodes had been produced by the time the series ended in 1999. Chapelle's Show entered syndication despite only producing 33 episodes, five of which were clip shows. Series with less than 100 episodes but whose episodes are in the public domain, such as Dusty's Trail, Meet Corliss Archer and Life with Elizabeth have also been syndication mainstays, mainly due to the fact that their lack of copyright means they cost virtually nothing to broadcast.
Dramas, which do not require daily runs, have also had success in syndication with shorter runs. For example, Lost in Space ceased production in 1968 after 84 episodes because of declining ratings versus high production costs, but did well in syndication for a number of years. The original Star Trek series had only 79 episodes available when its network run ended in 1969, but after soaring to new heights in syndication it spawned multiple feature films and five spin-off series. Extreme examples include The Prisoner and Hondo, both successfully syndicated for more than 30 years despite having only 17 episodes produced. The original 1978 series Battlestar Galactica and its spin-off Galactica 1980 produced a combined 31 episodes, yet it not only remains in syndication but it also led to a 2003 reimagining that produced a 75-episode TV series.
The growth of cable and satellite television has prompted channels to rerun series more often, with fewer episodes. Reruns of a particular show may air multiple times a day, several days a week, despite having only one or two seasons of episodes produced.
In recent years, the 100-episode milestone for syndication has been lowered to 88 episodes, which can be reached in just four seasons. Shows approaching the 88-episode target are often renewed despite low ratings in order to ensure syndication. Production companies can offer discounts on licensing fees to networks to encourage renewal. Shows that are approaching the 88-episode syndication milestone while suffering from poor ratings are often moved to graveyard slots on Friday or Saturday in order to burn off remaining episodes.
An extreme example of a show renewed primarily for syndication purposes was 'Til Death. ’Til Death was pulled from Fox's lineup just seven episodes into Season 3, after it had fallen out of the top 100 in the primetime ratings. Cancellation seemed imminent, but ’Til Death was surprisingly renewed for a fourth season after Sony Pictures Entertainment offered Fox a discount on the licensing fee. Unaired episodes from the third season were broadcast alongside fourth season episodes from October 2009 through June 2010 (a total of 37 episodes), including four new episodes airing in a Christmas Day "marathon" and two new episodes being put up against Super Bowl XLIV with the knowledge that these episodes would have minuscule ratings. The overlapped seasons led to some comical confusion, because three different actresses played the part of Allison Stark during this span of episodes. The show eventually reached 81 episodes, and debuted in off-network syndication in the fall of 2011.
There are also cases, such as Mad About You and Newsradio, where a series is expected to do well in syndication but ends up with disappointing Nielsen ratings and revenue. Reasons include dated references in early seasons, or plotlines in later seasons that fall flat, causing the series to end up being defined by that one plot line or season rather than as a whole, changing the audience's perception.
It also occasionally occurs that a marginally performing show that is approaching the syndication threshold will be canceled on account that the show is not expected to perform well enough in syndication to make it worthwhile. Such was the case with 8 Simple Rules, a sitcom that lasted three seasons and 76 episodes. The network thought that the show's change of direction partway through the series (forced by the on-set death of John Ritter, the show's star) would make the show less palatable for syndication. They declined to renew the series for a fourth season, which would have produced the remaining 24 episodes to make syndication otherwise viable. 8 Simple Rules would eventually be internally syndicated by Disney-ABC Domestic Television to ABC Family.
Niche genres 
The 100-episode threshold is generally applied solely to scripted prime time programming, since sitcoms and dramas are the most prevalent in syndicated reruns. Other programming genera follow different patterns.
Game shows 
On rare occasions, game shows have been rerun on broadcast television. Despite having very high output as far as numbers of episodes (a typical 13-week run of even an unsuccessful game show yielded 65 episodes), most networks instead opted to recycle the tapes of those shows, as it was viewed at the time as a more profitable practice than trying to sell reruns of daytime programming. The practice of rerunning some of the most popular game shows in syndication was rare, but not unheard of, in the 1970s and 1980s; Gambit was rerun in 1978 and Match Game was rerun in syndication in 1985. With the advent of cable channels, rerunning game shows has become more common; for instance, Merv Griffin's Crosswords, which lasted one season and 225 episodes in syndication during the 2007-08 season, has been continuously rerun from that point onward, either in syndication or on current channel RTV. GSN reruns several game shows that ran less than 100 episodes, including Greed (44 episodes), Double Dare (65 episodes), Dog Eat Dog (26 episodes), and perhaps the most extreme case, Million Dollar Password, which ran for only 12 episodes. Even among shows with hundreds (and even thousands) of episodes, since the early 2010s GSN typically has only acquired the rights to 50 to 65 episodes at a time for most series.
Cartoons and children's programming 
Rerunning children's programming generally requires far fewer episodes than programming for adults. For daily children's programs currently in production, production is often "front-loaded:" a new series will begin with new episodes five days a week, then cut back to one new episode each week (or less as the series progresses) while reruns air the other four days.
For series that are already out of production, most shows air their runs for a short period of time, then are pulled and replaced by another series from the archives. For weekly series, this practice dates to at least the 1960s, when Saturday morning cartoons would, after the end of their 13-week run, begin rerunning continuously for about a year until being replaced by the next show, either new or archival. After several years, once the previous generation of children outgrew the show, it could be reintroduced for the next younger generation by airing reruns. For shows that are rerun daily, the time span is usually on the order of months; Boomerang, a channel that specializes in reruns of Saturday morning cartoons, changes its schedule approximately once a month to accommodate the short runs of many of the shows in its extensive library.
- Barry Garron (March 29, 2006). "Anatomy of a hit: George Lopez". Hollywood Reporter (HollywoodReporter.com). Retrieved August 24, 2008.
- John Dempsey (September 14, 2003). "Cablers raise syndie stakes". Variety. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
- Michael Schneider (July 6, 2004). "Duo 'Standing' tall in 20th deal". Variety. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
- Robert Seidman (May 14, 2011). "Bubble Watch Season Finale: On Fringe, Chuck, and V One More Time". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 16, 2011. "What’s so magical about 88 episodes? The prevailing Hollywood mindset is that 88 episodes is the minimum number of episodes necessary to be able to "strip" a show in syndication, i.e., run it Monday-Friday at the same time. All shows, regardless of number of episodes can be sold into syndication, but shows that can be stripped can command higher per-episode pricing. The magic number for being able to strip a show in syndication used to be "100″ but at least for the last few years it has been 88."
- WKRP in Cincinnati TV.com Show Summary, retrieved 05-21-2013.
-  TV.com -- The Jackie Gleason Show.
- teennick at tvtropes.com
- Lost in Space Forever, DVD, Twentieth Century Fox, 1998.
- "History of TV's Lost in Space"
- ABC Medianet (May 27, 2009). "Season Rankings". ABC Medianet. Archived from the original on August 10, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
- Fox Broadcasting. " 'Til Death Fact Sheet". FoxFlash.com. Press release. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- Longsdorf, Amy (January 24, 2010) "Kate Micucci: 'Really exciting things are starting to happen'" The Morning Call. Retrieved March 8, 2010. Archived 4 September 2010 at WebCite
- Fox Broadcasting. (March 2010) "Primetime Schedule Mar 7-13". FoxFlash.com. Press release. Retrieved March 28, 2010. Archived 4 September 2010 at WebCite
- Schneider, Michael (23 March 2010). "Fox finally finds a way to kill "'Til Death"". Variety. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Davis, Alex. GSN Refreshes Classics Lineup with New "Press Your Luck", "Password", "Match Game", and "Sale of the Century". Retrieved March 24, 2013.