Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Television

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The following is a style guide for those who edit Television-related articles under Wikipedia:WikiProject Television. Remember that Wikipedia is foremost an encyclopedia and that articles therefore should try to be prosaic instead of lists of arbitrary information pulled out of Articles should be verifiable and establish notability. Please cite your sources wherever possible. Your articles should be written from an out-of-universe perspective. Remember, this is only a guide, and may change depending on Wikipolicy or participant consensus. For other guidelines:

Naming conventions[edit]

Parent, season, and episode article structure[edit]

The structure of television articles, season/series articles, and episode articles are all relatively identical. The sections below will map out the basic structure for these articles. The basic order of these pages tends to follow: Lead, episode plot, production, and critical reception; with any other miscellaneous sections coming afterward. This is because Wikipedia uses plot information as context for understanding the real world information in the article. This is the same setup as followed on WikiProject Film articles, which have the same structure as television articles.


The table below is the Infobox television template. Clicking edit next to "Infobox" will enable you to view and copy the source text to use on television articles. If you have any questions or problems with this table, you can discuss them at Template talk:Infobox television. Filling the infobox out in its entirety, with all its various optional fields, is not a goal in itself. Many options are simply not relevant to many television shows. If the cast list gets too large you might consider linking to a section of the article instead.

{{Infobox television
| show_name                = 
| image                    = 
| image_size               = 
| image_alt                = 
| caption                  = 
| show_name_2              = 
| genre                    = 
| creator                  = 
| based_on                 = 
| developer                = 
| writer                   = 
| director                 = 
| creative_director        = 
| presenter                = 
| starring                 = 
| judges                   = 
| voices                   = 
| narrated                 = 
| theme_music_composer     = 
| opentheme                = 
| endtheme                 = 
| composer                 = 
| country                  = 
| language                 = 
| num_seasons              = <!-- Or num_series. Increment when new seasons/series begin or production starts. -->
| num_episodes             = <!-- Value is incremented when new episodes air, or have been produced. -->
| list_episodes            = 
| executive_producer       = 
| producer                 = 
| editor                   = 
| location                 = 
| cinematography           = 
| camera                   = 
| runtime                  = 
| company                  = 
| distributor              = 
| channel                  = <!-- or network -->
| picture_format           = 
| audio_format             = 
| first_run                = <!-- The nation in which the series first aired, if different from country parameter. -->
| first_aired              = <!-- {{Start date|YYYY|MM|DD}} -->
| last_aired               = <!-- {{End date|YYYY|MM|DD}} -->
| preceded_by              = 
| followed_by              = 
| related                  = <!-- To be used only for remakes, spin-offs, and adaptations. -->
| website                  = 
| website_title            = 
| production_website       = 
| production_website_title = 



The image presented in the infobox of the main article should ideally be an intertitle shot of the show (i.e., a screenshot capture of the show's title) or a promotional poster used to represent the show itself. Failing that, a DVD cover may be used. For episode articles, a screenshot may only be used if it meets the Non-free content criteria, i.e., (typically) if it is required to illustrate a significant element of the episode – that is, the object of explicit, sourced analytical commentary – and where that commentary is in need of visual support to be understood.

Once you have uploaded a suitable image:

  • On the file's description page, add a short description of the image (e.g., "This image is the current opening titles for the series."), a source of where you found the image, the copyright holder (e.g., CBS, NBC, The CW, etc.), and an image copyright tag:
  • A fair use rationale must be included or the image will be deleted. The rationale should state why the image should be included on the article. For screenshots and other copyrighted images, a more detailed, individual fair use rationale must be given that explains what particular point of analysis this particular image is meant to illustrate.
  • Note: Please see the fair-use criteria for specific details on image usage, as it applies to all images in the article, not just in the infobox.
Example images that meet the criteria

Lead paragraphs[edit]


The lead paragraphs of an article should serve both as a quick introduction to the television show and a concise overview of the article itself, as per the Lead section style guideline. For television articles, the first paragraph should consist of basic information about the show, such as when the show first premiered, country, setting, genre(s), who created/developed the show, primary broadcasting station (typically the studio that produces the show), and when the show stopped airing (the first airing of the final episode).

In particular, the lead should avoid peacock words and superlatives. The phrase "award-winning" should not be used in the lead since it provides insufficient context to the reader; major awards and accolades received by the television show may be mentioned later in the lead using no more than a single sentence. The bulk of the lead should be an exposition of the show itself: theme, genre, setting, characters, style, and distinctive characteristics. A good example:

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. It is a satirical parody of the middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its titular family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield, and it lampoons many aspects of the human condition, as well as American culture, society as a whole, and television itself.

The subsequent paragraph(s) should summarize the major points of the rest of the article: basic production information (e.g. where the show is filmed), principal cast of the show, critical reception, influences, place in popular culture, major awards, and anything else that made the show unique.

References to the show should be in the present tense since shows—even though no longer airing—still exist, including in the lead (e.g. Title is a...).

Plot section[edit]

Further information: What Wikipedia is NOT

The main purpose of plot summaries is to provide context for the rest of the information. Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Fair use states:

As the Wikimedia Foundation is based in the United States, Wikipedia articles must conform to U.S. copyright laws. It has been held in a number of court cases that any work which re-tells original ideas from a fictional source, in sufficient quantity without adding information about that work, or in some way analysing and explaining it, may be construed as a derivative work or a copyright violation ... Information about copyrighted fictional worlds and plots of works of fiction can be provided only under a claim of fair use, and Wikipedia's non-free content policy requires minimal extent of use.

As a rough guide, summaries for episode articles should be about 200 to 500 words. Complicated plots may take more space to present than simpler plots. For articles on the main work, this section should be brief, only discussing the important plot elements for each season (though, if the article is becoming overly long it may be best to trim it to over-arching plots for the entire series) that steered the course of characters' lives, or the course of the show. For season articles, there are a couple of ways to present plot information: in a basic prose section that gives season story arcs and main plot points or a tabular format that sections off each individual episode with its own brief plot section (approximately 100–200 words for each, with upwards of 350 words for complex storylines, with the provision that articles using {{episode list}} should not exceed 200 words in accordance with the instructions for that template). See the following for examples: "Confirmed Dead", Smallville and comparatively, Smallville (season 1).

The plot summary is an overview of the episode's main events, so avoid minutiae like dialogue, scene-by-scene breakdowns, individual jokes and technical detail. Meaning of pop cultural references should also not be included if they are not supported by citations of reliable secondary sources. Per Wikipedia's content disclaimer and guideline on spoilers, all of the episode's important events should be outlined without censoring details considered spoilers, and without using disclaimers or warnings in the article. In short, Wikipedia contains spoilers; please respect this guideline.

Since TV episodes are primary sources in their articles, basic descriptions of their plots are acceptable. WP:PSTS says, "...a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge... Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about information found in a primary source." This includes allegorical or pop cultural references to real-world events. Since the episode is the primary source and the infobox provides details about it, citing the episode explicitly in the plot summary's section is not necessary. Exceptions to the rule include upcoming or "lost" episodes (which are not available to the public to verify), for which editors are required to use secondary sources, or when a passage refers to a recurring theme or storyline in multiple episodes.

For nonfiction-based TV shows (such as talk shows, game shows, news programming, reality shows, etc.), a "plot summary" may be interpreted as an outline of the show's format, or gameplay rules in the case of game shows.

Cast and characters information[edit]


Information about the cast and characters should be presented in one of two ways (note that per Wikipedia's Manual of Style on boldface, actors and roles should not be bolded):

  • Cast list: In a section labeled "Cast" or "Cast and characters", we indicate the name of the cast member and his or her noteworthy role(s), followed by a brief description of the character.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo: The pilot of the Millennium Falcon
  • Characters list: In a section labeled "Characters" or "List of characters", we indicate noteworthy characters, including the name of their portrayer, followed by a brief description of the character.
Han Solo (portrayed by Harrison Ford): The pilot of the Millennium Falcon

To avoid redundancy, use only one method for delivering this information. It may be more appropriate to use a character list for series where an actor portrays several characters.

Remember to follow the notability guidelines when creating a cast list: not every fictional character ever created deserves to be listed and even fewer will deserve an individual article. It may be appropriate to split up the cast listing by "Main characters" and "Recurring characters". If the series is long running, and has an overwhelming number of recurring guest stars, it may be appropriate to split those into a separate list of characters articles (see below for style guidelines on "List of ..." pages).

The cast listing should be organized according to the series original broadcast credits, with new cast members being added to the end of the list. Articles should reflect the entire history of a series, and as such actors remain on the list even after their departure from the series. Please keep in mind that though "main" cast members are determined by the series producers (not by popularity, screen time, or episode count) and generally have a set order in the credits, guest stars will not necessarily be credited in the same order each episode they appear, so their place in the list should be based on the order of credits in the first episode that they appear. The cast listing should not contain an episode count, e.g. (# episodes), to indicate the number of episodes in which the actor/character appeared. If an actor misses an episode due to a real world occurrence, such as an injury that prevents them from appearing, this info can be noted in the character's description or "Production" section with a reliable source. New casting information for forthcoming recurring or guest characters should be added to the bottom of the list, with their position readjusted if necessary based the defined method above.

Try to avoid using the section as a repository for further "in-universe" information that really belongs in the plot summary; instead, focus on real world information on the characters and actors (this could include, but is not limited to, casting of the actor or how the character was created and developed over the course of the series). The key is to provide real world context to the character through production information, and without simply re-iterating IMDb. Because of this, it can sometimes be appropriate to bypass the use of a cast section altogether. If so, the relevant in-universe information can simply be presented in the plot section of the article, with the real world information in a "Casting" subsection under "Production". Of course, some television articles will lend themselves to one style better than others; so see what works best, and do not be afraid to discuss it on the article's talk page.



A variety of information can be included in this section depending on the type of article being written. Whether the main article, season or episode article, this section could contain:

  • Conception and development
  • Format
  • Writing
  • Casting
  • Filming
  • Production design
  • Filming locations
  • Effects
  • Music
  • Cancellation and future

Note: Not all television shows will have information on each of these elements. For example, most shows today use soundtracks comprising songs from various performing artists, to fill their episodes, as opposed to an actual score that is created by a single composer for each episode in the series. The same can be said of the effects used in a show; not all shows use any type of effect work. It also may be more pertinent to discuss the writing of a single episode over the writing of an entire show, unless information can be found to discuss over-arching storylines for the entire series.


Key crew members for each television show are listed in the infobox and do not need to be listed in the article. Generally, if there are any important people associated with the show they will be mentioned somewhere in the production information.


Themes are unifying or dominant ideas and motifs in a television show's elements (such as plot, dialogue, photography, and sound) conveying a position or message about life, society, and human nature. Most themes are implied rather than explicitly stated, regardless of whether their presence is the conscious intent of the producer, writer, or director. Inclusion of a treatment of a shows's themes—well-sourced and cited to avoid original research—is encouraged since an article's value to a reader and its real-world context will be enhanced. A separate section is not required if it is more appropriate to place the material in the Production or Reception sections. This information may be more applicable to the main article of a series than to an individual episode, though episode articles may contain such information if available.


A section titled "Release" can be added if information exists for the following two subsections. If only one of the subsections below is able to be used, that should be the sole section, to avoid single subsections.



When detailing a show's international broadcasting, simply listing every channel the series appears on is discouraged; Wikipedia is not a television guide. Apart from the channel of origin for the series, editors are encouraged to instead detail noteworthy (see next paragraph) foreign broadcasts, from English-speaking countries, through prose form. This section is best named simply "Broadcast" and should also address broadcasting in the country of origin.

Special mentions can be used where a show does something noteworthy for a country/international channel, and are best addressed in the appropriate sections. For example, if the American show Breaking Bad aired its series finale in France a month before it aired in the U.S., this should be added to the "Broadcast" section; The Simpsons breaking the viewership records for ProSieben in Germany on a particular date should instead be addressed in the "Reception" section.

Shows should be categorized by original broadcasters but not by other ones. All information should be reliably sourced.

Home media[edit]

This section should be used to detail the series release on home media (VHS, DVD, etc.; written as prose) and other general distribution such as being added to a streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.). Features listed about a DVD should be presented in prose format, with focus only going to unique features. Listing of every episode with a commentary track or deleted scenes is discouraged—this is typically found on every television DVD set—this type of information can be readily provided by any sales vendor. Instead, focusing on special featurettes that discuss something unique about the season would be appropriate. Ideally this section also includes reviews about the DVD (e.g., special features, sound and video quality, price/quality-quantity, etc.)



Expanding on the second paragraph of the lead section, you should analyse how the television show was received. The reception information should include broadcast ratings (though it may be easier to maintain seasonal averages for the main page, while the season and episode articles could contain a list of ratings for all the episodes) and critical response. For the main article, it will be best to seek critical reviews that look at the series as a whole, while season and episode articles can use more selective reviews. Reviews should preferably come from the conglomerates (Associated Press, Reuters, Canadian Press), major newspapers (USA Today, The Toronto Star, The Times [London]) and major periodicals (TV Guide, TIME, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Entertainment Weekly). These reviews can either critique the show, or comment on its impact. They should not just be descriptions of the episodes, and preferably should not exceed two or three sentences per critic, so as not to apply undue weight to any given reviewer.

Reviews should be paraphrased as much as possible, with editors avoiding vague, non-descriptive claims about an episode (e.g. John Smith felt like Ray Romano was horrible in Everybody Loves Raymond's 50th episode.). Non-descriptive claims do not provide the reader with the context necessary to understand why the reviewer liked or disliked an episode. If a review only contains such claims, without providing any rationale and examples to back up their opinions, then the review, in most circumstances, should not be used in the article. Be careful when searching for reviews, and make sure they are coming from professional reviewers, and not simply a fan of the series. In the case of the general public, we use Nielsen ratings to determine popularity of a show, as it would be extremely difficult to find an accurate representation of fan opinion. This means that IMDb,, and the other similar websites that give "fan polls" are not reliable sources of information.

This section can also contain information on how the show has impacted society: If the show created a craze, popularized a word (Seinfeld with "yada, yada, yada", etc.), revolutionized the medium (Sesame Street in children's television, or the mini-series Roots), or something similar (many stores and businesses closed early on Mondays to allow employees to get home in time to watch I Love Lucy). When this resulted in merchandise, movies, books or computer games be sure to name those. Awards and nominations can also go in this section. As Wikipedia is not the American Wikipedia, it would also be beneficial to the article to find international reception.

Media information[edit]

This section can be broken up into individual sections if need be. It can typically consist of marketing and merchandising, adaptations to other media (novels, comics, video games, etc.), or spin-off series.

Character article structure[edit]

When creating an article on a single character of a television show, note that the section headers below are not mandatory, and various good and featured articles on fictional characters have different section headers (and placement) than one another. Find the structure that works best for the article in question; regardless of whether you use these headers, the information that they discuss is important to establishing an article with real world context.


General character infoboxes can be found at Template:Infobox character, though editors should see if the character article they are creating is part of a larger Wikipedia community (e.g. Wikipedia:WikiProject Buffyverse or Wikipedia:WikiProject The Simpsons) as those respective communities may have a special infobox already created.

When filling in the infobox, useful infobox data might include the creators or actors, first appearance, an image, and in-universe information essential to understanding the entity's context in the overall fiction. What qualifies as essential varies based on the nature of the work. Where facts change at different points in a story or series, there may be no appropriate in-universe information at all to add. By contrast, the average reader is probably not going to know who every member of Chloe Sullivan's family is, so it would not be essential to list them all. On the other hand, the average reader probably knows who Lois Lane is, and listing her as Chloe's cousin would be essential to understanding the character.

The same can be said for information that is rather obvious to the reader. If the image in the infobox clearly shows a black female, then listing the race and sex of the character would be redundant; this is regardless of the fact that the show the character appears on happens to contain characters that appear female but are really male. Now, if the character image is of a black female, but in fact the sex of the character is "male", then it would be essential to indicate this in the infobox – be sure to cite a source for this type of information.

Lead paragraphs[edit]

Like any article, the first paragraph should consist of basic information about the character: who created the character, where they first appeared, who portrayed the character (if applicable), a general overview of where the character has appeared (no specific episodes). The subsequent paragraphs should be filled with generalized information on the character itself: characteristics, influences in popular culture, and anything else that summarizes the character's importance.

As an example of lead paragraphs:

Professor Bernard Quatermass is a fictional character, originally created by the writer Nigel Kneale for BBC Television. Quatermass appeared in three influential BBC science fiction serials of the 1950s, and returned in a final serial for Thames Television in 1979. A remake of the first serial appeared on BBC Four in 2005.
The character also appeared in films, on the radio and in print over a fifty-year period. Kneale picked the character's unusual surname from a London telephone directory, while the first name was in honour of the astronomer Bernard Lovell. Quatermass is an intelligent and highly moral British scientist, who continually finds himself confronting sinister alien forces that threaten to destroy humanity. In the initial three serials he is a pioneer of the British space programme, heading up the British Experimental Rocket Group.
The character of Quatermass has been described by BBC News Online as Britain's first television hero, and by The Independent newspaper as "A brilliantly conceived and finely crafted creation... [He] remained a modern 'Mr Standfast', the one fixed point in an increasingly dreadful and ever-shifting universe." In 2005, an article in The Daily Telegraph suggested that "You can see a line running through him and many other British heroes. He shares elements with both Sherlock Holmes and Ellen MacArthur."


Like every article, the use of non-free images must comply with Wikipedia's policy on fair-use images. When looking for images for the character infobox, it would be best to find images that best represent the character in question – this can sometimes be promotional images, which provide better lighting on the character. Images in the body of the article could consist of concept designs for the character, behind-the-scenes images, and any other image that has critical commentary adjacent to the image, which requires an image to better understand what is being said.

Role in "SHOW NAME"[edit]

This section should chronicle the characters appearances on their respective show, and any other appearances on other programs, or media. If the character has only appeared on the one television show, and no other media, then the section of the title could be what is represented above, or something similar (e.g. Character storyline). If the character has appeared in media outside of the television show, like a comic book based on the show, or a film adaptation, then it may be better to subdivide by medium (e.g. "Television", "Film", "Literature", etc.) and label the section "Appearances". Regardless of the title of the header, this section is not a character's biography and should not be a detailed recording of the character's every move, as this can create an overly long section devoted entirely to in-universe information – think of it as being similar to a plot section of an episode article; the information should be succinct. Instead, try and summarize major events that occur with the character. Avoid using "Biography" in the header for this section, as it can insinuate that the section should detail everything that happened to the character.

Concept and creation[edit]

Similar to a production section of an episode article, this section should contain information about how the character was first thought up, what ideas went into creating the character, how the creative team went about casting an actor for the role. If the actor portraying the character had to wear some form of make-up, or body prostethics, then this is the place where you would detail the work that went into giving the character their specific appearance.


Included here should be information about the character's personality, motives, and interpretations of their actions. If essential to understanding the character, you could include a description of their physical appearance (not the same as describing the work that went into creating their physical appearance). Not every character's physical appearance is noteworthy, so use your best judgement. Information for this section will typically come from secondary sources, like scholarly journals analyzing the character or the show, or television critics. It could also come from the creative team of the show.


Reception for a specific character may not always be found, or it may have a better home in another section. Generally, this would be where critical response to the character—not necessarily an analysis of the character, like what would be found in the "Characterization" section—would be placed. A character might be deemed to be a hindrance to the show because of poor writing, or poor acting; on the other hand, the character could be deemed important to the show for the very opposite of reasons. Information on how the character has progressed throughout the series, or how they were portrayed would also be important aspects to consider.

Impact on popular culture[edit]

Some television characters have influences on other television shows, or in other entertainment mediums. For instance, Billy West based his performance as Zapp Brannigan on The Simpsons character Troy McClure. A character might be so popular that toys, video games, and other merchandise are created based on said character. This section deals with how a television character reaches outside his or her respective show, and becomes part of popular culture in some fashion. Analyses should be backed by reliable sources and not just by personal observations.

"List of ..." structure[edit]

The overall list structure should be flexible and responsive to unique or exceptional aspects of individual series or list of characters, but the following guidelines should be followed in most cases. General list article guidelines are available at Stand-alone lists.


A single representative image should be placed at the top of the article, aligned to the right, with an appropriate caption. The image should be uploaded and include an appropriate fair use rationale to comply with Wikipedia policies. Ideally for episode lists, this image will be the title screen from the series, or the typeface logo of the series name. For character lists, an image showing the whole cast, or most of the series regulars, is useful at the top of the article, while an image for every individual character is generally not appropriate, unless the amount of critical commentary on the character's appearance warrants an illustration. When offering such commentary, cite the sources of the commentary in addition to the source of the image, for example in the thumbnail of the image, in the paragraph commenting on the image or both. Additionally, per WP:NFC, multiple non-free images should not be used within the article.



The lead of an episode or character list should keep the recommendations of Wikipedia:Lead section, and for episode listings, follow the general idea stated above with regard to article leads.

For a good episode example, see List of The O.C. episodes:

The O.C. is an American teenaged drama television series created by Josh Schwartz. It premiered on Fox, a terrestrial television network, on August 5, 2003 with the pilot episode "Premiere". The O.C. is set in Newport Beach, Orange County, California and follows the stories of residents in the wealthy, harbor-front community. The series mainly focuses around the Cohen and Cooper families, and the Cohen's adoption of Ryan Atwood, a troubled teenager from Chino, California.[1] The show ran until February 22, 2007, with 92 episodes split over 4 seasons. The first season consisted of twenty-seven episodes, the second season was twenty-four episodes long and preceded by two specials that gave a retrospective look at season one, and previewed the upcoming second season. Season three was twenty-five episodes long, but only sixteen episodes were ordered for the final fourth season as falling ratings led to the show's cancellation.[2]

For a good character list example, see Characters of Kingdom Hearts, although it is not a television-related article:

Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing video games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive Studios. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. The series features a mixture of familiar Disney and Final Fantasy characters, as well as several new characters designed and created by Tetsuya Nomura. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors.

The series centers around the main character Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with Disney and Final Fantasy characters on their worlds. There are few playable characters in the games, though there are numerous characters that are able to join Sora's party as computer controlled members. The majority of the characters were introduced in the first game, Kingdom Hearts. Several new characters were introduced in the sequel, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which also featured alternate versions of previous characters created from Sora's memories. The third game, Kingdom Hearts II, added more Disney and Final Fantasy characters as well as introduced new antagonists.

Episode listing[edit]

Ideally, the episode list will be presented as a table. There are various ways to create the episode table, refer to the list of featured episode lists to find the table that best represents that article you are creating.

Just like the season articles, which use a similar tabular format, a brief summary of the plot (100–200 words; upwards of 350 words for complex storylines) is applicable, along with a list of the writers, directors, airdates, episode title and episode number. This plot summary should generally be brief but complete, including spoilers. If production codes are added, they must be reliably sourced.

If the episode lists includes episodes from multiple seasons, give them appropriate section headers such as "Season 1", "Season 2", or "Series 1", "Series 2" if that is the identifier for the show.

Series overview[edit]


When a television program has produced 2 seasons/series or more, it may be advantageous to summarize some of the episode data with a series overview table. The series overview table should be placed where you would expect to find information about specific episodes. If a program's episode list is at the main article, the series overview should be presented at the top of the episode list. If a separate List of episodes article exists, the series overview table should be presented at the top of that article below the lead, in a section labeled "Series overview", then transcluded to the episodes section at the main article.


The basic overview table should contain:

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 26 September 8, 2012 (2012-09-08) June 15, 2013 (2013-06-15)
2 26 September 13, 2013 (2013-09-13) June 21, 2014 (2014-06-21)

If a television program has enough reliable sources to support viewership data, the overview should resemble the following:

Season Episodes Originally aired Average viewership
(in millions)
First aired Last aired
1 26 September 8, 2012 (2012-09-08) June 15, 2013 (2013-06-15) 3.2[1]
2 26 September 13, 2013 (2013-09-13) June 21, 2014 (2014-06-21) 2.2[2]

If additional viewership information can be obtained with adequate sources, the fully-expanded overview should resemble this format:

Season Episodes Originally aired Nielsen ratings
First aired Last aired Rank Rating Average viewership
(in millions)
1 26 September 8, 2012 (2012-09-08) June 15, 2013 (2013-06-15) 55 11.8 3.2[1]
2 26 September 13, 2013 (2013-09-13) June 21, 2014 (2014-06-21) 65 9.2 2.2[2]
  • A new season should be added to the overview table only after an episode table has been created for that season. (See: WP:TVUPCOMING)
  • If a new season is airing on a new network from previous seasons, a "Network" column should be added after the "Last aired" column.
  • If average viewership numbers are included, they should be adequately sourced, and not the result of your own calculations as this would constitute original research. Sourcing is crucial for accuracy, and to help other editors quickly respond to numerical vandalism.
  • Since many series do not have proper "Premieres" and "Finales", such language should be avoided in the overview, with "First aired" and "Last aired" used instead. There are practical reasons for this: Some networks air previews of a series in advance of that program's official "premiere" (see Fanboy & Chum Chum). By restricting the series overview to the literal "first aired" date in the intended market, we avoid any confusion; the first aired date would be that preview date. Also, if a series is cancelled before it has a chance to tie up loose ends with a proper "finale", the table header will not need to be changed to reflect this unpredictable event, and will be consistent with other articles.
  • Check the documentation of {{Series overview}} for multiple ways to add further information to a television series' series overview.
  • It is preferable to link the season number within the table to the appropriate section at the List of episodes article, or if a unique episode article has not yet been created, link to the appropriate episode section within the main article.
  • The overview table should be presented compactly, for ease of viewing across multiple devices. Since some users have large monitors, overviews that span the user's entire screen are not useful.
  • Colors for the seasons are often selected based on the series logo, DVD artwork, or for other reasons. Colors must conform to WP:COLOR, which attempts to make content accessible for the visually impaired, such as readers with colorblindness. Once established, colors that meet WP:COLOR should not be changed arbitrarily without discussion (see WP:DEW).
  • Home media releases do not belong in the series overview tables. Such data can quickly overload a simple table and are not germane to our understanding of the series. Home media release information is best suited within their own section on the List of episodes article or main article.
  • If data does not exist yet, fields can be left blank. Alternatively, editors can use TBA (to be announced) as a placeholder, with the wikicode, {{N/a|TBA}} until the data becomes available. Once a trend has been established, it should not be changed arbitrarily without discussion. Additionally, if the data is determined to not be available, a blank or "TBA" field can be changed to "N/A" (not applicable, not available) to indicate such with {{N/a}}.

Multiple pages[edit]

For very lengthy series, generally 80+ episodes, it may be necessary to break the episode list into individual season or story arc lists. These lists are often the first stepping stone for season articles, but generally lack the amount of real world information (e.g. production, themes, etc.) that a season article has. They may contain some awards or a reception section, but they are generally a list of information pertaining to that respective season.

If this is done, the main list of episodes should still contain the entire episode list, appropriately sectioned, without the episode summaries. Each section should have a {{main}} link to the sublist. These separate lists should include a full lead, as noted above, and follow the same guidelines laid out here as they will be evaluated as stand alone articles.

In circumstances when a series with two or more seasons has achieved significant coverage earlier in its run and its main article can no longer contain all of the information sufficiently, beyond just episode tables and summaries, season pages may be created.

Forthcoming or announced seasons[edit]


When a series is renewed for an additional season, a section is not to be added for that upcoming season until such time as an episode table can be created for the season. The information regarding the renewal of the series should be added to the article's lead, depending on when and what info is revealed. An example is the lead from List of Person of Interest episodes, when the series was renewed for a fourth season in March 2014 with an air date that had not yet been announced:

Person of Interest is an American crime drama television series created for CBS by Jonathan Nolan, who serves as an executive producer alongside J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Greg Plageman and Richard J. Lewis. The series stars Jim Caviezel as John Reese, a presumed dead former CIA agent who is approached by a mysterious billionaire named Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) to prevent violent crimes before they happen by using an advanced surveillance technology. Their unique brand of vigilante justice attracts the attention of two NYPD officers, Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), whom Reese uses to his advantage as he investigates persons of interest.

On March 13, 2014, CBS renewed the show for a fourth season,[3] later announcing that the series will return in 2014 as part of the 2014–15 television season.[4]

The second paragraph seen above is the proper formatting for this information, in order to comply with WP:SEASON. Once a scheduled premiere date has been announced, the information between the two reference tags above may be changed to indicate the scheduled start, as seen here:

On March 13, 2014, CBS renewed the show for a fourth season,[3] which is scheduled to premiere on September 23, 2014.[5]

A section heading for the upcoming season should be added to the page only when an episode table can be created for the season. However, years should not be added to said section heading until an episode actually airs in that calendar year. For example, for the eleventh season of NCIS, the heading on its list of episodes page would have been "Season 11" until September 23, 2013. After episode 1 aired on September 24, 2013, it would be changed to "Season 11: 2013". And finally, once episode 12 aired on January 7, 2014, it would be changed once again to "Season 11: 2013–14".

A possible exception to a section header being created for the season before an episode table is ready, is if substantial information for the season, that is not duplicated from the lead, is available. An example is taken from the "Season 8" section on The Big Bang Theory list of episodes page, before a season page or episode table was created:

In February 2014, CBS CEO Les Moonves confirmed an eighth season, when announcing that the first half of the new season would air on a different night, due to CBS acquiring the rights to Thursday Night Football games. The show will return to its Thursday slot that it has held for the past few seasons once the football games end.[6] The series is scheduled to premiere on Monday, September 22, 2014, as well as scheduled to return to its previous Thursday time slot on October 30.[7]

Production for the season was expected to begin on July 30, 2014, however the start may have been delayed due to the five main cast members looking to renegotiate new contracts, with Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco seeking around $1 million per episode, as well as more backend money. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are negotiating together, separate from Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco's negotiations.[8] Production was officially delayed on July 30, due to the contract negotiations,[9] and was rescheduled for August 6, 2014.[10] On August 4, Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco signed new contracts, worth $1 million per episode for three years, with the possibility to extend for a fourth year. The deals also include larger pieces of the show, signing bonuses, production deals and advances towards the back-end.[11] The following day, Helberg and Nayyar renegotiated their contracts, giving them a per-episode pay in the "mid six-figure range", up from around $100,000 per episode they each received in years prior. Production was expected to begin on August 6, in order to fulfill the 24 episode season order.[11][12]

During the season, Sheldon's whereabouts will be revealed in the season premiere, Stuart will still be Mrs. Wolowitz's caretaker and Penny will abandon her plans of being an actress to be a salesperson at Bernadette's pharmaceutical company, which will cause problems between her and Leonard.[13]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

The inclusion of DVD and Blu-ray releases in episode lists is not a requirement but up to editor preference.

If such releases are included, they should be in a section normally titled Home media, and include all primary release dates (i.e. Region 1, Region 2, and Region 4 DVD codes and A, B, and C for Blu-ray). If the series was also released on VHS or Laser disc, name the section Home video releases instead and note the VHS releases with the DVD and Blu-ray information. Expand the table to include a column for VHS release date, if it is different from the DVD and Blu-ray releases. How this is presented is up to the editors of the article; feel free to look over any featured list, or featured article to find a presentation of releases that is appropriate for your article. Please cite the sources for the release information using citation templates, such as the company website showing release information or the DVD, Blu-ray, VHS or Laser disc itself.

Character listing[edit]


Treat individual character sections within articles about programs as if they were mini-character articles and refer to the above style guidelines for assistance. Given that the character is part of a list, and does not have its own article, there probably will not be a reason to have subsections underneath the character header. If there is a lot of real world information available, but not enough to separate the character, then simply separate the distinctive topics into their own paragraphs.



The preferred method for sourcing information is inline citations with footnotes in this section. For instructions, see WP:FOOTNOTES and WP:CITE. In rare cases it might be advisable to include a "See also" or "Further reading" section.

External links[edit]

Further information: Wikipedia:External links

Links to the Official Website,, or IMDb profile pages should go in the external links section of the article. Linking to a major fansite may be appropriate, if it can be determined that that fansite is more significant than any random fansite on the web. For example, Craig Byrne, the webmaster for Kryptonsite—a fansite devoted to Smallville and several other fantasy driven shows—has written four official companion books for the show that contain detailed interviews with the cast and crew, as well as behind-the-scenes information on the episodes of the show. As such, including a link to Kryptonsite in this section would be relevant, but editors must be careful as many shows inspire dozens of fansites, and Wikipedia is not a repository of links. Things like forums or blogs should not be linked to.


  • In general, link relevant connections to another article that will help readers to understand the current article more fully; articles explaining technical terms (e.g., diegetic music, but not commonly understood words such as "television" and "studio"), jargon or slang expressions, unless commonly understood; and articles about geographical places that are likely to be unfamiliar to readers.
  • Avoid linking terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia, including plain English words, the names of major geographic features, locations and nationalities (e.g., "British", "United States"), religions, languages, common professions, common units of measurement, common currencies (e.g., US$) and chronological items such as months and years. Rather than linking them in the body of the text using "hidden" pipes to plain years, which readers are unlikely to click on, consider either (1) listing "Year in television" links, unpiped, in the "See also" section, or (2) clarifying at least the first occurrence as an unpiped link within parentheses in the main text; e.g. "(see 2002 in television)".
  • Consider linking only a more specific item where the target page links to a more general item nearby in the anchor text (Atlanta, Georgia).
  • Generally link only the first occurrence of an item; see possible exceptions at WP:LINK.
  • Always link to the article or section on the most specific topic appropriate to the context from which you link: it will generally contain more focused information, as well as links to more general topics.


The standard navbox for television articles is the {{Navbox}} template. See the template's article for instructions on creating a navbox.


Further information: Wikipedia:Categorization

Please categorize your TV articles appropriately. Try looking at similar shows as an example and use Category:Television programming as your starting point for finding the right categories. TV series should avoid network categories when they were not originally produced for that network. Exceptions to this include co-productions (such as The 4400), or when a show changes networks during its original run.

Things to avoid[edit]

There are several components to a television article—which include articles on individual characters as well—that should be avoided, as they are either unencyclopedic in nature, or are better placed in another section. These include:


Even the Greatest of Taglines is Still Just a Marketing Gimmick
As a general rule don't include taglines in an article. "Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information". However, if a particular tagline was a significant part of the cultural influence of the film, create a section for it and describe its effects.

Trivia sections[edit]

Trivia sections are unencyclopedic, and Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. Relevant information should be integrated into the body of the article.


Extensive use of these may breach copyright. Also, Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. Consider adding these to Wikiquote instead.

Lists of featured music or song lyrics[edit]

Original song lyrics for a television episode breach copyright. References to featured music should be supported by reliable sources. Do not just list music: Wikipedia is not a directory. In other words, provide context as to why these songs were used for the show.

Technical errors and continuity issues ("bloopers" or "goofs")[edit]

Unsourced sections about technical errors or continuity issues should generally be avoided. If there is a major mistake that is discussed by a reliable source it can become a part of the production section. See also WP:BLOOPERS.

Differences in an adaptation[edit]

Sometimes television shows are adapted from other media (see The Incredible Hulk), or another form of media. In either case, an article should not contain a mere list of differences. Differences can be addressed by including text detailing the reasons for a change, its effect upon the production, and the reaction to it. This material should be placed within a relevant section of the article (e.g., Production, Themes, or Reception). A mere list of differences can provide undue weight to very minor aspects of the two source materials (such as, a character in a show usually wearing a black shirt, but in the original version/new adaptation wears a purple shirt.

Parental ratings[edit]

Parental ratings given to episodes of television series by television content rating systems will vary by territories in accordance to their cultures and their types of governance. In television articles, avoid indiscriminate identification of ratings and instead focus on ratings for which there is substantial coverage from reliable sources. Coverage of ratings can include how a series or episode of television is produced to target specific audiences, the late editing of a television episode to acquire a specific rating, or controversy over whether or not a television series or episode's rating was appropriately assigned. Since this is the English-language Wikipedia and not the American Wikipedia, avoid mere identification of ratings issued by American broadcast and cable networks to counter systemic bias (see Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias for more information). Provide global coverage of how different territories rate individual television shows or episodes if substantial coverage exists. Retrospective coverage is also welcomed to evaluate how television shows/episodes were rated in their time period. It is recommended that parental ratings information be placed in the "Production" section of the appropriate article, but a stand-alone section can cover controversy surrounding a rating if enough detail exists.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The O.C.". Warner Bros. Retrieved July 20, 2008. 
  2. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (January 4, 2007). "Fox Puts 'The O.C.' Out To Pasture". The Washington Post. Katharine Weymouth. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Kondolojy, Amanda (March 13, 2014). "CBS Renews 'The Good Wife', 'The Millers', 'Two and a Half Men', 'Hawaii Five-0', 'Mom', 'Blue Bloods', 'Elementary' and 11 More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ "CBS unveils 2014–2015 primetime schedule". May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 25, 2014). "CBS 2014 Fall Schedule: One-Hour Big Bang Theory Premiere, Elementary Back In October, More". IGN. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ Lieberman, David (February 12, 2014). "CBS Will Launch ‘Big Bang Theory’ On Different Night As NFL Begins Season On Thursdays". Deadline. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 25, 2014). "CBS 2014 Fall Schedule: One-Hour Big Bang Theory Premiere, Elementary Back In October, More". IGN. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 16, 2014). "‘The Big Bang Theory’ Production Start In Limbo As Cast Contract Negotiations Drag On". Deadline. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (July 30, 2014). "'Big Bang Theory' Delays Production as Cast Still Without Contracts". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 1, 2014). "‘The Big Bang Theory’ Negotiations Update: Production Start Date Pushed To Next Wednesday As Talks Continue". Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (August 4, 2014). "‘Big Bang Theory’ Stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki & Kaley Cuoco Close Big New Deals". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ Friedlander, Whitney; Littleton, Cynthia (August 5, 2014). "‘Big Bang Theory': Production to Resume as Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar Set New Deals". Variety. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Returning Fall Shows – Where We Left Off". TV Guide. Retrieved August 6, 2014.