Long Live 'Cops'... But Why?

As Cops celebrates its 800th episode, we can't help but wonder how it has outlived so many classic TV shows

File this under "signs of the coming apocalypse": On Saturday, Cops -- a show with no script, plot or music (except for that inane theme song) -- will air its 800th episode (Fox, 8 p.m. ET). It's been on since 1989, making it one of the longest-running TV shows in history.

Some context here: Hits that also debuted that year, like Seinfeld, Baywatch and Quantum Leap, have all been gone for a dozen years or more. Cops keeps chugging along, outlasting even the hit show that was created to spoof it, Comedy Central's Reno 911 (which ran from 2003 to 2009).

So, a question. Why, why, why? Why does this show exhibit Energizer Bunny durability while other shows go by the wayside? Remember My So-Called Life, that critical darling that inspired a slew of copycat teen shows for over a decade? It lasted one season. Might you recall Arrested Development, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and wracked up dozens more nominations? It was canceled after only three seasons. If these shows can't make it, what exactly is the secret to Cops?

Possibly, it's the unintentional comedy. "You can't believe there are criminals that are so stupid," said Reno 911 creator Thomas Lennon in a 2005 article about Cops. Viewers get to shake their heads at, say, a man who insists that he's not in possession of drugs -- despite a visible joint tucked behind his ear. Or they get to ride along while officers pursue a suspected criminal -- who actually seems to think he might outrun a squad car.

This stuff never gets old, apparently. Cops shows no signs of ending soon. "I’m hoping for a thousand [episodes]," creator/executive producer John Langley told The Orlando Sentinel. "I see no reason we can’t get another couple of hundred." Well, not if the apocalypse happens first, buddy.

Why do you think Cops has lasted so long? Chime in below!

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