If television is a form of comfort food, then the stars of long-running prime time series are the ultimate visual nighttime snack.
With the new fall season quickly approaching, here’s a look at the handful of returning series stalwarts we’ve been welcoming into our lives for lo these many years.
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
TV’s lady crime solvers range from the sublime (Diana Rigg, “The Avengers”) to the quaint (Angela Lansbury, “Murder, She Wrote”). Surpassing them all is Hargitay, whose run as Det. Olivia Benson will enter its record 21st season next month.
Jeff Probst, “Survivor”
Probst, the host/executive producer of this warhorse reality show, has seen “Survivor” through 568 episodes and locations as diverse as Fiji, Borneo, China and Kenya.
Julie Chen Moonves, “Big Brother”
Chen was hosting “The Early Show” when she took a detour to host this CBS summer reality show 19 years ago — and hasn’t looked back.
Chris Harrison, “The Bachelor”
Has been the show’s steadying influence since it premiered 17 years ago on ABC and does double duty on its spinoff, “The Bachelorette.”
Mark Harmon, “NCIS”
Harmon had a string of hit series (“St. Elsewhere,” “Chicago Hope”) and even played Ted Bundy in a memorable 1986 TV movie when a guest arc on “The West Wing” in 2001 led to the bigest break of his career: playing Jethro Gibbs on the military drama “NCIS,” commanding the Naval Criminal Investigative Service with a stoicism viewers find irresistible.
Ellen Pompeo, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Pompeo had done a few film roles when Shonda Rhimes cast her as Dr. Meredith Grey, the daughter of a brilliant doctor, who was on the fence about her career, up and down with her surgeon boyfriend McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and kind of blue all the time. Viewers hung in there with Pompeo, who will now go down in history as one of the longest-running female stars of a US TV series.
Tom Bergeron, “Dancing With the Stars”
Though he’s better-known as the main host of “DWTS,” Bergeron has also been hosting “America’s Funniest Home Videos” since 2001. That’s a lot of screen time.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
This long-running ensemble comedy premiered 14 years ago and keeps on chugging along, first on FX and now on FXX.