Since the invention of cable, many TV shows have stuck to their allocated time, approximately 40 minutes or under an hour, for drama and sci-fi. As for sitcoms, 20-30 minutes has always been deemed adequate. Such time allocations are determined by various factors, such as advertising and tight programming schedules, among other things.

However, there were times when showrunners manipulated time restrictions and served movie-length episodes that offered viewers a more concentrated dose of their favorite series. The results can often be astonishing for the few series that have had the opportunity to exceed typical runtimes.

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10 The Leftovers

“I Live Here Now" - Season 2, Episode 10 (73 minutes)

A scene from the Season 2 finale of The Leftovers (I Live Here Now)

The Season 2 finale of The Leftovers — which discloses the truth about the recent disappearances and the Guilty Remnant’s motives — excels by deviating from a single point of view and showing each scene from a different character’s perspective. For example, as Laurie is in Mary’s hospital bed, viewers also get to know what Mary is thinking.

Thanks to length, over eight different subplots, get interwoven in this particular episode. Consequently, there are many powerful scenes. One memorable one involves Nora using her body to shield her adopted child from an impending stampede as people attempt to avoid getting caught up in a bomb that’s about to explode. Emotional moments like this earn The Leftovers its status as one of the greatest modern TV shows.

9 The Americans

“START" - Season 6, Episode 10 (70 Minutes)

Philip and Elizabeth prepare to leave America in The Americans (START)

The series finale of The Americans intrigues in many ways, notably through the montage in which “Brothers In Arms” by Mark Knopfler plays and the tense scene in which the FBI’s Agent Stan confronts his neighbors Philip and Elizabeth about being undercover KGB spies. Matthew Rhys also puts in his best performance in the series, and as a result, he earned himself an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

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While Stan and The Jennings resolve their difference, the episode also justifies its running time by delivering a proper ending and easing up the tension that had been building between the United States and the USSR. The title refers to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (S.T.A.R.T.), in which both nations agreed to limit the production and use of offensive weapons. Most importantly, the effects of undercover work are clearly shown. After Philip and Elizabeth have a last meal at a McDonald’s and decide to leave America, their daughter chooses to stay, having become accustomed to the culture.

8 Ozark

“The Toll” - Season 1, Episode 10 (80 minutes)

The Snells shoot Dell and his men in Ozark (The Toll)

The Byrdes have had a few reasons to celebrate, and Darlene’s death in Season 4 of Ozark is one of them because she had been a nuisance all along. Her unreasonableness can be traced back to Season 1’s The Toll,” where her impulsive decision to shoot Del took viewers by surprise and ruined the foundation Marty had set for her and the Navarro cartel to work together.

That scene remains the sole reason “The Toll” is so iconic; to her defense, the cartel enforcer had referred to her and her husband as “rednecks.” Still, it was a poor business decision on her part and one whose ripple effect would be felt for the remainder of the series. Away from the Snell plot, the episode had plenty of family drama, with Wendy and the kids even attempting to flee at some point before choosing to stay.

7 M*A*S*H

“Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" - Season 11, Episode 6 (2 hours, 30 minutes)

A kiss scene from the finale of MASH (Goodbye, Farewell And Amen)

M*A*S*H’s series finale is not only one of the longest episodes ever made, but it also held the record for the most watched TV broadcast from 1983 up until 2010, with 105.9 million viewers. Despite events playing out for too long, there is no dull moment in “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," which shows how the Korean War affected each main character.

Compared to other episodes, packed with the horrors of war and botched surgeries, the finale has plenty of wholesome moments. Viewers learn about each character’s plans as they enjoy musical numbers such as Stephen Forster’s “Oh! Susanna” and a performance of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet by a surrendering Chinese band. A couple of characters get romantically paired. Thus, the show ends with the typical happily-ever-after format.

6 Legion

"Chapter 1" - Season 1, Episode 1 (70 Minutes)

A scene from the pilot episode of Legion (Chapter 1)

Legion’s series premiere is built in a manner meant to reflect the multiple thoughts that the protagonist, David Haller, has as he deals with schizophrenia, and subsequently discovers he has superpowers. Because of this, there are all kinds of ingredients, from a Bollywood dance number to multiple montages.

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However, what "Chapter 1" does best is set up a proper background story. The episode cruises through 30 years of Haller’s history, and several key side characters are introduced in the process. A romance also builds inside a psych ward, suggesting the show will have equal doses of joy and pain.

5 The Get Down

“Where There Is Ruin, There Is Hope for a Treasure” - Season 1, Episode 1(93 Minutes)

A party scene from The Get Down (Pilot)

The Get Down is arguably one of the Netflix shows that shouldn’t have been canceled, as it was clearly building into something special. The pilot, specifically, is one of the best foundations any TV show has ever had since it takes its time introducing the locations and characters while also establishing all the appropriate themes.

Parental abuse, teenage love, crime, and music are some of the topics that get covered in the series premiere’s plot, which mainly revolves around Zeke (an aspiring rapper) and Mylene (an aspiring singer). On its own, the episode has what it takes to qualify it as a standalone film, and anyone watching gets the impression that the creators made the pilot while preparing for the worst. It would have been easily released as a movie if it hadn't been picked up.

4 Succession

“With Open Eyes” - Season 4, Episode 10 (90 minutes)

The GoJo crew with Tom, Frank, and Karl in Succession's series finale while Tom wins.

In the Succession series finale, the stakes stay high because the Roy siblings are confused about whether to approve their company's sale to GoJo or keep it. For over an hour and a half, fans remain unaware of what will happen, and when Shiv gets the deciding board vote, there is hope that she will do the right thing. Surprisingly, she votes in favor of the sale, an act that devastates her brothers.

It’s a divisive finale that triggers important debates regarding loyalty and female empowerment. By approving the sale, Shiv ensures that her husband goes on to become the CEO. Still, she also misses out on the chance of ever running the company herself, relegating herself to the stereotypical mogul’s wife. On the other hand, she plays it smart by securing her own nuclear family’s future since it had been hinted that her brothers didn’t have her best interests at heart.

3 Westworld

"The Bicameral Mind” - Season 1, Episode 10 (90 minutes)

Anthony Hopkins gives a monologue in Westworld (The bicemeral mind)

Five Westworld episodes go beyond the usual one-hour running time, and “The Bicameral Mind” stands out among them because of Anthony Hopkins’ incredible performance. From thought-provoking monologues to sharp-eyed stares, the legendary actor delivers the brilliance fans typically expect from his movie roles.

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"The Bicameral Mind” also has the show’s wildest twist. While it was initially thought that Arnold was the one manipulating the hosts, it turns out that it was Dr. Ford all along. Additionally, there is a "Red Wedding"-esque climax where events descend into the toe-curling gore that HBO shows are known to present from time to time.

2 The Last of Us

“When You’re Lost in the Darkness” – Season 1, Episode 1 (81 minutes)

The child walking towards Boston in 2023 in HBO's The Last Of Us

The Last of Us premiere kicks things off with a bang, and given how impressively it sets events in motion, it's not a shocker that the video game adaptation is already being talked about as one of the greatest TV offerings. As always, Pedro Pascal gives a wonderful performance, and so does John Hannah, who delivers one of the best-ever speeches in the opening minutes.

Things start smoothly, with Joel and his daughter Sarah shown to have a strong father-daughter bond, only for a fungal infection to break out. Sarah’s heartbreaking death is one of the highlights of the episodes, and things become even tenser after the 20-year time jump. Joel is shown living in a quarantine zone, and while there, he is forced to make more difficult decisions.

1 The Sopranos

"Whitecaps” - Season 4, Episode 13 (73 minutes)

Tony and Carmeal kiss at Jersey Shore in The Sopranos (Whitecaps)

The Sopranos is primarily a Cosa Nostra, but it also has plenty of soapy elements, and in “Whitecaps,” mob boss Tony Soprano and his wife, Carmela, have their best romantic moment and their biggest argument. The scene where he kisses her on the beach after buying her a house on the Jersey Shore is better than what romance movies offer.

Sadly, the beautiful moment is soon followed by Carmela’s discovery of Tony’s infidelities, resulting in a heated exchange followed by a separation. Actors James Gandolfini and Eddie Falco channel the marital conflict so brilliantly that they were both awarded Emmys for their respective performances in the episode. David Chase, Mitchell Burgess, and Robin Green also received an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.