One of the ways I feel like movies and TV captured my heart was all the perceived insider lingo. I remember reading Tony Bill's book, Movie Speak, and discovering all sorts of jargon that only exists in Hollywood.

But my favorite thing is "legs." And I'm not talking about Mrs. Robinson's.

In the rapidly evolving world of television, ensuring that your TV show has legs is crucial for its survival and success. But what does it mean for a TV show to have legs, and why is it so important?

Today, I'm going to dive deep into the concept of legs in TV shows, explaining its significance and providing strategies to develop it effectively.

Let's get started.

What are Legs in a TV Show?

A group of people gathered around a computer screen, 'The Office''The Office'


So, what are the legs of a TV show? In the context of a TV show, legs refer to its potential for long-term success. A show with legs can sustain viewer interest over multiple seasons, evolving and growing without exhausting its premise.

This concept is critical during the pitching process, where development executives evaluate the longevity and marketability of the show idea.

People want to know how long this show can last, and if your idea can sustain multiple seasons. If you have legs, they think it will run for a long time and be popular.

If you don't, then they're not putting it on TV.

The Evolution of Series Legs

Six people standing in front of a fountain, 'Friends'



The Era of Syndication

Back in the day, you would go into syndication, which is the practice of leasing the rights to distributors, if you had a lot of episodes. You were always aiming to get to 100 episodes because then you could sell the secondary rights of the show to other networks and profit from it.

Even today, shows like The Office, CSI, Law and Order, and Friends all have lucrative second-run deals thanks to their massive amount of episodes. They show both on network TV and streaming.

However, streaming has changed how these kinds of things pay out.

The Rise of Streaming Giants

With the advent of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, the industry standard for series legs has shifted. No one is making 22-episode seasons anymore.

It's a shame that these long-running seasons don't exist because they changed the way people binge-watch, and there is nostalgia for the things in the past.

These platforms focus on the immediate impact of the binge-ability of a series rather than its longevity.

Key Elements of Series Legs

Detectives and police officers at a crime scene, 'CSI: Vegas'

'CSI: Vegas'


Creating a TV show with legs involves several crucial components. Here are four key elements that contribute to the longevity and success of a series:


If you want a TV show to last, then you need to develop great characters. ​Developing compelling, relatable characters is the most straightforward strategy to give your pitch or pilot clear series legs.

Think about how people like Tony Soprano in The Sopranos and Eleanor Shellstrop in The Good Place. Each carries their very different TV shows because of their complicated personalities and their need to arc.

These shows get their longevity from the conflicts and potentials inherent in their characters. Their character-driven narratives engage viewers, inviting them on a multi-season journey.


The idea, or the conceit, for the story is what draws people in. Maybe it's a plane that landed on a deserted island or the journey of a rapper trying to make it out of Atlanta, but these stories carry power.

Inventive settings can also help this out. Think of something like The Good Place and Handmaid's Tale provide series legs by continually surprising and intriguing viewers.


Speaking of Handmaid's Tale, ​it's based on a book by Margaret Atwood. Books can be a powerful tool in the intellectual property (IP) game.

Shows based on best-selling books or popular franchises come with a ready fanbase, providing a strong foundation for viewer interest. However, securing pre-existing IP can be challenging. Most newer writers work on specs that showcase their voice. These great ideas can help writers get staffed.


Finally, attaching notable talent to your project can significantly boost its legs. People want to watch stars, so if they are in your show, execs will look past a weaker concept or even characters who need more work.

The best-written shows also provide a way for stars to stand out, and they will be drawn to your project. Think about a show like Big Little Lies, which demonstrates the power of big names in extending a series' life, even beyond its original premise.

Does Your Series Idea Have Legs?

A man and woman talking at a club, 'Atlanta'



So here's the real question: Does your idea have what it takes?

When crafting a pilot for a TV series, it's essential to ensure that the "engine" of the show—its central conflict, characters, and the world—has the strength and potential to span multiple seasons.

Regardless of whether it's a comedy or drama, a series needs robust legs to sustain viewer interest and engagement.

We have a pretty great guide on how to write a TV show that should help you here.

Creating a TV show with legs involves more than just crafting compelling characters or an engaging premise. It requires a deep understanding of your audience, a clear vision for your series, and the ability to adapt to changing industry trends.

By focusing on character development, high-concept conceits, IP, and talent, you can create a show with legs that can stand the test of time.

In the landscape of television, ensuring your TV show has legs is crucial for its success, and we want to see you succeed.

Whether you're pitching a new show or developing an existing one, understanding and implementing the concept of legs can greatly enhance your series' potential for longevity and success.

Remember, a show with strong legs is one that can captivate audiences and keep them coming back for more, season after season.

Go get writing.