Why 10 episodes?

GrahamGraham Grand Rapids, MI
I've noticed this has become the standard more or less for TV seasons.

Better Call Saul, Fargo, Legion (S2), The Leftovers (S1-2), Westworld, Game of Thrones (S1-6), Black Sails all have one thing in common, their seasons are 10 episodes in length. Granted there is definitely fluctuation in this, some shows such as Stranger Things have 8 episodes per season, meanwhile the Marvel Netflix shows have 13-episode seasons.

I'm wondering is this now the definitive amount of time needed to tell a compelling story? Do you think we'll be seeing season lengths shorten even more to, say, 6-7 episode seasons? What is it about the number 10 that makes it "just right"?


  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    I think it actually allows you to tell a story without filler, if you need fill in 10 episodes you don't have a good premise. The other element that you might also want to look at is episode run time. a season with 10 x 60 min episode has 15 mins more run time then a 13 x 45 min season. 

    old school 23-24 was obviously too much, Lost would have been brilliant with 6 or 7 seasons of 13 episodes it would have been much tighter and no fill. I even think TWD would improve with a 13 episode run instead of 16.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    edited October 2017
    This article, "10 Episodes is the New 13 (Was the New 22)," is from 2015, but it's still quite interesting. For example, magical number 13 for episodes is most likely due to 13 weeks comprising the fiscal calendar quarter. "It made planning out a year of programming easier, and let cable networks organize their marketing campaigns accordingly."

    The lower episode count has as much, if not more in some cases, to do with economics and luring big name talent as it does with storytelling concerns. Ideally, I would prefer the creators to use as many episodes to tell their story well, but 10 seems like a nice, round number, speaking in the most general of terms. Fewer episodes means less time to get invested in the story and the characters, depending on the scale of the story.
This discussion has been closed.