An anthology series is a radio or television series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode or season/series. These usually have a different cast each week, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.
[Medieval Greek anthologiā, collection of epigrams, from Greek, flower gathering, from anthologein, to gather flowers : antho-, antho- + logos, a gathering (from legein, to gather; see leg- in Indo-European roots).]
Many popular old-time radio programs were anthology series. On some series, such as Inner Sanctum Mysteries, the only constant was the host, who introduced and concluded each dramatic presentation. One of the earliest such programs was The Collier Hour, broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from 1927 to 1932. As radio's first major dramatic anthology, it adapted stories and serials from Collier's Weekly in a calculated move to increase subscriptions and compete with The Saturday Evening Post. Airing on the Wednesday prior to each week's distribution of the magazine, the program soon moved to Sundays in order to avoid spoilers with dramatizations of stories simultaneously appearing in the magazine.
Radio drama anthology series include:Academy Award TheaterArch Oboler's PlaysThe Campbell PlayhouseCavalcade of AmericaCBS Radio WorkshopEarplayFour Star PlayhouseLux Radio TheaterThe Mercury Theatre on the AirThe Screen Guild TheaterStars over Hollywood
Radio anthology series provided a format for science fiction, horror, suspense, and mystery genres (all produced in the USA, unless noted):Mystery House (1929–c.1944)The Witch's Tale (1931–38) (written by Alonzo Deen Cole)Lights Out (1934–47) (written by Wyllis Cooper/Arch Oboler)The Hermit's Cave (1935–c.1945)Famous Jury Trials (1936–1949)Dark Fantasy (1941–42) (written by Scott Bishop)Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1941–52) (created by Himan Brown)The Whistler (1942–55)Suspense (1942–62)The Mysterious Traveler (1943–52) (written by Robert Arthur, Jr. and narrated by Maurice Tarplin)Mystery Playhouse (1944) (hosted by Peter Lorre)The Strange Dr. Weird (1944–45) (15-minute shorts, written by Robert Arthur, Jr. and narrated by Maurice Tarplin)The Haunting Hour (1944–46)The Sealed Book (1945) (written by Robert Arthur, Jr.)Mystery in the Air (1945–47) (starring Peter Lorre)The Weird Circle (1946–47)Quiet, Please! (1947–49) (written by Wyllis Cooper, starring Ernest Chappell)Escape (1947–54)The Unexpected (1948) (15-minute shorts)Hall of Fantasy (1949–53)2000 Plus (1950–52) (the first adult science fiction series on radio)Dimension X (1950–51) (featured adapted stories by authors including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut)ABC Mystery Theater (1951–1954), anthology, crime and mystery seriesSleep No More (1952–56) (featured Nelson Olmsted narrating his own adaptations of stories)Theater 10:30 (1955) (Canadian)X Minus One (1955–58) (revival and continuation of Dimension X)
The final episode of Suspense was broadcast on September 30, 1962, a date that has traditionally been seen as marking the end of the old-time radio era. However, genre series produced since 1962 include:The Black Mass (1963–67)The Creaking Door (1964–65) (South African)Beyond Midnight (1968–69) (South African)The Zero Hour (1973–74) (hosted by Rod Serling)Mystery Theater (1974–82) (created by Himan Brown of Inner Sanctum Mysteries)Nightfall (1980–83) (Canadian)The Cabinet of Dr. Fritz (1984–85) (broadcast in "3D-Sound" stereo)2000X (2000) (literary adaptations)The Twilight Zone (2002–03)
In the history of television, live anthology dramas were especially popular during the Golden Age of Television of the 1950s with series such as The United States Steel Hour and The Philco Television Playhouse.
Dick Powell came up with an idea for an anthology series, Four Star Playhouse, with a rotation of established stars every week, four stars in all. The stars would own the studio and the program, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had done successfully with Desilu studio. Powell had intended for the program to feature himself, Charles Boyer, Joel McCrea, and Rosalind Russell. When Russell and McCrea backed out, David Niven came on board as the third star. The fourth star was initially a guest star. CBS liked the idea, and Four Star Playhouse made its debut in fall of 1952. It ran on alternate weeks only during the first season, alternating with Amos 'n' Andy. It was successful enough to be renewed and became a weekly program from the second season until the end of its run in 1956. Ida Lupino was brought on board as the de facto fourth star, though unlike Powell, Boyer, and Niven, she owned no stock in the company.
American television networks would sometimes run summer anthology series which consisted of unsold television pilots. Beginning in 1971, the long-run Masterpiece Theatre drama anthology series brought British productions to American television.The 20th Century Fox Hour (1955–57)ABC Movie of the Week (1969–76)ABC Stage 67 (1966–67)Academy Theatre (1949)Actors Studio (1948–1950)Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre (1957–58)The Alcoa Hour (1955–57)Alcoa Premiere (1961–63)American Crime (2015–)American Crime Story (2016–present)American Horror Story (2011–present)American Film Theatre (1973–75)American Playhouse (1981–1994)The American Playwrights Theater: The One Acts (1989–90)The American Short Story (1974–80)Appointment with Adventure (1955–56)Armstrong Circle Theatre (1950–57)The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1960–61)The Best of Broadway (1954–55)The Best of the Post (1960–61)Betty Crocker Star Matinee (1951–52)The Bigelow Theatre (1950–1951)The Billy Rose Show, a.k.a. Billy Rose's Playbill (1950–51)Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963–67)The Bold Ones (1969–73)Broadway Television Theatre (1952–54)Buick-Electra Playhouse (1959–1960)Cameo Theatre (1950–1955)Camera Three (1955–1979)The Campbell Playhouse, a.k.a. Campbell Soundstage and Campbell Summer Soundstage (1952–54)Cavalcade of America (1952–57)CBS Playhouse (1967–1970)CBS Summer Playhouse (1987–1989)CBS Television Workshop (1952)CBS Workshop, a.k.a. CBS Repertoire Workshop (1960)Celanese Theatre (1951–52)Celebrity Playhouse (1955–56)Center Stage (1954)Cheer Television Theatre (1954)The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre a.k.a. Chevrolet on Broadway (1948–1950)Chevron Hall of Stars (1956)Chevron Theatre (1952–53)Climax! (1954–58)Colgate Theatre (1949–50)Colgate Theatre (1958)Conflict (1956–57)Conrad Nagel Theater (1955)Cosmopolitan Theatre (1951)Crown Theatre with Gloria Swanson (1952–55)Curtain Call (1952)Damon Runyon Theater (1955–56)The Danny Thomas Hour (1967–68)The David Niven Show (1959)Deadline (1959–61)Decision (1958)Demi-Tasse Tales (1953)The Dick Powell Show (1961–1963)Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents, a.k.a. Rheingold Theatre (1953–57)Drama at Eight (1953)DuMont Royal Theater (1951–52)The DuPont Show of the Month (1957–1961)The DuPont Show of the Week (1961–64)The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1959–61)The Elgin Hour (1954–55)The Errol Flynn Theatre (1956–57)Ethel Barrymore Theatre (Sept–Dec 1956)Faith Baldwin Romance Theatre (1951)Feud (2017–)Fireside Theater (1949–58)Footlights Theater (1952–53)Ford Star Jubilee (1955–1956)Ford Television Theatre (1952–57)Ford Theatre (1948–1951)Four Star Playhouse (1952–1956)GE True (1962–63)General Electric Theater (1953–62)General Electric Summer Originals (1956)Goodyear Television Playhouse (1951–1957)Goodyear Theatre (1957–60)Great Performances (1971–)Gruen Playhouse, a.k.a. Gruen Guild Theatre (1951–53)The Gulf Playhouse (1952–53)Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951–)Hollywood Opening Night (1951–53)Hollywood Premiere Theatre, a.k.a. Hollywood Theatre Time (1950–51)International Playhouse (1951)John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You (2006)The Joseph Cotten Show, a.k.a. On Trial (1956–59)Joseph Schildkraut Presents (1953–54)The Kaiser Aluminum Hour (1956–57)Kraft Television Theater (1947–58)The Lloyd Bridges Show (1962–63)The Loretta Young Show (1953–61)Love Story (April–June 1954)Love Story (1973 TV series) (1973–74)Lux Playhouse (1958–59)Lux Video Theater (1950–59)The Magnavox Theatre (1950)The Mail Story (1954)Masterpiece Contemporary (2008–2011)Masterpiece Playhouse (1950)Masterpiece Theatre (1971–)Matinee Theatre (1955–1958)Max Liebman Spectaculars, a.k.a. Max Liebman Presents (1954–1956)Medallion Theatre, a.k.a. Chrysler Medallion Theatre (1953–54)MGM Parade (1955–56)The Millionaire (1955–60)Monodrama Theater (1953)The Motorola Television Hour (1953–54)Mr. Citizen (1955)The Nash Airflyte Theater (1950–1951)NBC Presents (1949–50)NBC Television Opera Theatre (1950–64)NET Playhouse (1964–1972)New York Television Theatre (1965–1970)Night Editor (Mar–Sept 1954)Nine Thirty Curtain (1953–54)The O. Henry Playhouse (1957)One Man's Experience (1952–53)One Woman's Experience (1952–53)Orient Express (1953)The Passerby (1951–56)The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1953–1955)Personal Appearance Theater (1951–52)The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (1948–56)The Philco Television Playhouse (1948–55)The Philip Morris Playhouse (1953–54)Play of the Week (1959–1961)Playhouse 90 (1956–60)Playwrights '56 (1956)Plymouth Playhouse a.k.a. ABC Album (1953–54)Ponds Theater, a.k.a. Kraft Television Theater (1953–1957)Producers' Showcase (1954–57)Program Playhouse (June–Sept 1949)Prudential Family Playhouse (1950–51)Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950–52)Pulse of the City (1953–1954)Pursuit (1958–59)The Revlon Mirror Theater (1953)The Richard Boone Show (1963–64)The Robert Herridge Theatre (1960–61)Robert Montgomery Presents (1950–57)Romance, a.k.a. Theatre of Romance (1949–50)Romance Theatre (1982–83)The Schaefer Century Theatre (1952)Schilling Playhouse (1959–60)Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (1951–59)Screen Associates Films (1952–53)Screen Director's Playhouse (1955–56)The Seven Lively Arts (1957–58)Short Short Dramas (1952–53)The Silver Theatre (1949–50)Somerset Maugham TV Theatre (1950–51)Stage 7 (1955–56)The Star and the Story (1955–56)Star Stage (1955–56)Star Tonight (1955–56)Starlight Theatre (1950–51)Stars Over Hollywood (1950–51)Startime (1959–60)Studio One (1948–1958)Studio 57 (1954–58)Summer Playhouse (1964–67)Sunday Showcase (1959–60)Sunkist Premiere Theatre, a.k.a. Premiere Theatre (1952)Telephone Time (1956–58)Television Playhouse (1947–48)Television Theatre (1950)Theatre Hour (1949–50)Theatre of the Mind (1949)Theatre '62 (1961–62)Tonight on Broadway (1948–49)The Trap (1950)TriBeCa (1993)TV Reader's Digest (1955–56)The United States Steel Hour (1953–63)Vacation Playhouse (1963–67)Visions (1976–80) anthology series on PBSWarner Bros. Presents (1955–56)The Watcher (1995)Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (1958–60)Willys Theatre Presenting Ben Hecht's Tales of the City (1953)Windows (1955)Your Favorite Story (1953–55)Your Jeweler's Showcase (1952–53)Your Show Time (1949)Your Story Theatre (a.k.a. Story Theatre and Durkee Story Theatre) (1950–1951)The Bob Clampett Show (2000–01)The Bugs & Daffy ShowThe Bugs Bunny ShowCartoon Alley (2004–07)The Cartoon Cartoon Show (1995–2002)Cartoon Sushi (1997–98)The Cartoonstitute (2010)The Chuck Jones ShowCiné si (1989)Cream Lemon (1984–87)Disney's House of Mouse (2001–03)Donald Duck Presents (1983–92)Donald's Quack Attack (1992–2000)Dragons et princesses (2010)Festival of Family Classics (1972–73)Force Five (1979–89)Good Morning, Mickey! (1983–92)Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (1987–88)Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995–2000)The Harveytoons Show (1950–62)KaBlam! (1996–2000)Late Night, Black and WhiteLegends of Bikini Bottom (2011)Liquid Television (1991–94)The Looney Tunes ShowMickey Mouse Works (1999–2000)Mickey's Mouse Tracks (1992–95)O Canada (1997–2002)Off the Air (2011–)Oh Yeah! Cartoons (1998–2001)The Pink Panther Show (1969–80)The Popeye Show (2001–03)The Porky Pig Show (1964–67)Princes et princesses (1989)Random! Cartoons (2008–09)Raw Toonage (1992)Rumic Theater (2003–04)Short Circutz (1994–96)Shorts in a Bunch (2007–08)Shorty McShorts' Shorts (2006–07)Spicy City (1997)Sunday Pants (2005–06)Super Sunday (1985–86)The Tex Avery Show (1986–2002)ToonHeads (1992–2003)Wake, Rattle, and Roll (1990–91)The Woody Woodpecker ShowThe World of Peter Rabbit and Friends (1992–95)Armchair 30 (1973)Armchair Theatre (1956–1974)BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (1950–1959)BBC2 Playhouse (1973–1983)Black Mirror (2011–)A Choice of Coward (1964)City '68 (1967–68)The Canterbury Tales (2003)Drama (1977)Gaslight Theatre (1965)H.M. Tennent Globe Theatre (1956)Inside No 9 (2014–)ITV Play of the Week (1955–1974)ITV Playhouse (1967–82)ITV Sunday Night Theatre (1969–74)ITV Sunday Night Drama (1959–80)Festival (1963–64)Late Night Theatre (1972–74)Love Story (1963–1974)London Playhouse (1955–56)Moving On (2009-)National Theatre Live (2009–)Performance (1991–1998)Play for Today (1970–1984)Play for Tomorrow (1982)Playhouse Presents (2012–2014)Saturday Playhouse (1958–60)Second City Firsts (1973–78)Screen One (1989–93)Screen Two (1985–94)Skins (2007–2013)Stage 2 (1971–72)Theatre Night (1985–1990)Theatre Parade (1936–37)Theatre 70 (1960–61)Theatre 625 (1964–1968)Theatre Royal (1955–56)Thirty-Minute Theatre (1965–73)Thursday Theatre (1964–65)Wales Playhouse (1990–96)The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)Weekend Playhouse (1984)First Performance (1955–1958)General Motors Theatre (1953–1961)Encounter (1958)Norman Corwin Presents (1972)On Camera (1954–58)Playdate (1961–64)
Children and familyABC Afterschool Specials (1972–1997)ABC Weekend Special (1977–97)CBS Afternoon Playhouse (1978–1983)CBS Children's Film Festival (1967–78)CBS Children's Mystery Theatre (1980–1982)CBS Schoolbreak Special (1984–1996)CBS Storybreak (1985–87)Disneyland (1954–58)Dramarama (1983–89)Faerie Tale Theatre (1982–1987)The Fox Cubhouse (1994-1996) (contains Johnson and Friends, Jim Henson's Animal Show, Rimba's Island, Magic Adventures of Mumfie and Budgie the Little Helicopter)Jackanory Playhouse (1972–1985)Lift Off (1992-1995)NBC Children's Theatre (1963–73)Noddy (1998–2000)Off to See the Wizard (1967–68)Once Upon a Classic (1976–80)Shining Time Station (1989–93)Shirley Temple's Storybook (1958–1961)Special Treat, a.k.a. NBC Special Treat (1975–1986)Tall Tales and Legends (1985–87)Walt Disney Presents (1958–61)Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1961–69)The Wonderful World of Disney (1969–2009)WonderWorks (1984)Carol and Company (1990–91)Cilla's Comedy Six (1975)Cilla's World of Comedy (1976)Comedy Lab (1998–)Comedy Playhouse (1961–2014)Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible (2001)The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre (1955)El Chapulín Colorado (1973–79)Ripping Yarns (1978–79)George Burns Comedy Week (1985)Good Heavens (1976)Human Remains (2000)Inside No. 9 (2014–)Oboler Comedy Theater (1949)Love, American Style (1969–74)Murder Most Horrid (1991–99)The Ronnie Barker Playhouse (1968)Seven of One (1973)Six Dates with Barker (1971)Undressed (1999–02)Dear Uge (2016–present)Adventure Theater (1956)American Crime (2015–)American Crime Story (2015–)Agatha Christie's Marple (2005–2014)Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989–2014)The Big Story (1949–1958)The Black Robe, a.k.a. Police Night Court (1949–1950)Fargo (2014–)FBI: The Untold Stories (1991–93)Gang Busters (1952, 1954–55)Lawbreakers (1963–64)The Man Behind the Badge (1953–55)Official Detective (1957–58)Police Call (1955)Police Story (1952)Police Story (1973–78)They Stand Accused (1949–52, 1954)True Detective (2014–)Underbelly (2008–)The Walter Winchell File (1957–58)The Whistler (1954–55)Inside/Out (1972–73)Omnibus (1952–1961)The Great Adventure (1963–64)Our American Heritage (1959–61)Profiles in Courage (1964–65)Saga of Western Man (1963–69)You are There (1953–1957)The Doctor, a.k.a. The Visitor (1952–53)Medic (1954–56)Medical Story (1975–76)Flight (1958–59)Men of Annapolis (1957–58)Navy Log (1955–58)The Silent Service (1957–59)The West Point Story aka West Point (1956–57)
Mystery and suspenseAlfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–65)Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985–89)Armchair Mystery Theatre (1960, 1964, 1965)Armchair Thriller (1978–1981)Behind Closed Doors (1958–59)The Best in Mystery (1954)The Boris Karloff Mystery Playhouse (1949)Byline, a.k.a. Adventures in Mystery and News Gal (1951)The Chevy Mystery Show (1960)The Clock (1949–52)Danger (1950–1955)Dark of Night (1952–54)Darkroom (1981–82)Dow Hour of Great Mysteries (1960)The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre (1960–62)Escape (1950)Escape (1957)Escape (1973)Espionage (1963–64)Eye Witness (1953)Fallen Angels (1993–95)George Sanders Mystery Theater (1957)Gun (1997)Hands of Mystery, a.k.a. Hands of Destiny, Hands of Murder (1949–1952)The Hitchhiker (1983–87)Hour of Mystery (1957)I Spy (1955–57)Inner Sanctum (1954)Invitation Playhouse: Mind Over Murder (1952)Kraft Mystery Theatre (Summer 1961, 1962, 1963)Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963–1965)Mr. Arsenic (1952)Murder in Mind (2001–2003)Murder Most Horrid (1991–99)Mystery! (1980–)Orson Welles' Great Mysteries (1973–74)Out of the Fog (1952)Panic! (1957–58)Philip Morris Playhouse (1953–54)Rebound, a.k.a. Counterpoint (1952–53)Scene of the Crime (1991–92)Stage 13 (1950)Sure as Fate (1950–51)Suspense (1949–54)Suspicion (1957–58)Target (1958)The Vise (1954–55)Volume One (1949)The Web (1950–54)The Web, syndication title Undercurrent (1957)Your Play Time (1953–55)How Many Knots Are Left (2014–present)The Catholic Hour (1956–67)Crossroads, a.k.a. Way of Life (1955–57)Family Theater (1949–58)Insight (1960–1984)Lamp Unto My Feet (1948–69)Look Up and Live (1967–1971)This is the Life a.k.a. The Fisher Family (1952–1988)
Science fiction and horrorAlcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (1959–61)Amazing Stories (1985–87)American Horror Story (2011–)Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990–2000)Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997–02)Black Mirror (2011–)Channel Zero (2016-)Chiller (1995)Darknet (2013-?)Dark Realm (2001)Deadtime Stories (2012–13)Dimension 404 (?)Exposure (2000–2002)Fantasy Island (1977–84)Fear and Fancy (1953)Fear Itself (2008)The Fearing Mind (2000)From Dusk till Dawn: The Series (2014–)Freddy's Nightmares: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series (1988–90)Friday the 13th: The Series (1987–90)Ghost Stories (1997–98)Ghost Story (1972–73)Goosebumps (1995–98)Great Ghost Tales (1961)A Haunting (2005–2007, 2012–)Inside No 9 (2014–)Journey to the Unknown (1968–69)Lee Martin's The Midnight Hour (2008–)Lights Out (1946–52)Masters of Horror (2005–07)Masters of Science Fiction (2007)Monsters (1988–91)Mystery and Imagination (1966–70)Night Gallery (1970–73)Night Visions (2001)The Nightmare Room (2001–02)Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006)Out of This World (1962)Out There (1951–52)The Outer Limits (1963–65)The Outer Limits (1995–2002)Perversions of Science (1997)Play for Tomorrow (1981)Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected (1977)Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985–92)R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour (2010–2014)Science Fiction Theatre (1955–57)Slasher (2016–)Strange Stories (1956)Tales from the Darkside (1984–88)Tales from the Crypt (1989–96)Tales of Mystery (1961–63)Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1995)Tales of the Unexpected (1979–88)Tales of Tomorrow (1951–53)Thriller (1960–62)Trapped, a.k.a. Trapped: Tales of the Supernatural (1950–51)The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)The Twilight Zone (1985-1989)The Twilight Zone (2002-2003)The Unexpected, a.k.a. Time Square Playhouse (1952)Urban Gothic (2000–2001)The Veil (1958)Way Out (1961)Dead Man's Gun (1997–99)Death Valley Days (1952–1970)Frontier (1955–56)Frontier Theatre (1950)Zane Grey Theater (1956–1961)