Learn English – “Season” vs. “series”


TV shows, other than ones that have new episodes year-round (e.g. news, soaps), typically group episodes in batches — most often per year, although not necessarily calendar years, and sometimes there will be multiple batches in a single year.

The term I am familiar with for these batches is "season", and the term to refer to the entire set of episodes that have ever been made of the show is "series". For example, there are 24 episodes of the TV show 24 each season, but there are 192 episodes in the entire series.

I've been told that in the UK the correct (perhaps "most commonly used"?) term for a batch of episodes is "series".

Is "series" indeed the correct1 term in the UK?

If it is the term for a batch, what is the UK term for the entire set of episodes? (I.e. what I would call a "series".)

Finally, assuming that a "season" is a "series" in the UK, if I am referring to a UK TV show, is it more correct (e.g. if I was writing academically) to refer to a "season" as a "series", even if the rest of the writing does not use UK English?

1 "correct": most likely to be understood correctly by a UK native.

Best Answer

Series was the term for both a batch of episodes of a programme, and the entire collection of episodes, in the UK.

Over the last ten years or so I have noticed that season is replacing series to mean a batch, but series is still being used.

I do not have a television, so I'm probably a bit out of touch with TV jargon, but certainly season is used with increasing prevalence online by the British, especially when referring to American shows.

Examples of use of series and season can be found in the following thread about Doctor Who?. For example: use of season, use of series (Layden, Dark Jedi, Hanners and PenguinJim are all British, as are some others)

Also this UK animé site uses season (see the side bar on the top left) and series (see the article) Anime Review: World God Only Knows, The - Season 2 - Eps. 1-7

As for writing academically, I think consistency is better. If you refer to a batch as a season then it is OK to do so for British shows.

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