How Long Do 'Last Week Tonight' Seasons Last? John Oliver Isn't On Year-Round

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For fans of Last Week Tonight, the next couple of months may be trying as they await the return of their beloved news comedy show. In light of the show's hiatus, you might be wondering how long Last Week Tonight seasons last. As it turns out, John Oliver's show typically takes a pretty lengthy break before it airs a new season of the series.

Last Week Tonight aired its final episode of Season 5 on Nov. 18, 2018. The show is not slated to return for Season 6 until Feb. 18, 2019. This relatively long break falls in line with what the show has done in years past. For Seasons 2 through 4, the show aired its first episode of the season in February and its last in November. For Season 1, the show still aired its final episode in November, but didn't debut until April.

Last Week Tonight also changed the number of episodes per season over time. During Season 1, the show aired 24 episodes during a roughly seven month period. In season 2, the total number of episodes increased to 35. For Seasons 3 through 5, Oliver aired a consistent 30 episodes from February to November each year.

While Oliver may take long hiatuses from his show, he does appear to use that time to make extensive preparations for the next season. For example, in an interview with the New York Times in February 2018, the late night host told the paper that he and his staff had spent much of their last three-month hiatus working. As Oliver described:

... What we’re doing is researching stories, trying to make sure the structural foundations are solid, trying to bank research that we know we can stand on top of ...

Indeed, Oliver's team spends quite a bit of time researching shows, particularly for Last Week Tonight's lengthier main segments, which usually take an in-depth look at a lesser-known issue. The comedian described this planning process to Vanity Fair in February 2017, emphasizing that the show will sometimes prepare stories months in advance. “The longterm stories that we've been working on will be for later in the year," Oliver asserted. "Those are the really complicated ones that we need a significant amount of runway [for].”

Oliver implied that his show's longterm-oriented research approach is unique when speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in a February 2015 interview. The host emphasized that his team seeks out "comedic nuggets" when reflecting on political issues and current events. As the late night host asserted to the outlet:

We don't really get wrapped up in the week-of stories as much, probably because we'd be last and partly because you want to do something different ... In general, we tend to wait until something is over, then look back at it and do an analysis ... You're looking for comedic nuggets, you're not really looking for journalistic nuggets. It's a different eye in terms of going after what exactly you're looking for, the kind of truffles that you're snouting around for ...

Overall, while Last Week Tonight's hiatus may be hard for fans who will miss seeing Oliver's show every week, they can rest assured that the comedian and his team are hard at work making new content for them ahead of Season 6's debut in February.