“Americaâ€™s Most Wanted” has been on the air for 22 years, beginning in February 1988. On Saturday, March 6, the long-lived show broadcast its 1000th episode. Not a bad milestone to surpass when considering that the show was nearly canceled in 1996 and that “Gunsmoke” only recorded 635 episodes in its legendary 20-year run. Modern-day long-trekkers like “The Simpsons” (21 seasons, 454 episodes) and “Law & Order”(20 seasons and renewed for a 21st, 447 episodes to date) have been on the air for what seems like forever as well, but are “Americaâ€™s Most Wanted”contemporaries. One thousand episodes, regardless of genre, is indeed an amazing feat.
During that time, “Americaâ€™s Most Wanted” can take credit for the capture of 1108 fugitives, according to their website. That is an average of just over 50 per year, about 1 per week.
The show is also responsible for helping rescue 61 missing children and missing persons.
For their 1000th episode, host John Walsh sat down with President Barack Obama, who not only congratulated Walsh on the longevity and success of the show, but commended John Walsh, AMW, and Fox Television for producing a show that has been helpful in protecting the citizenry of the United States. Before it the interview was over, President Obama gave his firm commitment to funding the Adam Walsh Act â€“ which makes it mandatory for sex offenders to enroll in a national registry, making them easier to track. (Adam Walsh was Johnâ€™s 6-year-old son, who was kidnapped and beheaded in 1981 by serial killer and rapist Otis Toole.)
Also on the program: John Walsh talked with the Director of the Federal Marshal Service, John Clark, about the close relationship “Americaâ€™s Most Wanted” and the Marshal Service have enjoyed over the years. Walsh also interviews several of the people the show has helped, such as Nick Sullivan, now a young man, who was kidnapped when he was 8 years old and reunited with his family after a tip to “Americaâ€™s Most Wanted.”
There are shows that have been around longer than “Americaâ€™s Most Wanted” (“Meet The Press,” a few daytime dramas), but none have had the impact that this show has had, not only on individuals involved on both sides of the law, but on society as well, allowing each viewer to understand that they can actually be involved in helping solve crimes and rid society of some of its most dangerous element. The showâ€™s motto John Walsh repeats weekly â€“ and with which he will no doubt end episode 1000 â€“ says it best: “… and remember: You can make a difference!”