What makes the GM LS engine such a popular, and why?

Such a broad question deserves a detailed answer, an answer beyond the numbers and specifications of the LS motor.

Interestingly enough, the LS engine seems simple and straightforward, a high displacement, cam-in-block, overhead valve V8. Seems like the quintessential all American engine, but the LS is so much more.
It’s General Motors’ flagship engine, powering Corvettes, Camaros, and even Holden Monaros, all of which have something in common; they are true to the high power, high torque, front engine, rear wheel drive ethos that has defined American muscle since its inception in the sixties.
The LS is a tuner favorite, and one of the reasons for that is huge aftermarket support, which covers virtually any conceivable application, from quarter mile drag racers, to track day and autocross machines.
Still, there are other engines as versatile and with similar aftermarket support, so why is the LS so popular?
LS engines are everywhere, and they are easily attainable and affordable, from the junkyard truck motor for a few hundred bucks to the high tier performance crate engine, getting one of these is never a problem.
Their traditional pushrod and OHV design makes them easy to work on, since the LS engine’s architecture is something most gearheads are familiar with. Their architecture has another major benefit: compact packaging.
Despite its 5.7 liter or higher displacement, the OHV configuration allows the LS motor to be compact and easy to fit and package, which makes it a popular choice for engine swaps.

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The modified car community has embraced the myriad of flavors the LS engine offers, LS1, LS3, LSX, all of them are suited for a role in the world of modified cars. One great example of this would be the trend of LS swapping Mazda Miatas, giving them a much needed power increase, and bringing an all American V8 to a well sorted chassis.
Reliability, cost effectiveness, simplicity, the LS V8 does them all, while also delivering high power and torque.

Innovation through tradition, the American way.