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Best Emmy-nominated shows of all time

  • Best Emmy-nominated shows of all time

    The first Emmy Awards show took place at the Hollywood Athletic Club in 1949. Hosted by Walter O’Keefe, tickets to the show were five dollars and only six awards were handed out—one award went to a ventriloquist. Named after the image-orthicon camera tube, or “immy,” which was instrumental in capturing images for television, the Emmys were created by the Television Academy to award excellence in the television industry. The Emmy Award statue was designed to be a winged woman, representing the arts, holding up an atom, representing science and was modeled after television engineer Louis McManus’s wife, Dorothy McManus. As time went on, the Emmy Award gained acclaim and grew into one of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry.

    Over the years, the Emmys have come to be known as an awards show where anything might happen. From an impromptu make-out between “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus and “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston to an unsuccessful prank to steal Betty Thomas’s award to Viola Davis’s powerful speech on diversity in the entertainment industry—the Emmy Awards have always brought together visionaries and artists with diverse perspectives. With a new era of television comes a new format for awards shows. Following in the footsteps of 2019’s host-less Academy Awards ceremony, the Emmys will go without a host for the first time this year.

    In celebration of the upcoming 2019 Emmy Awards, Stacker has compiled a comprehensive ranking of the best Emmy-nominated shows of all time based on IMDb user ratings. Data was sourced in August 2019. All drama, comedy, competition, variety, anthology, and limited series that have been nominated for at least one Emmy and have over 5,000 IMDb user votes were considered in the ranking. However, nature documentary series were not considered in this list.

    Read on to see if your favorite shows make the list.

    You may also like: 25 most popular Emmy-nominated shows of 2019

  • #50. The Crown (2016–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 85,512

    While “The Crown” is most notable for its exorbitant production budget of $130 million, making it the most expensive TV series ever made, the Netflix show has earned its place as a TV heavy hitter. Following the intriguing life of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy in the first two seasons and Olivia Coleman in the upcoming third season), “The Crown” takes the audience through the difficult ins and outs of navigating royal life. The show’s impressive cast and dedicated following earned it 13 Emmy nominations in 2018, with the show winning five that year.

  • #49. Deadwood (2004–2006)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 86,039

    The Western is certainly not dead, as evidenced by “Deadwood’s” cult fan following. Set in the 1800s, the show tells the tumultuous story of the crime-ridden town of Deadwood, S.D. With multiple Emmy nominations rolling in the year of the show’s premiere in 2004 through to the show’s end in 2006, the cast, set design, and costume design recreated the wild west and all of its tribulations to high acclaim. The show gained such a significant following that HBO released a TV movie, “Deadwood: The Movie,” on Aug. 19 of this year.

  • #48. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 86,896

    With a whopping 42 nominations dating back to 2002, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” took “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David out from behind the camera to spotlight his signature deadpan comedy style. Only winning two awards out of its 42 nominations, what this comedic series lacks in awards, it makes up for in very quotable dialogue.

  • #47. Six Feet Under (2001–2005)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 111,734

    A favorite of film buffs, the dark HBO comedy “Six Feet Under” captures the lives of a dysfunctional family who own a funeral home in Los Angeles. Led by Oscar-winning “American Beauty” screenwriter Alan Ball, the show received 23 Emmy nominations in its first season alone. The same year, the series won a Golden Globe for best drama series and a Peabody Award for entertainment.

  • #46. Rome (2005–2007)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 142,695

    This historic drama set in the last days of the Roman Republic stars Kevin McKidd as Lucius Vorenus, a Roman soldier serving the republic as it transitions to an empire. It features many well-known figures of the Roman era including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, making it an easy favorite for history buffs. With recurring nominations in costume design, makeup, and visual effects, this show excels at its ability to transport viewers back in time.

  • #45. Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 142,709

    “Battlestar Galactica” tells the story of a society obliterated by their android enemies, the Cylons. The last of this society remains to venture forth to the fabled 13th planet: Earth. As a much-loved sci-fi series, it’s no surprise that this show earned several nominations in special effects, but the show has also earned a notable number of nominations for its strong writing.

  • #44. Downton Abbey (2010–2015)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 144,172

    This BBC creation took the U.S. by storm, quickly gaining a massive cult following from American audiences. This unlikely hit transports audiences back to the post-Edwardian era and into the Grantham family’s sprawling estate, from which the show gets its title. Led by notable British stars like Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, the show also helped launch the careers of newcomers like Michelle Dockery.

  • #43. Better Call Saul (2015–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 254,827

    An off-shoot of TV sensation “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” follows the life of character Saul Goodman before the events of “Breaking Bad.” Before he was Saul Goodman, Walter White’s morally corrupt lawyer, he was Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer in Albuquerque, N.M., just trying to survive in an exploitative world. While this spin-off has gained recognition through the success of “Breaking Bad,” it has earned accolades in its own right, pulling an impressive 32 Emmy nominations throughout the lifespan of the show.

  • #42. South Park (1997–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 303,947

    From the comedic minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this long-running animated series follows the boisterous, troublemaking adventures of foul-mouthed friends Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle. The show often borders on the offensive but has kept viewers engaged by putting a comedic spin on topical political and social issues that are otherwise very serious.

  • #41. The Simpsons (1989–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 337,172

    Premiering in 1989 and still going strong, “The Simpsons” follows the suburban lives of the Simpson family from Springfield, Ill. with some offbeat twists and turns. Approaching the premiere of the show’s 31st season, the show has become the longest-running prime-time scripted series in the history of television.

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