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Most Emmy wins of all time

  • Most Emmy wins of all time

    On July 2, 1928, the first commercially licensed television station in the United States, W3XK, began broadcasting. Though it took some time for the public to catch on to the exciting new medium, television has since become an instrumental part of life for most Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 80% of Americans watch television daily, with the average American spending 2 hours and 47 minutes of their day in front of the “idiot box.”

    Many Americans watch TV to keep up with the news, while others root for their favorite sports teams. For as long as there’s been broadcast television, however, there have been scripted dramas, comedies, and documentary series to entertain and inform viewers. These programs are recognized chiefly by the Emmy Awards, which have been given out every year since 1949. Though Regional and Daytime Emmys are given out to shows that meet those respective requirements, the most cultural discussion takes place around the Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys, which highlight outstanding achievement in the most-watched television programs.

    Primetime Emmys award achievement in overall series quality, lead, and supporting acting, directing, and writing. Creative Arts Emmys recognize achievement in more technical fields, such as costumes, makeup, and special effects, as well as alternative programming, such as documentaries and variety shows. Despite the many categories, an Emmy win is a lifelong goal for many Hollywood stars, forming the ‘E’ in ‘EGOT,’ or the lifetime achievement of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.

    Looking at the following list, it’s clear to see several distinct eras emerging, from the long-running sitcoms of the ’80s and ’90s to the new Golden Age of Television ushered in by the “Sopranos” and other premium programming. As streaming services like Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video join HBO in spending exorbitant sums on new content, it remains to be seen where television will go in the coming decade.

    To generate a list of the most awarded television shows of all time, according to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which administers the Emmy awards, Stacker has rounded up the top 25 Emmy-winning shows using the Emmys database. All drama, comedy, competition, variety, and limited series were considered, and shows were ranked by the number of Emmy wins, with ties broken by the number of nominations.

    You may also like: Best Emmy nominated shows of all time

  • #25. Mad Men (2007–2015)

    - Wins: 16
    - Nominations: 116

    “Mad Men” is widely considered one of the best dramatic TV series of all time, despite being initially passed over by both HBO and Showtime before finding its home on AMC. Responsible for launching the careers of Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, and Christina Hendricks, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series for each of its first four seasons. It won another three Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Writing (2008–2010), and Creative Arts Emmys in categories such as cinematography, art direction, hairstyling, and casting.

  • #24. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)

    - Wins: 17
    - Nominations: 58

    “Space: the final frontier.” Those words, spoken by Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, began every episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the sequel to the original TV show. “The Next Generation” aired 178 episodes, with stories revolving around the crew of the starship Enterprise finding their place in an impossibly vast universe. “The Next Generation” never won a Primetime Emmy, though it was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series in 1994 for its final season. It did, however, win 17 Creative Arts Emmys in categories such as costume design, makeup, sound editing, and special effects.

  • #23. Veep (2012–2019)

    - Wins: 17
    - Nominations: 68

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been praised as the “most successful sitcom star ever,” and though most Americans know her for her signature dance moves as Elaine from “Seinfeld,” it’s as “Veep’s” veep, Selina Meyer, that Louis-Dreyfus won six of her eight Primetime Emmy awards for acting, tied for the most ever. On the show, she plays a Machiavellian politician whose only goal is complete power, aided by her staff of various heartless politicos and senseless buffoons. The show has also won Primetime Emmys for its supporting actors, cinematography, writing, casting, and production design, while winning the coveted Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy three times.

  • #22. Dancing with the Stars (2005–present)

    - Wins: 17
    - Nominations: 108

    The only reality show on this list, “Dancing with the Stars” premiered in 2005 and has aired every year since then, racking up 437 episodes along the way. An American adaptation of the British TV show “Strictly Come Dancing,” each season sees a celebrity paired up with a professional dancer who are then eliminated by the audience and judges until only one pair remain. Emmy wins include Best Choreography, Outstanding Lighting Design, and Outstanding Technical Direction.

  • #21. Taxi (1978–1983)

    - Wins: 18
    - Nominations: 34

    The winner of three Outstanding Comedy Series awards, the sitcom “Taxi” aired for five seasons from 1978 to 1983, and focused on the lives of New York City taxi drivers and their demeaning dispatcher, Danny DeVito’s Louie De Palma. The show was known for tackling controversial and difficult issues, and won 15 more Emmys in lead and supporting acting, writing, directing, editing, and guest acting.

  • #20. Murphy Brown (1988–1998; 2018)

    - Wins: 18
    - Nominations: 62

    “Murphy Brown,” and its beloved protagonist by the same name played by Candice Bergen, were common sights in American households between 1988 and 1998, airing 247 episodes over that decade, though a 2018 revival was cancelled following a single season. The sitcom focuses on Brown’s life as an investigative journalist, news anchor, and later, controversially, a single mother. Bergen won the Emmy for Lead Actress five times; the show also won Emmys for guest acting, best comedy series, writing, directing, editing, and costuming.

  • #19. Will & Grace (1998–2006; 2017–present)

    - Wins: 18
    - Nominations: 96

    Like “Murphy Brown,” Eric McCormack’s Will Truman and Debra Messing’s Grace Adler returned to TV screens after a long hiatus, but unlike “Murphy Brown,” the revival of “Will & Grace” was successful and the sitcom will culminate with its eleventh and final season next year. The show revolves around the friendship of its titular characters, Will, a gay lawyer, and Grace, an interior designer. The show is notable for its inclusion of a principal LGBTQ+ character and has won Emmys for outstanding show, lead and supporting acting, cinematography, art direction, guest acting, and editing.

  • #18. American Masters (1986–present)

    - Wins: 20
    - Nominations: 57

    The PBS biography series “American Masters” has aired hundreds of episodes on writers, musicians, artists, and other figures who have had distinct impacts on American culture. Subjects include Maya Angelou, Aaron Copland, David Hockney, and 32 seasons’ worth of others. The show has won the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series 10 times, along with awards for sound mixing and directing, among others.

  • #17. Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014)

    - Wins: 20
    - Nominations: 57

    One of several HBO shows on this list, “Boardwalk Empire” won 20 Emmys across its run for directing, acting, casting, and art direction, among other categories. The critically acclaimed show followed Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson, a mob boss based upon the life of Enoch L. Johnson, who ascends to power in Atlantic City, N.J., in the 1920s and ’30s.

  • #16. 24 (2001–2010)

    - Wins: 20
    - Nominations: 68

    The central conceit of “24” is as well-known as it is outlandish: Each episode tracked an hour of real time, and a full season of the show detailed a full day in the life of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, an agent of the fictional Counter-Terrorism Unit in Los Angeles. Though the characters rarely ate, slept, or went to the bathroom on camera, the series was praised for its nonstop action and gripping performances—it attracted criticism for its favorable portrayal of torture, however. The series would go on to win 20 Emmys in categories like writing, lead and supporting acting, editing, directing, and sound editing, along with one win for Outstanding Drama Series.