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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 2020 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 September 2020. 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.

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  • #50. Mr. Robot (2015–2019)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Votes: 321,404

    With its feverish plot and striking cinematography, anarchist-oriented “Mr. Robot” felt like nothing else on TV when it premiered in 2015. Examining issues like corporate capitalism and mental health, and tapping into societal fears around computer security and surveillance, “Mr. Robot” centers on brilliant, depressed Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a computer hacker drawn into an Anonymous-style hacker collective bent on erasing debt. Malek won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, while composer Mac Quayle won Outstanding Musical Composition for his tense electronic score.

  • #49. Daredevil (2015–2018)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Votes: 353,822

    Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a blind lawyer by day who transforms into the vigilante Daredevil by night, using finely honed senses and martial arts skills to bring down bad guys in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. “Daredevil” is part of the television branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Daredevil’s escapades influenced by the film franchise, as when the Avengers demolished much of New York City in “Avengers: Infinity War.” “Daredevil” was nominated for several technical Emmy awards, including Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Sound Editing, and Outstanding Stunt Coordination.

  • #48. Dexter (2006–2013)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Votes: 630,023

    A show about everyone’s favorite murderer with a heart of gold, “Dexter” made gruesome crime scenes complex and binge-able. Earning five nominations for his starring role, Michael C. Hall plays sociopathic Dexter, a blood-spatter analyst by day and killer of wrong-doers at night. Miami has never looked the same.

  • #47. Cobra Kai (2018–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 61,934

    The modern-day sequel to “The Karate Kid,” “Cobra Kai” premiered on YouTube Premium and was co-executive produced by the original “Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio. Long after their 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament fight, Daniel and Johnny’s rivalry has taken a new form: competing dojos.

  • #46. The Shield (2002–2008)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 70,298

    This lauded FX crime series follows a corrupt police unit that was based on corrupt police divisions in the LAPD in the late 90s. Star Michael Chiklis took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series after the first season made waves. It was nominated for six Primetime Emmy’s total.

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  • #45. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 72,698

    The second hit from “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, this bubbly New York comedy follows a '50s housewife-turned-comedian through a series of precarious events with just the right amount of provocative edge. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” earned Sherman-Palladino her much-deserved first Emmy nominations.

  • #44. Fleabag (2016–2019)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 84,841

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s British dramedy follows Fleabag, a complicated, viciously funny Londoner played by a magnetic Waller-Bridge. While season one explored Fleabag’s trauma, its second season delivered a transcendent and devastating love story as Fleabag falls in love with an attractive priest (Andrew Scott). The Academy took notice, with the second season nominated for 11 Emmy awards and taking home six, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress for Waller-Bridge, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

  • #43. Oz (1997–2003)

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

    One of HBO’s early forays into long-form dramatic television, Oz takes place in (and is short for) the maximum security Oswald State Correctional Facility. Only ever nominated for two Emmys, it was heralded for its guest stars and ensemble performance.

  • #42. This Is Us (2016–present)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 96,783

    “This is Us” follows three generations of the Pearson family, with their sometimes-tragic stories told through flashbacks over the course of four seasons (with a fifth coming in November 2020). The ensemble cast includes Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore, and Milo Ventimiglia, among many more. The show has garnered 10 Emmy nominations, with Sterling K. Brown taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

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

    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Votes: 98,983

    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.

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