These Famous Actors Have Never Won an Emmy Award

9 minute read

On Sunday night, the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air on Fox. Long considered television’s biggest night, Emmy competition has become increasingly stiff as high-quality shows have proliferated, thanks in part to the continued expansion of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. For many actors, 2019 marks a final chance to take home a prize after years of playing a beloved character: shows including Game of Thrones and Veep recently ended their blockbuster runs. That means that stars like Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen and Gwendoline Christie are all looking to snag that elusive Emmy for their roles on the HBO behemoth.

Similarly, Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky is up for an award after five years with no luck; over at ABC’s Black-ish, Anthony Anderson has come up empty-handed for eight years, while Sandra Oh, nominated this year for Killing Eve, received many nominations but no prizes throughout her many years on Grey’s Anatomy. Some of this may change Sunday night, but even if it doesn’t, these famous actors are in good company, with plenty of other successful stars — like Steve Carrell, David Duchovny and Mindy Kaling — whose lauded small-screen performances failed to yield Emmys hardware.

Read on to see the famous actors who still have yet to win an Emmy Award.

Kit Harington

Belfast Premiere for Game of Thrones
Kit Harington arrives at the Game of Thrones Season Finale Premiere at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, UKJeff Kravitz—FilmMagic for HBO

After starring as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones — which just completed its final season — Harington is up for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Actor this year. He was nominated in 2016 as a supporting actor on the show but has never won. Thrones was Harington’s breakout TV role, and the project to which he’s devoted most of his acting career so far.

Jason Bateman

Milken Institute 2019 Global Conference
Actor Jason Bateman participates in a panel discussion during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.Michael Kovac—Getty Images

This year marks Bateman‘s first Emmy nomination, for Outstanding Drama Actor in Netflix’s Ozark. He’s also nominated this year for directing in a drama series, for the Ozark episode “Reparations.” But he’s probably best known — on TV, anyway — for playing the beloved character Michael Bluth on Arrested Development over the course of five seasons (none of which panned out with an Emmy for Bateman).

Milo Ventimiglia

NBC And Universal EMMY Nominee Celebration - Arrivals
Milo Ventimiglia attends the NBC and Universal EMMY nominee celebration at Tesse Restaurant on August 13, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.Rachel Luna—WireImage

The This Is Us star was also nominated in 2017 and 2018, in addition to this year, for Outstanding Drama Actor in the popular series. Ventimiglia has been gracing TV screens for awhile, growing up as a heartthrob on shows like Gilmore Girls and Heroes, but it’s only recently that the TV Academy has recognized his work.

Billy Porter

Billy Porter During London Fashion Week September 2019 - Day 4
Billy Porter attends 'Richard Quinn S/S 2020' fashion show during London Fashion Week September 2019 London on September 16, 2019 in London, England.Santiago Felipe—Getty Images

While Porter has received a Tony for his work on Broadway, 2019 marks the Pose star and Broadway veteran’s first Emmy nomination.

Emilia Clarke

2019 Time 100 Gala
Emilia Clarke attends the 2019 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City.Taylor Hill—FilmMagic

Before Game of Thrones, Clarke had few notable acting credits to her name; the character of Daenerys Targaryen launched her to fame. She was nominated in 2013, 2015 and 2016 for her supporting role on Thrones, and this year she’s up for Outstanding Drama Actress for her work on the show’s final season.

Robin Wright

25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
Robin Wright attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic

Wright received her sixth Emmy nomination this year for her role as Claire Underwood on Netflix’s long-running House of Cards, where she led the series’ sixth season after Kevin Spacey was removed from the show. Wright is a household name, but before she became an Underwood was better known for her film roles, including in the classic Princess Bride. Still, Wright is not a TV newbie; she was on the 1980s series Santa Barbara.

Sandra Oh

US actress Sandra Oh arrives on the red carpet for the Time 100 Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York on April 23, 2019.ANGELA WEISS—AFP/Getty Images

This is not Oh’s first Emmy rodeo: thanks to Grey’s Anatomy, she was a nominee as Outstanding Drama Actress every year from 2005 through 2009. Killing Eve gave her another shot in 2018, with no luck. This year she’s up again for the same role, as well as for an SNL guest spot.

Mandy Moore

NBC And Universal EMMY Nominee Celebration - Arrivals
Mandy Moore attends the NBC and Universal EMMY nominee celebration at Tesse Restaurant on August 13, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.Rachel Luna—WireImage

This Is Us has brought Moore her most successful TV role, and it earned her an Emmy nomination this year, for Outstanding Drama Actress.

Giancarlo Esposito

Better Call Saul FYC Event
Giancarlo Esposito attends the Better Call Saul FYC Event at the Television Academy on March 26, 2019 in North Hollywood, California.Tommaso Boddi—Getty Images for AMC

The longtime TV and film actor was nominated in 2012 for his work on Breaking Bad. Now he’s up for a prize for his work on the prequel to that show, Better Call Saul. His TV background has been extensive, with stints on shows like Homicide, Law & Order, Revolution, Netflix’s The Get Down and Once Upon a Time.

Alfie Allen

British actor Alfie Allen arrives for the "Game of Thrones" eighth and final season premiere at Radio City Music Hall on April 3, 2019 in New York city.ANGELA WEISS—AFP/Getty Images

The Game of Thrones actor received his first Emmy nod this year for his work as an emotional Theon Greyjoy in the show’s final season. Prior to Thrones, he had appeared in movies like 2007’s Atonement and had small roles on some TV series, but Theon was Allen’s big breakout.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau arrives for the "Game of Thrones" eighth and final season premiere at Radio City Music Hall on April 3, 2019 in New York city.ANGELA WEISS—AFP/Getty Images

Fellow Game of Thrones actor Coster-Waldau is up for a second time for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of conflicted knight Jaime Lannister. Coster-Waldau has been acting for awhile, although most of his pre-Thrones credits were in the movie world, not TV.

Lena Headey

"The Flood" - Special Screening
Lena Headey attends a special screening of "The Flood" at The Curzon Mayfair on June 14, 2019 in London, England.David M. Benett—Dave Benett/WireImage

After five nominations for her work as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, this is Headey‘s last chance with that show to nab the elusive prize for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Before playing Cersei, Headey was a working actor for nearly two decades, with roles in an eclectic mix of shows and movies from a Merlin show to the action film 300.

Gwendoline Christie

Graham Norton Show - London
Gwendoline Christie during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London.Isabel Infantes - PA Images—PA Images via Getty Images

Christie, who joined Thrones in its second season, finally got some recognition from the Emmys this year, with her first nomination for her role as Brienne of Tarth. Christie has only a few credits before Thrones, but since then has nabbed roles in the Star Wars movies and the TV series Top of the Lake.

Sophie Turner

"Heavy" : Photocall - 45th Deauville American Film Festival
Actress Sophie Turner attends the Heavy Photocall of the 45th Deauville American Film Festival on September 7, 2019 in Deauville, France.Foc Kan—FilmMagic

This is Turner‘s first year with Emmy attention as well, after finishing her turn as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. Like many in the Thrones cast, it was her breakout role.

Maisie Williams

“Game Of Thrones” Comic Con Autograph Signing 2019
Maisie Williams at “Game Of Thrones” Comic Con Autograph Signing 2019 on July 19, 2019 in San Diego, California.Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic for HBO

And the other Stark sister, Arya, also received an Emmy nomination. It’s not her first; she was also considered in 2016 for her portrayal of the young royal with a rebel streak. Arya was Williams’ first big acting credit.

Fiona Shaw

Killing Eve Season 2 Photocall - London
Fiona Shaw attending the Killing Eve Season 2 photocall held at Curzon Soho, London.Ian West - PA Images—PA Images via Getty Images

Shaw got two nods this year: for Supporting Actress on Killing Eve and also for her guest role as a therapist on Fleabag. They’re the first nominations for the Irish actor, who has won Olivier awards for her work in the theater.

Don Cheadle

FYC Red Carpet Event For Showtimes' "Black Monday"
Don Cheadle attends FYC Red Carpet Event For Showtimes' "Black Monday" at Saban Media Center on May 14, 2019 in North Hollywood, California.Leon Bennett—Getty Images

Cheadle has been nominated for nine Emmys over the years, for roles including his portrayal of Sammy Davis, Jr. in HBO’s The Rat Pack back in 1999 and Marty Kaan on House of Lies. Now, he’s up for Outstanding Comedy Actor for this year’s Black Monday.

Anthony Anderson

Black-ish 100th Episode Celebration
Anthony Anderson attends Black-ish 100th Episode Celebration at Walt Disney Studios on November 10, 2018 in Burbank, California.Earl Gibson III—Getty Images

The Black-ish star been nominated eight times with no wins — yet. The TV mainstay has been on shows like The Shield, Law & Order and Treme over the years.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2019 - Arrivals - London
Phoebe Waller-Bridge attending the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards, held at the Royal Festival Hall in London.Matt Crossick - PA Images—PA Images via Getty Images

The mastermind behind Fleabag has five nominations under her belt — one for her writing for Killing Eve in 2018, and four this year for Killing Eve and Fleabag, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne attends the 'Orange Is The New Black' Final
Natasha Lyonne attends the 'Orange Is The New Black' Final Season Premiere in New York.SOPA Images—SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Lyonne snagged her first Emmy nomination for a guest role on Orange Is the New Black in 2014. In 2019, she picked up three nominations for Russian Doll, including Outstanding Lead Actress.

Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin Honored With A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Alan Arkin is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 07, 2019 in Hollywood, California.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin—FilmMagic

Despite his extensive acting career, Arkin has yet to take home an Emmy prize. He’s been nominated five times, going back to 1967. This year, the Oscar winner is up for Supporting Actor in the Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method.

Olivia Colman

Raindance Film Festival's Special Soiree
Winner of the Raindance 2019 Icon Award Olivia Colman attends the Raindance Film Festival's Special Soiree at The May Fair Hotel on August 20, 2019 in London, England.David M. Benett—Dave Benett/Getty Images

Colman is an Oscar winner, but she has yet to take home an Emmy, despite impressive turns in TV series from Broadchurch to The Night Manager. This is just her second nomination, for her supporting actress work as the unnamed godmother in Fleabag.

Anna Chlumsky

Anna Chlumsky attends HBO FYC for "VEEP" at the Landmark Theaters on August 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic, for HBO

The Veep supporting actress has been nominated six times, including this year, for her role as Amy, with no wins just yet. She’s also appeared on series including Hannibal and Halt and Catch Fire, but it’s the Veep role that’s been her Emmy ticket.

Steve Carell

"Welcome To Marwen" Screening & Conversation With Steve Carell
Steve Carell attends the "Welcome to Marwen" Screening & Conversation with Steve Carell at 92nd Street Y on December 20, 2018 in New York City.Dia Dipasupil—Getty Images

Despite receiving nominations every year from 2006 to 2011 for his work as Michael Scott on The Office, Carell has never won an Emmy.

John Krasinski

The 24th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Show
John Krasinski accepts Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film for 'A Quiet Place' onstage during the 24th annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 13, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.Matt Winkelmeyer—Getty Images

Carell’s Office co-star Krasinski also got four nominations but no prizes for his portrayal of beloved office drone Jim.

Mindy Kaling

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Official Academy Screening Of Late Night
Actor, writer and producer Mindy Kaling attends The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences official Academy screening of "Late Night" at the MoMA, Celeste Bartos Theater on June 5, 2019 in New York City.Lars Niki—Getty Images for The Academy Of

Kaling, another Office actor, received nominations for her work as a writer and producer on the show — but never won.

Sofia Vergara

Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals
Sofia Vergara attends Sony Pictures' "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin—FilmMagic

Vergara received four nominations for her role as Gloria in Modern Family, but never got the prize.

Connie Britton

InStyle's Badass Women Dinner With Foster Grant
Connie Britton attends InStyle's Badass Women Dinner With Foster Grant at The London West Hollywood on August 13, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.Vivien Killilea—Getty Images for InStyle

Britton’s been nominated four times — including twice for playing the beloved character of Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights — all for lead actress roles. However, she has yet to win.

Patrick Stewart

2019 Comic-Con International - "Enter The Star Trek Universe" Panel
Patrick Stewart speaks at the "Enter The Star Trek Universe" Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California.Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

Star Trek‘s Captain Jean-Luc Picard may be an acting legend, but he’s not an Emmy winner, even with four nominations under his belt going back to 1998.

David Duchovny

2018 AlienCon
David Duchovny at A+E Networks, Mischief Management & Prometheus Entertainment present AlienCon 2018 at Pasadena Convention Center on June 17, 2018 in Pasadena, California.Rodin Eckenroth—Getty Images

The X-Files was a cult classic, but it didn’t result in any Emmys for Duchovny, who played Fox Mulder. He’s received four nominations over the years.

George Clooney

Catch 22 UK Premiere - London
George Clooney attending the Catch-22 UK Premiere, held at VUE Cinema Westfield, London.Ian West - PA Images—PA Images via Getty Images

Clooney is an Oscar-winning Hollywood star, but he’s still lacking Emmy hardware. He was nominated twice in the 1990s for his leading role on ER, and again for the “Hope for Haiti Now” special in 2010, with no wins.

Rob Lowe

59th Monte Carlo TV Festival : Day Four
Rob Lowe from the series "Wild Bill" attends the 59th Monte Carlo TV Festival : Day Four on June 17, 2019 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.Stephane Cardinale - Corbis—Corbis via Getty Images

Lowe was nominated in 2001 for his leading role on the long-time hit The West Wing, but didn’t manage to take home the prize then, or in the ensuing years.

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