Ranking the 25 Best TV Shows Never Nominated for a Best Series' Emmy
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The 25 Best TV Shows Never Nominated for an Outstanding Series' Emmy (2013 Edition)

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | July 18, 2013 | Comments ()

the wire 1.jpg

The 2013 Emmy Award nominations were announced this morning, and while there is plenty there to complain about, as Emmy nominations typically go, it’s better than most years. There were some deserving drama series left out, but there’s only six slots, and I don’t fault the Academy for the ones chosen.

All the same, it is Emmy nomination day, and I have to give you guys something to grouse about. So how about this: A list of the 25 Best TV Shows that were never nominated for a Best Series Emmy in either the drama or comedy categories.

1. “The Wire”

2. “Homicide: Life on the Streets”

3. “Roseanne”

4. “Freaks and Geeks”

5. “Firefly”

6. “Justified”

7. “Oz”

8. “Sports Night”

9. “Veronica Mars”

10. “Community

11. “Party Down”

12. “The Walking Dead”

13. “The Shield”

14. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

15. “Battlestar Galactica”

16. “Rectify”

17. “Orphan Black”

18. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

19. “Archer”

20. “New Girl”

21. “My So-Called Life”

22. “Gilmore Girls”

23. “Once and Again”

24. “Parenthood”

25. “Better Off Ted”

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • LawfulNeutral

    Bored to Death? Eastbound and Down?

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Thank you for finally showing Homicide some love. It was and will forever be one of my all time favorite television series. It has made every top five list I ever made since I first saw the show as a child.

  • sankans


  • Siyabonga Africa

    It's Always Sunny and Louie (luckily it has been nominated this year) has been snubbed for far too long. I think it's the curse of FX because those two shows are clever and hilarious in dark and slapstick ways.

  • Guest

    Married With Children

  • zeke_the_pig

    I will never get tired of seeing stills from The Wire pop up here and there. Every time I see one I'm transported for a second back to a world of happy zeke.

  • Megan

    What about Southland???

  • Archie Leach

    As much as we don't think about it and cause we'll alway see Charlie Day as very much stereotypical of Charlie Day: I have to say there have been times where Day has done some work in Sunny in Philadelphia that is definitely peer-recognizable.

  • The worst season of Buffy and the end of Battlestar Galactica are light years ahead of season 2 of The Walking Dead. Because of that there's no way they should be below The Walking Dead.

  • Steph

    Are these supposed to be in order of quality? If so, I disagree with a lot of it.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think it's a little weird to list a show in its first season as "never" having received a Best Series nod.

  • sean

    Think about how out of touch Emmy voters must be. The Wire was not nominated. The most important show of the 21st century. One of Americas greatest artistic achievements of the last 40 or so years. Not nominated.

  • lowercase_ryan

    While it wasn't nominated for best series, the Buffy episode Hush was nominated.

  • emmalita

    Ironically, for best writing.

  • Idle Primate

    The wire never stuck out to me from other crime shows

  • theotherone


  • ed newman

    I am not going to quibble with your choices but rather with your rankings. It's hard to get as angry over a snub like Freaks and Geeks as it is about Oz and Justified. NOT because of their respective quality but because of their longevity. F&G was on for less than a season, so there was only one chance to recognize it. Same with Orphan Black, Firefly and My So Called Life. However with series like Roseanne, the Shield, Gilmore Girls, etc, there was ample opportunity to give a nomination.

    Sorry, I lied. I am going to criticize your choices. Terriers needs to be on this list.

  • Blake

    The lack of Byran Fuller Shows on this list is disturbing. Does mean they actually got Emmy nods for Best show?

    Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls.

  • I'm with you in Hannibal and Wonderfalls (though having only aired 2 or 3 episodes, the latter was never going to be nominated.) However, Pushing Daisies did win 3 Emmys (including Best Supporting Actress for Kristin Chenoweth.)

  • alannaofdoom


  • toblerone

    26. Doctor Who

    *Has it ever gotten an Emmy nomination?

    **Homicide never getting one is no surprise. The fact it got six seasons and a movie from NBC is more of a shock.

  • DataAngel

    I don't think Doctor Who is eligible.

  • toblerone

    Side note: I hope this is a "Seriously Random List" and the order in no way implies the magnitude of Emmy's failure or quality of the show because there is no F*cking way The Walking Dead is #12.

    Also where's Bob's Burgers?

  • lowercase_ryan

    Bob's Burgers is nominated this year.

  • tobelrone

    Oops, my bad. Thanks lc_r.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Anytime =)

  • Wigamer

    *Risking rotten fruit being tossed at my head* I HATED Battlestar Galactica. Forced myself through 2 seasons because of intense peer pressure, but no dice.

  • Wigamer

    See? That earned in a downvote within .0004 seconds of my posting it! I love you people!

  • Artemis

    The Wire is obviously the most egregious exclusion, but after that Party Down is the one that upsets me most. The years it was on the air, the following shows got Best Comedy nominations: Entourage, Glee, Family Guy, Nurse Jackie, Modern Family, seasons 5 and 6 of The Office, and season 4 of 30 Rock. None of that is better than either season of Party Down, which after Arrested Development and The Office (U.K.) is one of my favorite comedies of all time.

  • Pawesl

    You have Justified and Walking Dead both on here twice.

  • Aaron

    It might help if Walking Dead was a better, more consistent series. I like watching it, but it's not even in the same league as most of these other ones.

  • Idle Primate

    The walking dead isn't all that good. It occasionally hits a good note and stands out as the first zombie drama but that's about it. Why should it get an emmy?

  • Artemis

    Yes, I don't understand how anyone thinks it is actually one of the best dramas on television. The writing is terrible and several of the lead actors are unwatchable (though admittedly, they killed some of those off this year). It's a really cool premise and the show looks and sounds really, really good -- it should win a lot of technical awards, and nothing else.

  • okayflint

    It's kind of embarrassing that it's placed so high on this list.

  • apsutter

    So I finally got around to watching The Wire a couple months ago and I have to say, I think it is overrated. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was definitely a quality show but I don't think it's the #1 show like everyone thinks it is.

  • Wigamer

    I just finished season one, and I tend to agree with you. Maybe the subsequent seasons will change my mind, but it's obviously hard to tell. It's a great show, some very award-worthy performances for sure, but I was expecting the be-all and end-all of television as I knew it, and I wound up not feeling that way.

  • apsutter

    Yea that's how I felt the whole time. There are some really great characters on that show tho

  • cooper1kl@gmail.com

    I just finished the series for the first time. I think it gets a lot of love because it's such an intertwined, world building show that cover real issues and are based on real people. It didn't show from killing off characters.

    It wasn't perfect. Everything with the drug running/dealers was stellar. I didn't care about the Mayor Carcetti or anything with the newspaper staff.

    If we're talking about overrated shows, can we really talk about Firefly? If it didn't have Whedon's name attached does anything think it would still be talked about years later? It had some great episode, some good episode, and some so-so episodes. I could never get fully behind the space cowboy aspect or River constantly needing to be rescued/hidden.

    *Lots of Asian influence but no Asian main or minor characters.


  • toblerone

    And Bayliss, Howard, Lewis, Munch, Giardello...

    That show had terrific actors in all of the roles but especially Kyle Secor.

  • Wigamer


  • Also, Edward James Olmos crying...

  • Weegiburd

    I don't know why I am shocked that Justified has no nominations but I am, I thought this season was their strongest one to date. I absolutely love Hugh Bonneville but...really????

  • weetiger3

    Not negating their inclusion on the list, but why are Walking Dead and Justified on there twice?

  • that douchebag

    The Walking Dead -- so great its listed at number 11 AND 24!

  • Lina Beana

    I think #24 was just a typo for Hannibal.

  • BWeaves

    As much as I LOVE Firefly and Buffy, neither one of the was Emmy material.

    P.S. I didn't say Firefly and Buffy were not great. I loved them. I'm just saying that based on how Emmy's are nominated and awarded, they were not Emmy material. They are not the sort of thing the Emmy crowd gives awards to. Do you get where I'm coming from now?

  • emmalita

    I think there were some really exceptional episodes and performances on Buffy. At it's best it was better than other shows that received consistent Emmy love, 2 1/2 men, everything after S 1 of Modern Family, and the list is so long.

  • Artemis

    I agree that Buffy, much as I love it, can't compete with the best dramas today. It had individual episodes in most seasons that were among the best hours of tv that year, but it didn't have an entire season I would rank as good as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or Homeland's first season.

    BUT when Buffy was on the air, the quality of television dramas was MUCH lower overall. The shows nominated during Buffy's fifth season--which I think was its best--included Law & Order, The Practice, and middle-of-its-run ER. Buffy was absolutely better than all three of those.

  • Slim

    Buffy can't compete with Downton Abbey? A nattily dressed-up period soap with a couple of characters who get good lines? It's not Breaking Bad or Justified (which SHOULD be nominated), it was packed with cheesy monsters, but in a number of ways, it broke ground for the TV we are watching now.

  • Artemis

    Not that I said "the best dramas today" not "the dramas that were nominated for Emmys". I agree that Downtown Abbey is not in the former category and has no business being in the latter, but I can think of several shows currently airing where a complete season is better than a complete season of Buffy, even if individual Buffy episodes are exceptional.

  • TCH

    I am going to have to agree. They are fun and great entertainment, but really aren't in the league of say The Wire or Battlestar Galactica.

  • CeciliaBedelia

    I won't get all yell-ish at you (i'm sure you'll get that from others, how dare you impugn the Whedon!!ect,ect) but I have to respectfully disagree. 'Tabula Rasa', 'The Body' and 'Once More With Feeling' are just 3 that immediately come to mind as Emmy caliber episodes.

  • Dave Dorris

    You forgot "Becoming, part 2". Ouch, that still hurts.

  • Aaron Schulz

    If any buffy episode deserves one its "Hush"

  • koko temur

    and out of gus on firefly, of course. That look mal has when he sees serenity for the first time? When he cozys in a blanket to die comfortably? Fuck.

  • Dave Dorris

    And, "The Message" on Firefly. The music in the final scene, the snowfall juxtaposed against what had been the series desert/scrubland scenes of the series to that point. Heartbreaking, manipulative, awesome stuff right there.

  • Michelle

    The Body. That episode wrecks me every. single. time.

  • gatesong

    That might be the single most difficult hour of television I've ever seen, and I'm into the whole intense-serial-drama thing.

  • That is true. Whatever Emmy material is, it is demonstrably not intelligence, humor, and emotional resonance.

  • Sarah

    I'm a diehard Whedonite, so I'll admit bias. But the cultural impact of Firefly and Buffy was monumental. Not to mention the fact that Joss Whedon's creations have inspired more academic literature and scholastic dissection than 99% of TV shows. His work is intelligent, layered, and stands the test of time.

  • duckandcover

    Fanfiction isn't "academic literature" or "scholastic dissection."

  • ljridley

    No, but there are 69 (heh) citations for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Web of Knowledge (one of the top academic literature databases).

  • TCH

    Can you explain the cultural impact of Buffy and Firefly? I never really go both shows.

  • Hailey Cayden

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  • TCH

    This explains it all.

  • e jerry powell

    I concur.

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