The second Golden Age of Television has created such a glut of talent on television, many of the medium's best talents are taken for granted, and go unrewarded for superlative work. The biggest Emmy losers of all time are hardly losers; many of them are among the most recognized faces, and most respected talents, in the industry.
The Primetime Emmys has a reputation of rewarding the same shows and people year after year, the reverse side of which is, given the repetitive nature of the nominations, some actors, writers, directors, and producers have had the cruel fate of losing year after year, and hold the ignominious distinction of people with the most Emmy losses. Emmys history is littered with actors who have gone unjustly unrewarded. Here are 12 notable celebrities with the most Emmy nominations with no wins.
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Don Cheadle earned four Emmy nominations for his performance as Marty Kaan House of Lies - as well as his nominations for producing the decorated Showtime comedy - but lost each time. Actors who beat Cheadle from 2012-15 include Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer, The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, and Transparent's Jeffrey Tambor. He was previously nominated for a variety of projects, including three TV movies (A Lesson Before Dying, The Rat Pack, and Things Behind the Sun), and a guest spot on ER.
- Age: 55
- Credits: House of Lies, Crash, Traffic, Hotel Rwanda
- Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock
The Television Academy nominated Jason Alexander's hilarious, self-deprecating performance as George Costanza on Seinfeld for seven years but, much like his character, he always came up short. From 1992-98, Alexander lost to Seinfeld co-star Michael Richards, Evening Shade's Michael Jeter, Frasier's David Hyde Pierce, and The Larry Sanders Show's Rip Torn. Additionally, he was nominated in 1994 for a guest role on Dream On.
Alexander referenced his past Emmy losses on Twitter in 2016, joking, "Dammit! Seven losses! I KNEW the Emmys were rigged!" Apparently even he forgot how many times he was nominated?
- Age: 61
- Credits: Seinfeld, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pretty Woman
- Photo: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock
The Emmys loved Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live, but not enough to give her an award. She was nominated for four consecutive seasons, from 2009-12, as a main cast member, but lost to actresses such as Modern Family's Julie Bowen, Pushing Daisies's Kristin Chenoweth, and Glee's Jane Lynch. She was also nominated for lending her voice to The Looney Tunes Show in 2012, and for her comedic role in The Spoils of Babylon in 2014. She was nominated for hosting SNL in 2013 and 2017.
- Age: 47
- Credits: Bridesmaids, Despicable Me 2, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Martian
- Photo: Twocoms / Shutterstock
Michael C. Hall's two most notable roles earned him several Emmy nominations, but no wins. He was first nominated in 2002, for playing David Fisher in Six Feet Under, and later earned five nominations for portraying Dexter Morgan in Dexter. He also received a nomination as a producer on Dexter, which was nominated for Best Drama Series in 2011. Hall earned many awards for his performance in Dexter, including a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and a Television Critics' Association Award, but never the Emmy.
- Age: 49
- Alternative Name: Michael C. Hall
- Credits: Dexter, Six Feet Under, Gamer, Paycheck