Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

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Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Awarded for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
First awarded 1954
Currently held by Sterling K. Brown,
This Is Us (2017)
Website emmys.com

This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Beginning with the 18th Primetime Emmy Awards, leading actors in drama have competed alone. However, these dramatic performances included actors from miniseries, telefilms, and guest performers competing against main cast competitors, such instances are marked below:

Winners and nominations[edit]

1950s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
1953
(6th)
[note 1]
Donald O'Connor The Colgate Comedy Hour Himself NBC
Sid Caesar Your Show of Shows Various Characters NBC
Wally Cox Mister Peepers Robinson Peepers
Jackie Gleason The Jackie Gleason Show Ralph Kramden CBS
Jack Webb Dragnet Sgt. Joe Friday NBC
1954
(7th)
[note 1]
Danny Thomas Make Room for Daddy Danny Williams ABC
Richard Boone Medic Dr. Konrad Styner NBC
Robert Cummings My Hero Robert Beanblossom
Jackie Gleason The Jackie Gleason Show Ralph Kramden CBS
Jack Webb Dragnet Sgt. Joe Friday NBC
1955
(8th)
[note 1]
Phil Silvers The Phil Silvers Show MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko CBS
Bob Cummings The Bob Cummings Show Bob Collins CBS
Jackie Gleason The Jackie Gleason Show Ralph Kramden
Danny Thomas Make Room for Daddy Danny Williams ABC
Robert Young Father Knows Best Jim Anderson CBS
1956
(9th)
Robert Young Father Knows Best Jim Anderson CBS
James Arness Gunsmoke Marshal Matt Dillon CBS
Charles Boyer Four Star Playhouse Various Characters
David Niven
Hugh O'Brian The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp Wyatt Earp ABC
1957
(10th)
[note 1]
Robert Young Father Knows Best Jim Anderson NBC
James Arness Gunsmoke Marshal Matt Dillon CBS
Bob Cummings The Bob Cummings Show Bob Collins CBS / NBC
Phil Silvers The Phil Silvers Show MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko CBS
Danny Thomas The Danny Thomas Show Danny Williams ABC / CBS
19581959
(11th)
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
James Arness Gunsmoke Marshal Matt Dillon CBS
Richard Boone Have Gun – Will Travel Paladin
James Garner Maverick Bret Maverick ABC
Craig Stevens Peter Gunn Peter Gunn NBC
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. 77 Sunset Strip Stuart Bailey ABC

1960s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
19591960
(12th)
[note 1]
Robert Stack The Untouchables Eliot Ness ABC
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Richard Boone Have Gun – Will Travel Paladin
19601961
(13th)
[note 1]
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Jackie Cooper Hennesey Chick Hennesey CBS
Robert Stack The Untouchables Eliot Ness
19611962
(14th)
[note 1]
E. G. Marshall The Defenders Lawrence Preston CBS
Vincent Edwards Ben Casey Ben Casey ABC
Jackie Cooper Hennesey Chick Hennesey CBS
Paul Burke Naked City Adam Flint ABC
George Maharis Route 66 Buz Murdock CBS
19621963
(15th)
[note 1]
E. G. Marshall The Defenders Lawrence Preston CBS
Vic Morrow Combat! Sgt. Sanders ABC
Dick Van Dyke The Dick Van Dyke Show Rob Petrie CBS
Ernest Borgnine McHale's Navy Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale
Paul Burke Naked City Det. Adam Flint ABC
19631964
(16th)
[note 1]
Dick Van Dyke The Dick Van Dyke Show Rob Petrie CBS
Richard Boone The Richard Boone Show Various Characters NBC
Dean Jagger Mr. Novak Principal Albert Vane
David Janssen The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble ABC
George C. Scott East Side/West Side Neil Brock CBS
19641965
(17th)
No Award
19651966
(18th)
Bill Cosby I Spy Alexander Scott NBC
David Janssen The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble ABC
Robert Culp I Spy Kelly Robinson NBC
David McCallum The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin
Richard Crenna Slattery's People James Slattery CBS
19661967
(19th)
Bill Cosby I Spy Alexander Scott NBC
David Janssen The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble ABC
Robert Culp I Spy Kelly Robinson NBC
Martin Landau Mission: Impossible Rollin Hand CBS
Ben Gazzara Run for Your Life Paul Bryan NBC
19671968
(20th)
Bill Cosby I Spy Alexander Scott NBC
Robert Culp I Spy Kelly Robinson NBC
Raymond Burr Ironside Robert T. Ironside
Martin Landau Mission: Impossible Rollin Hand CBS
Ben Gazzara Run for Your Life Paul Bryan NBC
19681969
(21st)
Carl Betz Judd, for the Defense Clinton Judd ABC
Raymond Burr Ironside Robert T. Ironside NBC
Peter Graves Mission: Impossible Jim Phelps CBS
Martin Landau Rollin Hand
Ross Martin The Wild Wild West Artemus Gordon

1970s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
19691970
(22nd)
Robert Young Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Marcus Welby ABC
Raymond Burr Ironside Robert T. Ironside NBC
Robert Wagner It Takes a Thief Al Mundy ABC
Mike Connors Mannix Joe Mannix CBS
19701971
(23rd)
Hal Holbrook The Bold Ones: The Senator Hays Stowe NBC
Raymond Burr Ironside Robert T. Ironside NBC
Mike Connors Mannix Joe Mannix CBS
Robert Young Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Marcus Welby ABC
19711972
(24th)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Raymond Burr Ironside Robert T. Ironside NBC
Mike Connors Mannix Joe Mannix CBS
Robert Young Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Marcus Welby ABC
Keith Michell # The Six Wives of Henry VIII Henry VIII of England CBS
19721973
(25th)
Richard Thomas The Waltons John-Boy Walton CBS
William Conrad Cannon Frank Cannon CBS
David Carradine Kung Fu Kwai Chang Caine ABC
Mike Connors Mannix Joe Mannix CBS
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
19731974
(26th)
Telly Savalas Kojak Lt. Theo Kojak CBS
William Conrad Cannon Frank Cannon CBS
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
Richard Thomas The Waltons John-Boy Walton CBS
19741975
(27th)
Robert Blake Baretta Det. Tony Baretta ABC
Telly Savalas Kojak Theo Kojak CBS
Barry Newman Petrocelli Anthony J. Petrocelli NBC
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
19751976
(28th)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford NBC
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
19761977
(29th)
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford NBC
Robert Blake Baretta Det. Tony Baretta ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Jack Klugman Quincy, M.E. Dr. R. Quincy, M.E.
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
19771978
(30th)
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
James Broderick Family Doug Lawrence ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Jack Klugman Quincy, M.E. Dr. R. Quincy, M.E.
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford
Ralph Waite The Waltons John Walton, Sr. CBS
19781979
(31st)
Ron Leibman Kaz Kazinsky CBS
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Jack Klugman Quincy, M.E. Dr. R. Quincy, M.E. NBC
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford

1980s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
19791980
(32nd)
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford NBC
Larry Hagman Dallas J. R. Ewing CBS
Jack Klugman Quincy, M.E. R. Quincy NBC
19801981
(33rd)
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Jim Davis (posthumously) Dallas Jock Ewing
Louis Gossett Jr. § Palmerstown, U.S.A. Bessie's Father
Larry Hagman Dallas J. R. Ewing
Pernell Roberts Trapper John, M.D. Trapper John McIntyre
19811982
(34th)
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
John Forsythe Dynasty Blake Carrington ABC
James Garner Bret Maverick Bret Maverick NBC
Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum CBS
19821983
(35th)
Ed Flanders St. Elsewhere Donald Westphall NBC
William Daniels St. Elsewhere Mark Craig NBC
John Forsythe Dynasty Blake Carrington ABC
Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum CBS
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
19831984
(36th)
[1]
Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum CBS
William Daniels St. Elsewhere Mark Craig NBC
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall
John Forsythe Dynasty Blake Carrington ABC
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
19841985
(37th)
William Daniels St. Elsewhere Mark Craig NBC
Ed Flanders St. Elsewhere Donald Westphall NBC
Don Johnson Miami Vice Sonny Crockett
Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum CBS
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
19851986
(38th)
William Daniels St. Elsewhere Mark Craig NBC
Ed Flanders St. Elsewhere Donald Westphall NBC
Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I. Thomas Magnum CBS
Bruce Willis Moonlighting David Addison ABC
Edward Woodward The Equalizer Robert McCall CBS
19861987
(39th)
Bruce Willis Moonlighting David Addison ABC
Corbin Bernsen L.A. Law Arnie Becker NBC
William Daniels St. Elsewhere Mark Craig
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall
Edward Woodward The Equalizer Robert McCall CBS
19871988
(40th)
Richard Kiley A Year in the Life Joe Gardner NBC
Corbin Bernsen L.A. Law Arnie Becker NBC
Ron Perlman Beauty and the Beast Vincent CBS
Michael Tucker L.A. Law Stuart Markowitz NBC
Edward Woodward The Equalizer Robert McCall CBS
19881989
(41st)
Carroll O'Connor In the Heat of the Night Bill Gillespie NBC
Ron Perlman Beauty and the Beast Vincent CBS
Michael Tucker L.A. Law Stuart Markowitz NBC
Ken Wahl Wiseguy Vinnie Terranova CBS
Edward Woodward The Equalizer Robert McCall

1990s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
19891990
(42nd)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap Dr. Sam Beckett NBC
Robert Loggia Mancuso, F.B.I. Nick Mancuso
Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks Dale Cooper ABC
Edward Woodward The Equalizer Robert McCall CBS
19901991
(43rd)
James Earl Jones Gabriel's Fire Gabriel Bird ABC
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap Dr. Sam Beckett NBC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks Dale Cooper
Michael Moriarty Law & Order Benjamin Stone NBC
19911992
(44th)
Christopher Lloyd § Road to Avonlea Alistair Dimple Disney
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap Dr. Sam Beckett NBC
Kirk Douglas § Tales from the Crypt General Kalthrob HBO
Michael Moriarty Law & Order Benjamin Stone NBC
Rob Morrow Northern Exposure Joel Fleischman CBS
Harrison Page § Quantum Leap Reverend Walters NBC
Sam Waterston I'll Fly Away Forrest Bedford
19921993
(45th)
Tom Skerritt Picket Fences Jimmy Brock CBS
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap Dr. Sam Beckett NBC
Michael Moriarty Law & Order Benjamin Stone
Rob Morrow Northern Exposure Joel Fleischman CBS
Sam Waterston I'll Fly Away Forrest Bedford NBC
19931994
(46th)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
David Caruso NYPD Blue John Kelly ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo
Michael Moriarty Law & Order Benjamin Stone NBC
Tom Skerritt Picket Fences Jimmy Brock CBS
19941995
(47th)
Mandy Patinkin Chicago Hope Dr. Jeffrey Geiger CBS
George Clooney ER Dr. Doug Ross NBC
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
19951996
(48th)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Andre Braugher Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Pembleton NBC
George Clooney ER Dr. Doug Ross
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene
Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue Bobby Simone ABC
19961997
(49th)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
David Duchovny The X-Files Fox Mulder Fox
Anthony Edwards ER Dr. Mark Greene NBC
Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue Bobby Simone ABC
Sam Waterston Law & Order Jack McCoy NBC
19971998
(50th)
Andre Braugher Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Pembleton NBC
David Duchovny The X-Files Fox Mulder Fox
Anthony Edwards ER Dr. Mark Greene NBC
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
19981999
(51st)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Dylan McDermott The Practice Bobby Donnell ABC
Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue Bobby Simone
Sam Waterston Law & Order Jack McCoy NBC

2000s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
19992000
(52nd)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Jerry Orbach Law & Order Lennie Briscoe NBC
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet
Sam Waterston Law & Order Jack McCoy
20002001
(53rd)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Andre Braugher Gideon's Crossing Dr. Ben Gideon ABC
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz
Rob Lowe The West Wing Sam Seaborn NBC
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet
20012002
(54th)
Michael Chiklis The Shield Vic Mackey FX
Michael C. Hall Six Feet Under David Fisher HBO
Peter Krause Nate Fisher
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
20022003
(55th)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Michael Chiklis The Shield Vic Mackey FX
Peter Krause Six Feet Under Nate Fisher HBO
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
20032004
(56th)
James Spader The Practice Alan Shore ABC
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Anthony LaPaglia Without a Trace Jack Malone CBS
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
20042005
(57th)
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore ABC
Hank Azaria Huff Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt Showtime
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox
Ian McShane Deadwood Al Swearengen HBO
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
20052006
(58th)
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
Peter Krause Six Feet Under Nate Fisher HBO
Denis Leary Rescue Me Tommy Gavin FX
Christopher Meloni Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elliot Stabler NBC
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet
20062007
(59th)
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore ABC
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano HBO
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox
Denis Leary Rescue Me Tommy Gavin FX
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer Fox
20072008
(60th)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Gabriel Byrne In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore ABC
20082009
(61st)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Simon Baker The Mentalist Patrick Jane CBS
Gabriel Byrne In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox

2010s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Network
20092010
(62nd)
[2]
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Kyle Chandler Friday Night Lights Eric Taylor NBC/Audience
Matthew Fox Lost Dr. Jack Shephard ABC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox
20102011
(63rd)
[3]
Kyle Chandler Friday Night Lights Eric Taylor NBC/Audience
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire Nucky Thompson HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Hugh Laurie House Dr. Gregory House Fox
Timothy Olyphant Justified Raylan Givens FX
20112012
(64th)
[4]
Damian Lewis Homeland Nicholas Brody Showtime
Hugh Bonneville Downton Abbey Robert Crawley PBS
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire Nucky Thompson HBO
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
20122013
(65th)
[5]
Jeff Daniels The Newsroom Will McAvoy HBO
Hugh Bonneville Downton Abbey Robert Crawley PBS
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper
Damian Lewis Homeland Nicholas Brody Showtime
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood Netflix
20132014
(66th)
[6]
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White AMC
Jeff Daniels The Newsroom Will McAvoy HBO
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Woody Harrelson True Detective Martin Hart HBO
Matthew McConaughey Rustin Cohle
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood Netflix
20142015
(67th)
[7]
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper AMC
Kyle Chandler Bloodline John Rayburn Netflix
Jeff Daniels The Newsroom Will McAvoy HBO
Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul Jimmy McGill AMC
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood Netflix
20152016
(68th)
[8]
Rami Malek Mr. Robot Elliot Alderson USA
Kyle Chandler Bloodline John Rayburn Netflix
Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul Jimmy McGill AMC
Matthew Rhys The Americans Philip Jennings FX
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood Netflix
20162017
(69th)
[9]
Sterling K. Brown This Is Us Randall Pearson NBC
Anthony Hopkins Westworld Dr. Robert Ford HBO
Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul Jimmy McGill AMC
Matthew Rhys The Americans Philip Jennings FX
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood Netflix
Milo Ventimiglia This Is Us Jack Pearson NBC

Multiple awards[edit]

Multiple nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Early Emmy ceremonies did not have genre specific acting categories

References[edit]