Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

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Not to be confused with the Daytime Emmy Award with the same name.
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
Currently held by Bryan Cranston,
Breaking Bad (2014)
Official website http://www.emmys.com/

This is a list of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series winners. Beginning with the 18th Emmys 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.

Award 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 Mr. 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
Robert 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
Robert Cummings The Bob Cummings Show Bob Collins CBS NBC
Phil Silvers The Phil Silvers Show MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko CBS
Danny Thomas Make Room for Daddy Danny Williams ABC CBS
1958-1959
(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
1959-1960
(12th)
[note 1]
Robert Stack The Untouchables Eliot Ness ABC
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Richard Boone Have Gun–Will Travel Paladin
1960-1961
(13th)
[note 1]
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Jackie Cooper Hennesey Chick Hennesey CBS
Robert Stack The Untouchables Eliot Ness
1961-1962
(14th)
[note 1]
E. G. Marshall The Defenders Lawrence Preston CBS
Vince 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
1962-1963
(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
1963-1964
(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
1964-1965
(17th)
No Award
1965-1966
(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
1966-1967
(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
1967-1968
(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
1968-1969
(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
1969-1970
(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
1970-1971
(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
1971-1972
(24th)
Peter Falk Columbo Lt. 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
1972-1973
(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 Lt. Columbo NBC
1973-1974
(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
1974-1975
(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
1975-1976
(28th)
Peter Falk Columbo Lt. Columbo NBC
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford NBC
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
1976-1977
(29th)
James Garner The Rockford Files Jim Rockford NBC
Robert Blake Baretta Det. Tony Baretta ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Lt. Columbo NBC
Jack Klugman Quincy, M.E. Dr. R. Quincy, M.E.
Karl Malden The Streets of San Francisco Lt. Mike Stone ABC
1977-1978
(30th)
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Peter Falk Columbo Lt. 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
1978-1979
(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
1979-1980
(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
1980-1981
(33rd)
Daniel J. Travanti Hill Street Blues Frank Furillo NBC
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Jim Davis (posthumous) Dallas Jock Ewing
Louis Gossett, Jr. § Palmerstown Bessie's Father
Larry Hagman Dallas J. R. Ewing
Pernell Roberts Trapper John, M.D. Trapper John McIntyre
1981-1982
(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
1982-1983
(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
1983-1984
(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
1984-1985
(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
1985-1986
(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
1986-1987
(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
1987-1988
(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
1988-1989
(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
1989-1990
(42nd)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap 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
1990-1991
(43rd)
James Earl Jones Gabriel's Fire Gabriel Bird ABC
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap Sam Beckett NBC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks Dale Cooper
Michael Moriarty Law & Order Benjamin Stone NBC
1991-1992
(44th)
Christopher Lloyd § Road to Avonlea Alistair Dimple Disney Channel
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap 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
1992-1993
(45th)
Tom Skerritt Picket Fences Jimmy Brock CBS
Scott Bakula Quantum Leap 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
1993-1994
(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
1994-1995
(47th)
Mandy Patinkin Chicago Hope Jeffrey Geiger CBS
George Clooney ER Doug Ross NBC
Anthony Edwards Mark Greene
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
1995-1996
(48th)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Andre Braugher Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Pembleton NBC
George Clooney ER Doug Ross NBC
Anthony Edwards Mark Greene
Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue Bobby Simone ABC
1996-1997
(49th)
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
David Duchovny The X-Files Fox Mulder Fox
Anthony Edwards ER Mark Greene NBC
Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue Bobby Simone ABC
Sam Waterston Law & Order Jack McCoy NBC
1997-1998
(50th)
Andre Braugher Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Pembleton NBC
David Duchovny The X-Files Fox Mulder Fox
Anthony Edwards ER Mark Greene NBC
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
1998-1999
(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 Episode Network
1999-2000
(52nd)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano "The Happy Wanderer" HBO
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz "The Last Round Up" ABC
Jerry Orbach Law & Order Lennie Briscoe "Marathon" NBC
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet "Take This Sabbath Day"
Sam Waterston Law & Order Jack McCoy "Killerz"
2000-2001
(53rd)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano "Amour Fou" HBO
Andre Braugher Gideon's Crossing Ben Gideon "The Lottery" ABC
Dennis Franz NYPD Blue Andy Sipowicz "In the Wind"
Rob Lowe The West Wing Sam Seaborn "Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail" NBC
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet "Two Cathedrals"
2001-2002
(54th)
Michael Chiklis The Shield Vic Mackey "Pilot" FX
Michael C. Hall Six Feet Under David Fisher "A Private Life" HBO
Peter Krause Nate Fisher "In the Game"
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet "Night Five" NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m." Fox
2002-2003
(55th)
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano "Whitecaps" HBO
Michael Chiklis The Shield Vic Mackey "Dominoes Falling" FX
Peter Krause Six Feet Under Nate Fisher "Death Works Overtime" HBO
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet "Twenty Five" NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "Day 2: 10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m." Fox
2003-2004
(56th)
James Spader The Practice Alan Shore "Mr. Shore Goes to Town" ABC
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano "Where's Johnny?" HBO
Anthony LaPaglia Without a Trace Jack Malone "Copycat" CBS
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet "Memorial Day" NBC
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "Day 3: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m." Fox
2004-2005
(57th)
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore "Death Be Not Proud" ABC
Hank Azaria Huff Craig Huffstodt "Crazy, Nuts, and All Messed Up" Showtime
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "Detox" Fox
Ian McShane Deadwood Al Swearengen "The Whores Can Come" HBO
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "Day 4: 2:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m." Fox
2005-2006
(58th)
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "Day 5: 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m." Fox
Peter Krause Six Feet Under Nate Fisher "Time Flies" HBO
Denis Leary Rescue Me Tommy Gavin "Justice" FX
Christopher Meloni Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elliot Stabler "Ripped" NBC
Martin Sheen The West Wing Josiah Bartlet "Tomorrow"
2006-2007
(59th)
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore "Angels of Death" ABC
James Gandolfini The Sopranos Tony Soprano "The Second Coming" HBO
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "Half-Wit" Fox
Denis Leary Rescue Me Tommy Gavin "Retards" FX
Kiefer Sutherland 24 Jack Bauer "Day 6: 5:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m." Fox
2007-2008
(60th)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Pilot" AMC
Gabriel Byrne In Treatment Paul Weston "Week 4: Paul and Gina" HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan "There's Something About Harry" Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Wheel" AMC
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "House's Head" Fox
James Spader Boston Legal Alan Shore "The Court Supreme" ABC
2008-2009
(61st)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Phoenix" AMC
Simon Baker The Mentalist Patrick Jane "Pilot" CBS
Gabriel Byrne In Treatment Paul Weston "Week 4: Gina" HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Mountain King" AMC
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "Under My Skin" Fox

2010s[edit]

Year Actor Program Role Episode Network
2009-2010
(62nd)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Full Measure" AMC
Kyle Chandler Friday Night Lights Eric Taylor "East of Dillon" NBC
Matthew Fox Lost Jack Shephard "The End" ABC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan "The Getaway" Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Gypsy and the Hobo" AMC
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "Broken" Fox
2010-2011
(63rd)
Kyle Chandler Friday Night Lights Eric Taylor "Always" NBC
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire Nucky Thompson "A Return to Normalcy" HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan "Teenage Wasteland" Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Suitcase" AMC
Hugh Laurie House Gregory House "After Hours" Fox
Timothy Olyphant Justified Raylan Givens "Reckoning" FX
2011-2012
(64th)
Damian Lewis Homeland Nicholas Brody "Marine One" Showtime
Hugh Bonneville Downton Abbey Robert Grantham "Episode Seven" PBS
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire Nucky Thompson "Two Boats and a Lifeguard" HBO
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Crawl Space" AMC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Dexter Morgan "Nebraska" Showtime
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Other Woman" AMC
2012-2013
(65th)
Jeff Daniels The Newsroom Will McAvoy "We Just Decided To" HBO
Hugh Bonneville Downton Abbey Robert Grantham "Episode 3.05" PBS
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Say My Name" AMC
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "In Care Of"
Damian Lewis Homeland Nicholas Brody "Q&A" Showtime
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood "Chapter 1" Netflix
2013-2014
(66th)
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Walter White "Ozymandias" AMC
Jeff Daniels The Newsroom Will McAvoy "Election Night, Part II" HBO
Jon Hamm Mad Men Don Draper "The Strategy" AMC
Woody Harrelson True Detective Martin Hart "The Locked Room" HBO
Matthew McConaughey Rustin Cohle "Form and Void"
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Frank Underwood "Chapter 26" Netflix

Multiple wins[edit]

Multiple nominations[edit]


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

References[edit]

See also[edit]