Frasier became the first series to win Outstanding Comedy Series four consecutive years, it joined Hill Street Blues which won Outstanding Drama Series four straight years a decade earlier. For the first time since 1979, James Burrows did not receive a Directing nomination, ending his run at 17 consecutive years. Beginning the following year, Burrows would begin a new streak that lasted another six years. In the drama field perennial nominee Law & Order won for its seventh season. In winning Law & Order became the first drama series that did not have serialized story arcs since Hill Street Blues perfected the formula. Law & Order remains the only non-serialized winner since 1981.
Ratings champion ER also made Emmy history on the night, but not in the way it had hoped. ER came into the ceremony with 17 major nominations, the most on the night and, at that point, second most ever for a comedy or drama series. Unfortunately, the series never heard its name called, going 0/17 in major categories, smashing the record for largest shutout in major categories set by Northern Exposure in 1993, which went 0/11. Fortunately for ER, it did win 3 Creative Arts awards to bring its total output to 3/21, this meant that Northern Exposure still held the title for worst total shutout with an 0/16 tally.
The 1997 awards marked the end of a 20-year residency for the Primetime Emmys at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium dating back to the 1977 ceremony.