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 Role Program Network
1953
(6th)
[note 1]
Donald O'Connor Himself The Colgate Comedy Hour NBC
Sid Caesar Various Characters Your Show of Shows NBC
Wally Cox Robinson Peepers Mister Peepers
Jackie Gleason Ralph Kramden The Jackie Gleason Show CBS
Jack Webb Sgt. Joe Friday Dragnet NBC
1954
(7th)
[note 1]
Danny Thomas Danny Williams Make Room for Daddy ABC
Richard Boone Dr. Konrad Styner Medic NBC
Robert Cummings Robert Beanblossom My Hero
Jackie Gleason Ralph Kramden The Jackie Gleason Show CBS
Jack Webb Sgt. Joe Friday Dragnet NBC
1955
(8th)
[note 1]
Phil Silvers MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko The Phil Silvers Show CBS
Bob Cummings Bob Collins The Bob Cummings Show CBS
Jackie Gleason Ralph Kramden The Jackie Gleason Show
Danny Thomas Danny Williams Make Room for Daddy ABC
Robert Young Jim Anderson Father Knows Best CBS
1956
(9th)
Robert Young Jim Anderson Father Knows Best NBC
James Arness Marshal Matt Dillon Gunsmoke CBS
Charles Boyer Various Characters Four Star Playhouse
David Niven
Hugh O'Brian Wyatt Earp The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp ABC
1957
(10th)
[note 1]
Robert Young Jim Anderson Father Knows Best NBC
James Arness Marshal Matt Dillon Gunsmoke CBS
Bob Cummings Bob Collins The Bob Cummings Show
Phil Silvers MSgt. Ernest G. Bilko The Phil Silvers Show
Danny Thomas Danny Williams The Danny Thomas Show ABC / CBS
1959
(11th)
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
James Arness Marshal Matt Dillon Gunsmoke CBS
Richard Boone Paladin Have Gun – Will Travel
James Garner Bret Maverick Maverick ABC
Craig Stevens Peter Gunn Peter Gunn NBC
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Stuart Bailey 77 Sunset Strip ABC

1960s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
1960
(12th)
[note 1]
Robert Stack Eliot Ness The Untouchables ABC
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Richard Boone Paladin Have Gun – Will Travel
1961
(13th)
[note 1]
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason CBS
Jackie Cooper Chick Hennesey Hennesey CBS
Robert Stack Eliot Ness The Untouchables
1962
(14th)
[note 1]
E. G. Marshall Lawrence Preston The Defenders CBS
Vincent Edwards Ben Casey Ben Casey ABC
Jackie Cooper Chick Hennesey Hennesey CBS
Paul Burke Adam Flint Naked City ABC
George Maharis Buz Murdock Route 66 CBS
1963
(15th)
[note 1]
E. G. Marshall Lawrence Preston The Defenders CBS
Vic Morrow Sgt. Sanders Combat! ABC
Dick Van Dyke Rob Petrie The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS
Ernest Borgnine Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale McHale's Navy
Paul Burke Det. Adam Flint Naked City ABC
1964
(16th)
[note 1]
Dick Van Dyke Rob Petrie The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS
Richard Boone Various Characters The Richard Boone Show NBC
Dean Jagger Principal Albert Vane Mr. Novak
David Janssen Dr. Richard Kimble The Fugitive ABC
George C. Scott Neil Brock East Side/West Side CBS
1965
(17th)
No Award
1966
(18th)
Bill Cosby Alexander Scott I Spy NBC
David Janssen Dr. Richard Kimble The Fugitive ABC
Robert Culp Kelly Robinson I Spy NBC
David McCallum Illya Kuryakin The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Richard Crenna James Slattery Slattery's People CBS
1967
(19th)
Bill Cosby Alexander Scott I Spy NBC
David Janssen Dr. Richard Kimble The Fugitive ABC
Robert Culp Kelly Robinson I Spy NBC
Martin Landau Rollin Hand Mission: Impossible CBS
Ben Gazzara Paul Bryan Run for Your Life NBC
1968
(20th)
Bill Cosby Alexander Scott I Spy NBC
Robert Culp Kelly Robinson I Spy NBC
Raymond Burr Robert T. Ironside Ironside
Martin Landau Rollin Hand Mission: Impossible CBS
Ben Gazzara Paul Bryan Run for Your Life NBC
1969
(21st)
Carl Betz Clinton Judd Judd, for the Defense ABC
Raymond Burr Robert T. Ironside Ironside NBC
Peter Graves Jim Phelps Mission: Impossible CBS
Martin Landau Rollin Hand
Ross Martin Artemus Gordon The Wild Wild West

1970s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
1970
(22nd)
Robert Young Dr. Marcus Welby Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC
Raymond Burr Robert T. Ironside Ironside NBC
Robert Wagner Al Mundy It Takes a Thief ABC
Mike Connors Joe Mannix Mannix CBS
1971
(23rd)
Hal Holbrook Hays Stowe The Bold Ones: The Senator NBC
Raymond Burr Robert T. Ironside Ironside NBC
Mike Connors Joe Mannix Mannix CBS
Robert Young Dr. Marcus Welby Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC
1972
(24th)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Raymond Burr Robert T. Ironside Ironside NBC
Mike Connors Joe Mannix Mannix CBS
Robert Young Dr. Marcus Welby Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC
Keith Michell # Henry VIII of England The Six Wives of Henry VIII CBS
1973
(25th)
Richard Thomas John-Boy Walton The Waltons CBS
William Conrad Frank Cannon Cannon CBS
David Carradine Kwai Chang Caine Kung Fu ABC
Mike Connors Joe Mannix Mannix CBS
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
1974
(26th)
Telly Savalas Lt. Theo Kojak Kojak CBS
William Conrad Frank Cannon Cannon CBS
Karl Malden Lt. Mike Stone The Streets of San Francisco ABC
Richard Thomas John-Boy Walton The Waltons CBS
1975
(27th)
Robert Blake Det. Tony Baretta Baretta ABC
Telly Savalas Theo Kojak Kojak CBS
Barry Newman Anthony J. Petrocelli Petrocelli NBC
Karl Malden Lt. Mike Stone The Streets of San Francisco ABC
1976
(28th)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
James Garner Jim Rockford The Rockford Files NBC
Karl Malden Lt. Mike Stone The Streets of San Francisco ABC
1977
(29th)
James Garner Jim Rockford The Rockford Files NBC
Robert Blake Det. Tony Baretta Baretta ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Jack Klugman Dr. R. Quincy, M.E. Quincy, M.E.
Karl Malden Lt. Mike Stone The Streets of San Francisco ABC
1978
(30th)
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
James Broderick Doug Lawrence Family ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo NBC
Jack Klugman Dr. R. Quincy, M.E. Quincy, M.E.
James Garner Jim Rockford The Rockford Files
Ralph Waite John Walton, Sr. The Waltons CBS
1979
(31st)
Ron Leibman Kazinsky Kaz CBS
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Jack Klugman Dr. R. Quincy, M.E. Quincy, M.E. NBC
James Garner Jim Rockford The Rockford Files

1980s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
1980
(32nd)
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
James Garner Jim Rockford The Rockford Files NBC
Larry Hagman J. R. Ewing Dallas CBS
Jack Klugman R. Quincy Quincy, M.E. NBC
1981
(33rd)
Daniel J. Travanti Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues NBC
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
Jim Davis (posthumously) Jock Ewing Dallas
Louis Gossett Jr. § Bessie's Father Palmerstown, U.S.A.
Larry Hagman J. R. Ewing Dallas
Pernell Roberts Trapper John McIntyre Trapper John, M.D.
1982
(34th)
Daniel J. Travanti Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues NBC
Ed Asner Lou Grant Lou Grant CBS
John Forsythe Blake Carrington Dynasty ABC
James Garner Bret Maverick Bret Maverick NBC
Tom Selleck Thomas Magnum Magnum, P.I. CBS
1983
(35th)
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall St. Elsewhere NBC
William Daniels Mark Craig St. Elsewhere NBC
John Forsythe Blake Carrington Dynasty ABC
Tom Selleck Thomas Magnum Magnum, P.I. CBS
Daniel J. Travanti Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues NBC
1984
(36th)
[1]
Tom Selleck Thomas Magnum Magnum, P.I. CBS
William Daniels Mark Craig St. Elsewhere NBC
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall
John Forsythe Blake Carrington Dynasty ABC
Daniel J. Travanti Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues NBC
1985
(37th)
William Daniels Mark Craig St. Elsewhere NBC
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall St. Elsewhere NBC
Don Johnson Sonny Crockett Miami Vice
Tom Selleck Thomas Magnum Magnum, P.I. CBS
Daniel J. Travanti Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues NBC
1986
(38th)
William Daniels Mark Craig St. Elsewhere NBC
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall St. Elsewhere NBC
Tom Selleck Thomas Magnum Magnum, P.I. CBS
Bruce Willis David Addison Moonlighting ABC
Edward Woodward Robert McCall The Equalizer CBS
1987
(39th)
Bruce Willis David Addison Moonlighting ABC
Corbin Bernsen Arnie Becker L.A. Law NBC
William Daniels Mark Craig St. Elsewhere
Ed Flanders Donald Westphall
Edward Woodward Robert McCall The Equalizer CBS
1988
(40th)
Richard Kiley Joe Gardner A Year in the Life NBC
Corbin Bernsen Arnie Becker L.A. Law NBC
Ron Perlman Vincent Beauty and the Beast CBS
Michael Tucker Stuart Markowitz L.A. Law NBC
Edward Woodward Robert McCall The Equalizer CBS
1989
(41st)
Carroll O'Connor Bill Gillespie In the Heat of the Night NBC
Ron Perlman Vincent Beauty and the Beast CBS
Michael Tucker Stuart Markowitz L.A. Law NBC
Ken Wahl Vinnie Terranova Wiseguy CBS
Edward Woodward Robert McCall The Equalizer

1990s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
1990
(42nd)
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Scott Bakula Dr. Sam Beckett Quantum Leap NBC
Robert Loggia Nick Mancuso Mancuso, F.B.I.
Kyle MacLachlan Dale Cooper Twin Peaks ABC
Edward Woodward Robert McCall The Equalizer CBS
1991
(43rd)
James Earl Jones Gabriel Bird Gabriel's Fire ABC
Scott Bakula Dr. Sam Beckett Quantum Leap NBC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo ABC
Kyle MacLachlan Dale Cooper Twin Peaks
Michael Moriarty Benjamin Stone Law & Order NBC
1992
(44th)
Christopher Lloyd § Alistair Dimple Road to Avonlea Disney
Scott Bakula Dr. Sam Beckett Quantum Leap NBC
Kirk Douglas § General Kalthrob Tales from the Crypt HBO
Michael Moriarty Benjamin Stone Law & Order NBC
Rob Morrow Joel Fleischman Northern Exposure CBS
Harrison Page § Reverend Walters Quantum Leap NBC
Sam Waterston Forrest Bedford I'll Fly Away
1993
(45th)
Tom Skerritt Jimmy Brock Picket Fences CBS
Scott Bakula Dr. Sam Beckett Quantum Leap NBC
Michael Moriarty Benjamin Stone Law & Order
Rob Morrow Joel Fleischman Northern Exposure CBS
Sam Waterston Forrest Bedford I'll Fly Away NBC
1994
(46th)
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
David Caruso John Kelly NYPD Blue ABC
Peter Falk Columbo Columbo
Michael Moriarty Benjamin Stone Law & Order NBC
Tom Skerritt Jimmy Brock Picket Fences CBS
1995
(47th)
Mandy Patinkin Dr. Jeffrey Geiger Chicago Hope CBS
George Clooney Dr. Doug Ross ER NBC
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
1996
(48th)
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
Andre Braugher Frank Pembleton Homicide: Life on the Street NBC
George Clooney Dr. Doug Ross ER
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone NYPD Blue ABC
1997
(49th)
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
David Duchovny Fox Mulder The X-Files Fox
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene ER NBC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone NYPD Blue ABC
Sam Waterston Jack McCoy Law & Order NBC
1998
(50th)
Andre Braugher Frank Pembleton Homicide: Life on the Street NBC
David Duchovny Fox Mulder The X-Files Fox
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene ER NBC
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone
1999
(51st)
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Dylan McDermott Bobby Donnell The Practice ABC
Jimmy Smits Bobby Simone NYPD Blue
Sam Waterston Jack McCoy Law & Order NBC

2000s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
2000
(52nd)
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue ABC
Jerry Orbach Lennie Briscoe Law & Order NBC
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet The West Wing
Sam Waterston Jack McCoy Law & Order
2001
(53rd)
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Andre Braugher Dr. Ben Gideon Gideon's Crossing ABC
Dennis Franz Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue
Rob Lowe Sam Seaborn The West Wing NBC
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet
2002
(54th)
Michael Chiklis Vic Mackey The Shield FX
Michael C. Hall David Fisher Six Feet Under HBO
Peter Krause Nate Fisher
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet The West Wing NBC
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
2003
(55th)
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Michael Chiklis Vic Mackey The Shield FX
Peter Krause Nate Fisher Six Feet Under HBO
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet The West Wing NBC
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
2004
(56th)
James Spader Alan Shore The Practice ABC
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Anthony LaPaglia Jack Malone Without a Trace CBS
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet The West Wing NBC
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
2005
(57th)
James Spader Alan Shore Boston Legal ABC
Hank Azaria Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt Huff Showtime
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox
Ian McShane Al Swearengen Deadwood HBO
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
2006
(58th)
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
Peter Krause Nate Fisher Six Feet Under HBO
Denis Leary Tommy Gavin Rescue Me FX
Christopher Meloni Elliot Stabler Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC
Martin Sheen Josiah Bartlet The West Wing
2007
(59th)
James Spader Alan Shore Boston Legal ABC
James Gandolfini Tony Soprano The Sopranos HBO
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox
Denis Leary Tommy Gavin Rescue Me FX
Kiefer Sutherland Jack Bauer 24 Fox
2008
(60th)
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Gabriel Byrne Dr. Paul Weston In Treatment HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Morgan Dexter Showtime
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox
James Spader Alan Shore Boston Legal ABC
2009
(61st)
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Simon Baker Patrick Jane The Mentalist CBS
Gabriel Byrne Dr. Paul Weston In Treatment HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Morgan Dexter Showtime
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox

2010s[edit]

Year Actor Role Program Network
2010
(62nd)
[2]
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Kyle Chandler Eric Taylor Friday Night Lights DirecTV
Matthew Fox Dr. Jack Shephard Lost ABC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Morgan Dexter Showtime
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox
2011
(63rd)
[3]
Kyle Chandler Eric Taylor Friday Night Lights DirecTV
Steve Buscemi Nucky Thompson Boardwalk Empire HBO
Michael C. Hall Dexter Morgan Dexter Showtime
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House House Fox
Timothy Olyphant Raylan Givens Justified FX
2012
(64th)
[4]
Damian Lewis Nicholas Brody Homeland Showtime
Hugh Bonneville Robert Crawley Downton Abbey PBS
Steve Buscemi Nucky Thompson Boardwalk Empire HBO
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Michael C. Hall Dexter Morgan Dexter Showtime
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
2013
(65th)
[5]
Jeff Daniels Will McAvoy The Newsroom HBO
Hugh Bonneville Robert Crawley Downton Abbey PBS
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men
Damian Lewis Nicholas Brody Homeland Showtime
Kevin Spacey Frank Underwood House of Cards Netflix
2014
(66th)
[6]
Bryan Cranston Walter White Breaking Bad AMC
Jeff Daniels Will McAvoy The Newsroom HBO
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Woody Harrelson Martin Hart True Detective HBO
Matthew McConaughey Rustin Cohle
Kevin Spacey Frank Underwood House of Cards Netflix
2015
(67th)
[7]
Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men AMC
Kyle Chandler John Rayburn Bloodline Netflix
Jeff Daniels Will McAvoy The Newsroom HBO
Bob Odenkirk Jimmy McGill Better Call Saul AMC
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey Frank Underwood House of Cards Netflix
2016
(68th)
[8]
Rami Malek Elliot Alderson Mr. Robot USA
Kyle Chandler John Rayburn Bloodline Netflix
Bob Odenkirk Jimmy McGill Better Call Saul AMC
Matthew Rhys Philip Jennings The Americans FX
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey Frank Underwood House of Cards Netflix
2017
(69th)
[9]
Sterling K. Brown Randall Pearson This Is Us NBC
Anthony Hopkins Dr. Robert Ford Westworld HBO
Bob Odenkirk Jimmy McGill Better Call Saul AMC
Matthew Rhys Philip Jennings The Americans FX
Liev Schreiber Ray Donovan Ray Donovan Showtime
Kevin Spacey Frank Underwood House of Cards Netflix
Milo Ventimiglia Jack Pearson This Is Us NBC
2018
Jason Bateman Marty Byrde Ozark Netflix
Sterling K. Brown Randall Pearson This Is Us NBC
Ed Harris The Man in Black / William Westworld HBO
Matthew Rhys Philip Jennings The Americans FX
Milo Ventimiglia Jack Pearson This Is Us NBC
Jeffrey Wright Bernard Lowe Westworld HBO

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]