Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

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Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Awarded for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
Currently held by Moira Walley-Beckett
Breaking Bad (2014)
Official website

The Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series is awarded to one television episode each year at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Often regarded as the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual episode of television, the nominees and winners often reflect outstanding achievement in character, emotion, and storytelling.

In the following list, the first titles listed in gold are the winners; those not in gold are nominees, which are listed in alphabetical order. The years given are those in which the ceremonies took place.[fn 1]

Award winners and nominations[edit]


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1954-55 Studio One "Twelve Angry Men" Reginald Rose CBS
Climax! "An Error in Chemistry" David Dortort CBS
Four Star Playhouse "The Answer" Leonard Freeman
Medic "White is the Color" James Moser NBC
Philco Television Playhouse Paddy Chayefsky
Best Original Teleplay Writing
Kraft Television Theatre "Patterns" Rod Serling NBC
Alcoa-Goodyear Playhouse "A Catered Affair" Paddy Chayefsky NBC
"Thunder Over Washington" David Davidson
The Philco Television Playhouse "A Man is Ten Feet Tall" Robert Alan Aurthur
The United States Steel Hour "Fearful Decision" Cyril Hume, Richard Maibaum CBS
Best Television Adaptation
Ford Star Jubilee "The Cain Mutiny Court-Martial" Paul Gregory, Franklin Schaffner CBS
The 20th Century Fox Hour "Miracle on 34th Street" John Monks CBS
"The Ox-Bow Incident" David Dortort
Climax! "The Champion" Rod Serling
Producers' Showcase "Our Town" David Shaw NBC
Best Teleplay Writing, Half Hour or Less
Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Fog Closing In" James P. Cavanaugh CBS
Frontier "Patrol" Morton Fine, David Friedkin NBC
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp "The Buntime" Dan Ullman ABC
The Loretta Young Show "The Pearl" Richard Morris NBC
Telephone Time "Man With the Beard" John Nesbitt ABC
Best Teleplay Writing, One Hour or More
Playhouse 90 "Requiem for a Heavyweight" Rod Serling CBS
Alcoa-Goodyear Playhouse "Joey" Louis Peterson NBC
"Tragedy in a Temporary Town" Reginald Rose
Kraft Television Theatre "A Night to Remember" George Roy Hill, John Whedon
Playhouse 90 "Sizeman and Son" Elick Moll CBS
Best Teleplay Writing, Half Hour or Less
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars "The Lonely Wizard" Paul Monash CBS
Father Knows Best "Margaret Hires a Gardener" Roswell Rogers NBC
Frontiers of Faith "A Chassidic Tale" Morton Wishengrad
Gunsmoke "Born to Hang" John Meston CBS
Leave It to Beaver "Beaver Gets Spelled" Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher
Best Teleplay Writing, One Hour or More
Playhouse 90 "The Comedian" Rod Serling CBS
Hallmark Hall of Fame "The Green Pastures" Marc Connelly NBC
Omnibus "The Life of Samuel Johnson" James Lee
Playhouse 90 "Miracle Worker" William Gibson CBS
Studio One "No Deadly Medicine" Arthur Hailey
Best Writing of a Single Program of a Dramatic Series Less Than One Hour
Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre "Eddie" Alfred Brenner, Ken Hughes NBC
Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre "The Loudmouth" Christopher Knopf NBC
Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Lamb to the Slaughter" Roald Dahl CBS
General Electric Theatre "One is a Wanderer" Samuel A. Taylor
Peter Gunn "The Kill" Blake Edwards NBC
Best Writing of a Single Dramatic Program One Hour or Longer
Hallmark Hall of Fame "Little Moon of Alban" James Costigan NBC
Playhouse 90 "Child of Our Time" Irving G. Neiman CBS
"Days of Wine and Roses" J.P. Miller
"The Old Man" Horton Foote
"A Town has Turned to Dust" Rod Serling


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1959-60 The Twilight Zone Rod Serling CBS
Ford Startime "The Turn of the Screw" James Costigan NBC
Playhouse 90 "Project Immortality" Loring Mandel CBS
1960-61 The Twilight Zone Rod Serling CBS
DuPont Show of the Month "The Lincoln Murder Case" Dale Wasserman CBS
NBC Sunday Showcase "The Sacco-Vanzetti Story" Reginald Rose NBC
1961-62 The Defenders Reginald Rose CBS
Alcoa Premiere "People Need People" Henry F. Greenberg ABC
Ben Casey "I Remember a Lemon Tree" Jack Laird and Marcus W. Demian
The Dick Powell Show "The Price of Tomatoes" Richard Alan Simmons NBC
The Twilight Zone Rod Serling CBS
1962-63 The Defenders "The Madman" Robert Thom and Reginald Rose CBS
Ben Casey "A Cardinal Act of Mercy" Norman Katkov ABC
The DuPont Show of the Week "Big Deal in Laredo" Sidney Carroll NBC
Hallmark Hall of Fame "The Invincible Mr. Disraeli" James Lee
Alcoa Premiere "The Voice of Charlie Pont" Halsted Welles ABC
Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama – Original
The Defenders "Blacklist" Ernest Kinoy CBS
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre "Something About Lee Wiley" David Rayfiel NBC
Breaking Point "And James was a very Small Snail Allan Sloane ABC
Dr. Kildare "What's God to Julius?" Adrian Spies NBC
East Side/West Side "Who Do You Kill?" Arnold Perl CBS
Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama – Adaptation
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre "It's Mental Work" Rod Serling NBC
Alfred Hitchcock Presents "The Jar" James Bridges CBS
Hallmark Hall of Fame "The Patriots" Robert Hartung NBC
The Richard Boone Show "The Hooligan" Walter Newman
No Award
1965-66 Hallmark Hall of Fame "Eagle in a Cage" Millard Lampell NBC
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre "The Game" S. Lee Pogostin NBC
I Spy "A Cup of Kindness" Morton S. Fine, David Friedkin
1966-67 Mission: Impossible "Mission: Impossible" Bruce Geller CBS
CBS Playhouse "The Final War of Olly Winter" Ronald Ribman CBS
I Spy "The Warlord" Robert Culp NBC
1967-68 CBS Playhouse "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" Loring Mandel CBS
CBS Playhouse "Dear Friends" Reginald Rose CBS
Ironside "Ironside: World Premiere Motion Picture" Don Mankiewicz NBC
Mission: Impossible "The Seal" Allan Balter, William Read Woodfield CBS
1968-69 CBS Playhouse "The People Next Door" J. P. Miller CBS
CBS Playhouse "The Experiment" Ellen M. Violett CBS
Hallmark Hall of Fame "Teacher, Teacher" Allan Sloane NBC


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1969-70 My Sweet Charlie Richard Levinson, William Link CBS
CBS Playhouse "Sadbird" George Bellak CBS
ABC Movie of the Week "Marcus Welby, M.D." Don Mankiewicz ABC
1970-71 The Bold Ones: The Senator "To Taste of Death but Once" Joel Oliansky NBC
The Bold Ones: The Senator "A Continual Roar of Musketry" David W. Rintels NBC
The Psychiatrist "In Death's Other Kingdom" Jerrold Freedman
1971-72 Columbo "Death Lends a Hand" Richard Levinson & William Link NBC
Columbo "Murder by the Book" Steven Bochco NBC
"Suitable for Framing" Jackson Gillis
1972-73 The Waltons "The Scholar" John McGreevey CBS
Columbo "Etude in Black" Steven Bochco, William Link & Richard Levinson NBC
The Waltons "The Love Story" Earl Hamner Jr. CBS
1973-74 The Waltons "The Thanksgiving Story" Joanna Lee CBS
Kojak "Death is Not a Passing Grade" Gene R. Kearney CBS
The Waltons "The Easter Story" John McGreevey
1974-75 Benjamin Franklin "The Ambassador" Howard Fast CBS
Benjamin Franklin "The Whirlwind" Loring Mandel CBS
Police Story "Robbery: 48 Hours" Robert L. Collins NBC
Upstairs, Downstairs "The Bolter" John Hawkesworth PBS
"Miss Forrest" Alfred Shaughnessy
1975-76 The Adams Chronicles "John Adams, Lawyer" Sherman Yellen PBS
Great Performances "Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill" Julian Mitchell PBS
The Law "Complaint Amended" Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner NBC
Rich Man, Poor Man "Part I" Dean Riesner ABC
Upstairs, Downstairs "Another Year" Alfred Shaughnessy PBS
1976-77 Roots "Part II" William Blinn and Ernest Kinoy ABC
The Adams Chronicles "Charles Francis Adams: Minister to Great Britain" Roger O. Hirson PBS
"John Quincy Adams: President" Tad Mosel
Roots "Part V" James Lee ABC
"Part VIII" M. Charles Cohen
1977-78 Holocaust Gerald Green NBC
The Dain Curse Robert W. Lenski CBS
King Abby Mann NBC
Meeting of Minds Steve Allen PBS
The Norman Conquests Alan Ayckbourn
1978-79 Lou Grant "Dying" Michele Gallery CBS
Lou Grant "Marathon" Gene Reynolds CBS
"Vet" Leon Tokatyan
The Paper Chase "The Late Mr. Hart" James Bridges


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1979-80 Lou Grant "Cop" Seth Freeman CBS
Lou Grant "Brushfire" Allan Burns, Gene Reynolds CBS
"Lou" Michele Gallery
Skag "Pilot" Abby Mann NBC
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe Stephen J. Cannell ABC
1980-81 Hill Street Blues "Hill Street Station" Steven Bochco, Michael Kozoll NBC
American Dream "Pilot" Ronald M. Cohen, Barbara Corday, Ken Hecht ABC
Hill Street Blues "Jungle Madness" Steven Bochco, Michael Kozoll, Anthony Yerkovich NBC
Lou Grant "Rape" Seth Freeman CBS
"Strike" April Smith
1981-82 Hill Street Blues "Freedom's Last Stand" Steven Bochco, Michael Kozoll, Jeff Lewis, Michael I. Wagner, Anthony Yerkovich NBC
Hill Street Blues "Personal Foul" Steven Bochco, Jeff Lewis, Michael I. Wagner, Anthony Yerkovich NBC
"The Second Oldest Profession" Steven Bochco, Robert Crais, Michael Kozoll, Anthony Yerkovich
"The World According to Freedom" Michael I. Wagner
Lou Grant "Blacklist" Seth Freeman CBS
1982-83 Hill Street Blues "Trial by Fury" David Milch NBC
Hill Street Blues "Eugene's Comedy Empire Strikes Back" Steven Bochco, Karen Hall, Jeff Lewis, David Milch, Anthony Yerkovich NBC
"A Hair of the Dog" Steven Bochco, Jeff Lewis, Anthony Yerkovich
"No Body's Perfect" Steven Bochco, Jeff Lewis, David Milch, Michael I. Wagner, Anthony Yerkovich
"Officer of the Year" Karen Hall
1983-84 St. Elsewhere "The Women" Tom Fontana, John Masius, John Ford Noonan NBC
Hill Street Blues "Doris in Wonderland" Steven Bochco, Jeff Lewis, David Milch, Peter Silverman NBC
"Grace Under Pressure" Steven Bochco, Mark Frost, Karen Hall, Jeff Lewis, David Milch, Michael I. Wagner
St. Elsewhere "All About Eve" Tom Fontana, John Masius
"Newhart" Tom Fontana, John Masius, Emilie R. Small, Garn Stephens
"Qui Transulit Sustinet" Tom Fontana, John Masius, John Tinker, Mark Tinker
1984-85 Cagney & Lacey "Who Said it's Fair" (Part II) Patricia Green CBS
Cagney & Lacey "Child Witness" Deborah Arakelian CBS
Hill Street Blues "The Rise and Fall of Paul the Wall" Jacob Epstein, Michael I. Wagner NBC
Miami Vice "Pilot" Anthony Yerkovich
St. Elsewhere "Murder, She Rote" Steve Bello, Tom Fontana, John Masius
"Sweet Dreams" Tom Fontana, John Masius
1985-86 St. Elsewhere "Time Heals" Tom Fontana, John Masius, John Tinker NBC
Hill Street Blues "What Are Friends For?" Dick Wolf NBC
Moonlighting "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice" Debra Frank, Carl Sautter ABC
"Twas the Episode Before Christmas" Glenn Gordon Caron
St. Elsewhere "Haunted" Charles H. Eglee, Tom Fontana, Channing Gibson, John Masius, John Tinker NBC
1986-87 L.A. Law "The Venus Butterfly" Steven Bochco, Terry Louise Fisher NBC
Cagney & Lacey "Turn, Turn, Turn" (Part I) Georgia Jeffries CBS
Hill Street Blues "It Ain't Over Till It's Over" Jeff Lewis, David Milch, John Romano NBC
L.A. Law "Sidney the Dead-Nosed Reindeer" William M. Finkelstein
Moonlighting "I Am Curious... Maddie" Glenn Gordon Caron, Roger Director, Charles H. Eglee, Karen Hall, Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno ABC
"Atomic Shakespeare" Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno
St. Elsewhere "Afterlife" Tom Fontana, John Masius, John Tinker NBC
1987-88 thirtysomething "Business as Usual" Paul Haggis, Marshall Herskovitz ABC
Beauty and the Beast "Pilot" Ron Koslow CBS
China Beach John Sacret Young ABC
L.A. Law "Beauty and Obese" Terry Louise Fisher, David E. Kelley NBC
"Full Martial Jacket" Steven Bochco, Terry Louise Fisher, David E. Kelley
St. Elsewhere "The Last One" Tom Fontana, Channing Gibson, Bruce Paltrow, John Tinker, Mark Tinker
1988-89 thirtysomething "First Day/Last Day" Joseph Dougherty ABC
L.A. Law "His Suit Is Hirsute" Steven Bochco, David E. Kelley, William M. Finkelstein, Michele Gallery NBC
"I'm in the Nude for Love" David E. Kelley
"Urine Trouble Now" David E. Kelley, William M. Finkelstein, Michele Gallery, Judith Parker
thirtysomething "The Mike Van Dyke Show" Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick ABC


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1989-90 L.A. Law "Blood, Sweat & Fears" David E. Kelley NBC
L.A. Law "Bang...Zoom...Zap" William M. Finkelstein, David E. Kelley NBC
thirtysomething "The Go-Between" Joseph Dougherty ABC
Twin Peaks "Pilot" Mark Frost, David Lynch
"Episode 3" Harley Peyton
1990-91 L.A. Law "On the Toad Again" David E. Kelley NBC
L.A. Law "Lie Harder" Judith Feldman, Sarah Woodside Gallagher NBC
"Mutinies on the Banzai" Alan Brennert, Patricia Green, David E. Kelley
Northern Exposure "Pilot" Joshua Brand, John Falsey CBS
thirtysomething "Second Look" Ann Lewis Hamilton ABC
1991-92 Northern Exposure "Seoul Mates" Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider CBS
China Beach "Hello-Goodbye" Carol Flint, John Sacret Young, John Wells, Lydia Woodward ABC
I'll Fly Away "Master Magician" David Chase NBC
Northern Exposure "Burning Down the House" Robin Green CBS
"Democracy in America" Jeff Melvoin
1992-93 Homicide: Life on the Street "Three Men and Adena" Tom Fontana NBC
Homefront "The Lacemakeres" Bernard Lechowick ABC
Law & Order "Manhood" Walon Green, Robert Nathan NBC
Northern Exposure "Kaddish for Uncle Manny" Jeff Melvoin CBS
"Midnight Sun" Geoffrey Neigher
1993-94 NYPD Blue "Steroid Roy" Ann Biderman ABC
NYPD Blue "NYPD Lou" Ted Mann ABC
"Personal Foul" Burton Armus, David Milch
"Pilot" Steven Bochco, David Milch
"Tempest in a C-Cup" Gardner Stern
1994-95 ER "Love's Labor Lost" Lance Gentile NBC
ER "Pilot" Michael Crichton NBC
My So-Called Life Winnie Holzman ABC
NYPD Blue "Simone Says" Steven Bochco, Walon Green, David Milch
The X-Files "Duane Barry" Chris Carter Fox
1995-96 The X-Files "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" Darin Morgan Fox
ER "The Healers" John Wells NBC
"Hell and High Water" Neal Baer
Murder One "Chapter One" Steven Bochco, Charles H. Eglee, Channing Gibson, David Milch ABC
NYPD Blue "The Backboard Jungle" David Mills, William L. Morris
1996-97 NYPD Blue "Where's Swaldo?" Stephen Gaghan, David Milch, Michael R. Perry ABC
ER "Faith" John Wells NBC
"Whose Appy Now?" Neal Baer
NYPD Blue "Taillight's Last Gleaming" David Mills ABC
The X-Files "Memento Mori" Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz Fox
1997-98 NYPD Blue "Lost Israel" (Part II) David Milch, Nicholas Wootton, Bill Clark ABC
Homicide: Life on the Street "Subway" James Yoshimura NBC
NYPD Blue "Lost Israel" (Part I) David Milch, Ted Mann, Bill Clark, Meredith Stiehm ABC
The Practice "Betrayal" David E. Kelley
The X-Files "The Post-Modern Prometheus" Chris Carter Fox
1998-99 The Sopranos "College" David Chase, James Manos, Jr. HBO
NYPD Blue "Hearts and Souls" Steven Bochco, Bill Clark, David Milch, Nicholas Wootton ABC
The Sopranos "Isabella" Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green HBO
"Nobody Knows Anything" Frank Renzulli
"The Sopranos" David Chase


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
1999-2000 The West Wing "In Excelsis Deo" Rick Cleveland, Aaron Sorkin NBC
Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Hush" Joss Whedon The WB
The Sopranos "Funhouse" David Chase, Todd A. Kessler HBO
"The Knight in White Satin Armor" Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
The West Wing "Pilot" Aaron Sorkin NBC
2000-01 The Sopranos "Employee of the Month" Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green HBO
The Sopranos "Amour Fou" David Chase, Frank Renzulli HBO
"Pine Barrens" Tim Van Patten, Terence Winter
"Second Opinion" Lawrence Konner
The West Wing "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" Aaron Sorkin NBC
2001-02 24 "12:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m." Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow Fox
Alias "Truth Be Told" J. J. Abrams ABC
ER "On the Beach" John Wells NBC
The Shield "Pilot" Shawn Ryan FX
The West Wing "Posse Comitatus" Aaron Sorkin NBC
2002-03 The Sopranos "Whitecaps" Mitchell Burgess, David Chase, Robin Green HBO
Six Feet Under "Twilight" Craig Wright HBO
The Sopranos "Eloise" Terence Winter
"Whoever Did This" Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
The West Wing "Twenty Five" Aaron Sorkin NBC
2003-04 The Sopranos "Long Term Parking" Terence Winter HBO
Deadwood "Deadwood" David Milch HBO
The Sopranos "Irregular Around the Margins" Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
"Unidentified Black Males" Matthew Weiner, Terence Winter
"Where's Johnny?" Michael Caleo
2004-05 House "Three Stories" David Shore Fox
Lost "Pilot" J. J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof ABC
"Walkabout" David Fury
Rescue Me "Pilot" Denis Leary, Peter Tolan FX
The Wire "Middle Ground" George Pelecanos, David Simon HBO
2005-06 The Sopranos "Members Only" Terence Winter HBO
Grey's Anatomy "Into You Like a Train" Krista Vernoff ABC
"It's the End of the World / As We Know It" Shonda Rhimes
Lost "The 23rd Psalm" Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof
Six Feet Under "Everyone's Waiting" Alan Ball HBO
2006-07 The Sopranos "Made in America" David Chase HBO
Battlestar Galactica "Occupation" / "Precipice" Ronald D. Moore Sci-Fi Channel
Lost "Through the Looking Glass" Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof ABC
The Sopranos "Kennedy and Heidi" David Chase, Matthew Weiner HBO
"The Second Coming" Terence Winter
2007-08 Mad Men "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" Matthew Weiner AMC
Battlestar Galactica "Six of One" Michael Angeli Sci-Fi Channel
Damages "Get Me a Lawyer" Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman FX
Mad Men "The Wheel" Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner AMC
The Wire "–30–" Ed Burns, David Simon HBO
2008-09 Mad Men "Meditations in an Emergency" Kater Gordon, Matthew Weiner AMC
Lost "The Incident" Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof ABC
Mad Men "The Jet Set" Matthew Weiner AMC
"A Night to Remember" Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner
"Six Month Leave" Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Matthew Weiner


Year Show Episode Writer(s) Network
2009-10 Mad Men "Shut the Door. Have a Seat." Erin Levy, Matthew Weiner AMC
Friday Night Lights "The Son" Rolin Jones The 101 Network
The Good Wife "Pilot" Michelle King, Robert King CBS
Lost "The End" Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof ABC
Mad Men "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency" Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner AMC
2010-11 Friday Night Lights "Always" Jason Katims The 101 Network
Game of Thrones "Baelor" David Benioff, D. B. Weiss HBO
The Killing "Pilot" Veena Sud AMC
Mad Men "Blowing Smoke" Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton
"The Suitcase" Matthew Weiner
2011-12 Homeland "Pilot" Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff Showtime
Downton Abbey "Episode Seven" Julian Fellowes PBS
Mad Men "Commissions and Fees" Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton AMC
"Far Away Places" Semi Chellas, Matthew Weiner
"The Other Woman"
2012-13 Homeland "Q&A" Henry Bromell Showtime
Breaking Bad "Dead Freight" George Mastras AMC
"Say My Name" Thomas Schnauz
Downton Abbey "Episode Four" Julian Fellowes PBS
Game of Thrones "The Rains of Castamere" David Benioff, D. B. Weiss HBO
2013-14 Breaking Bad "Ozymandias" Moira Walley-Beckett AMC
Breaking Bad "Felina" Vince Gilligan AMC
Game of Thrones "The Children" David Benioff, D. B. Weiss HBO
House of Cards "Chapter 14" Beau Willimon Netflix
True Detective "The Secret Fate of All Life" Nic Pizzolatto HBO

Programs with multiple awards[edit]

Programs with multiple nominations[edit]

People with multiple awards[edit]


  1. ^ Though this category is the dominant one in which dramatic writing has been recognized, there were a few years in which the categories were determined by running time, not genre. The 17th Primetime Emmy Awards only had one writing category, for all genres, it is not listed below. Hence, the entirety of all of the dramatic nominees are not listed below, though each shows cumulative total at the bottom is correct.