Forget Courteney Cox, people. The real actress whose face should be found right next to “robbed like cray cray,” or perhaps another, adult phrase, is Jane Kaczmarek, who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series seven times for Malcolm in the Middle and never won. She lost to everyone from Patricia Heaton to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (that other, non-Seinfeld show she was on), and even Jennifer Aniston’s nipples in 2002.
As far as the role that he was best known for in regard to his television career, John Goodman found little Emmy success as Dan Conner on Roseanne. He was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series every year from 1989 to 1995, but thanks to big, old jerks like Ted Danson, Craig T. Nelson, Kelsey Grammer, Burt Reynolds, and John Lithgow, he never won. Goodman has been nominated for 11 Emmys in his career, and his only win came for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. In fact, that’s the only way we remember that show ever existed.
Closing out the “Unlucky 7 Club” is Julia Duffy, who was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress seven times for Newhart. In case you’re not good at following trends, she never won either. I’d expect that to be obvious by now.
30 Rock, perhaps the greatest show ever created, was celebrated as the Outstanding Comedy Series three times, but when it came to the people directing those amazing and hilarious episodes? Zilch. 30 Rock was nominated eight times for Outstanding Directing, including three episodes in 2009 – “Apollo, Apollo,” “Generalissimo” and “Reunion,” which is one of the best episodes of television ever created – but none of those directors, and specifically Beth McCarth-Miller, who was nominated three times, took home the gold.
The Andy Griffith Show was nominated for nine Emmys from 1961-1963 and ‘66 and ‘67, and not a single one of them was for the titular star. I know that makes the number a little misleading, but OUTRAGE!!! Don Knotts won for his role as Barney Fife in each of those years, but the show never won as a series (it lost to The Monkees in ’67, because people LOVED smoking marijuana cigarettes in the ‘60s). Griffith was also never nominated for Matlock, which is going to infuriate your grandparents even more.
Despite being a big star on the popular TV series Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery was nominated nine times in her career (five for Bewitched), but never won.
Curb Your Enthusiasm has been nominated for an incredible 39 Primetime Emmys, including seven for Outstanding Comedy Series, 10 for Outstanding Directing and five for Outstanding Lead Actor for Larry David. However, the show has only won twice – once for Outstanding Directing in 2003 and the other in 2012 for Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing, whatever the hell that means.
We are legally required to mention in any post about actors and personalities on TV that have lost at the Emmys multiple times that Susan Lucci was once the queen of losing with 19 consecutive nominations without a victory. Sure, it was only the Daytime Emmys and the only award that actually matters at that event is Outstanding Game Show Host, so long as Steve Harvey wins every year for the rest of time, but people still love talking about this story every single year.
American Idol finally won a Creative Arts Emmy in 2007 after being nominated and losing 22 times in its first six seasons. Still, Fox’s talent show has never won Outstanding Reality Competition in nine nominations, and it hasn’t been nominated since 2011. To add insult to injury, NBC’s The Voice won the Outstanding Reality Competition Emmy in just its second season.
Bill Maher was basically the biggest Emmy loser in history, but a Creative Arts Emmy win for Vice finally ended his incredible shutout. Until this year, the host of HBO’s Real Time had 0 wins in 32 nominations for performing, writing and producing a variety of shows and performances over his long career. He’s also nominated this year as an executive producer for Real Time, but that will probably lose to The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, so it’s a good thing that his work as a producer on Vice was good enough to include him in the win column. Still, even if the shutout was still intact, Maher would be fine, because… he’s a gangsta.
(As always, this is not a comprehensive list, so if one of your favorite actors is a bigger loser than those mentioned, feel free to stick up for him or her. Unless they were on Friends.)