Contenders for certain categories (e.g., directing, writing, guest acting) at the Emmys designate specific episode before the nominations process begins. Should they then be nominated, it will be these episodes that are viewed by the judging panels.
Compare that to most of the primetime telecast categories where series regulars who reap bids then choose a single episode to submit to the judges while producers of comedy and drama series nominated for the top prizes pick six episodes that will be sent in pairs to the panels. (See all the submitted episodes across the categories and genres here.)
Some series enter a range of episodes, while others opt for a block that narratively builds to a climax, often in the finale. Pilots are also a safe choice as they require no context and clearly showcase new work.
The most nominated episodes of 2013 are a pilot and a series finale, each of which reaped seven bids:
“House of Cards“: “Chapter 1” – drama series, directing, lead actor Kevin Spacey, cinematography, editing, music composition, title theme; and
Last year, the “Homeland” pilot topped scripted series episodes with three wins: drama series, writing and editing. This year, the fifth episode of the sophomore season — “Q&A” — contends in six categories: drama series, writing, directing, lead actor Damian Lewis, lead actress Claire Danes, guest actor Rupert Friend.
Last year, the season finale of Downton Abbey” tied that of “Breaking Bad” with eight nominations each, although neither won a single trophy. “Christmas at Downton Abbey” contended for drama series, writing, directing, lead actor Hugh Bonneville, lead actress Michelle Dockery, supporting actor Brendan Coyle, supporting actress Joanne Froggatt and editing. This year, the fourth episode of “Downton Abbey” is nominated for five Emmys: drama series, writing, directing, costumes, hairstyling.
Also up for five awards is the fourth episode of “Game of Thrones” — “And Now His Watch is Ended” — drama series, supporting actress Emilia Clarke, guest actress Diana Rigg, sound editing, sound mixing.
The most successful episode ever was the pilot for “Boardwalk Empire,” which won six Emmys in 2011 (directing, art direction, editing, makeup, sound editing and visual effects). It also contendeed for cinematography, hairstyling and sound mixing, was one of the six episodes submitted for best drama series and was the first installment to feature the nominated title design. Including that latter recognition, it could be said to reap 11 bids in all.
Which Comedy Series has the best six episodes. Vote for the winner below using our easy drag-and drop menu.