Critics and fanboys rejoice! "Battlestar Galactica" star Mary McDonnell is nominated for an Emmy! Except, of course, she isn't conteding for that lauded sci-fi drama which ended its four-year run in 2009. McDonnell is vying for Guest Drama Actress for her recurring role as Captain Sharon Raydor, a meddlesome internal affairs investigator who makes life difficult for Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), on "The Closer." McDonnell was up for this award in 2002 for her guest role as Noah Wyle's mother on "ER"; she lost to Patricia Clarkson ("Six Feet Under").
McDonnell is not the only guest acting nominee who was snubbed by the Emmys for better-known roles. Paul McCrane is contending for Guest Drama Actor for playing a quirky prosecutor on David E. Kelley's legal drama "Harry's Law" He was never nominated for "ER," on which he played the ruthless Dr. Romano from 1997 to 2003; in his last episode of the medical drama, the character was written out in spectacular fashion as a helicopter dropped on his head.
Among McCrane's competitors is Jeremy Davies who is nominated for playing one of Margo Martindale's ne'er-do-well sons on "Justified." Like McCrane, this is his first Emmy nomination. For two seasons, Davies appeared as offbeat scientist Daniel Faraday on "Lost." He's not the first "Lost" star to earn a make-up nod in a guest category. Elizabeth Mitchell was a regular on that series for three seasons, but wasn't recognized for the role until after her character was killed off; she earned a guest-acting bid for her blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in the series finale.
Over the years, the guest-acting races have produced other interesting Emmy anomalies. After two decades of TV work, including lead roles on "Wings" and "The Fugitive," Tim Daly earned his only career nomination in 2007 for a guest appearance on "The Sopranos." Though Matthew Perry only received a single nomination (2002) in ten years of playing Chandler Bing on "Friends," he earned two nominations (2003, 2004) for his guest-starring work in a total of just three episodes of "The West Wing." And while Will Arnett is best-known as "Arrested Development's" Gob Bluth, that role only earned him one of his four career Emmy bids (in 2006). The other three have come in the Guest Comedy Actor category for his recurring role as Alec Baldwin's business rival Devon Banks on "30 Rock" (2008, 2010, 2011).