Best Drama Series: Every Emmy winner from ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘Pulitzer Prize Playhouse’

The Emmy Awards did not begin honoring dramatic programming until the third annual ceremony in 1951, when “Pulitzer Prize Playhouse” won the first trophy for Best Drama Series. Since then, a total of 38 different series have been honored as television’s top drama. In our photo photo gallery above, we have compiled the definitive list of every single Emmy winner of Best Drama Series, from that first victory to the current champion, HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

In the first years of this category’s existence, the vast majority of the winners were anthology shows like “Studio One” (1952), “Robert Montgomery Presents” (1953) and “Producers’ Showcase” (1956). These series featured some of Hollywood’s biggest stars performing in live productions of original teleplays and adaptations of famous works. Many of these anthologies gave birth to future Oscar-winning films such as “The Miracle Worker,” “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Judgement at Nuremberg.” It wasn’t until 1958 that the classic western “Gunsmoke” became the first continuing series to win in this category.

Four series hold the record for the most wins as Best Drama Series. “Hill Street Blues” was the first series to win this award in four consecutive years, a feat matched by “The West Wing” and “Mad Men.” “L.A. Law” also triumphed in this category four times, though only three of those wins occurred in consecutive years. Both “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law” were created and produced by Steven Bochco, who earned an astonishing six Best Drama Series victories in the 1980s.

We will see if a new name is added to the list when the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards are handed out September 17 on CBS, hosted by Stephen Colbert. According to Gold Derby’s racetrack odds, the Top 7 contenders are “The Crown,” “This Is Us,” “Stranger Things,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Americans,” “Westworld” and “Better Call Saul.”

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