Many Emmy Awards have been given out each year since it was established in 1949, just before television began to dominate in every American household. There are acting and writing awards for both drama and comedy, as well as variety shows. And unlike movies, TV shows can be up for the Emmy trophies year in and year out. That means that the truly beloved TV shows can take home a lot of Emmy trophies.
Check out the following shows that receive the most Emmy wins (starting from the least to the most trophies won):
1) Taxi (18 wins)
Considering that the show includes a cast of talented actors such as Danny DeVito, Judd Hirsch and Christopher Lloyd, it’s not a surprise that Taxi took home a total of 18 Emmys. The wins include Outstanding Comedy Series.
2) Murphy Brown (18 wins)
A sitcom about a sharp-tongued recovering alcoholic working as a television journalist received 18 Emmy trophies, largely helped by lead actress Candice Bergen’s five wins for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. But unfortunately, its reboot was a significant failure.
3) Will and Grace (18 wins)
Will and Grace’s reboot has been more successful than Murphy Brown, but just slightly, as it has not added more to its 18 wins from its original run. But it has earned three more nominations, giving the show a total of a whopping 91 nominations.
4) American Masters (20 wins)
American Masters is a PBS television series featuring profiles on many personalities – writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, and anyone who has left a cultural impact in the US. It debuted in 1986 and still runs today.
Part of the show’s success in the Emmys is its lack of competition in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, apart from its long run. So far, it has won 20 Emmys.
5) Boardwalk Empire (20 wins)
Boardwalk Empire is an HBO crime drama set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period in the 1920s. It stars Steve Buscemi in the lead role. While it helps that Martin Scorsese directing the pilot would guarantee a win, Boardwalk Empire is much more than that. During its five years on the air (2010-2014), it won a total of 20 Emmys.
6) 24 (20 wins)
In retrospect, it feels surprising that 24 is not the type of show that critics would rave about, but it managed to win 20 Emmys, including lots of technical awards. The action-drama series stars Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorist agent. Each season covers Bauer’s life, 24 hours straight, using a real-time method of narration.
7) NYPD Blue (20 wins)
NYPD Blue was the top police drama of the 1990s. From its debut in 1993 to its final episode in 2005, NYPD Blue took home 20 wins. Dennis Franz will always be remembered as the detective and sergeant Andy Sipowicz.
8) The Sopranos (21 wins)
The Sopranos helped HBO’s turnaround from a channel that used to broadcast movies and softcore erotica into an original programming giant. HBO was sort of like Netflix of its era, in a way. The crime drama television series about a Mafia mobster’s life earned only 21 wins out of its 112 nominations. Perhaps many people weren’t quite yet ready for it.
9) All in the Family (22 wins)
All in the Family is a breakthrough sitcom during the 1970s. It was not afraid to tackle even the most sensitive issues, from abortion to racism to sexual abuse to the Vietnam war – issues that other television shows wouldn’t dare touch. The show, which aired from 1971 to 1979, won a total of 22 Emmy wins out of its 55 nominations.
10) Modern Family (21 wins)
Modern Family is a mockumentary family sitcom on ABC, aired from 2009 to 2020. It started as an awards juggernaut, but it eventually lost its comedic steam. It won 22 Emmys early on, but from 2015 it didn’t win a single award and even failed to snag any significant nominations in its final season.
11) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (23 wins)
The Daily Show began with Craig Kilborn, but it was with new host Jon Stewart that it began to take off. The Daily Show has become not only as a successful comedy show but is also one of the most reliable news shows. During Stewart’s tenure, it won a total of 23 Emmys. The Daily Show is now hosted by Trevor Noah.
12) ER (23 wins)
While medical dramas have been a staple for many decades, none of would come close to the level of success that ER enjoyed. The series, created by the late author and filmmaker Michael Crichton, also catapulted George Clooney into a household name. During its lengthy run, ER won a total of 23 wins out of its 124 nominations.
13) The Carol Burnett Show (25 wins)
The Carol Burnett Show may not have won the most Emmys in a comedy-variety series, but it still snagged an impressive 25 trophies. Most of the wins rewarded the show’s writing (Tim Conway also won three for acting).
14) The West Wing (26 wins)
The West Wing was a serial political drama created by Aaron Sorkin and originally broadcast on NBC from 1999 to 2006. In its first year of broadcast, it won nine Emmys – the most ever for the first season. Over the years it won more awards, ending up with a total of 26.
15) Hill Street Blues (26 wins)
Before NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues started the “serial police procedural” series trend on television. Before the show first aired in 1981, such police dramas like this didn’t exist, so it broke television grounds in a big way. Although it ended in 1987, Hill Street Blues managed to snag 26 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series in its first four seasons.
16) Cheers (28 wins)
Every ‘80s kid, in the United States at least, won’t go through this decade without seeing Cheers. The show was the quintessential 1980s sitcom, although it extended its run during the early 1990s. The show was set at the Cheers Beacon Bar Hill, a bar in Boston where people drink, socialize and share their joys and frustrations. From 1982 to 1993, it won a total of 28 Emmys.
17) The Mary Tyler Moore Show (29 wins)
The groundbreaking show that became popular during the height of feminism in America won a total of 29 wins (out of “only” 67 nominations).
18) The Simpsons (34 wins)
The Simpsons has won a total of 34 wins, 14 of them are for Outstanding Voiceover Performance. The longest-running series (not just animated series) has been running since 1989, there’s a good chance that it will win some more Emmys!
19) Frasier (37 wins)
The spin-off to Cheers even bested its predecessor with its 37 Emmy trophies. In fact, it has the most Emmy wins than any other sitcom, which is amazing considering its comparatively short run with 11 seasons. Additionally, unlike other sitcoms, Frasier remained well-received until the end.
20) Game of Thrones (57 wins)
Game of Thrones is a fantasy drama series aired on HBO from 2011 to 2019. Although the final season received significant backlash mainly due to its writing and other creative decisions, it had some impressive special effects that won the fans over the years of its airing. It is the second-winningest TV show with a whopping 57 Emmys!
21) Saturday Night Live (65 wins)
The late-night sketch comedy and variety show has been going strong since 1975. It is the winningest TV show with 65 Emmy trophies, and it is also the show with the most Emmy nominations with 250. It has been, and will always be, an Emmy giant.