With ‘Breaking Bad’ Gone, Who Will Win the Emmy for Drama Series in 2015?

Sure, Mad Men might be the frontrunner, but it hasn't won in years, so the field is more wide-open than usual. Here are some early odds.

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Last night’s Emmy winners were a dreary re-run of past victors, some (Modern Family, Jim Parsons) more depressing than others. One repeat champ that was hard to quibble with was Breaking Bad winning Outstanding Drama Series for the second time in a row, earning Emmy gold for the genuine hypestorm its series finale created last summer. But as I watched Vince Gilligan et al file off the stage, my awards-nerd brain swung ahead to 2015, where there’s no immediately obvious contender for the title.

Sure, Modern Family could easily nab its sixth Best Comedy title in a row, and you might even want to bet on Fargo repeating for Best Miniseries. But when Mad Men, a show the Emmys have not awarded in any category for three years, is your perceived frontrunner, well, that’s a wide-open Drama field. So here’s a completely unscientific long-range look at various show’s chances to win the big one in 2015.

Mad Men

With their behemoth Breaking Bad out of the way, AMC will undoubtedly throw all of its might behind the final season of the show that put it on the map when it won the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy for each of its first four seasons starting in 2008. But Mad Men hasn’t won a single Emmy since 2011 and only has seven more episodes to give us before it exits our screens for good. But much like the final seasons of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad (both Emmy winners), the last episodes of Mad Men might have enough juicy content to grab attention. Its best argument in favor is just that it’s hard to know who else could challenge it at this point. Odds: 3-1

Game of Thrones

Sometimes in off years between streaks, Emmy turns to a smash-hit genre series like ER, Law & Order, Lost ,or 24, all of which captured only one trophy (and with the exception of Lost, all in the middle of their runs). Thrones has only built in hype and viewership year after year; will season five be its moment? The argument against it here is its fantasy content (which probably means a good chunk of Emmy voters ignore it entirely) and the fact that it’ll now be drawing from the sprawling fourth and fifth George R. R. Martin books, which fans agree are not quite the home-run of the last four years’ source material. Odds: 6-1

House of Cards

For the second year in a row, House of Cards was tipped to capture at least one major trophy (with Robin Wright tipped as a favorite), and came away empty-handed again. The Netflix political drama pushes all the right buttons and got plenty of nods for its first two years, and next season will be its grand finale, perhaps buzzy enough to win the trophy. But for all its fans inside the Beltway, House of Cards hasn’t caught on with the general public in the same way as HBO’s biggest hits. It’s hard to see it attracting enough support without making a huge leap in quality. Odds: 8-1

True Detective

The ultimate wild card! True Detective was probably the closest challenger to Breaking Bad’s title this year, but it might be hard to capture lightning in a bottle again. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson won’t be coming back (although the rumored cast of Elisabeth Moss, Taylor Kitsch, Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn is enticing) and Nic Pizzolatto just spent a whole summer burning through a lot of goodwill as we prepare for a second murder yarn. There’s also the question of whether it’ll even be ready in time. Odds: 10-1


After winning in 2012 and staying pretty relevant in 2013, Homeland is quickly slipping off the Emmy map and its jump-the-shark third season saw it miss the Drama Series list entirely. But hey, maybe season four, now completely purged of Nicolas Brody, will be better? Maybe? Odds: 25-1

Downton Abbey

It’s pretty likely Downton Abbey will make the Drama Series nominees next year. I keep predicting it to fall off, as each passing year is more critically derided than the last, but there’s obviously a solid contingent of Emmy voters who still adore Downton Abbey, since it’s routinely showered with acting nods as well. On and on it goes. At the same time, Downton’s pocket of fans are similar to Thrones’ in one way—not big enough to land the big prize. Odds: 18-1

Untitled HBO Music Project

Terrence Winter has already moved on from Boardwalk Empire (which airs its final season this year) to this HBO rock-and-roll epic starring Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano and Olivia Wilde, among others. We don’t know much, except that it’s about the music business, it has a great cast, and Martin Scorsese made the pilot. It hasn’t even been ordered to series yet, but it sounds like the kind of thing that could make a splash. Odds: 22-1

The Affair

Showtime’s big fall series is a “provocative” drama about an affair between a married man (Dominic West) and a widow (Ruth Wilson) in Long Island. It also stars Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney and boy oh boy am I excited. But it probably won’t be large-scale enough for Drama Series gold.  Odds: 35-1

The Good Wife

Just kidding! If The Good Wife couldn’t even get a nomination for its fifth season, Emmy is likely done awarding network dramas. You never know, but last year on The Good Wife was pretty much impossible to find fault with. And still it got boxed out by Downton. Odds: 40-1

Untitled Steve McQueen Project

Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen is in the pre-production stages on this HBO project, along with Matthew Michael Carnahan, about a young African-American who enters New York high society but has a mysterious past. Again, we don’t know much, but there’s enough intriguing stuff in that logline, creative team, and network to pique my interest. Odds: 40-1


Yes, what I said about network TV stands. Fox’s plan with Gracepoint—an adaptation of acclaimed UK crime drama Broadchurch—is very True Detective-y. It’ll air ten episodes, solve a mystery, and feature A+ talent (David Tennant, Anna Gunn, Michael Peña, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver) while doing it. If any network show this yeah has any chance at standing out from the pack, it’s this one. Odds: 45-1

How to Get Away With Murder

Shonda Rhimes shows usually get Emmy attention early and fall off quickly. How to Get Away With Murder is actually just produced by Rhimes (and created by Grey’s Anatomy/Scandal mainstay Peter Nowalk), but it has a buzzy whodunit premise and a great big star in Viola Davis. Maybe it’ll stir up some attention? Odds: 50-1

Boardwalk Empire

Hey, remember this show? HBO really wishes you remembered this show. Oh well. Odds: 50-1


J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot studio are remaking the Michael Crichton novel into a “dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood are among the cast and the premise has me drooling, but it might be too sci-fi for Emmy’s taste. Odds: 75-1


One of Showtime’s pilots this year is a financial drama about collusion among the super-rich called Billions. Too Big to Fail journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin and Rounders writer Brian Koppelman are behind it. I dunno, it could be interesting? Odds: 90-1

The Newsroom

Just kidding! Odds: 100-1

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.