Terrifying Television: Horror at the Primetime Emmy Awards

It is Awards Season and scary television shows are not being left out as the entertainment industry honors the best in television.

By Dolores Quintana · @doloresquintana · January 16, 2024, 9:00 AM PST
Image Credit: IMDB

Horror at the Emmys continues with the Primetime categories of the awards ceremony that celebrates excellence in television. The Primetime and Creative Emmys are produced every year by the Television Academy, which seeks to honor the best in television shows. While there is no horror category, horror television shows have been nominated, sometimes as dramas, The Last of Us, and sometimes as comedies, Wednesday. No matter, we know horror when we see it and it is thrilling to have scary television shows airing to huge audiences but also to see them nominated as some of the most excellent television shows and emerging media each year.

There were eight wins for The Last of Us at last weekend's Creative Emmys, and while horror TV didn't take as many wins at the Primetime Emmys, it is great to see so many horror shows recognized for their brilliance and craft by the Television Academy. The Last of Us was nominated for 24 Primetime and Creative Emmys, among Prey's six nominations, Yellowjackets' three nominations, and Wednesday's twelve nominations this year. The Last of Us was second only to the venerated show Succession, which had a total of 27 nominations this year and came in second in total nominations ahead of the celebrated series The White Lotus. Read more: HBO's The Last of Us Premiere Pulled In Nearly 5M Viewers.

Best Drama Series

YELLOWJACKETS (2021- 2023)

Two of the best scary shows from last year are nominated for Best Drama Series. While this is the first nomination for HBO's The Last of Us, it will likely not be the last, and Yellowjackets has previously been nominated for six categories in 2022. In the Best Drama Series category, The Last of Us and Yellowjackets are going head to head, but they are both winners in our horror-loving hearts.

The Last of Us (HBO/Max)

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

Best Actor in a Drama Series


Pedro Pascal, the Chilean and American actor, took on the role of the beloved Joel in the adaptation of the Naughty Dog video game's adaptation after such actors as Matthew McConaughey and Mahershala Ali had allegedly been considered for the part. Pascal is an enormously popular actor on the Internet, and his warm and humorous presence has been adapted to the tough and no-nonsense survivor Joel in the post-apocalyptic United States. Read more: Pedro Pascal Has Joined The Cast Of Zach Cregger's Weapons.

Pedro Pascal (The Last of Us)

Best Actress in a Drama Series

YELLOWJACKETS (2021- 2023)

There are three strong nominees in the Best Actress in a (Scary) Drama Series race: Melanie Lynskey, who was also nominated as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for The Last of Us as she guest starred on The Last of Us episode "Endure and Survive" too; Bella Ramsey as Ellie on The Last of Us, and Elizabeth Moss, in the non-supernatural horror of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets)

Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us)

Best Comedy Series


Two great horror shows that happen to be comedies are also nominated for Emmys as Best Comedy Series. Barry was created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader and tells the story of a hitman who finally finds emotional self-expression in acting, and Wednesday, created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, where Wednesday Addams discovers her psychic abilities at Nevermore Academy after being expelled from her high school. Read more: Wednesday Scares Up Record Viewership For Netflix.

Barry (HBO/Max)

Wednesday (Netflix)

Best Actress in a Comedy Series


Jenna Ortega has reached new heights in her career since she became the star of Wednesday as the show's namesake character, who is part of The Addams Family. The Netflix show has proved very popular especially with Wednesday's goth image and emotionless behavior that create a teenager that a lot of people can relate to. She was actually cast because of her Latina heritage in the part, which is great, and she has shown great comedic talent in the role.

Jenna Ortega (Wednesday)

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

BARRY (2018-2023)

Bill Hader's Barry, a depressed and angry veteran who is also a hitman who finally gets to know himself and starts to process his emotions and psychological issues through an acting class, is touching, frightening, and funny all in the same package. It's a perfect role for Hader, who has always had a hint of horror in his work.

Bill Hader (Barry)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

BARRY (2018-2023)

Two of Bill Hader's fellow actors in Barry have also been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category. Henry Winkler, perhaps best known in horror as Principal Arthur Himbry in Wes Craven's Scream, stars as Gene Cousineau, Barry's self-absorbed acting coach. Anthony Carrigan stars as Noho Hank, a Chechen gang leader who really wants to be a nice guy and friends with Barry. Originally, the character was supposed to die in the premiere episode, but Carrigan's performance was so good that the creators kept him alive.

Anthony Carrigan (Barry)

Henry Winkler (Barry)

Best Limited or Anthology Series


Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is part of Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan's true crime anthology series, Monster, and is the series first season. The show received four Emmy nominations but was somewhat controversial. It is about the life and hideous crimes of serial murderer and real-life cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer from Wisconsin.

Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix)

Best Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie


Actor Evan Peters is part of showrunner and creator Ryan Murphy's repertory group of actors and has played ten different characters in Murphy's flagship series, American Horror Story, in the show's twelve seasons. He won a Golden Globe award for his role as Jeffrey Dahmer in this series.

Evan Peters (Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story)

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie


Richard Jenkins is a distinguished American actor who plays Jeffrey Dahmer's father, Lionel, in Ryan Murphy's anthology true crime series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Jenkins has worked in horror several times in films such as The Cabin in the Woods, Bone Tomahawk, Wolf, Let Me In, and The Shape of Water.

Richard Jenkins (Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story)

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie


Niecy Nash-Betts is nominated for her role as Dahmer's neighbor, Glenda, who is suspicious of Dahmer, especially after she finds one of Dahmer's victims who managed to escape and tries to help him by calling the police. Tragically, the police do not listen. Nash has also starred in the comedy horror series Scream Queens and the scary movie Nurse 3D.

Niecy Nash-Betts (Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story)

Best Writing for a Comedy Series

BARRY (2018-2023)

Barry has been nominated for 55 Emmys and is considered one of the best shows on television. Bill Hader is nominated as the writer of the series finale "wow." Yes, the show's title in in lowercase on purpose. He's not just the star of the show, but much more for Barry, which came to an end this season.

Barry (HBO/Max) Bill Hader

Best Writing for a Drama Series


Show co-creator Craig Mazin is nominated for Best Writing for a Drama Series for the heartbreaking and acclaimed episode "Long, Long Time." The episode is a fan favorite and is about the love story of two men who find love that is stronger than death after the destruction of human civilization. It's an episode that manages to frighten and bring tears to viewers eyes at the same time.

The Last of Us (HBO/Max), Craig Mazin

Best Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie

SWARM (2023)

Two of the nominees, Prey and Swarm, for Best Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie, are led by actresses of color. Prey is a prequel in the Predator franchise, the seventh film in the series that was released on streaming to critical acclaim for its excellence among Predator films. Prey was directed by Dan Trachtenberg and stars Amber Midthunder. Swarm, the story of an obsessed fan of a pop group, was created by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover and scored praise for the performance of lead actress Dominique Fishback.

Prey (Hulu) Patrick Aison, Written by & Story by Dan Trachtenberg

Swarm (Prime Video) Teleplay and story by Janine Nabers & Story by Donald Glover

Best Directing for a Drama Series


The episode "Long, Long Time" was also nominated for Best Directing for a Drama Series, as were both of the guest actors in the episode, Nick Offerman as Bill and Murray Barlett as Frank. Among the first season of a critically acclaimed television show that ranks as one of the best adaptations of a video game, "Long, Long Time" stood out in more than one way. Director Peter Hoar was nominated for directing the episode with sensitivity and pathos.

The Last of Us (HBO/Max) Peter Hoar

Best Directing for a Comedy Series


Among the horror television shows nominated, two shows have directors who are nominated for Best Directing for a Comedy Series. Bill Hader, co-creator of the series Barry, who has also been nominated for his writing and acting in the series lead role, has been nominated as Best Directing for the series finale "wow." Tim Burton, the horror auteur, has been nominated for his work as director of the episode "Wednesday's Child Is Full Of Woe"

Barry (HBO/Max) Bill Hader

Wednesday (Netflix) Tim Burton

Best Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie

PREY (2022)

In the category of Best Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or TV Movie, three directors working on shows with horror themes have been nominated. Carl Franklin (One False Move, The Leftovers, Mindhunters) for the episode "Bad Meat" and Paris Barclay (American Horror Story: NYC, Lost, and The Shield) for the episode "Silenced". Dan Trachtenberg was nominated for his work as the director of the TV movie Prey. Read more: See Pre-Viz Footage For The Prey Treetop Chase Sequence That Never Was.

Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix) Carl Franklin

Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix) Paris Barclay

Prey (Hulu) Dan Trachtenberg

Best Television Movie

HOCUS POCUS 2 (2022)

The long-awaited sequel to the witchy horror comedy Hocus Pocus, Hocus Pocus 2, and the critically acclaimed Predator prequel Prey were both nominated as Best Television Movie, which is great because out of the five nominees in the category, two of them are horror.

Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+)

Prey (Hulu)