Outlander Emmys: Why the Show Will Never Be Nominated or Win Any Major Emmys


Outlander fan hopes and dreams aside, Outlander will never be nominated or win any major Emmys. Here’s why the Outlander Emmy snub is here to stay.

Outlander will never win any of the major Emmys. Here’s another shocker: It will never even be nominated for any the major Emmys.

Do I want it to be nominated or win? You bet. I love it so much that my wife and I podcast about it all year round. Should it? Well, that’s where things get…dicey. Here’s why.

Let’s first define a major Emmy: A major Emmy is either Outstanding Drama or any of the Outstanding Lead/Supporting acting categories.

I know Outlander has been nominated a total of four times since 2015 for either costumes, set design, or musical composition. I also know any Emmy nomination is a big deal, and it takes A LOT of hard work to earn one, so we should celebrate anything our favorite show receives. I get it.

Clearly, however, the fandom is outraged because Outlander has never been nominated in one of the major categories listed above. So, with all due respect to the four previous nominations, they are not relevant to this essay.

It is painful for Obsessenachs across the globe when Outlander isn’t even nominated for one of the major categories. That’s understandable. It’s your favorite thing. You want your favorite thing to be seen, heard, and universally loved.


This is especially true after season five, which much of the fandom considers to be the finest of the series since Outlander’s inaugural run way back in 2014.

How could the academy not recognize the writing and directing for episode 5.12, “Never My Love?” Or the lead acting from Sam Heughan during his scenes with Duncan LaCroix in episode 5.07, “The Ballad Of Roger Mac?” Perhaps Caitriona Balfe should be hoisted on the collective shoulders of the ENTIRE Academy because of her performance in the finale? Sign me up.

Now that Outlander has found its singular voice under newly anointed showrunner Matt B. Roberts, the show seemed far more comfortable in its own skin to take big swings, massive risks, and feature more creative gambles this past season than most programs do for their entire run. Lest we forget the highly stylized “silent film” storytelling device from “Famous Last Words,” or even Roberts dipping Outlander‘s toe into X-Files waters with episode 5.03 “Free Will,” these were BIG choices that netted BIG results.

Outlander Famous Last Words

Despite the big results for fans, however, Outlander still has one major flaw: It doesn’t have any juice.

No one outside of the fandom is talking about it. This pop culture absence is primarily why it’s not getting any nominations, never mind any wins.

Alan Sepinwall, perhaps the most widely respected television critic in the business, had this to say about the Emmys recently:

Sepinwall may be referring to Better Call Saul in this particular post, but ever since I read this tweet, I’ve been suffering from the the biggest Brain-Eater this side of Marion Cotillard casually balancing on an open hotel widow sill in Inception.

Yes, Outlander is our favorite show and we think it deserves ALL the awards. But, whether or not we, the fans, think Outlander should win and Emmy or, at the very least be nominated, is totally irrelevant. Ultimately if it’s going to play the Emmy game, it has to play by the Emmy rules. It needs name recognition and/or momentum.

Unlike its competition in years past, and certainly this year’s competition in the major category candidates, Outlander vastly lacks any name recognition, critical acclaim, or momentum in comparison.

Sam Heughan may have produced some incredible results this season — “kill them all” — but can anyone tell me with a straight face that he’s a bigger star than the likes of his opponents:  Jason Bateman (Ozark), Steve Carell (The Morning Show), Brian Cox (Succession), and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)?

One could potentially make an argument against the star power of Heughan’s lesser-known challengers such as Jeremy Strong (Succession) or Billy Porter (Pose) because they are hardly household names. Though, their performances (especially Strong’s) are truly other-worldly,  and their shows have one distinct advantage over Outlander in general and Heughan in particular: boundless critical praise.

Critics have been lukewarm with Outlander over recent seasons and, frankly, deservedly so, especially after the clunkiness of seasons three and four. While fans believe Heughan may have turned his best performance of his career as James Fraser in Outlander season five, he simply doesn’t have enough force to overcome his lack of star power and the critics’ tepid response.

A similar set of unfortunate, and unfair, circumstances plague Caitriona Balfe. Do I think she’s a treasure who should be studied by scientists for years to come because of how truly talented, cool, and outstandingly engaging she is? That’s a firm yes.

Balfe’s star power, while growing, simply cannot compete with that of Laura Linney (Ozark), Olivia Coleman (The Crown), Zendaya (Euphoria), or Jennifer Anniston (The Morning Show). Sure, bring me your Sandra Ohs and Jodie Comers and scream that Cait is a bigger star. But, Killing Eve has an insurmountable cacophony of critical praise and maintains an exact energy from previous year’s nominations/wins.

This leaves us with the nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.

Consider Outlander’s competitors and the networks to which they are attached. Better Call Saul (AMC), Killing Eve (BBC America), Ozark (NETFLIX), Stranger Things (NETFLIX), Succession (HBO), The Crown (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), and, finally, The Mandalorian (Disney+).  These nominees are backed by MAJOR players in the market who each have a foothold in the popular zeitgeist of television production.

Backing Disney and Hulu (recently acquired by Disney), is a bottomless treasure of funds that would force the boys from The Curse Of Oak Island to rethink their life choices. Consequently those networks are more the adequately subsidized for the proper “For Your Consideration” campaigns. Not only that, but The Handmaid’s Tale has won best drama in years past so it’s the proud owner of precious critical and creative momentum.

As for The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda.  Well, they have exploded into a full blown cultural phenomenon.



Add this cultural momentum to the serious name recognition of being guided behind the scenes by some of Hollywood’s most talented creators — Taika Waititi, Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Jon Favreau, and Rick Famuyiwa just to name a few — sprinkle in a little Star Wars branding, and preeminent production value, and you’ve got a perfect mix for Outstanding Drama Series.

Like Disney, AMC is also the proud owner of a prodigious pedigree. As a producer for some of the most prolific shows to ever grace the silver screen (see: Breaking Bad/Mad Men) they know how to spend their dollars, what to emphasize, and how to advertise for the win. Bake in the fact that Better Call Saul is not only a singularly superior show but it is tied to Vince Gilligan (one of the most celebrated showrunners of all time), and his original Breaking Bad, and Outlander doesn’t stand a chance.

In terms of name recognition, HBO is quite literally the gold standard on how to leverage dollars, reputation, and momentum. They can cite Game Of Thrones, The Sopranos and countless other winners as part of their resume, placing them in a category by themselves. And that’s before considering Succession, the best television show on the market right now.


The only network that has given HBO a run for its money in recent years is NETFLIX. Heck, NETFLIX just toppled HBO’s record for the most Emmy nominations ever in a single year this year! Between critical darlings like House of Cards, The Crown and an ever-growing barrage of incredible original content, NETFLIX has positioned itself as the premiere creator-driven network, and it’s got a boat load of Emmys to prove it. (Name recognition AND momentum.)  So when it comes to Ozark (well written/acted/shot), Stranger Things (another cultural phenomenon), or even The Crown (prestige drama written by one of the most respected writers in Peter Morgan), Outlander, once again, is out of its league.

BBC America is not necessarily a major player, but Killing Eve boasts an enormous amount of critical momentum since it took the Television Academy by storm in its first season so it doesn’t need the kind of support the aforementioned networks provide.

STARZ doesn’t have as much money, the advertising skills (and I’d argue the smarts), or the Academy pedigree as any of the aforementioned networks. It’s like pitting your hometown high school football team against the New England Patriots. Yep, both know how to play the game, but the other is just way more seasoned, talented, and also just happens to have Bill Belichick too.


Here’s another facet that nobody wants to consider: Outlander is past its prime.

We already established that if we want Outlander to be included in the Emmy game, it has to play by the Emmy rules.  That being said, if OL were to be either nominated, or win an Emmy, at any point, it should have already done so.

Granted, I admitted earlier in this article that season five was Outlander’s best outing since season one, but that doesn’t mean its star is still rising. In other words, OL’s long standing state of award inertia further prohibits any future nominations/wins. In the eyes of the Academy, if OL hasn’t been nominated yet, something must be lacking so it doesn’t deserve to be considered.

If we’re being fully transparent here, Outlander seasons two through four were uneven AT BEST and the Academy seems to agree given the extremely slim recognition of the STARZ drama.

To that end, let’s take a gander at past winners for Outstanding Drama/lead actor. They all have one thing in common: they won big and they won early. Not only that, but nearly all of them retained the same showrunners throughout their entire run.

Look for yourself:

2000 – 2003: The West Wing (written and run by the most famous writer on the planet Aaron Sorkin) won in all major categories from the jump. Sorkin did leave, but the show won most all its awards under him.

2004: The Sopranos:  speaks for itself. David Chase, sole showrunner.

2005: LOST: speaks for itself. Damon Lindelof/Carlton Cuse, sole showrunners.

2006: 24: nominated every year and won big in all major categories from the jump. Plus, it revolutionized TV in its storytelling. Changed showrunners early, but won big under its second showrunner, Howard Gordon.

2007:  The Sopranos.

2008 – 2011: Mad Men: speaks for itself. Matthew Weiner, sole showrunner.

2012: Homeland:  from the creators of 24 and swept the major categories with wins from Damien Lewis and Claire Daines.  Howard Gordon again.

2013 – 2014: Breaking Bad : speaks for itself. Vince Gilligan, sole showrunner.

2015 – 2016: Game Of Thrones: speaks for itself. David Benioff and Dan Weiss, sole showrunners.

2017: The Handmaid’s Tale: critical darling and major win for Elisabeth Moss (of Mad Men fame) as lead actress plus many others right from the jump. Bruce Miller, sole showrunner.

2018 – 2019: Game Of Thrones.

Unlike the shows listed above, Outlander hasn’t won any significant awards, and it certainly didn’t gain any awards early. What’s more is that while I love me some Ron D. Moore, there has been some, shall we say, instability in the writers’ room since he decided to take a step back from the showrunner role in season three.

In addition to the seasonal wholesale changes to the writing staff, there has been seismic shifts in departments such as costuming, direction, and set design. The biggest fault line, though, is that it wasn’t until SEASON FIVE that we finally had a consistent primary showrunning vision in Matt B. Roberts.

I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that I’ve never been a huge MBR guy. But, after this season, I am ecstatic to admit that I was wrong in the judgement. Season five was a make or break for Matt, and he absolutely met the challenge head-on. I can’t help but wonder, however, if his focused voice and deft pen hand may be too-little-too-late.

Certainly television series have won Emmys when showrunning duties changed hands but most are comedies and they had the initial run of Emmy wins right from the beginning of their run. See: Veep and Seinfeld.

Lastly, niche shows like Outlander (female driven, time travel, love story) simply don’t find recognition at the Academy. Outlander is famously hard to peg down in any particular category style, so it’s almost as if the television Academy has no idea what to do with it. It serves neither a wide ranging nor a large sized audience so it doesn’t have the kind of universal appeal as its competitors.

In the end, will Outlander ever boast a major Emmy nomination or win? Given its current standing within the television community writ large, it’s not likely.

The larger question is this: does it matter?

Do Emmy nominations/awards have the power to renew shows and ensure their ability to tell their story? Of course not. Just look at programs like Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, or even what is considered to be one of the greatest shows ever created, The Wire. None of them EVER won an Emmy. Yet, their legacy lives on in their creativity and quality.

Nope, Emmys don’t renew television shows. Suits do.

As long as the suits are happy with ratings, and most importantly, subscriber numbers, then Outlander will continue to move forward and tell the rest of the Fraser saga. THAT is what matters, not gold plated trophies.

So keep watching, and get all your friends to subscribe to STARZ.  I want to know the end of this series just as badly as you do.

Do you think Outlander deserved an Emmy nod this year?  If so, for which category? If not, why not? 

23 comments on “Outlander Emmys: Why the Show Will Never Be Nominated or Win Any Major Emmys

  1. Karen Olson says:

    Absolutely! I believe women should be highly insulted that neither Sam or Caitriona have won any major awards, is it a love story? Of course , a historical drama? Of course.

    I have heard that it’s for women, talk about bias and discrimination. Shameful. Both lead actors are deserving as is the creative staff. The Emmys have a major credibility problem. Not surprisingly they don’t care!

    1. You’re spot on, Barbara!

    2. Helen says:

      I agree with everything you said. The reason Outlander is not recognized is b/c Starz network is a small fish in a giant shark tank. It’s especially unfortunate that the two lead actors. Sam & Cait did amazing acting & are not getting the recognition they both deserve, especially Sam.

    3. L W says:

      This is exactly why I have written off award shows! I am familiar with only two of the shows mentioned in this article. Who wants to watch the powers that be break their arms trying to pat themselves on their back.

      1. DS says:

        LW, you hit the nail on the head.

  2. Barbara Scott says:

    Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe have BECOME major stars because of Outlander, at least for the millions of people around the globe who have watched them for the past six years and who are devoted fans of Heughan, Balfe and the series itself. I was disappointed by the snub by the Emmy Awards, but I am so over “award shows” in general that I’ve stopped watching them. They have become boring and political, so much so that I don’t even care enough to know when they air. We Outlander fans are steadfast and loyal. We love Jamie and Claire, their story, their journey, and we love the action, violence, romance, sex, costumes, settings, music — virtually every aspect of this phenomenal series. The show, the actors, the directors, the costume designers, the music, the editors all deserve awards, but ultimately who gives a damn. It won’t change a thing for the fans.

    1. Patty says:

      I agree, wholeheartedly!! I will be a loyal watcher until the end!!


    As far as I am concerned, there is no rival on TV for Outlander, acting, writing, costumes, directing, the works. There is no equal. I will continue watching as long as Starz had the good taste to renew. I do not look forward to it ending. Sam and Cait are exceptional actors.

  4. donna parsons and james parsons says:

    I’ve never enjoyed a show as much as Oultander. Awards shows are ridiculous showcases for consumerism and self aggrandizement.

  5. Paula/Larry Elliott says:

    Outlander is the best show that I have EVER seen. Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are mesmerizing as they put body and soul into every bit of their acting. I find myself thinking of many of their scenes for days after watching their performances. They become Jamie and Claire. The two actors have the most amazing chemistry of any television couple I have watched in my lifetime. They both deserve Emmys and is disgraceful that they or the show have never even been nominated. Other multi- talented actors show great skill and talent, and have created in-depth, memorable characters, as well. These are the actors that play the following characters: Murtaugh, Dugan, Colum, Jenny, Aunt Jacosta, Roger, young Ian, Frank & Black Jack, and the actor who played the pirate. Outlander, too, has fabulous costumes that have been hand-sewn or hand-painted designs on them . The seamstresses research and pay close attention to detail to create authentic-looking clothes of the times. The same can be said about the outstanding sets. The set builders research and create authentic 18th century-looking sets. They, too, pay close attention to detail. Copious amounts of time are devoted to the whole story of Outlander. Also, important to the cast and crew are the filming of the outdoor scenes which are mostly filmed in beautiful , rugged, and rural areas of Scotland. This show has it all: historical fiction drama, action, adventure, a beautiful, committed, and passionate love story, light moments of comedy, and intriguing time travel. To heck with all the politics of awards show. We fans KNOW our beloved Outlander deserves some of these prizes and recognition.

  6. Dandelion87 says:

    When I first heard the Outlander books were to be turned into a TV series, I scoffed at it. I didn’t even want to watch it but was I surprised and shocked to see flesh made real through a lens off the page. Sam and Cait embody the spirit of Jamie and Clair and it’s a marvel to watch. I am so moved and wrecked by their performances and the rest of the cast that my own literary versions have faded over time. I love the books they are treasures to me but the quality of the tv show is spectacular from its production value to its sets and costumes. So let’s toast to the true winners, of the hearts of OL fans and let time be the judge of this series not some politicized award show. Thank you Cait, Sam and the entire cast and crew for bringing their all each and every season. The heart wins!!!

    1. Linda Alvarado says:

      I couldn’t agree more, truly, but I’ve reading for several hours what viewers think and honestly as much as I love the series, may I please raise a glass to the brilliant mind who inked this rousing, romantic adventure, Diana. It was in her mind these luminous characters were created. I ‘do’ love the series, but I love my books more therefore I am grateful for all the creative minds who ignited this lovely, sometimes brutal story of love, survival and destiny. It had to start somewhere, in this case it was a book first then the sensational series which has endeared so many around the world. Congratulations to ‘all’, both past and present, who have lent their creative juices to culminate with ‘Outlander’~ Cheers~

  7. Tanmay says:

    There were people who sat down after watching the last episode of season 5, and said ‘No, these guys are not that great as actors’. Or that this heart wrenching story is ‘all right’.
    What does one do with these people? Maybe arm them with a small gemstone, and deposit them next to the stone circle at Craigh Na Dun. So that they can live the story themselves. And meet Claire and Jaime. And apologize to them in person.

  8. Martha S Bain says:

    OL fans very loyal . Believe only a shake up in or within cast would create big enough disappointment to turn many away. Strange vibes from newest cast pics appear recently. Is Sofia a buffer zone or ?? . She W never be # 1 . Wish them success & know from books it will continue to excite fans.

  9. Donna Wright says:

    GOT had me from jump street! I had a few favorite episodes I rewatched. BUT, I’ve watched all 5 seasons of Outlander at least 5 times. I also found that I’m not a Unicorn in this behavior. Many OL fans admit to an obsession with this series.
    I’d like to see Sam and Cait get the recognition they deserve. I totally agree with the gals that deem Emmys political and almost obsolete. As long as the actors and actresses of OL land more work in major films – I’ll be happy because I’ll be SURE to see those movies!!! Heughan for Bond ya wee fools! Women all over with ner an interest in Bond before would become new avid viewers!

  10. Elizabeth Frank says:

    I don’t watch award shows anymore..I am a devoted fan of Outlander. Tell me of any other show that has the following that Outlander has. The acting is superb. I think about the scenes after I have watched and often rewatch. There’s nothing else on TV that i have ever been so interested in seeing. I think it is a sad state of affairs the Outlander has never been recognized. I will continue to watch Outlander as long as it goes, and I will continue laughing at the award shows for their stupidy.

  11. Fátima says:

    Você disse tudo! O show é maravilhoso, perfeito! Elenco, estória e o casal mais sexy e apaixonante ,para mim, não tem igual! Talento, beleza, história, realidade, até cruel demais, como na vida é. Quem precisa de Emmys? Eles têm a favor deles o público, que os ama!

  12. Holly Andria says:

    I am late to the party. Had not seen Outlander until last month. Binge watched. My husband of 48 years died of Covid in March of 2021. Jaime’s love and sacrifice reminds me of my husband. Night time is the hardest time for me. Outlander takes my mind to a happier place and holds my tears at bay. I just now realized it has never been nominated. A travesty. I can say it has helped and distracted me during the hardest time of my life and brings that all too familiar feeling of unconditional love when Jaime and Claire are on the screen.

  13. Carolyn A. Nowland says:

    I, too am late to the party….not on purpose, just did not know where to find this site! My comments agree with all who have previously commented! All the while, I was wondering just WHY the superb OUTLANDER was not being recognized, period!!?? I have told so many about the series, I absolutely do not understand WHY not any recognition?! I am absorbed in this series so much, I do NOT want it to end….ever!! Not only is it history….the detail in EVERYTHING is just amazing!! Please don’t let it end at Season Five….it is now part of my life, I am wondering how I can go on without continued Seasons….Jaime and Claire are part of my life as are all characters….the acting is top rated in my book! I am 82yo….I have seen an enormous amount of TV acting over the years since the 1940’s…..to me there are highly rated actors and actresses…..and OUTLANDER is at the very TOPS for me! Please bring it back with continued Seasons….for my forever!
    Thank you….my best to all cast members….they are the best!!!♥️

  14. Wenda Plowman says:

    I love historical fiction. Some friends have read the books, which are far too long to spend time reading (I am an artist) Other friends told me about the intensity of the TV series so I finally decided to watch it and have become a regular. My husband, however, does not share my enthusiasm. For what it’s worth I will repeat what others have noted. The research, quality of sets and costumes is superior. The acting is high quality. The story line interests me. I intend to keep watching the series in another room while my husband watches whatever he wants. It’s ok to have differing opinions. As for awards……Not important to me. As an artist, I value high quality and not all award-winning work has high quality. It’s often the ones who make the most noise who win awards,

  15. Jeannette Thompson says:

    Clearly, the sexual content must be an issue. But it wouldn’t be “Outlander” without it. The series deserves awards in all categories.

  16. Lynda Rothschild says:

    Caitriona Balfe is a Major star now. Sam, is getting there. The show is addicting. But I agree that if they didn’t capture the Academy after seasons 1&2..it probably wasn’t going to happen. But, it doesn’t take away the joy that show brings to millions around the globe. Season 6&7 will likely be the end until the prequel comes out down the road..but wow, what a ride it’s been for all the Sassenach’s out there.

  17. Lynda Rothschild says:

    Caitriona Balfe is a Major star now. Sam, is getting there. The show is addicting. But I agree that if they didn’t capture the Academy after seasons 1&2..it probably wasn’t going to happen. But, it doesn’t take away the joy that show brings to millions around the globe. Season 6&7 will likely be the end until the prequel comes out down the road..but wow, what a ride it’s been for all the Sassenach’s out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *