40 Actresses Who Should Get An Emmy Nomination In 2016, From New Talent To Overdue Stars

Being an Emmy voter sounds like a lot of fun… until you realize the sheer extent of their responsibilities. A quick look at the official 2016 Emmy ballot shows that a whopping 954 actresses have submitted their names for consideration this year, between Dramas, Comedies, Limited Series, and Short Form, from Leads to Supporting and Guest performances. How could anyone watch that much content? The short answer is, it's impossible. So I've helpfully sifted through that list and narrowed it down to 40 actresses who should be nominated for an Emmy this year.

For the sake of volume, I'm temporarily ignoring the existence of Guest and Short Form categories; everyone on this list is either a Lead or Supporting actress in a Drama, Comedy, or Limited Series. And for the sake of accuracy, I'm only considering performances that were officially submitted to the Television Academy, and in the category in which they were submitted. (A caveat: like the Emmy voters themselves, I can't possibly watch every show on the air, so forgive me if your own personal favorite didn't end up on this list.)

Here's the very best of the best, from past nominees to new breakout talent to perennial also-rans, presented in alphabetical order:

1. Shiri Appleby, UnREAL

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Part of the thrill of UnREAL is watching someone who's just really, really, really good at her job do what she does best. And boy is Rachel Goldberg good at manipulating the contestants on fictional reality show Everlasting. We never want to stop watching her work!

2. Caitriona Balfe, Outlander

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

It's entirely thanks to this Irish actress that what could easily have been a lightweight time-travel bodice-ripper has become one of the most dramatic, engaging, lush period dramas on television.

3. Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

It was the slap heard 'round the world; and while it's hard to forget Alicia Florrick's face, we shouldn't ignore the woman who did the slapping, either. Baranski was nominated for an Emmy each of the show's first six years — and she should be nominated once again for its seventh and final season.

4. Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Emmy voters should pay heed and honor the recent Golden Globe winner with yet another trophy (or at least a nomination). Who else but Bloom could sing songs with titles like "The Sexy Getting Ready Song," "You Stupid B*tch," and "Heavy Boobs" and get away with it?

5. Aya Cash, You're The Worst

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

More like She's The Best, amiright? In Season 2, FX's underrated comedy unexpectedly became a searing examination of depression — but never felt overwrought, thanks to Cash's delicately-balanced performance.

6. Carrie Coon, The Leftovers

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

It would be criminal if Emmy voters ignored the performance by what some have called the best actress on TV. Don't believe me? Just watch the climactic scene of the Season 2 episode "Lens," which features Coon's Nora Durst going head-to-head with Regina King's Erika Murphy in one of the most emotionally devastating two-handers ever put on film.

7. Ann Dowd, The Leftovers

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Dowd already delivered an award-worthy performance in Season 1 when she barely spoke a word as the leader of a silent cult. When she was finally allowed to open her mouth in Season 2… boy, did the sparks fly.

8. Kirsten Dunst, Fargo

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Returning to her Midwestern Drop Dead Gorgeous roots was the best thing to ever happen to Dunst's career; her "self-actualizing" beautician Peggy Blomquist was by turns hilarious, tragic, and unsettling, and one of the most memorable characters of the year.

9. Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Farmiga will very much still be a part of Bates Motel in its fifth and final season — but sadly we've already seen the last of the real Norma Bates, who finally met the end we all knew was coming for her at the hands of her "psycho" son this year. She was nominated before for the show's first season, but she deserves one more nod before Norma becomes a mere distant memory.

10. America Ferrera, Superstore

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Ferrera was nominated twice — and won once — back when she starred on ABC's Ugly Betty. Hopefully Emmy voters remember her fondly enough to honor her for this criminally underrated NBC sitcom.

11. Eva Green, Penny Dreadful

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

After the show's surprise cancellation, it only became even more urgent that we get star Eva Green an Emmy nomination before it's too late. Her performance as the haunted Vanessa Ives was so terrifying, you might have thought she was actually possessed.

12. Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Boom goes the wildfire… and "clinch" goes Headey's nomination. She has been nominated twice before — including for last year's walk of atonement — but will this be the year that another GoT actor finally joins Peter Dinklage in the pantheon of Emmy winners?

13. Felicity Huffman, American Crime

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

A former winner for Desperate Housewives and a nominee last year for the first season of anthology drama American Crime, Huffman shouldn't have any trouble getting another nod — this time for her role as a principal doing everything she can to protect her school (and herself) in the face of a scandal.

14. Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

You can't break Kimmy… but you'll break the rest of our hearts if you snub Ellie Kemper yet again for her indefatigable performance on this charming Netflix sitcom, Emmy voters. You've been warned.

15. Regina King, American Crime

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

As the mother of a boy caught up in a horrific crime, King stole every scene she was in as she fought tooth and nail to protect her son… regardless of whether or not he was actually guilty. But who wouldn't go to such lengths for their child?

16. Regina King, The Leftovers

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Apparently one show-stopping performance wasn't enough for King this past year, who also knocked it out of the park as the second half of that aforementioned two-hander with Carrie Coon on The Leftovers. Is it too much to ask that King get nominated for both roles? Too bad, because I'm asking.

17. Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Good thing Kimmy's unbreakable-ness is infectious, since Jacqueline needed all the help she could get landing back on her feet after her divorce. Watching her navigate the world sans-safety net just made Jacqueline's plight all the more hilarious.

18. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

She hasn't even been the "veep" for two seasons now, but watching President Selina Meyer cling to the Oval Office by her fingernails has been a comic delight. She has taken home the trophy four years in a row, and there's no reason not to expect at least another nom.

19. Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Margulies has been nominated for four out of the previous six seasons of The Good Wife and has won twice. Emmy voters should honor her one last time for crafting one of the most complex female characters on television — someone who was always relatable even when she wasn't always likable.

20. Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

If I had my druthers, I would nominate Maslany five times this year: once for playing Sarah Manning, once for Alison Hendrix, once for Cosima Niehaus, once for Rachel Duncan, and once for Helena. Oh, and throw in a few Supporting nods for Krystal Goderitch, Beth Childs, and M.K. to boot.

21. Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Even when Carol's character arc defied logic in TWD's sixth season, McBride delivered consistently stellar work. It's truly mind-boggling that she has gone this long without being recognized by the Television Academy. Time to rectify that, Emmys!

22. Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia… Has there been a single more upsetting hour of television this year than the episode of ACS devoted to watching prosecutor Marcia Clark wither under the relentless spotlight of the media, which focused on her fashion, her hairstyle, and her gender, over the arduous work she was doing? I can't think of one.

23. Billie Piper, Penny Dreadful

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Penny Dreadful will always be remembered as Eva Green's starring vehicle — but that doesn't mean we should forget about the terrific work put in by Piper, who transformed from forgettable supporting player in Season 1 to fierce scene-stealer in the show's latter two years. I certainly wouldn't want to get on Lily's bad side if I were you, voters…

24. Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

It's crazy that Pompeo is the only one of T.G.I.T.'s three leading ladies whose tireless work has been ignored by the Emmys. While Kerry Washington and Viola Davis have both been honored for Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, the Grey's star remains un-nominated, 12 seasons in. If there was ever a time to fix that, it's this year, which saw Meredith mourn the loss of her husband, recover from a brutal physical attack, and finally find love (or at least lust) once more.

25. Krysten Ritter, Marvel's Jessica Jones

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Like her Netflix brethren Kimmy, Jessica Jones is unbreakable — on the outside, at least. The inside is a different story, as brought to vivid life by Ritter, who played the character not just as a reluctant superhero, but as a survivor finally taking her power back from the man who abused her.

26. Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Rodriguez has been nominated twice by the Golden Globes (and took home the trophy the first time). What's a girl got to do to get recognized by the Emmys? Jane The Virgin wouldn't work without Rodriguez nimble performance that toes the line between the show's outsized telenovela hilarity and its more subtle, earnest emotion.

27. Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The supportive mom is a tired staple of the sitcom genre — but you'd never know it by watching Ross' performance as Rainbow Johnson, the coolest mom to grace our screens since, well, Clair Huxtable. Ross can both crack us up with her wonderfully expressive face and also bring a tear to our eyes when tackling some of the show's more hot button topics.

28. Keri Russell, The Americans

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Elizabeth Jennings gave new meaning to "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" when she inducted her daughter Paige into the ways of spycraft this season; Russell also gave new meaning to "Emmy-worthy performance" when she killed it both figuratively and literally every single week. This show just keeps getting better and better… and so does Russell.

29. Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

For a show ostensibly about the origins of flamboyant fan-favorite Breaking Bad character Saul Goodman, Season 2 of BCS had a surprising MVP: Seehorn's Kim Wexler, who got her own arc this season alongside Jimmy and Mike, charting her rise and fall and rise again in the male-dominated world of high-powered law firms — as well as her occasional foray into the world of conning as Jimmy's surprisingly eager partner-in-crime.

30. Jean Smart, Fargo

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Smart already has plenty of Emmys for her work on sitcoms like Frasier and Samantha Who?. But her work on Fargo couldn't be more different. As steely matriarch Floyd Gerhardt, Smart more than pulled her weight in a crowded cast of colorful characters — and proved that oftentimes a strong spine is worth more than a hot temper.

31. Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Underground

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

After dabbling in scripted series like Manhattan and Salem, WGN America is making its first major Emmys push with Underground — and it's easy to see why, based on Smollett-Bell's performance as determined slave girl Rosalee. Who else can't wait to watch her team up with Harriet Tubman in Season 2?

32. Lili Taylor, American Crime

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Completing the trifecta of award-worthy actresses in American Crime is Taylor, who broke hearts as Anne, the mother of a boy who claims he was sexually abused during a party. Anne may not have been as outwardly strong as Huffman's principal or King's tiger mom, but she was no less fierce in her dedication to her son's wellbeing.

33. Maura Tierney, The Affair

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

No offense to Noah and Alison, but The Affair's most compelling characters aren't its leads… a fact which the show realized in its second season, expanding its point-of-view structure to include Joshua Jackson's Cole and — most crucially — Tierney's Helen. We always knew the titular affair would have consequences; this year, Tierney brought those consequences to vivid, painful life.

34. Sophie Turner, Game Of Thrones

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Season 6 of GoT finally gave Sansa the growth fans had been hoping for ever since she dyed her hair and walked down that staircase at the end of Season 4. Freed from her abuse and captivity at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, Sansa flourished — and is singlehandedly responsible for saving the North from the clutches of her abuser. (Thanks for nothing, Jon Snow.)

35. Noël Wells, Master Of None

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Wells took what easily could have been a "manic pixie dream girl" archetype and imbued her with believable, complicated life. Her chemistry with Master Of None co-star Aziz Ansari was essential to the success of the latter half of the season, and the two worked wonders onscreen together.

36. Allison Williams, Girls

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

No, really. The most frequently ridiculed character in Girls history transformed literally overnight into its most interesting, thanks to the episode "The Panic In Central Park," which focused exclusively on Marnie and her chance run-in with former flame Charlie for the entire hour. It was one of the most surprisingly beautiful and heartbreaking episodes of the year, buoyed by Williams' never-better performance.

37. Alison Wright, The Americans

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Back in Season 1, nobody expected poor Martha to last very long. But she did, worming her way into not just "Clark's" heart… but the audience's as well. It was hard to say goodbye as she got on that Soviet-bound plane; but it was also something of a relief, coming so soon after Nina's unceremonious offing. Best of luck in Russia, Comrade Martha.

38. Robin Wright, House Of Cards

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

For three seasons, the Underwoods were such fearsome allies, the only person who would possibly be a match for them would've been… themselves. Which is exactly what happened in Season 4, with Frank and Claire going toe-to-toe, and yielding some of the most deliciously dramatic results for Wright to sink her teeth into.

39. Constance Wu, Fresh Off The Boat

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Another portrayal that overcomes the tired "sitcom mom" trope, Wu's performance as Jessica Huang is surprising because of how delightfully sly it is. The hilarious one-liners she's constantly dropping left and right are even funnier for how dry Wu's delivery is.

40. Constance Zimmer, UnREAL

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

We started with one UnREAL actress, and we'll end with another. Appleby is great as Rachel, but the show wouldn't be the same without giving her Zimmer's Quinn to bounce off of. As manipulative as Rachel is, Quinn is even more; as ruthless as she is, Quinn's got her beat. She will stop at nothing to get the most ratings-grabbing drama out of her contestants — and I'll stop at nothing to see her get a well-deserved Emmy nomination.

How many of these insanely talented women will wind up getting honored by the Television Academy this year? We'll find out when the 2016 Emmy nominations are announced this Thursday, July 14, by black-ish star Anthony Anderson and Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham. The ceremony itself will take place on Sunday, Sept. 18, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

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