Emmys 2012: The Lead Comedy Actor Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

If Emmy voters want to, they could really shake things up in this year’s Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series race. Make no mistake: Established favorites like The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin will make the cut. But there’s also an outside chance they’ll have to battle hungry newbies like Community’s Joel McHale and Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott for Emmy gold.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Monday as we tackle the Lead Comedy Actress race!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jake says:

    It’s incredibly disappointing that James Roday has never been nominated for Psych.

  2. Alexis says:

    Garrett Dillahunt! He’s hardly been in the Emmys discussion and I feel he gives the funniest performance of the whole cast!
    Backing Joel McHale, Don Cheadle and Will Arnet too.

    • Ava says:

      I agree. Although, I’d rather see Adam Scott win, I’d be ok with Garrett Dillahunt, who always gives a great performance.

  3. Petra says:

    No Matt Leblanc? Or does the airing schedule of Episodes come into play here?

  4. Mag says:

    Joel Mchale should be nominated this year. He’s had an amazing year.

  5. mehdi0204 says:

    This is the most boring category of the Emmys.


  6. Adam Scott as lead? Is that what he’s submitting himself for?

    • Cc says:

      Why would he go into a harder category (supporting actor) with the cast of modern family as perennial winners, and most likely taking four of the six spots?

    • jcshell says:

      Yeah, he did an interview with Gold Derby and said he’s submitting as lead this year, just based on the fact that he was so closely tied to the main storyline for most of the season. To me, that seems more justifiable than Lowe submitting as lead. Also, probably a smart move since the supporting category is over-crowded and Modern Family will likely (undeservedly IMO) take up 4 out of 6 slots again.

  7. Carmen says:

    Garrett Dillahunt is consistently phenomenal on Raising Hope.

  8. Carmen says:

    Jim Parsons FTW¡¡ Love Sheldon Cooper¡¡ Bazinga¡

  9. bob says:

    I would love to see Louis C.K or Danny Mc Bride win, but hey, let’s face it, we all know Parsons will take the trophy.

  10. Mark Ternullo says:

    It’s definitely Louis C.K.

  11. Eliza says:

    Adore so many people on this poll… Joel McHale, Louis C.K., Garrett Dillahunt, Ed Helms, Zachary Levi, Jeremy Sisto, Adam Scott…. Would be happy to see any of them nominated.

    If Joel McHale get a nom (and he is so deserving) I would LOVE to see him take it!

  12. YowzaPowza says:

    Garrett Dillahunt and Adam Scott are not leads on their shows, so to me their prospective nominations don’t make any sense and they aren’t deserved in this category. Have to go with Jim Parsons, Louie CK, Don Cheadle and the always great Alec Baldwin and Larry David.

  13. what about Adam Pally from Happy Endings

  14. Cleome says:

    I adore Adam Scott.

  15. Bob says:

    Anybody but Parson, please.

    • Bob says:

      Parsons, but the sentiment remains the same.

    • Taylor says:

      I agree, Bob. I love The Big Bang Theory, but Sheldon constantly annoyed the hell out of me last season, and I just don’t think Jim Parsons’ is worthy of an Emmy for his work last season. I used to find Sheldon’s socially obliviousness hilarious and endearing, but now he just makes me want to scream 90% of the time. Although, I think a lot of that is the writers’ fault. I really think they need to really dial Sheldon’s lack of social awareness and condescending nature down big time. I just found it rather alienating last season, and Jim Parsons’ just isn’t very funny anymore . There are so many other actors on TV that I think are far for deserving of the best actor in a comedy series this year, so I’ll be really mad if Jim Parsons wins again this year.

  16. John says:

    Joel McHale deserves this. It really is his time. Backing Adam Scott and Garrett Dillahunt as well.

  17. Carly says:

    No love for NPH or HIMYM? That’s disappointing.

  18. Adam Scott is so funny as Ben! And Joel McHale is awesome as Jeff. Both TBBT guys are good, although Jim Parsons is definitely more likely to get nominated.

  19. Jordan says:

    No Schmidt?

  20. Sasha says:

    I’m for Joel Mchale, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Adam Scott.

    I dont watch much TV but i do LOVE the stuff I watch so 4 ppl for me!

  21. Bella says:

    Nobody from Modern Family? Are they all considered supporting? Also, James Roday definitely should have been on this list.

    • the girl says:

      Ed O’Neill should have went for lead actor with the year he had this season. I cannot wait to see him win an Emmy for playing the patriarch of MF.

  22. Polly says:

    David Duchovny for Californication. Sublimely excellent.

  23. Blaster says:

    Wait… no Matthew Morrison? He was great in ‘The Spanish Teacher’ and made even the worst Mr. Schue moments tolerable throughout the season. It takes a decent actor to deliver some of the ridiculous lines that he is given and make them sound even mildly convincing… Just my two cents.

    • Stephanie says:

      He also had some great moments in “I Am Unicorn” (his reality check speech to Quinn), “Asian F”, “Nationals” and “Goodbye”. With a field as tough and deep as this one, Matthew could be a dark horse depending on the episode he submitted

      • ana says:

        He wasn’t nominated last season and this year he had less apperances. I don’t think he will get nominated.

    • Sean C. says:

      He’s not remotely credible as the show’s lead by this point. He goes long stretches with nothing to do.

  24. Laura E. says:

    I would love to see Adam Scott get nominated, but odds are the only new name in the category will be Don Cheadle. Adam was part of the lead story the second half of the season, and even in the first half he still carried plots, so I think he does qualify as the lead actor of Parks. Plus, he was fantastic and if we’re going by best actor, not funniest actor, more than qualifies.

  25. Talmidge Mcgulliger says:

    Jake Johnson from New Girl. The future Nick stuff was the funniest I’ve seen this season. Or Zachary Knighton from Happy Endings?

  26. Suzie says:

    Mostly b/c I want Joel McHale to have a chance I think the Emmy’s should have a rule that if you’ve previously won an emmy for that role you can’t be nominated again. Johhny Galecki’s Leornard is not really that funny. His reactions to the neurotic Sheldon are what makes him funny but overall he’s just a nice guy with LOL moments. Will Arnett is always funny and while I don’t watch his show I would love to see him nominated. Jon Cryer is dull and completely unfunny.

  27. cj says:

    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see the shenanigans Amy Poehler & Will Arnett could get up to if they were both nominated… maybe Up All Night needs another year to get him the nod, but I can totally see it.

  28. Becks says:

    Love Adam Scott, he was great this year!

  29. CatLyons says:

    I apologize if you like 30 rock and disagree but I am so tired of seeing Alec Baldwin win in this category. If Steve Carrell couldn’t even win one for his final amazing season, there is no hope for my favorites Joel McHale and Adam Scott.

    • ElKabong says:

      Agreed. I’ve been re-watching the first season of 30 Rock on DVD this week, and it became clear that the show is not even a pale shadow of it once was. Like most of the cast Baldwin is now performing a caracture based on the great character he established in the first couple seasons. It’s really sad.

  30. zakspeak says:

    SimOn Helberg of TBBT deserves a nom in lead actor this year.

  31. Thari says:

    I guess nobody watched the show, but i really liked Elijah Woods work on Wilfred. Also, I love Adam Scott, so there’s that

  32. Leah says:

    The whole NBC Thurs. night block deserves to win (Baldwin, Scott, McHale, Arnett). If any of them get it, it will have to be Baldwin. Even though it should be McHale.

  33. sam says:

    matt, can’t you add james roday from psych, i bet you’d be surprised how many people think he should be nominated.

  34. Aidan Williams says:

    I really want Jon Cryer to win but am also impresed with Billy Gardell and Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons and Zachary Levi and Jeremy Sisto their all great comedy actors and i’m very surprised about your voting.

  35. Melissa says:

    Joel McHale. Please and thank you.

  36. Amy says:

    Joel McHale! For the ping-pong episode or the Hulk episode. But especially Adam Scott!!! Ben is such an amazing character. His “this place is nuts” face expressions are hilarious and the episode where he did “claymash” was just brilliant. Not to mention his Treat Yourself Day work. Seriously, this guy needs a nomination.

  37. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Ideally I would like to see Louis C.K. win this, though I would also be happy with Joel McHale. Anyone else I would just shrug over or seethe with rage. But my 6 picks would be:
    1. Louis C.K.
    2. Joel McHale
    3. Garritt Dillahunt (I’ve never seen Raising Hope, but he’s got my vote from his performance on Deadwood. The guy must be extremely versatile if he can go from playing a serial killer in a Western to being sweet, lovable, and dumb on Raising Hope).
    4. Jim Parsons (Meh, the guy does always bring it, but I’m pretty much over The Big Bang Theory in general. I find it to be really overrated).
    5.Elijah Wood. (The dog may steal the show, but Elijah is pretty good on Wilfred too).
    6. I nearly voted for Neal Flynn here, but I think the only true lead on that show is Patrica Heaton. Neal Flynn feels very supporting on that show. So for this last spot I will go with the consistently overlooked James Roday.
    Now for what will really happen. I say they will probably nominate Louis C.K., Jim Parsons, Alec Baldwin, Johnny Galecki…ugh, these last two spots are hard to know what they will do with. Probably Jon Cryer, though I would like to believe we live in a world where Two and a Half Men can’t get any Emmy nominations. Community has been getting enough press lately that I think Joel McHale has got a shot. I say he gets a nod this year.

  38. CJ says:

    This is such a crowded category! There are so many guys here that I feel truly deserve recognition for their performance. If it were up to me, I would hand the Emmy right to Louis C.K. But I would be happy with him, Joel McHale, Adam Scott, Alec Baldwin, Neil Flynn, Jeremy Sisto, Zachary Levi, or Garret Dillahunt. They are all so deserving.

  39. atoz15 says:

    ADAM SCOTT ADAM SCOTT ADAM SCOTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. it will be a crime if joel mchale isnt nominated. this hasnt been the most impressive tv show season for me this year, community, happy endings and suburgatory were the only ones that really made me laugh. it would be a shame for joel to get passed up again for a spot he deserves!

  41. Gilda says:

    Like someone said above, it’s really too bad critics can’t embrace Psych more. Regardless of whether you like the show or not, you can’t deny that James Roday is comedic gold. He could make the phone book funny.

  42. bt says:

    Feel like Johnny Galecki is way over due. Hope he takes it this year