TV: Can one scene get Jeffrey Dean Morgan an Emmy for ‘The Walking Dead’?

Fans of “The Walking Dead” are probably still wrestling with worry over one of the most talked about cliffhangers in recent TV history. Season six’s vexing finale saw the obfuscated onset of someone’s death. Whose fate was sealed by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) an unhinged sadist and his spike garnished bat Lucille? We won’t know until October, but before then awards prognosticators can take a swing at (too soon?) another question: does Morgan’s short but potent performance in last season’s finale qualify him for a Guest Actor Emmy and does he have a chance? If so, this could be an unprecedented move, making it the first time the awards show acknowledges the series beyond its technical and visual achievements and nominate an actor.

“The Walking Dead” has been nominated for an Emmy every year since 2011, mostly for technical categories like special effects, sound editing, stunt coordination and prosthetic makeup for which it won in 2011 and the following year, yet none of the members of its large cast have ever been nominated in the acting categories.  This is despite usually solid performances from series regulars like Andrew Lincoln, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan and Danai Gurira to name a few. Not even David Morrissey could get a nomination for playing the eye-patched villain The Governor for a span of three seasons.

That could change this year with Morgan on board. Right now his competitors for guest actor in a drama series are Reg E. Cathey (“House of Cards”) who could take it for a second year in a row. The last season of “The Good Wife” also saw strong guest performances from Michael J. Fox and Josh Charles, and since Fox has been nominated four times now for his recurring guest spot on “The Good Wife” he looks like the one that’s favored to win. Given that Morgan’s performance was so brief, only appearing during the season finale’s last scene, he might not have the edge despite giving a convincing performance after a distinctly anticipated arrival – disappointment would have been understandable. That convincing performance won’t earn Morgan a trophy, but it’s enough to break precedent and most likely get him a deserved nomination.

Possible Emmy nominations in the drama series category

  • Outstanding Guest Actor – Jeffrey Dean Morgan
  • Outstanding Sound Editing
  • Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup
  • Outstanding Special Visual Effects
  • Outstanding Stunt Coordination