'Game of Thrones' earns 24 Emmy Award nominations, 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Good Wife' among snubs

Lena Headey plays Cersei  in "Game of Thrones."

Lena Headey plays Cersei in "Game of Thrones."  (HBO)

Fantasy saga "Game of Thrones" received a leading 24 Emmy Awards nominations Thursday, including top drama honors, an award that has eluded it since it debuted in 2011. While "Thrones" may now have its time in the spotlight despite facing backlash over a female character's rape scene, some of broadcast television's biggest shows — in fact, broadcast television itself — can consider itself snubbed by the Emmys.

Television's most popular comedy, "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS, was not nominated for best comedy, and star Jim Parsons received no love as best actor.

Fox's "Empire," which was a sensation upon its premiere last winter, wasn't nominated for best drama, and star Terrence Howard didn't get a best actor nod. Actress Taraji P. Henson was nominated for best actress.

"The Good Wife" on CBS, widely considered broadcast's best drama, was not nominated and neither was its star, Julianna Margulies.

"American Horror Story: Freak Show" came in second place with 19 nominations followed by "Olive Kitteridge" with an impressive 13.

The TV academy took a step toward recognizing the increasingly diverse talent on TV, giving best actress nods to black stars Taraji P. Henson for "Empire" and Viola Davis for "How to Get Away with Murder."

That sets up a possibility of a history-making win: An African-American actress has never won the top drama acting award.

"I gotta win! I gotta win for history!" an exuberant Henson said when asked about the prospect during an "Empire" panel in May.

However, two-time nominee Kerry Washington of "Scandal" was left out this year.

Also snubbed: hit hop-family drama "Empire," which was left out of the best drama series category, and series star Terrence Howard, who failed to get a best drama actor bid.

Instead, voters gave nods to favorites such as "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" and newcomer Bob Odenkirk for "Better Call Saul," the prequel to the now-concluded "Breaking Bad."

Gina Rodriguez, the standout Latina star of "Jane the Virgin," failed to get a comedy acting nod — despite having won a Golden Globe award for her performance.

Programs getting a last chance for Emmy glory include best drama series nominee "Mad Men," a four-time winner in the category that would be the most-honored drama ever with a fifth trophy. For star Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper, it's a final shot after seven previous nominations.

David Letterman, who retired from "Late Show," and Stephen Colbert, who left "The Colbert Report" to succeed Letterman this fall, both received variety talk show nominations for their former shows.

"Late Show" was last nominated in 2009 as best variety, music or comedy series and last won in 2002. Colbert's show won in 2014.

They're both getting a break: the TV academy split the variety series category into two, one for variety talk shows and one for variety or sketch series like "Saturday Night Live," making space for more contenders in each.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.