With the Emmy Awards Nominating Ballots coming online, all the bets, votes and speculations for TV's night of nights just kick-started. Though there's still a while to go to the actual Emmy nominations are announced — live on July 14 — it’s already the end of hope for some. In HBO's Game of Thrones, for instance, only nine actors have had their chance at being considered for an Emmy this year.
The Emmys are a different sort of awards, mainly because it's the actors', shows' and producers' responsibility to submit their names for nomination. Then the ballots are released and the online voting begins to narrow down the humongous list of names, which eventually leads to the final list of nominations.
It's fair to assume that with Game of Thrones, it's HBO that submits the names, and although those nine chosen actors surely deserved to be included on the list, there are still many who gave us outstanding performances but were left out.
Here are a few of those Game of Thrones actors who didn't make the cut and their Emmy-worthy scenes.
1. Lord Varys — Conleth Hill
Also known as the Spider, Varys is — along with Littlefinger — a key player in Game of Thrones, and has been since Season 1. Recently, he’s teamed up with Tyrion and sailed to Essos in the hopes of getting Daenerys on the Iron Throne. His back-and-forth with the Imp, as well as his scheming time in Meereen this season, clearly makes him a Thrones standout.
Memorable Scene: His conversation with the Red Priestess — when she tells him she knows what he heard in the flames as he was being maimed as a child — brought rarely seen discomfiture to his character.
2. Davos Seaworth — Liam Cunningham
The Onion Knight is, without a doubt, one if the most loyal men in Westeros. Since saving the Baratheon soldiers in the siege of Storm's End, Davos became Stannis Baratheon's loyal adviser, even opposing Stannis's Red Priestess Melisandre. Now, Ser Davos is probably one of the most beloved characters in Thrones fandom, since he was the one to persuade Melisandre to resurrect Jon Snow.
Memorable Scene: It's precisely in this scene that we see Davos humbly ignore his reservations and his skepticism for the benefit of Jon, when he gives the Red Priestess a little boost in morale.
3. Littlefinger — Aidan Gillen
Petyr Baelish may not be a beloved character per se, but he sure is an important one. For starters, he single-handedly pitted the Starks against the Lannisters, leading to the War of the Five Kings. He's possibly in love with Sansa (through his love for her late mother Catelyn Stark) and he is probably on the way to saving the day in the Bastard Bowl.
Memorable Scene: When he brilliantly manipulates his puppet Lord Robin of the Vale to send his army north to help Sansa.
4. Brienne Of Tarth — Gwendoline Christie
Despite being born a Lady, as Lady Catelyn Stark once put it, Brienne is a truer knight than most. She’s been sworn to protect both Renly Baratheon and Catelyn Stark, and although she failed Renly, she kept true to her promise to protect the Stark girls (well, one at least). She’s responsible for bringing out a better side in Jaime Lannister, proof of her loyal, determined character.
Memorable Scene: The moment when she finally achieves her goal and, after kicking serious House Bolton butt, swears her oath to Sansa Stark.
5. Samwell Tarly — John Bradley
Sam started out as a coward who was afraid of heights and almost everything else. Throughout the seasons of Thrones, he’s always been the voice of reason for his best buddy Jon Snow and a rightful man for Gilly and her baby. He’s now on his journey to be a Maester in Old Town, while trying his best to fulfill his promise to keep Gilly and lil' baby Sam safe.
Memorable Scene: This season we saw Sam go back home to Horn Hill and finally put an end to a whole life of bullying from his father. By taking Heartsbane, the ancestral Tarly sword, Sam screamed his independence and broke free of his father's emotional chains.
6. High Sparrow — Jonathan Pryce
From slowly manipulating the mighty Cersei into restoring the Faith's power, to forcing her to take a walk of shame, the High Sparrow has made it abundantly clear that the power is no longer in the hands of the nobles. His anecdotes, stories and artful mind games for anyone with a privilege of power has made King's Landing a dangerous place for those of means.
Memorable Scene: It was glimpsed in the season trailer and yet it had a totally different weight when it actually aired. Seeing the High Sparrow bring Ser Jaime down with nothing but his words was definitely a moment to remember.
7. The Waif — Faye Marsay
Safe to say no one (pun intended) really liked her, but that’s testament to her great work as Arya's nemesis these past two seasons of Thrones. The Waif was a vengeful, sadistic and fake Faceless Assassin in-training, and we were all very glad that she didn’t complete said training — otherwise we might have lost yet another Stark.
Memorable Scene: It’s got to be the one from "No One," when she chased after Arya like a hound sprung from hell. I’d not seen such a great T-1000 since Robert Patrick's in Terminator 2.
8. Olenna Tyrell — Diana Rigg
Olenna Tyrell is one of the more refreshing characters in Game of Thrones. While everyone is doing their best to hide their emotions and plot in the shadows, bolshy Olenna calls it like she sees it. Every. Single. Time. She’s fierce in protecting her family, and Cersei could take a page or two from the Queen of Thorns' book.
Memorable Scene: When she says her goodbye to granddaughter Margaery, it's possible to take measure of the wide range of emotions Olenna feels. From threatening to beat Septon Unella to death to grasping the truth of Margaery's dangerous position, Olenna makes us feel like we’re all in on the scene, hoping against hope that she actually makes it to safety.
9. Ramsay Bolton — Iwan Rheon
He may be the most hated man on TV right now, but he certainly does an awesome job in giving us reason to dislike him. Ramsay Bolton is the utmost evil in Game of Thrones — second only to the Night's King, maybe — and the things he's done have made us cringe and look away in shock. Seeing Rheon as Ramsay, it's difficult to believe he almost got to play a different character in the show.
Memorable Scene: As if killing his father didn't fill his daily quota of sadism, Ramsay goes on to feed his stepmother Walda Frey and her newborn baby to the dogs. We all experienced a moment of hope (for Ramsay's sake and Walda's alike) when he handed the baby back to her after holding it for a while, but Ramsay prefers being an only child after all.
10. Lyanna Mormont — Bella Ramsey
Talk about making an entrance! The little Lady of Bear Island proved to be tougher than many a Westerosi knight out there, giving Jon Snow and Sansa Stark the hardest of times in fewer than five minutes. She is strong, well-advised and fearless, even joining her 62 soldiers in preparation for the Battle of the Bastards.
Memorable Scene: She's had but one scene of dialogue and she absolutely nailed it. Her pride in saying that every man from Bear Island fights as 10 mainlanders was enough to have us believing Jon Snow's army might stand a chance.
And the list could go on and on, with great actors and their amazing portrayals, but we have to draw the line somewhere!