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Game of Thrones has already made history in the 2019 Emmys race by scoring a record number of nominations for a drama in a single season, but a few of those Emmy nominations wouldn’t have happened if some of the show’s stars hadn’t taken the initiative. Game of Thrones actors Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), and Carice van Houten (Melisandre) all had to submit themselves for Emmy consideration. All three were rewarded with nominations for their Game of Thrones work, so why didn’t Game of Thrones recognize their contributions and submit them?

The answer is more complicated than Game of Thrones not considering the work of Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen, and Carice van Houten as worthy of Emmy recognition. Even without those three nominations bringing the Game of Thrones count up to 32, the show would have already beaten the previous Emmy record held by NYPD Blue for most nominations of a drama in a single season. The reality is that Game of Thrones had a lot of potential contenders to take an Emmy for their work in the final season, and decisions had to be made.

Of Game of Thrones’ massive cast, the show officially submitted Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark/Queen in the North), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), and all received Emmy nominations. HBO president Casey Bloys addressed the question of why Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen, and Carice Van Houten were not among those submitted, saying this at the summer TCA press tour (via ET):

Game of Thrones is unique because it has 26, 27, 28 series regulars, which is unusual, but we have someone who has worked for HBO for many, many years and has been an expert in awards. She will work with showrunners to figure out what's the best chance of success. The challenge of a series that big is if everybody submitted themselves... everybody could cancel out the entire show. So, there's strategic thinking in terms of how to submit and who to submit. Ultimately, if somebody decides to submit on their own, we'll help them and their reps, too. And I think it's the first time that anybody who ever self-submitted was nominated, so I think it's great.

Casey Bloys’ comment that HBO helps the self-submitters and their representatives if they do decide to put their own hats in the Emmy ring at least indicates that Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen, and Carice van Houten weren’t all flying solo in trying to score an Emmy nomination for their Game of Thrones work. They did probably have to foot the bill to submit themselves, though. Self-submitters have to pay $225 for consideration. If this marks the first occasion that people who submitted themselves were subsequently nominated, then I would say it was money well spent for the three Game of Thrones actors!

It’s hard to argue that submitting an abundance of actors from a show doesn’t run the risk of overloading an Emmy category. Of those 32 Emmy nominations for Game of Thrones, there are several in the same category, meaning that there is quite literally no way that Game of Thrones can win 32 Emmys for those 32 nominations.

Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington are the only members of the Game of Thrones cast to receive nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, respectively, and Carice van Houten is the only Game of Thrones star to be nominated as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama, but there are multiple Thrones stars in the two Outstanding Supporting categories.

Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams are all contending for the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy for Game of Thrones. Alfie Allen is up against Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for the Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy. The odds of a Game of Thrones actor winning in the Outstanding Supporting categories are pretty great, but the actors have to face that they could either lose to or defeat their friends and coworkers from Game of Thrones.

Not everybody agrees that Game of Thrones deserved all 32 of its Emmy nominations, as the final season was divisive at best. Still, pretty much all fans seem to agree that the shortcomings of the final season were not the fault of the actors, so it would be pretty satisfying to see some of the actors who had to put up with some harsh filming conditions in Season 8 take home a trophy for their efforts.

Could the facts that Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) died in Season 8 (in the same episode!) help the actors’ odds of winning? Well, Jaime Lannister died too, so Allen wouldn’t have that edge over Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and it would be a shame if actors can only win Emmy recognition if their characters die. This was Game of Thrones’ final season, so it’s not like even the survivors, like Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth, will be back short of a reunion or revival!

Find out which of the Game of Thrones stars do or do not win an Emmy for their work in the final season when the 2019 Emmys air on Sunday, September 22 on Fox, starting at 8 p.m. ET. The awards will be handed out without a host at the helm this year, which means that there will be quite a few differences. If you’re a cord-cutter who wants to watch (or just prefers streaming) the Emmys, check out our guide on how to watch the Emmys 2019 streaming.

Game of Thrones itself is available on digital already, if you feel the need to live or relive the highs and lows of the final season. Fans will never agree entirely on whether or not Season 8 was actually any good, but it's worth watching to see how Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen, Carice van Houten, and the rest say goodbye to their characters. Even if none of the self-submitters win the Emmy, at least their work was so solid that they earned their nominations.

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