Predicting the whims and quirks of Emmy voters isn't that hard. (For proof, see Exhibit A here. If that guy can do it, anyone can.) Still, Thursday's nominations produced a fair share of surprises and undoubtedly bruised a few egos. What's the fallout? And what might be in store when the television academy hands out the awards Sept. 22?
Let's sweep through the six main categories while pondering an upside-down universe where those crazy cutups from "American Horror Story: Asylum" can win 17 nominations but zombie-fighting members of "The Walking Dead" can manage but one. (Yay for the makeup team!)
"Game of Thrones"
"House of Cards"
The fallout: Emmy voters continue to demonstrate their limited generosity toward genre programming, passing over "The Walking Dead" and "Orphan Black." A case could be made that if FX's "The Americans" arrived with even half the hype that greeted "House of Cards," it would have found its way into the winner's circle. And don't get us started on the exclusion of FX's other stellar drama, "Justified." Its story arc was tighter and smarter than half the shows nominated here. It shouldn't be penalized just because it doesn't wear its artistic ambitions on its sleeve.
The future: With no nominations for writing, it would appear that "Mad Men" won't regain its top drama throne this year. A case could be made for any one of the five other shows winning this race, which feels more wide-open than it has in years. Might the long-overdue "Breaking Bad" finally ascend to the top?
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"
The fallout: Movie stars Spacey and Daniels make their series Emmy debuts, knocking out Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire") and "Dexter's" Michael C. Hall, who saw his streak of five consecutive nominations come to an end. (And not a moment too soon.) Neither nod came as a surprise; really, it was just a question whether it'd be Buscemi or Bonneville left out of the race.
The future: Lewis took the Emmy last year but may be hard-pressed to repeat in a category that Cranston once dominated — and may well own again. Then again, something tells us newcomer Spacey, who clearly had the time of his life playing "Cards'" calculating congressman, will win.
Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel"
Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"
Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Robin Wright, "House of Cards"
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
Connie Britton, "Nashville"
Kerry Washington, "Scandal"
The fallout: In a category where a tie (or two) produced seven nominees, the omission of nine-time nominee Julianna Margulies was (to use a word that gets bandied about way too much in these types of things, but in this case is indeed applicable) shocking. And if Margulies ("The Good Wife") was going to get snubbed, we would have guessed that "The Americans'" Keri Russell (that accent!) or "Orphan Black's" Tatiana Maslany (that multiplicity!) would have made it in before Britton. However you slice it, the many possibilities point to how competitive this once-starved category has become.
The future: Washington's nomination won the headlines. Is "Scandal" too soapy for some voters? Perhaps. But this feels like a performance with unstoppable Emmy momentum.
"The Big Bang Theory"
The fallout: There was really no way voters would be able to digest and appreciate the intricate construction of the long-awaited "Arrested Development" relaunch in the brief window between its Memorial Day weekend debut and Emmy balloting. Frankly, even if the show had premiered earlier, it probably still wouldn't have been nominated because of the distance between what fans had envisioned and what creator Mitch Hurwitz delivered.
The future: Is "Modern Family" vulnerable to lose for once? Yes. Is there one nominated comedy that can win enough voters on its own to pull off that upset? Iffy, though with six nominations, "Louie" clearly has some serious admirers.
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Louis C.K., "Louie"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
The fallout: Apparently, enough voters believed that giving Jon Cryer the Emmy in this category (for surviving Charlie Sheen?) last year was reward enough.
The future: Baldwin won for "30 Rock" in 2008 and 2009, followed by Parsons in 2010 and 2011. Then it was Cryer's turn. Will voters return to either of the past winners or go with a new face — say, C.K? We're guessing Parsons' wide appeal will carry the day.
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Laura Dern, "Enlightened"
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
The fallout: Voters apparently tired of "New Girl" Zooey Deschanel faster than we would have guessed. Was it that iPhone commercial? Let's ask Siri while we wait for the tomato soup to be delivered.
The future: The last 10 winners in this category have failed to repeat. That said, Louis-Dreyfus was even better this season on "Veep," funny and frail and absolutely charming. Fey, nominated for "30 Rock's" farewell season, might be the only candidate with a shot at besting her.
Countdown: Emmys 2013