Emmy history: Previously nominated in the same category for “Wiseguy” (1989).
The case: Banks has flown under the radar as a vital utility player on “Bad” since season two’s finale. He won’t be returning for the final season, so this is the Academy’s chance to bid him proper adieu.
Trivia: Frequently playing both cops and baddies, Banks has had many an on-screen death. Memorable exits include knifing, electrocution and being thrown off a roof.
— Allegra Tepper
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Emmy history: This is Paul’s fourth nod for this role; he won Emmys in 2010 and 2012.
The case: Paul’s turn as a meth-making sidekick is a favorite of the Academy’s. This fourth season particularly exhibited his ability to give a full performance sans dialogue.
Trivia: Paul lost the Showcase Showdown on “The Price Is Right” in 1998 when he overbid by $132 on package worth more than $26,000.
— Allegra Tepper
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
Emmy history: Won for guest turn on “Will & Grace”; nommed last year for guest role on “Nurse Jackie” and is also a contender for that same role this year.
The case: As a new regular this season, Cannavale brought a spark to the big-ensemble drama. With Buscemi out of the lead actor race, Cannavale is a “Boardwalk” fan’s only horse.
Trivia: A Tony-nominated actor, Cannavale appeared in the 2012 revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” opposite Al Pacino, playing the same role Pacino did in the 1992 film adaptation.
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Emmy history: This is Carter’s second nomination for this role.
The case: The supporting role of a dutiful butler doesn’t often lend itself to emotional climaxes. But after another character’s death this season, Carter made a much-admired dramatic breakthrough.
Trivia: Known to occasionally amuse himself on set by juggling or doing magic tricks, Carter earned extra cash as a young actor by busking and doing magic on the cabaret circuit.
Emmy history: A lead actor win and later guest actor nod for “Chicago Hope,” plus one more guest nom.
The case: Patinkin gives a more restrained performance than his co-stars, which served him well during a roller-coaster second season. Patinkin was given a chance to shine when his character develops a complicated kinship with an imprisoned terrorist.
Trivia: Before finding his groove in the interrogation room, Patinkin was a regular in the operating room — he appeared as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger in three skeins: “Chicago Hope,” “Picket Fences” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Emmy history: This is Dinklage’s third nomination in this category; he won in 2011.
The case: Playing the most sympathetic character on the tawdry swords-and-sex drama, Dinklage is a fan favorite. Some emotionally complex scenes with onscreen father Charles Dance riveted audiences this season.
Trivia: Dinklage was writer George R.R. Martin’s first choice for his role. But before he accepted — weary of dwarf stereotypes of fantasy series past — he gave exec producers one condition: no beard, no pointy shoes.