The “hanging episode rule” has been hung out to dry. The Television Academy’s Board of Governors has eliminated the rule beginning with next year’s 2023 Emmy competition.
As currently in use through this year’s competition, the “hanging episode rule” currently allows a series (including limited or anthology) that premieres current-season episodes after the May 31 eligibility deadline, but prior to the start of nomination-round voting, to post those episodes on a platform available to Academy members by May 31 for episode eligibility in the current Emmy competition.
That will change beginning with the next eligibility year (June 1, 2022-May 31, 2023). At that point, episodes will have had to have been made available for a national audience, not just Emmy voters, by May 31 on a platform to be Emmy-eligible. “The Academy has made the change to standardize all submissions within the eligibility year,” the org said.
The decision to eliminate the hanging episode rule comes as the modern age of streaming binges more or less eliminates the need to worry about episodes that dangle beyond the May 31 cutoff. If a network/studio wants those episodes included, they can likely find a way to drop them early on a streamer. If those episodes aren’t ready, or have been held back strategically, like the final two episodes of “Stranger Things” Season 4, that’s a choice the outlet is making to have those episodes move to next year’s competition. (In the case of “Stranger Things,” since Season 5 won’t be ready by then, those two episodes will be “orphaned” and eligible for individual achievements, but not series ones.)
Here are the new rules for series and limited/anthology Series eligibility beginning with 2023 Emmy competition:
The required number of episodes from a series must premiere nationally by May 31 to be eligible in the current Emmy competition. (Six episodes are required for series in animation, comedy, drama, variety, short form and reality categories. Three episodes are required for documentary series and hosted nonfiction series).
If a series premieres within the current Emmy eligibility year but doesn’t have the required number of nationally premiered episodes to qualify for its category, the series, along with the individual achievements, would gain eligibility in the subsequent Emmy competition.
If a series qualifies in the current eligibility year, but has additional episodes from its current season premiering after May 31, those episodes will gain Emmy eligibility with the series’ subsequent season.
If the series doesn’t return in the subsequent Emmy competition, those episodes would be eligible as single “orphaned” episodes in certain individual achievement categories. Submission for a body of work (including series and acting categories) would not be eligible under the “orphaned” episodes rule.
All episodes/parts of a limited/anthology series must premiere nationally by May 31 to be eligible in the current Emmy competition.
If all episodes/parts do not premiere within the current eligibility year, the complete limited series, along with the individual achievements, would gain eligibility in the subsequent Emmy competition.