30 Rock: Surprising guest stars Elizabeth Banks and Matt Damon proved that Tina Fey's brilliant love child is also a romantic.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Seinfeld reunion was a bright spot in this highly rated season.
Entourage: As Vince's career heats up, the supporting characters moved forward, including a romance for Turtle and a new company for Eric.
Glee: It's the belle of the ball; nobody else melded genres with such aplomb, a particular feat when one of them is the musical.
Modern Family: More laughs per minute made this dry, observational family comedy a winner.
The Office: A new corporate owner was both topical and vividly funny (see: guest star Kathy Bates).
Dark Horse: Cougar Town: It started off just cute, but as its ensemble found its groove, no sitcom cast worked better together as a unit.
Best Supporting Actress
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock: Her daffy obliviousness is a perfect foil to Fey's grounded, exasperated Liz Lemon.
Jane Lynch, Glee: Sue Sylvester, an archvillain, pierces the balloon that is the show's helium-inflated buoyancy. And it's delicious.
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds: Celia put her bullying skills to work within an inept Mexican guerrilla force to hilarious effect.
Busy Philipps, Cougar Town: TV is littered with blowsy best friends, but Laurie Keller makes you understand how she became a man eater.
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family: More than a funny accent, her fish-out-of-water wife plays May to Ed O'Neill's December with perfect restraint.
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty: In the end, Willi put the fascism in fashion, while finding true love and making her peace with the Meade family.
Best Supporting Actor
Ty Burrell, Modern Family: He had us at "WTF." Among a talented ensemble, Phil Dunphy's cluelessness consistently achieved believable "dadness."
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men: His finicky second banana is the perfect foil to Charlie Sheen's rakish rogue.
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother: Just when we thought Barney had gone soft, his love/sex life went all hinky again, and we reveled in the chaos.
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock: Kenneth, TGS' blind-faith acolyte, found his voice in a season marked by radical departures for the character.
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock: This talented comic never lets you see the wheels spinning in what is a fully realized portrait of an egotistical actor.
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family: Sure, he plays gay for laughs, which isn't always a home run. But his performance as Cameron is warm enough to avoid the dark side of parody.
Toni Collette, The United States of Tara: She added another character to her stable of varied alters, with a dead-on portrayal of an Upper West Side shrink.
Courteney Cox, Cougar Town: Jules' effervescent optimism perfumes this show with a camaraderie that elevates the entire cast.
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie: As Jackie slumped into depravity, this laser-precise character darkened, hardening into a nihilistic shell. Plus: It was funny.
Tina Fey, 30 Rock: Liz's sad-sack search for love reached new heights — and depths — this season.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine: The show may have been canceled, but not because this Seinfeld vet's comic pitch wasn't always anything but perfect.
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds: Nancy kept her signature nonchalance in the face of a vengeful drug lord/lover, the assignations of her off-kilter brother-in-law and the unraveling of her smart-aleck kids.
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock: He remained a stentorian corporate suit, but his dual loyalties to Avery and Nancy showed us that he's quite an interesting boyfriend as well.
Steve Carell, The Office: He's easy to overlook among the crazy cast, but his romantic edge re-emerged in the finale, showing promise for Carell's final season.
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm: David's crankypants relentlessly pursued a reunion of the Seinfeld cast... so that he could reunite with his estranged wife.
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon found love ... sort of, revealing a new layer to what could have been a caricature.
Tony Shalhoub, Monk: Shalhoub sent off a softened Adrian Monk with an unexpected sweetness.
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men: It's hard to make a man-whore sympathetic, but somehow Sheen has imbued Charlie Harper with enough charm to do so for yet another season.
Breaking Bad: As Walt became fully ensconced in an immoral underworld, a newly sober Jesse's partnership had deadly consequences.
Damages: A Bernie Madoff-inspired story line introduces us to a parade of ethically dubious family members, whose methods implicate Patty Hewes and Co.
Dexter: A tense tete-a-tete with serial killer Trinity ended in the shocking death of Dexter's wife Rita.
The Good Wife: The dumb-struck wife of a politician embroiled in a sex scandal got out of bed and went to work. The result is a great legal procedural... with an intriguing love triangle.
House: Dr. House's stint in rehab didn't stick, but perhaps the love of a good woman will.
Mad Men: Don Draper's fake identity was revealed, leading to new professional challenges and a quickie divorce.
Dark Horse: Lost: The academy changed its rules so that the two-and-a-half-hour finale was eligible for consideration. Will the voters be less conflicted than the audience?
Best Supporting Actress
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife: Diane Lockhart is a post-feminist attorney who exchanges male posturing to show a woman with foibles and romantic tangles and the lessons of her mistakes.
Rose Byrne, Damages: Ellen left Patty's tutelage to work at the DA's office, but then you never really leave Patty, right? Her double-crosses were fun to watch.
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men: When Peggy got promoted and moved into the city, Moss presented a more confident young woman, who moved effortlessly from boardroom to bedroom.
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy: Cristina spent the season torn between a fulfilling relationship with Owen and a fulfilling career as a surgeon. That she never really chose is what made it exciting to watch.
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love: After regaining the trust of her sister-wives, Nicki went undercover in Bill's opponent's office. The season ended with her tearful admission of her infertility.
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy: Her jittery performance in the gunman-in-the-hospital finale merits her a spot here.
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Emerson, Lost: Benjamin Linus didn't receive his bright-light bath in the finale; instead, his character's untidy resolution vacillated between helpless and willful.
John Noble, Fringe: This season Noble showed us why his mad scientist's superpowered synapses might have shorted out, as we met the grieving father behind the brilliant nutjob.
Terry O'Quinn, Lost: We mourned the loss of John Locke, but embraced O'Quinn's solid portrayal of the Man in Black, which added fortitude to Locke's overriding ambivalence.
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad: Paul's season had several impressive acting moments, including Jesse's side dealings with his rehab group and a shocking season-finale standoff.
Martin Short, Damages: Funny guy Short surprises us with a Machiavellian turn as a corrupt family attorney whose every move stymies Patty's investigation.
John Slattery, Mad Men: The silver fox let us peek beneath his wiseacre surface, where we spied a broken man who has lost his mojo.
Glenn Close, Damages: Patty squared off with people even less unscrupulous than her: the Tobin family. The result was explosive.
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters: Her lovably grating attempts to control her children's lives is so familiar we wince.
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU: When Benson was framed for the murder of a biker, Hargitay brought her steely demeanor to bear on a unusual defensive posture.
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace: Grace Hanadarko exited this mortal coil having finally answered the series' central question: Is she ready to give her life to God?
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife: Once the sizzle of the sex scandal subsided, we were left with a feisty legal drama with Margulies' publicity-shy heroine at its core.
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer: Sedgwick went toe to toe with guest star Mary McDonnell and proved why Brenda Leigh solves her cases.
Dark Horse: Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy: Sagal found new power in the role of Gemma, who goes from sexual assault victim to murderer in a few short episodes. By the end of the season, she's on the lam.
Simon Baker, The Mentalist: Baker's solid season ended with a flirtation with fellow psychic Kristina Frye and an ominous run-in with Jane's big white whale, the Red John killer.
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad: The two-time defending champion erased any sense of sympathy for meth-maker Walt, as he betrayed both his wife and his partner.
Michael C. Hall, Dexter: Finding a murderous twin in Trinity, Dexter located a new emotion: admiration, which quickly bled into rage and sorrow when his idol turned into his tormentor.
Jon Hamm, Mad Men: In a season of reckoning, Don Draper revealed his painful secret, split from his wife, lost a mentor and his job. Hamm handled it all coolly.
Hugh Laurie, House: In a season bookended by exemplary episodes, Dr. House descended into addiction again, only emerging with the love of a good woman.
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Jack Bauer's long nightmarish day ends as it began, with the lone wolf on a mission to prove he knows what others don't.