Fox's smash-hit, hip-hop drama "Empire" and old favorites "Big Bang Theory" and "The Good Wife" were elbowed out of the Emmy awards race on Thursday, while a slew of new shows and actors received nominations.

The Television Academy also snubbed the popular young-adult romantic comedy "Jane the Virgin." Amazon's transgender comedy "Transparent," and AMC's "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul" were among the newcomers making the grade.

Despite attracting some 17 million viewers for its season finale in March, Empire's tale of a family in the cutthroat world of the recording and entertainment industry was left out of the prestigious best drama series category. Taraji P. Henson did get an acting nod for her role as a matriarch with a drug-dealing past in "Empire," but Terrence Howard as a hip-hop mogul failed to make the cut.

"Surprising to not see 'Empire' breakthrough in drama after making such a splash, very surprising to see 'Big Bang Theory' not in the race for comedy series and 'Good Wife' not in the race for drama," said Cynthia Littleton, managing editor of television at Hollywood trade paper Variety.

"Big Bang Theory" has never won for comedy series, although it is the most-watched show in that category on US television and had been a perennial Emmy favorite. Four-time Emmy winner Jim Parsons, who plays a geeky scientist on the CBS series, also slipped off the list for consideration. Julianna Margulies, the star of "The Good Wife," is out of the running after taking home two Emmys in the past four years. The series itself also failed to gain a nomination in the prestigious drama category. The CW's "Jane the Virgin," which delivered a Golden Globe for lead actress Gina Rodriguez in January, was also snubbed in the key categories. "The Gina Rodriguez (absence) was a surprise, given the amount of attention and awards that she had gotten in the past," Littleton said. "I think it reflects just the incredible competitiveness in those races."

Others that were expected to feature in Thursday's nominations but did not make the grade include Showtime's Golden Globe-winning "The Affair," and Ellie Kemper, lead actress in Netflix's best comedy series nominee "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." AMC zombie show "The Walking Dead" again failed to get a nod in the best drama category. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will hand out the Emmys at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Sept. 20.