The hit US show "Breaking Bad" ended with a big bang late Sunday, wrapping up the adventures of Walter White, one of the most original and beloved TV anti-heroes in decades.
The award-winning show was so popular that news about the last episode made top news in leading US media, a welcome respite from the endless bickering in Congress and the looming federal government shutdown.
"It's that moment when Breaking Bad is officially over and you don't know what to do with your life anymore," wrote one enthusiastic fan on Twitter just minutes after the final episode aired, the 62nd in the five-season series.
In the intense final episode, series creator Vince Gilligan deftly wrapped up all of the loose ends in the storyline.
"I am very cautious in my estimation in general of how people will respond to things," Gillian said at an AMC network news conference in July. "I hope I am not wildly wrong in my estimate that most people are going to dig the ending."
And dig they did, judging from the explosion of emotional postings on Twitter.
"That was literally perfect. In every sense of the word. It's been fun. Thank you so much. You changed me," wrote one Josh Lewis.
"Perfectly executed. Absolutely no complaints. Perfect ending to the perfect show," added W.R. Bolen.
The Hollywood industry bible Variety declared that the final episode "gets the chemistry just right."
The New York Times said it "was a fitting ending ... but it was also, by the show's bleak, almost Calvinist standards, a relatively happy ending."
Veteran reviewer Hank Stuever in the Washington Post routinely eviscerates TV shows with his razor-sharp prose. But he had a soft spot for Walter White.
There was "never a dull episode in the five seasons that "Breaking Bad" ran on AMC, including Sunday night's heart-poundingly satisfying finale," he wrote.
"As a critic, I have to finally face the fact that my favorite series (possibly ever - I'd have to think long and hard about that) is now gone," he gushed.
"Breaking Bad" focused on soft-spoken high school chemistry teacher turned ruthless, cancer-ridden drug lord Walter White.
The series mesmerized viewers with its cocktail of meticulously crafted plot, fine acting and camera work -- and the stunning metamorphosis of an average guy into a veritable monster.
The show, set in gritty New Mexico, far from the glamorous big-city settings where TV shows are usually based, had no gorgeous actors. Good and evil is depicted in shades of gray.
White becomes a methamphetamine manufacturer upon learning he has terminal lung cancer at age 50 and with his bank account all but empty.
He feels justified because wants to pay for his treatment plus leave a nest egg for his family, but as the series progresses it becomes harder for White to pretend that his original mission statement still stood.
The show's star is 57 year-old Brian Cranston, whose earlier work included a role as a CIA operative in the Oscar-winning movie "Argo," and as a harried paterfamilias in the TV comedy "Malcom in the Middle."
"Breaking Bad" won an Emmy award -- the television equivalent of the Oscars -- last week for best drama.
At least one fan took to Twitter to complain about the plethora of commercials that aired during the final episode. The asking price for a 30-second commercial was a cool $250,000, so AMC made a mint.
The network took a special risk with "Breaking Bad" because the series had a weak first season, attracting only a million viewers on average each week.
Some eight million were expected to have tuned for the final show late Sunday.