LOS ANGELES — "Breaking Bad," the brutal, drug-fueled saga of an everyman's ambition turned evil, captured its first best drama Emmy Award on Sunday, denying the online series "House of Cards" a history-making honor.
"I did not see this coming," said "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan, tipping his hat to Netflix's political thriller "House of Cards," the first digital contender for top Emmy honors.
Attention and acclaim for the AMC cable channel's "Breaking Bad" has built as it nears the end of its five-season run next Sunday, with the final eight-episode arc eligible for next year's Emmys.
"Modern Family" won its fourth consecutive trophy for top comedy series even though its oft-honored cast was shut out this time.
Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for best drama series actor for his portrayal of an idealistic TV anchorman in "The Newsroom," with Claire Danes capturing top actress honors for her troubled CIA agent in "Homeland."
Daniels noted that he'd also received an age 50-plus acting honor from AARP, which represents the interests of older Americans.
"With all due respect to the AARP, this is even better," Daniels said.
Danes, who captured her second trophy for the terrorism drama, paid tribute to one of the series' writers, Henry Bromell, who died last March and who received a writing Emmy posthumously Sunday.
The ceremony often struck a melancholy note with extended tributes to stars and other industry members who died in the past year.
"Well, this may be the saddest Emmys of all time but we could not be happier," said "Modern Family" executive producer Steve Levitan.
The show also included upsets, defying the conventional wisdom in several categories, among them the best supporting acting comedy awards for Merritt Wever of "Nurse Jackie" and Tony Hale of "Veep."