Complete Coverage: 2013 Emmys
UPDATED: 11:39 p.m. ET
For an awards show often criticized for its predictability, the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles surprised with first-time honorees dominating many of the category winners, including AMC's Breaking Bad, which won for outstanding drama series.
The drama, which aired its penultimate episode Sunday night opposite the Emmys telecast, beat out Netflix's House of Cards, four-time winner Mad Men, 2012 honoree Homeland, Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones to take the night's top award.
The comedy winner was a familiar face however, with ABC's Modern Family taking home its fourth consecutive Emmy for outstanding comedy series. Accepting the award, co-creator Steve Levitan commented, "This may be the saddest Emmys of all time, but we could not be happier," a reference to the dour note the telecast often took this year with its many in memoriam tributes.
Newcomers came out victorious in all the supporting acting categories. Nurse Jackie's Merritt Wever took the first Emmy of the night for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series, beating out The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialek, 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski, Glee's Jane Lynch, Veep's Anna Chlumsky and Modern Family's Sofia Vergara and two-time winner Julie Bowen. In a nod to the unexpectedly win, Wever kept her speech comically brief, saying only, "Wow thank you so much. I gotta go, bye."
Tony Hale, with his first win for outstanding supporting actor in the HBO comedy Veep, beat out Modern Family's Ty Burrell, Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as well as Adam Driver from Girls and Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. In drama, Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn earned her first Emmy for her supporting role as Walter White's wife Skyler, and Bobby Canavale of HBO's Boardwalk Empire won for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.
The lead acting categories remained more static. Julia Louis-Dreyfus repeated for HBO's Veep and accepted her award in character as vice president Selina Meyer, with her co-star Hale, who plays her aide, remaining on stage to complete the scene. Jim Parsons took home his third Emmy for his role as Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.
On the drama side, Homeland's Claire Danes repeating for her role as CIA agent Carrie Mathison. She topped Scandal's Kerry Washington, who was up for an historic turn as the first African American to win the category, as well as Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, Nashville's Connie Britton, Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery, Bates Motel's Vera Farmiga and House of Cards' Robin Wright.
Jeff Daniels of HBO's The Newsroom was the lone new winner, taking the lead actor in a drama series award for his portrayal of cable news anchor Will McAvoy. He beat out critical favorite Kevin Spacey of Netflix's House of Cards, three-time winner Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, last year's honoree Damian Lewis of Homeland, perennial nominee Jon Hamm of Mad Men and Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey.
The new faces continued in the reality and variety categories. Breaking The Amazing Race's stranglehold on the category, NBC's The Voice took the award for outstanding reality competition program, in a field that also included Dancing With the Stars, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Top Chef. In his speech, executive producer Mark Burnett thanked NBC reality chief Paul Telegdy for being willing to put his job on the line for the show, and called out NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt for supporting it.
Comedy Central's The Colbert Report also took home its first Emmy for outstanding variety series, beating out sister show The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which had won for the past 10 consecutive years. Accepting the award, Stephen Colbert thanked Stewart, who "never told me how good this feels." Colbert Report also took the Emmy for writing in a variety series earlier in the night.
HBO's Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, which received 15 nominations, took home three awards: outstanding miniseries or movie, outstanding directing for Steven Soderbergh and outstanding lead actor for Michael Douglas, who portrayed the flamboyant entertainer.
Continuing in long form, Laura Linney earned the award for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie for Showtime's The Big C: hereafter, which switched to the category from comedy series for its abbreviated final season. James Cromwell won for his supporting role on the FX miniseries American Horror Story: Asylum and the Emmy for supporting actress in a miniseries or movie went to Ellen Burstyn for USA's Political Animals.
Netflix, which made history with 14 Primetime Emmy nominations this year, the first for a digital series in major categories, took home just one award, with House of Cards' David Fincher winning for outstanding directing in a drama series.
In the writing categories, Tina Fey and Tracy Wigfield took the comedy series Emmy for an episode of 30 Rock's final season while the late Henry Bromell won on the drama side for Showtime's Homeland; his wife accepted the award on his behalf. The Emmy for outstanding writing for a miniseries, movie or dramatic special went to Abi Morgan for BBC America's The Hour.
Rounding out the awards, Gail Mancuso won for outstanding comedy series directing for Modern Family, Don Roy King of Saturday Night Live picked up his fourth consecutive Emmy for directing in a variety series and Derek Hough won for outstanding choreography on Dancing With the Stars in the first year the category has been a part of the Primetime Emmys telecast.