Fans of Breaking Bad are preparing to say goodbye to teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White in Sunday night's final episode.
But the TV show's creator, Vince Gilligan, says he bid farewell to his dark creation months ago.
In fact, he says he was overcome by emotion while writing the last paragraph of the last episode, capped by the words: "End series."
"I actually teared up when I wrote that," Gilligan told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday.
'We needed it to end correctly, and that doesn't mean a happy ending, necessarily. It doesn't necessarily mean a sad ending. It means a satisfying ending.' -Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan
"That was kind of a tough moment emotionally because I was saying goodbye to these characters. I knew I'd never write another episode of Breaking Bad again. That was a big moment. That was a tough one."
Gilligan was in Vancouver Friday to talk at the Vancouver International Film Festival's Film and TV Forum event at The Centre, where he took some audience questions and only hinted at the outcome as the series ends on Sunday night.
"We needed it to end correctly, and that doesn't mean a happy ending, necessarily," he said. "It doesn't necessarily mean a sad ending. It means a satisfying ending," he said.
The show, which won the Emmy Award for best drama series last weekend, has captivated audiences for five seasons.
Cranston 'born to play' White
The AMC series stars Bryan Cranston as a mousey, cancer-stricken high school science teacher who turns to making crystal meth as a way of providing for his family before he dies.
But as his business flourishes, aided by former student Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul), White morphs into a ruthless drug lord embroiled in a world of violence and retribution.
Both Paul and Cranston have won multiple Emmys for their work on the show, and Gilligan credits the lead actor with much of the series' success.
"I have to give credit to Bryan Cranston first and foremost — the guy who plays Walter White in the show is … there is no more-perfect actor for that role. He was meant — I think he was born to play that role," Gilligan told CBC News.
The show has become so popular that tours of the series' locations in Albuquerque, N.M, have sold out, with wait lists going on for weeks.
In August, the Nielsen rating company announced about 5.9 million people tuned in to the first of the show's final eight episodes, nearly double the largest audience it ever reached for an episode.
To mark the ending, festivities have been planned in Albuquerque. A red-carpet event is scheduled for city hall and Jesuit volunteers will hold a viewing party in the basement of a downtown church.
Gilligan isn't the only one feeling the sorrow of saying goodbye.
Just days ago, Betsy Brandt — who plays Marie Schrader, wife of slain DEA agent Hank Schrader and sister of White's long-suffering wife, Skyler — talked about how she felt sick while filming the final eight episodes, noting her chest would get tight and she'd just feel awful.
Finale filmed months ago airs Sunday
Those last episodes were filmed back in March, and the editing and mixing took place months ago.
Gilligan said while the series will always be a part of him, he now feels more at peace with the idea of the show ending and has turned his attention to the detective drama Battle Creek, for which he wrote the pilot episode about 11 years ago.
"It's a much lighter show and a much more potentially fun show than Breaking Bad, which is, of course, pretty dark."
How dark? Gilligan has always said his aim was to turn his main character from "Mr. Chips into Scarface," though he finds it interesting that many fans seem to regard Walter White with "a certain amount of sympathy."
"There is a certain visceral thrill one gets from seeing someone who reminds them of themselves break bad and start to live a very dark and unique life," he reflected.
"I think we all can, you know, get something from that, get some entertainment from that, at least, and also probably a cautionary tale in the bargain."