‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Modern Family’ were the big winners at the 65th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

The critically acclaimed Bryan Cranston-starring show – which is due to conclude later this month after five seasons – was lauded with the night’s top prize for Best Drama and actress Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White, added to the accolades with a Best Supporting Actress trophy.

Show creator and writer Vince Gilligan admitted he didn’t expect the victory as he took the stage at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

He said: “I did not see this coming. I thought this was going to be ‘House of Cards’. “

Meanwhile, hit sitcom ‘Modern Family’ – featuring an ensemble cast including Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen – claimed its fourth consecutive prize for Best Comedy.

‘Homeland’ actress Claire Danes won her second Emmy for her portrayal of CIA agent Carrie Mathison at the ceremony and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ star Jim Parsons earned his third Emmy for his portrayal of uber-nerd Sheldon Cooper.

‘The Newsroom’ actor Jeff Daniels and ‘Nurse Jackie’ actress Meritt Wever were among the surprise winners of the night, collecting Best Actor in a Drama and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, respectively.

A-list movie actor Michael Douglas was also honoured with a prize for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role as Liberace in ‘Behind the Candelabra’. The Steven Soderbergh-directed film aired on pay channel HBO in the US, making it eligible for the Emmys rather than the Oscars.

This year’s Emmy Awards proved more solemn than in years past, with tributes being paid to late ‘Glee’ actor Cory Monteith and ‘The Sopranos’ leading man James Gandolfini.

James’ former on-screen wife Edie Falco led a tribute to him, while ‘Glee’ actress Jane Lynch led a tribute to Cory, who died in July.

Emmy Awards 2013 winners:

Best Drama: ‘Breaking Bad’
Best Comedy: ‘Modern Family’
Best Miniseries or Movie: ‘Behind the Candelabra’
Best Reality Competition: ‘The Voice’
Best Actor in a Drama: Jeff Daniels, ‘The Newsroom’
Best Actress in a Drama: Claire Danes, ‘Homeland’
Best Actor in a Comedy: Jim Parsons, ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Best Actress in a Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘Veep’
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Bobby Cannavale, ‘Boardwalk Empire’
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Anna Gunn, ‘Breaking Bad’
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Tony Hale, ‘Veep’
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Meritt Wever, ‘Nurse Jackie’
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Michael Douglas, ‘Behind the Candelabra’
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Laura Linney, ‘The Big C: Hereafter’
Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: James Cromwell, ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’
Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Ellen Burstyn, ‘Political Animals’