'Breaking Bad' renewed, but also ending with 16-episode run

breaking-bad-s4-lab.jpg"Breaking Bad" will be back -- but the end is also in sight.

AMC announced on Sunday (Aug. 14) both that it's renewing and setting an end date for the Emmy-winning drama. It's picked up 16 episodes to close out the series. Production on all 16 episodes will start early next year, but the cable channel hasn't figured out a schedule to air them (a split of 8 episodes next year and 8 in the future, or maybe 10 and 6, seems likely).

The renewal/endgame comes after AMC and Sony Pictures TV, which produces "Breaking Bad," comes after a couple weeks of strained negotiations over a renewal. AMC reportedly wanted to reduce the number of episodes for a fifth (and final) season from 13 to "six to eight," and Sony balked at cutting back that much. The 16-episode final order seems to stake out a middle ground.

"From the day we heard [series creator] Vince Gilligan's completely original vision for 'Breaking Bad,' it has been a complete joy to be involved with this show," AMC President Charlie Collier says in a statement. "Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller-coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC.

"Beyond that, working with Vince, his brilliant cast and crew, and our wonderful partners at Sony has been remarkable in every way. While it is sad to even contemplate the end of this series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story."

Gilligan says knowing the endpoint for the series is "a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers."

"It's knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don't manage to pull that off, we've got no one to blame but ourselves," Gilligan says. "'Breaking Bad' has been a dream job these past four years. Working with the best cast and crew in television has no doubt spoiled me for future projects. I'm lucky to get to work with them on 16 more episodes, and I will always be grateful to both AMC and Sony Television, who from the beginning, believed in our show and supported me creatively and professionally."

Season 4 of "Breaking Bad," meanwhile, will continue into early October.

Photo/Video credit: AMC