By James Hibberd
Updated August 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Breaking Bad is getting its renewal — for a final season.

AMC has picked up 16 episodes to conclude series. That will bring the award-winning show to a close sometime either next year or in 2013 — depending on how the network and AMC and Sony decide to divvy up the final hours, whether they split them into two more shortened seasons or one (Bad usually runs 13 episodes per season).

“It’s a funny irony — I’d hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I’m delighted to know what Walter White’s will be (episodically speaking),” Vince Gilligan said. “This 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.” Gilligan then added:

“Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves. 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 sixteen 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. We have been able to take risks with ‘Breaking Bad’ which would not have been possible on other networks.”

The deal comes after S0ny shopped around the Breaking Bad to other networks during a tough negotiation period. Breaking Bad and AMC’S breakout hit The Walking Dead have faced some belt tightening in recent months despite strong ratings, with some industry insiders accusing the network’s deal with the showrunner and cast of the acclaimed Mad Men as having zapped the coffers. At any rate, this deal keeps Breaking Bad on AMC, plus gives creator Vince Gilligan plenty of time to give what many consider to be the best drama on TV a creatively satisfying finale.