LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Game Of Thrones took the top Emmy for best drama on Sunday (Sept 22) but dark British comedy Fleabag was the surprise big winner of television’s glitziest night, dominating the comedy prizes.

Thrones, the most decorated fictional show in the history of the Emmys, finished with 12 awards overall for its final season.

“Thank you to the hardest working crews in show business – the dragons who shot for 70 nights straight in freezing Belfast rain, the wolves who shot all around the world – you are amazing, all of you,” said showrunner Dan Weiss.

“And it is amazing that all of you are still alive.”

Peter Dinklage won his fourth best supporting actor statuette for his portrayal of sharp-tongued dwarf Tyrion Lannister.

But the blood-soaked fantasy epic’s hopes of going out with a new record for a single season were dashed after it failed to convert nominations in directing, writing and the other acting categories.

The divisive final run of Thrones enraged many fans – more than a million signed a petition for HBO to redo its conclusion. But the 10 nominated cast members received a standing ovation as they gathered on stage.

Thrones ends its eight-season run with 59 Emmys, a record for a drama or comedy.

Only variety sketch show Saturday Night Live has more.

In the night’s biggest shock, Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge bested eight-time acting winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) before the show itself won for best comedy series.

The BBC show – which has grown into a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic after being acquired by Amazon – also scooped awards for best comedy writing and directing.

“It’s just really wonderful to know and reassuring that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys,” said Waller-Bridge, referring to her character.

Fleabag was totally shunned by Emmy voters in 2018, failing to bag a single nomination.

But the Television Academy’s 24,000-plus voters changed their tune for its second season.

Waller-Bridge has ruled out a third season, saying the irreverent series about a self-absorbed young Londoner has come “to a natural end”.

Billy Porter made history as the first openly gay black man to win best drama actor for FX show Pose, which explores New York’s underground ballroom culture in the 1980s.

“I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day,” said Porter, who turned 50 on Saturday (Sept 21), in his acceptance speech.

“I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right,” he added.

Sandra Oh failed in her bid to become the first Asian-American actress to triumph in the leading actress in a drama category, beaten by co-star Jodie Comer in BBC spy thriller Killing Eve.

The pair embraced before British star Comer, who plays an assassin, collected her prize and told the audience she had not invited her parents to the ceremony “because I didn’t think this was going to be my time”.

The 71st Emmys began at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles with a comedy skit: a cartoon Homer Simpson was introduced as “host” – and quickly crushed by a falling piano.

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston then appeared on stage to “rescue” the Emmys, delivering a tribute to television’s so-called golden era.

“Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this… good,” he added.