Probably the least-predicted winner was Jon Cryer of CBS' "Two and a Half Men" as best comic actor. He's won the best supporting actor award in the past as second banana to Charlie Sheen. But with Ashton Kutcher replacing Sheen in the cast last season, Cryer moved up in class. Even he was taken aback by the win, saying he figured two-time trophy winner Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" would get it.
"Don't panic, people. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong. I'm stunned," Cryer said after the award was announced.
HBO's freshman comedy "Veep" received mixed reviews, but Emmy voters loved veteran actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won the best comedy actress award for her turn as a caustic U.S. vice president.
Julianne Moore's uncanny take on Gov. Sarah Palin in the TV movie "Game Change," about the 2008 presidential campaign, earned her best actress honors. The political film from HBO was also honored as best miniseries.
"I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down," Palin said, beaming.
Kevin Costner was named best actor for History's wildly popular miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys," while Tom Berenger was named best supporting actor for the project and Jessica Lange won supporting actress honors for "American Horror Story."
Standup comic Louis C.K. won the Emmy for best comedy writing for "Louie" and for the special "Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre." Said the comedian after his second win: "Thank you to audiences around the country who still go to see live comedy."
Stonestreet won his second supporting actor award in a comedy in three years for his portrayal of a gay stay-at-home dad. The category was a testament to the strength of "Modern Family" in the comedy world: he beat three other actors from the show in Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Stonestreet noted the importance of going out Sunday and celebrating with the rest of the cast.
"We know this isn't going to last forever," he said, "and it will be the old show in a couple of years."
Television writers Frazier Moore and Lynn Elber, and AP writers Anthony McCartney, Beth Harris and Derrik J. Lang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.