“I’m thrilled it’s ending — so happy not to see any of these people ever again – all of that is truly great!” Jon Hamm snarked at TV critics as he sat on stage with original cast members of Mad Men, aka The Series That Put AMC On The Map. He was responding to a TV critic having asked him if he was happy the final batch of seven episodes of the show’s seventh and final season would debut on April 5 — a year after the first half of the final season debuted.

“#Sarcasm,” Hamm added, just in case.

Matt Weiner“There is no version of this [series] ending that is not super-painful for me, and mostly it’s because of these people, and this person,” he said, indicating first cast and then creator Matt Weiner. For the show’s final panel at a TV Press Tour, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, and John Slattery joined Hamm and Weiner on stage.

“They’ve been the single constant in my creative life for the last decade,  so that’s kind of tough,” Hamm continued. “Yeah, I will be happy when the shows air and I won’t have to talk like I don’t know how it ends, or make up some story about robots or zombies or something, but I will never be able to have this again. I mean, that’s a drag.”

And, despite the fact that Weiner has previously said there will be no spinoff, and because they’d just sat through a Q&A for AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, critics asked the cast if they were prepared for a new bunch of questions about who will be in the spinoff.

2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 4Better Call Pete!” Hamm deadpanned, in regards to Kartheiser’s Pete Campbell character. People have been asking about spinoffs for several seasons,” Hendricks said impatiently, while Weiner said, non-commit-ally, “right now these are the last seven episodes as far as I’m concerned.” (Previously Weiner has said that when the upcoming seven episodes air this year he’s done with the franchise. “Yeah, that’s it — that’s it,” he said the day after the Season 7 midseason finale aired.)

“Now that it’s over, I’m very excited that it’s not over,” Weiner said of the upcoming seven episodes, acknowledging “it’s going to be weird to get to the point where there’s no new ones.”

The network’s decision to cut the final season into two separate batches airing nearly a year apart informed how Weiner ended the show. “I welcomed this as an opportunity to treat it thematically,” he said. April’s first episode will feel like a “premiere” and each of the finale episodes “feels like the finale of the show.”

“When you read them it’s like ‘Wow, what’s going to be next week?” Weiner forecasted.

Weiner is “super proud” of the series’ body of work, it’s “very high level of execution” and that it did not repeat itself for 92 hours — no small feat, he said, given that it did not have a genre to lean on. It was, he said, “a perfect working environment,” giving a nod to AMC and Lionsgate, despite his having slung some barbs in their direction over the years.

One TV critic brought up the much disliked series finale of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother by way of asking if Weiner was steeled for the inevitable game of Dissect The Finale by viewers and TV critics, or if he planned to strike a “nuts to you” attitude to that exercise.

“Finally, a How I Met Your Mother question!” Hamm interjected. “Seven years – finally!”

“I’m flattered by the concept you might think I’m not in the entertainment business,” Weiner chided.  “I’m extremely interested in what the audience thinks,” he said, insisting that any time he infuriated viewers “it was unintentional.” On the other hand, he said, “You can’t give them everything they want.”

To that point, Weiner revealed he controversially showed the body of Lane Pryce, one of the partners of the advertising firm at the center of the series drama, after Layne committed suicide, in response to viewers’ reluctance to accept the divorce of Don Draper and first wife Betty.  “In response to what I learned about the audience,” he said, he decided, “if they don’t see the man, no one’s going to believe he’s dead,” and he would face a future of “Alright, where did Lane go?” questions.

Asked how he planned to continue as the franchise’s “brand manager” when original episodes all have debuted, Weiner said “we tried to limit its exploitation to things related to the show and not tarnish it with too much commercialization – ironically,” but that, going forward, “I have no control over its future perception.”

“I assume Jon Hamm is forever going to be the face of Mad Men, and that is firmly on his shoulders to represent it in the future.”

“I don’t see the show participating in a Mad Men Cruise,” Weiner said.

“Who is going to attend the Mad Men Cruise?” a critic asked.

All of the cast members on stage raised their hands.