EastEnders fans were left reaching for their tissues as Max Branning said goodbye to Walford in solemn scenes on Friday evening.
Played by Jake Wood, Max was kicked out of the East End after his affair with Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) left him with few friends to turn to.
In emotional final scenes, he left little Abi behind, looking back as the Diana theme played over the closing credits of the soap.
His granddaughter Abi was left on the doorstep of Lorraine “Rainie” Highway’s house, standing by her suitcase with her arms outstretched.
As Rainie (Tanya Franks) welcomed the tot into the house, Max could be seen lurking in the shadows, his eyes welling up with tears.
Abi turned back and looked at him one last time, her face falling into a frown before Max turned into the night and disappeared.
Watching from home, viewers were left sobbing as they said goodbye to Max, heartbroken to witness his lonely exit from Albert Square.
One said: “Oh god they played the music. Crying. Every single time.”
“I think the last time I cried this much at #EastEnders was Denny’s death,” wrote a second, referring to Denny Rickman’s tragic drowning during the ill-fated boat party last year.
And a third chimed: “@mrjakedwood had me in tears tonight! You and little Abbie. Your mug will be missed! Even if he was abit cheeky! Max had his moments! #Eastenders.”
“Yes I just cried my eyes out at Max leaving, anyone else?” wondered a fourth.
Jake, 48, has played Max since 2006, quickly becoming a favourite with viewers through his character’s many marriages and affairs over the years.
The soap star confirmed he was leaving EastEnders in September of last year, pleased BBC bosses had decided against killing off his character.
Having spent the guts of two decades as part of the cast of the beloved BBC soap, Jake decided the time had come to explore “new opportunities” in his career.
In a statement shared via social media, he wrote: “I am a person that always looks forwards, that always asks myself what there is to achieve next.
“With only 3 weeks left of filming EastEnders these thoughts are very much at the forefront of my mind.
“I’m excited for the new challenges and new opportunities ahead and for sharing this next chapter with you guys.”
EastEnders airs on Mondays and Fridays at 8pm, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm.