ABC on Sunday said it is ending "Desperate Housewives" when the current, eighth season wraps up in 2012, sending the popular ladies of Wisteria Lane packing into TV history.

ABC made the announcement to television critics, calling it an "iconic show" for the network.

"Desperate Housewives," which stars Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria among its ensemble cast, tells of the secretive lives and loves of women residing among the not-so-quiet confines of a suburban street, Wisteria Lane.

The show was hugely popular after it first began airing in 2004, winning numerous awards and gaining audiences overseas. But as with all TV shows, its popularity has waned as the show has aged.

Creator Marc Cherry said on Sunday he wanted the show to end on a high rather than limp along on for several more years.

"The only thing harder than creating a hit show is knowing when to end, especially when you have one of most amazing casts in the history of television," Cherry told reporters.

"I am very aware of people overstaying their welcome ... I wanted to got out while the network still saw us as a viable show, while we were still a force to be contended with."

Cherry said he had spoken with most of the cast about the decision, which he says was not entirely unexpected.

"I think you are going to find they are smart enough to just be grateful," he said of the lead actresses' reaction. For his own part, Cherry said, "I have nothing but gratitude."

ABC entertainment president Paul Lee called the program "an iconic show."

"We are desperately proud of it. I wanted to make sure that the show that got this network on the map had a victory lap," Lee said at a gathering of TV critics in Los Angeles.

For this last season, ending in May 2012, ABC promises much intrigue for the main characters including guilty feelings about a murder and problems with disintegrating marriages, love affairs and sexy new neighbors.