England missed out on the chance to record a 4-0 series victory over Australia for the first time as they fell agonisingly short of chasing down 227 on the fifth and final day of the series.
Requiring 21 with four overs remaining and five wickets in hand, umpires Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena decided the light was too poor for play to continue, leading the players off to a chorus of boos from the full house at the Kia Oval.
Having gained a first-innings lead of 115 by bowling England out for 377, Australia reached 111-6 by tea, despite Stuart Broad taking four wickets, to allow skipper Michael Clarke to dangle a carrot in front of their opponents.
England duly took it, albeit in steady fashion at first after Joe Root departed for 11, nicking Ryan Harris to give Brad Haddin his 29th catch of the summer, a new record in a Test series.
Jonathan Trott put on a partnership worth 64 with skipper Alastair Cook (34) before Kevin Pietersen then arrived to give the chase some serious momentum.
He registered the fastest Ashes half-century by an England batsman - beating Matt Prior's previous record of 37 by one delivery - as he made 62 to get the equation down to 64 off the last 10 overs.
However both Pietersen and Trott (59) fell in quick succession, leaving it down to Ian Bell and Chris Woakes. The Warwickshire duo put on 36 in 4.3 overs but the run out of the former by Mitchell Starc turned out to be the final piece of action. After a day that saw 447 runs scored, England weren't afforded the chance to make another 21 to create history.
Bell and Woakes had been at the crease when play begun, too, England's target then being to get past the 293 they needed to avoid being asked to follow-on.
They duly achieved that, though Bell's hopes of a fourth century in the summer disappeared when he became James Faulkner's maiden Test scalp; a leg glance went too close to Haddin, allowing the gloveman to dive acrobatically to his left.
By that stage England had already lost Woakes, who ambitiously attempted to drive the excellent Harris on the up to be caught, just about, by Clarke at second slip, sending the all-rounder on his way for 25.
Broad managed nine before he was castled by Starc, allowing Graeme Swann to come out and entertain the full house alongside Matt Prior, the pair putting on a 48-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Prior managed to make his top score of the series but fell short of a half-century when his bid to hit Faulkner for a third four in the over only resulted in him being superbly caught by a diving Starc for 47.
The same bowler also claimed the final two wickets to finish with highly respectable figures of 4-51 on Test debut, including getting James Anderson caught behind to give Haddin victim No 28, briefly drawing him level with compatriot Rod Marsh for the landmark.
Swann was the last man to go, his knock of 34 emphatically ended when he missed a straight one from Faulkner to be bowled middle stump. The off-spinner had hit five fours and also one six, lofting fellow slow bowler Nathan Lyon straight down the ground just before lunch.
Needing quick runs to have any hope of a morale-boosting victory, Australia came out swinging at the start of their second innings. Yet their desire to get on with it also led to a clatter of wickets before the tea break, most of them falling to Broad.
After David Warner (12) was superbly caught and bowled by James Anderson and Shane Watson holed out for 26 off Swann, Broad took the next four wickets to check the tourists' progress. Clarke made an unbeaten 28 before setting up the game for a thrilling contest. Sadly, though, Mother Nature had the final say.