Before Bolt came onto the track, he was consoling Mo Farah, his long-distance equivalent who had just lost his first major race since 2011 when he failed to get gold in the 5,000 meters. But as he looked to close the gap on Mitchell-Blake and Coleman ahead of him, Bolt pulled up and fell to the floor in agony with what appeared to be a hamstring injury approximately 50m from the finishing line.
The British quartet of CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake pipped the United States to victory in a new European record and world-leading 37.47 seconds, but only after Bolt had pulled up on his anchor leg and collapsed to the track.
China, silver medalist two years ago, was fourth in 38.34.
They won in 37.47 seconds, with the United States taking silver at 0.05sec and Japan with a surprise bronze.
"To run it with Danny Talbot after such disappointment in London 2012, it is so special to come back", said Gemili, who was not selected for the individual races and missed an Olympic 200m bronze by three thousandths of a second past year.
Watch the dramatic end to Bolt's athletic's career in the video player above.
"We can try and be the best in our country and we will still come together as a team and hopefully we won't have to wait another 13 years for a global title".
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60,000 people gasped as their hero jumped, hobbled and then crumbled to the floor, as Great Britain sprinted away to a maiden gold medal with the US and Japan in tow. I am sorry he got this injury. The German beat Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic by 16 centimeters.
Rohler, from Germany, made a 88.26m throw in his second attempt and finished fourth while Beijing worlds victor Yego was eliminated after the first three rounds.
Not forgetting his eight Olympic gold medals either.
Tyquendo Tracey, Julian Forte and Michael Campbell safely negotiated the first three legs before Bolt steered his team home in a winning, season's best of 37.95 seconds.
The Brit had given his team their only medal of the games so far when he lined up for his final 5k, hoping to become world champion for a staggering 11th time.
Since that gold medal in 2007, the US men had only won one other medal in the event, a silver in 2013.