Trump, Biden trade blows in 'civil' final debate
But that did not prevent the pair from clashing on everything from immigration to racism and even Adolf Hitler.
Here is a look some of the key moments of debate:
Covid: 'I will end this'
With the pandemic at the top of American voters' minds, Biden pledged to get a handle on the virus that has killed over 220,000 in the US -- while charging that "anyone who's responsible for that many deaths" should not remain president.
"We're about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter," warned the former vice president, vowing, "I will end this" -- though he didn't say how.
Trump, just past his own brush with the virus, offered his usual sunny take despite cases surging again.
"It's going away," he said.
'Criminal' border separations
Biden fumed over the report this week that parents could not be located for 545 migrant children separated from their families at the border with Mexico due to US immigration policy.
"Those kids are alone. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to go. It's criminal," Biden said, charging that the policy "violates every notion of who we are as a nation".
Trump retorted that the children were being "so well taken of" while separated from their families.
"They're in facilities that were so clean," he said.
Trump or Lincoln?
Biden laced into Trump over his attacks on Muslims, insults against Mexico and his failure to condemn far-right extremists at the last debate.
"Come on, this guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn," Biden growled sarcastically, in a reference to subtle, so-called dog whistle racism.
Trump, for his part, claimed his four years in office have been a time of historic improvement for African Americans.
"I'm the least racist person in this room," he said.
"Not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done what I have done for the Black community," Trump added, referencing the US president who moved to abolish slavery in 1863.
As promised, Trump pressed Biden to explain himself to the American people regarding allegations of corruption tied to his son Hunter in China and Ukraine.
"So don't give me this stuff about how you are this innocent baby," Trump charged.
"Take a look at the laptop from hell," he said -- pressing Biden on dubiously-sourced reports that incriminating emails had been found on a device belonging to his son.
"Joe, they are calling you a corrupt politician."
Biden said he has never taken a "penny" from a foreign source.
Trump has always been dubious about human caused-climate change and attacked Biden about his plans to transition the US away from fossil fuels and toward green energy.
"He thinks wind causes cancer, windmills," Biden said, launching a zinger.
Trump took exception to that allegation, saying "I know more about wind than you do. It's extremely expensive. Kills all the birds. It's very intermittent."
Kim Jong Un and... Hitler
Trump's bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was targeted by Biden, who accused the president of legitimising a dictator.
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"You know what, North Korea, we're not in a war. We have a good relationship," an outraged Trump said.
"Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing," he said as the moderator tried to cut him off.
Biden slyly retorted that there were some previous examples of America's friendly ties with certain leaders not working out in the long run.