A Modern Family death has finally happened: a recurring character was killed in last night’s Halloween episode, as was warned by the sitcom’s cast.
The creators of the show revealed a long time ago that they were planning the death of a “significant” character this season, which would be a “moving event” with ripple effects across several episodes.”
Creator Christopher Lloyd said, “We do deal with a death, which is certainly a topic that families have to deal with, and on television, it’s not easy to do because that’s a heavy subject. But at the same time, it would seem unusual for a family not to go through it.”
Lloyd added, “From our standpoint creatively we’ve gotten excited writing this season and changing the lives of the characters — some in a significant way — and it’s made us think, ‘Wow, there’s a lot to explore in the lives of these characters.”
The death took place in last night’s Halloween episode, titled Good Grief. DeDe Pritchett, played by Shelley Long, was killed off. She was the ex-wife of Jay Pritchett and the mother of Claire and Mitchell.
The death was imposed during the episode’s cold open, where Claire Dunphy, played by Julie Bowen, got a call from her stepfather where she found out that her mother had passed away in her sleep.
DeDe’s women’s group confirmed that DeDe had passed while on a trip to Greeceland, and true to character, had been clutching a list of complaints for hotel staff at the time of passing.
DeDe appeared in just seven of the show’s 214 episodes to date, and was shown as having a close relationship with Mitchell and a very strained one with Claire.
Her kids then took to dealing with the shocking news throughout the episode while spouses Phil and Cam tried to cheer them up.
DeDe’s ex-husband Jay Pritchett took a different approach by characteristically repressing his feelings, going off to search for a missing sandwich. His wife Gloria ran around the house, evading DeDe’s return as a ghost to haunt her.
The Dunphy kids also had their own reactions to the death of their grandmother. Luke cracked jokes about having a zombie grandma, Haley turned towards Halloween candy to cope and Alex told the audience, “People said she was difficult, but she was an amazing woman who didn’t conform to what anyone wanted her to be.”
Claire remained resolute to not forget her mother’s more unappealing qualities, saying, “Just because mom is dead doesn’t make her a saint.” Cam dramatically related, “I’ll never forget her voice slurring in the darkness, telling me how much Mitchell loved me.”
Despite the somber theme of the episode, the creators made sure to inject plenty of laughs with Cam dressing up as Meghan Markle and Cam and Mitchell’s difficulty hugging owing to their ridiculously large costumes.
Most fans were disappointed by the death and took to social media to express it.
#ModernFamily is this the death that was talked about? If so, that’s prettt lame
— David Shaw (@Shotzzie96) October 25, 2018
When they said there's going to be a death on #ModernFamily I thought it was going to be a major character, not someone who's been on a few eps.
— Scott ? (@TheScottfather) October 25, 2018
The Modern Family death is not nearly as dramatic as I thought.
— Chris Martin (@ChrisMa95821083) October 25, 2018
I feel like this particular “death” was a cop-out and maybe a significant character is going to die later on in the series leaving us in shambles?? #ModernFamily but then again it’s a comedy. @ModernFam pic.twitter.com/3gRwsrR2rY
— Allthings_naomiwatts (@baeomiwatts) October 25, 2018
tbh i'm a little sad what is probably our last halloween episode (and first after a dry spell) overshadowed by the death of my least favorite (and most annoying character) #modernfamily
— Calamity Jane (@ClamityJane4) October 25, 2018
— nicheyuwu (@nicheyuwu) October 25, 2018
Seriously #modernfamily, you put us through all this torture and hint that one of the main characters died…and it's not even a regular cast member. Not that it's not sad, it's just that I feel annoyed that you've been toying with everyone's feelings!
— Olivia (@Olivia03785508) October 25, 2018
Others were relieved that the death had not been of any of the major characters.
— Daniela Cruz (@danicruz2) October 25, 2018
— kardi killmonger (@strugglations) October 25, 2018
Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley on the show, previously said that she would leave the show if the family’s bulldog called Stella got killed, saying, “‘If the dog dies, I leave.”
The show will have an 11th and final season with only 18 episodes.