‘Modern Family’ fans surprised by character’s sudden death

Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell on 'Modern Family.'. ABC/Kelsey McNeal

SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you’ve watched Wednesday’s episode of Modern Family.

Modern Family fans were surprised by the sudden death of a member of the Dunphy family in Wednesday’s episode.

In the episode, titled “Legacy,” Phil, played by Ty Burrell, received some news about his father Frank, played by Fred Willard.

Phil went to visit his father, and it was revealed that Frank was found wandering the grocery store he used to own.

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Phil was worried that his father had dementia, but that wasn’t the case.

Frank was upset because the store was in disarray and he missed working there.

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In the final scene, Phil asks his father about whether he ever wished he had another child to take over the family business.

“The answer is no, Phil, never. Because, well, you did take over the family business, didn’t you? Keeping life light, making it fun for everybody,” Frank said.

“I learned from the best,” Phil responded.

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Frank and Phil spent a memorable day together, but Phil had no idea it would be their last day together.

Frank died off-screen, and in a confessional, Phil said: “When I was growing up, he was the cool dad.”

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“He was hip. He knew all the dances from Grease [and] he knew all the expressions, BFF — best friends forever, TMI — too much information, BJ — blue jeans.

“We didn’t do much that day, but it might have been one of the best days I’ve ever had with my dad. I just didn’t know it would be the last,” Phil said.

Modern Family fans took to Twitter to discuss the death of Frank.

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Modern Family actor Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy, took to her Instagram stories on Wednesday to share her reaction to the episode.

Hyland’s character wasn’t in the episode, so she said she didn’t know what was coming until the episode aired.

“So, I don’t read scripts of episodes of Modern Family that I’m not in, so I just found out that my grandpa’s dead along with all of you,” Hyland said to her Instagram followers. “I still feel special.”

Her post spoiled the moment for some fans of the show, and she realized what she had done.

“I guess I should’ve put a spoiler alert for Grandpa Frank dying, but I was just caught off guard. Like, as his granddaughter, you think I’d be invited to his funeral,” Hyland told her followers. “If it’s any consolation to those who are angry about the spoiler alert, karma hit real fast and Boo (my dog) just farted in my face and the smell was so bad she had to get off the bed because she couldn’t handle the heat.”

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This isn’t the first time a character has died unexpectedly on Modern Family.

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In October 2018, Jay (Ed O’Neill), Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) learned that Jay’s ex-wife — and Mitchell and Claire’s mother — DeDe (Shelley Long), had died.

The shock came at the top of the show, but later in the episode, titled “Good Grief,” it was revealed that DeDe died in her sleep on a trip with her women’s group.

“It occurred to us that death is a giant part of the family experience, and while Phil had lost his mother in a previous episode, we’ve never seen the entire family have to deal with such a loss,” creator Steven Levitan told the Hollywood Reporter at the time. “It seemed like an interesting thing to have happen.”

Levitan said the writers decided to kill off DeDe because “she’s directly involved with three of our characters and she touched everybody’s life in some interesting way.”

“It seemed like the right character to put everybody through something,” Levitan said. “She seemed like the right character because she so directly affects so many of our characters.”


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