Death in the ‘Modern Family’: We Found Out Which Significant ‘Modern Family’ Character Died

The cast and crew of Modern Family have been talking about a big death on the show since before the season even started. Yesterday’s Halloween episode, titled Good Grief, was the big night and we learned that the character to die was Mitchell and Claire’s mother, DeDe Pritchet.

As I thought about who was the most likely character to be killed off the past few weeks, I had basically landed on DeDe. Her death affects pretty much the entire main cast because of her relation to all three families and the fact that Mitch and Claire are much less emotionally well-adjusted than their partners, Phil and Cam.

The episode itself was the strongest of the season so far. We find out about DeDe’s death in the cold open and the episode gives every character an arc that shows how they handle their grief, and pretty much all of them turn out to be both funny and a little touching.

Mitch and Claire are the main focus of the episode, as DeDe’s death has caused a fight between them. Their story does the bulk of the emotional heavy lifting, and by the end of the episode, the two of them seem to have come to terms with their relationships with their mother and how it affected their relationship with each other, giving closure to one of the show’s longest-running minor plotlines.

Jay’s arc intersects with his two oldest children in a somewhat surprising way. He has a fairly minor plot where he’s obsessing because someone ate his sandwich. It was maybe the best-executed plot with Jay’s seemingly callous disregard of DeDe’s death turned upside down when we find out the sandwich is a sort of stand-in for his feelings for his ex-wife. It’s probably the best arc of the episode.

The other arcs are a bit sillier, especially Gloria’s, who thinks DeDe is haunting her because statues of DeDe, which she had given everyone as Christmas gifts, keep appearing wherever she went. Phil and Cam spend the episode focused on how to support their partners, eventually going to get them ice cream from a place in West Hollywood. Phil and Cam have always been the two best characters on the show, so any time they’re paired off is usually a good time.

The last arc is about all the kids, except for Manny and Joe, who don’t appear in the episode at all. Alex is angry with how her siblings are handling their grief until she gets her fireman boyfriend (American Vandal’s Jimmy Tatro) to f**k the sad out of her. This is one of the episode’s best bits, and Alex finally dealing with her repressed libido in a somewhat healthy way has been a nice development.

Even though it wasn’t really a surprise which character died, it proved that the writers can still put together a thoughtful and funny half-hour of television. This could very easily have been a “very special episode” like half of every recent season of Black-ish, but it remains funny the entire way through, from Phil in his fly costume getting tangled in a spiderweb decoration to Haley commenting that Alex is “taking it harder than anybody” before she and Luke accidentally walk in on her having sex. We’ve heard the death will play into several episodes, and if they all remain as good as this one Modern Family will have a great (possibly) last season.

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