Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Seasons don’t fear the reaper, nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain. But you know what does? Highly rated network sitcoms! As teased by its low-key macabre showrunners last month, Modern Family was planning to kill off a “significant” character sometime this fall, which would, in turn, “be a moving event” with “repercussions across several episodes.” Well, dear viewers of the extended Pritchett-Dunphy-Delgado family, the scythe was finally brought down during Wednesday’s episode. And without further ado … the so-called “significant” character was … someone you wouldn’t really deem “significant” at all. Underwhelming adjective alert!
The character who met her maker was none other than DeDe Pritchett (played by the always delightful Shelley Long), the ex-wife of Jay and the mother of Claire and Mitchell — who made exactly six appearances throughout the show’s run. (What, you thought one of the leads was actually going to be murdered? Not with those salaries!) The news was dropped during the episode’s cold open, with the core Pritchett trio finding out she died on Halloween through a phone call, leaving them and the rest of the extended family members to grieve in their respective ways. “People said she was difficult, but she was an amazing woman who didn’t conform to what anyone wanted her to be,” Alex, the middle Dunphy daughter, rationalized. “Just because mom is dead doesn’t make her a saint,” her mother, Claire, put it more harshly before having an epiphany about familial love. “I’ll never forget her voice slurring in the darkness, telling me how much Mitchell loved me,” a non-blood relative, Cam, reminisced to Phil with a laugh.
In true DeDe form, her women’s group confirmed to the family that she passed away peacefully in her hotel room while on a trip in Greenland — with a “smile graced on her face” and her hand clutching “ten pages of suggestions for the hotel staff.” What a woman!