During the episode on Wednesday, January 15, titled “Legacy,” the longtime ABC sitcom said goodbye to another major character: Frank Dunphy.
After Phil (Ty Burrell) received a call that his father Frank (Fred Willard) was seen wandering aimlessly through a grocery store for hours, he began to worry he might be experiencing early signs of dementia. The two shared a heartwarming moment in a barber shop before viewers learned that the Dunphy patriarch had died off screen.
“When I was growing up, he was the cool dad,” Phil said in a straight-to-camera scene. “He was hip. He knew all the dances from Grease. 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.”
As Phil reminisced on his final day with his dad, viewers learned that the realtor always felt guilty that he hadn’t followed in his father’s footsteps and taken over the family business.
“Well, you did take over the family business, didn’t you? Keeping life light, making it fun for everybody,” Frank replied. While Phil may not have followed in his father’s footsteps through his career, Frank saw himself in the way his son raised his family.
The death of Frank follows season 10’s shocking twist that Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) had lost their mother, DeDe (Shelley Long). Fans had been dreading the October 2018 episode since the show’s cocreator Christopher Lloyd teased the imminent death of a “significant character on the series” the month before.
Although the end of Modern Family is quickly approaching, the cast isn’t quite ready to say their final goodbyes. Bowen, 49, told Us Weekly that returning to film the last season was bittersweet.
“I kept sobbing. It was sort of the beginning of the end. Now we’re in the groove it’s hard to imagine,” the actress said during an exclusive interview in November. “It’s like your last year of college or something you’re like, you’re almost done. You’re like, ‘Really? it doesn’t feel like it. Talk to me after I finish that final exam and then I’ll be sobbing.'”
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