TV Critic’s Corner

Who’s going to die on ‘Modern Family’?

Sofia Vergara and Ed O’Neill in “Modern Family,” which returns Sept. 26.
Sofia Vergara and Ed O’Neill in “Modern Family,” which returns Sept. 26.(Peter “Hopper” Stone/ABC)

“Modern Family” returns on Sept. 26, and the creators are planning a big surprise for us. Not a good surprise, though: In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Christopher Lloyd said that there will be a death during the first half of the season.

Of course Lloyd withheld the identity of the doomed one, but it’s hard not to play the guessing game. For a moment, I thought that Lloyd might simply be trying to get free promotion, and that the doomed one would wind up being a minor character. But he told EW that it would be a “significant character on the series” and that the person’s death “will be a moving event — and an event that has repercussions across several episodes.”


Death, Lloyd added, “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.”

Could it be Ed O’Neill’s Jay? He’s one of the oldest characters, but perhaps too essential to let go. Could it be Phil’s father, played by Fred Willard? Or Claire and Mitchell’s mother, DeDe, played by Shelley Long? Is this the most ghoulish guessing game ever?

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.