When you think of a major death in a long-running sitcom or television series, you think of something like 'The Sopranos' when Adriana LaCerva was brutally murdered by Silvio Dante, 'The Good Wife' killing off Will Gardner, or 'Game of Thrones' killing... well, everybody.
'Modern Family' announced earlier this year that it intended to kill off a major character as part of its tenth season, with many speculating that it was someone in the actual family itself - either Jay Pritchett, Ed O'Neill's character.
Well, as it turns out, it wasn't that at all. It was actually DeDe - Jay's first wife and mother to Claire and Mitchell, played by Shelley Long. The episode, titled 'Good Grief', saw the character killed off in what many fans are deeming to be a pretty underwhelming fashion. Not only that, the character wasn't particularly significant in the overall series. All told, DeDe Pritchett turned up in 7 episodes of a series that's had 215 episodes so far.
Not exactly significant, 'Modern Family' writing staff.
#ModernFamily: We're gonna kill off a MAJOR character this season.
Me: Goes to look up who died after all the hype.
Modern Family: We killed off a character that's been on 7 episodes of a 10 season show.
Me: Let me define major character for you. pic.twitter.com/Q8yHQeaS2p
— Kirsten (@KirstenAcuna) October 25, 2018
Speaking to THR after the episode aired, showrunner Steve Levitan explained the logic behind the move. "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. She seemed like right character because she so directly affects so many of our characters."
Levitan went on, adding that "I don't know that this was part of it at the time, but I lost my mom suddenly two years ago and that experience of getting that call and gather as a family was very fresh to me. I thought that was the interesting part (of the story) and the biggest challenge was how to do we get this big monumental and sad moment and still get some comedy out of it. We liked that challenge."
As for a future beyond the tenth season, there definitely does appear to be some talk about a potential end, though Levitan is keen to stress that "(there's) a general desire from just about everybody involved to not say goodbye yet."
"I thought season 10 was going to be it. I think everyone has said season 11 is it. If we were to do it, season 11 would be it, for sure. And I'm not sure it would be a full season. We're all trying to figure that out," Levitan said.