Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday night’s episode of Modern Family, titled “Good Grief.”
During Wednesday’s episode of Modern Family, Jay (Ed O’Neill), Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) learn that Jay’s ex-wife and Mitchell and Claire’s mother, DeDe (Shelley Long), has died.
The shock came at the top of the show but later in the episode, titled “Good Grief,” it was revealed that DeDe died in her sleep on a trip with her women’s group.
“It occurred to us that death is a giant part of the family experience and while Phil had lost his mother in a previous episode, we’ve never seen the entire family have to deal with such a loss,” creator Steven Levitan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It seemed like an interesting thing to have happen.”
Levitan said that the writers decided to kill off DeDe because “she’s directly involved with three of our characters and she touched everybody’s life in some interesting way.”
He continued: “It seemed like the right character to put everybody through something. She seemed like the right character because she so directly affects so many of our characters.”
Levitan also said that they will do a follow-up episode “where DeDe’s widower brings a bunch of things to various members of the family that she wanted each of them to have and the effect that has on each of them.”
The show, which is currently airing Season 10, has been teasing an upcoming, significant character death since September.
Co-creator Christopher Lloyd previously said that a “significant character on the series” will die with the death becoming “a moving event and an event that has repercussions across several episodes.”
“We’re handling some bigger life events in this season,” Lloyd told Entertainment Weekly. “We do deal with a death, which 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.”
Fans of the show took to Twitter to discuss the death of DeDe, with some upset at the suspense from the writers claiming to kill off a “significant character.”
“*Kills off peripheral character that didn’t even appear in the episode,” one Twitter user wrote.
#ModernFamily : we're going to kill off a MAJOR character OMG you have to watch every episode to see who it is!!
*kills off peripheral character that didn't even get to appear in the episode. pic.twitter.com/QkgJiIsctE
— 🌊 Masked Oxford_Comma (@Oxford_Lit) October 25, 2018
#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
Seriously #modernfamily, you put us through all this torture and hint that one of the main characters died…and it's not even a regular cast member. Not that it's not sad, it's just that I feel annoyed that you've been toying with everyone's feelings!
— Olivia (@Olivia03785508) October 25, 2018
— Monica👾 (@theoriginalmon) October 25, 2018
#ModernFamily has never disappointed…until tonight. The death reveal was underwhelming. It also took away from the usual shenanigans that would make the Halloween episode entertaining.
— Anne (@0107_anne) October 25, 2018
— Abby_Lundquist5 (@ALundquist5) October 25, 2018
Months of waiting only for Modern family to kill off Dede… pic.twitter.com/LvzeraLgws
— Madblaxx (@madblaxx) October 25, 2018
— Bam Bams BBQ (@BamBamsBBQ) October 25, 2018
when I think of a significant death, I always think of the person whos been in seven episodes in 10 years.#ModernFamily
— Guy Smiley (@GuySmiley11) October 25, 2018
— zeezee (@stutterjawnpod) October 25, 2018
So that’s the big death ? #ModernFamily
— .jesse.bruh (@jessehubbard171) October 25, 2018
Others were sad to see DeDe go.
— Renfield Argeneau (@RenfieldArgene2) October 25, 2018
Not Shelley Long!!! 😩 #ModernFamily
— kat (@kat_hjl) October 25, 2018
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