Recap: The Modern Family Series Finale Ended With The Same Notes That Kept Us Watching For Years

Image via Steven Levitan Productions

One Of Primetime Television’s Greatest Families Says Goodbye Tonight

Insanely, it’s been eleven years since ABC premiered its hilarious, coming of age sitcom, Modern Family.  The series brought us the best of both worlds – a side splitting comedy show blended with bits of reality television “confessionals” that showcased the character’s thought process, or lack there of. Led by Married With Children’s Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett and supported by a diverse ensemble of familiar and first time actors – we were in love with the cast and show at first laugh. The series would thrust Sofia Vergara into super stardom as the fiery Gloria, Jay’s young wife, who possessed an accent that would confuse anyone to the point of hysterics. What is perhaps the most special about the series is how it showcased gay couple Mitch Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam Tucker (Eric Stonestreet). In the pilot episode, the couple adopted an Asian daughter, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) who would grow into a sarcastic, moody, monotone teenager and would provide us with knee slapping laughs over and over. We’ve seen a glimpse of factual gay culture with the couple’s storylines. They dealt with trauma, growing together, communication barriers, a social circle of gay friends, attending the West Hollywood Halloween parade, gay wedding proposals, and of course in one of the series best episodes – a (dysfunctional) gay wedding. While we’ve enjoyed every moment of the entire cast on our screens, today aired the final episode in the series. How did it all end? Warning! There will be spoilers ahead as we recap what went down in the emotional two-part ending.


The grand finale opener first sees Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) living out of their RV in the driveway. Their house has become complete chaos when Alex (Ariel Winter) moved back into her parents’ home, making it a literal full house of eight people. Despite us getting a sexy shirtless scene from buff but dense Dylan (Reid Ewing), the elder Dunphy parents made the unfortunate realization that their grown children can barely take care of themselves. They decide that someone had to move out. Quickly, Alex finds out that her job is relocating her to Switzerland. Haley (Sarah Hyland) and Dylan make an attempt at growing up and land their own apartment, while Luke (Nolan Gould) announces he’s been accepted into an Oregon College.

On the flip side, Mitch and Cam are throwing a mega-gay baby shower for the recent adoption of their newborn baby, Rexford. Before their party starts, Cam gets news that the long-awaited football coach job he’s been fawning after is back up for grabs and is his for the taking. However, he has to relocate to Kentucky – and him and Mitch just adopted a new baby and purchased a new home. Cam spills the news to Ronaldo (Christian Barillas) who slowly starts to inform all of the party guests, despite promising to keep the secret. Phil and Claire insist Cam should take the job and move. Eventually, Mitch finds out and declares the couple will be moving, but felt pressure to be happy about the decision. After a conversation, a musical number, and a cameo appearance by their hysterical, alcoholic best friend, Sal (Elizabeth Banks), the married couple makes the decision to bid farewell.

The entire Modern Family reunites to say goodbye to Mitch, Cam, Lily, and Rex before they head to the airport to depart California and start their new life. After their flight gets delayed, Mitch discovers he’s missing an ice-skating trophy and finds out his mother had donated it to the ice-skating rink. Claire convinces him they should steal it back and they do, inspiring them to have a brother/sister choreographed dance after succeeding in their venture.

The Dunphy kids slowly realize they are finally separating for what seems like the last time. In a very homoerotic you-might-only-get-it-if-you’re-gay subplot, Haley and Alex have Luke recreate a video they made in their childhood begging for a puppy. Luke dresses up as a puppy and is courted around by his sisters as a last-minute prank until it makes them realize their special bond with one another. Claire and Phil proclaim they are going to take an RV trip around the country, a plan they originally had before getting pregnant.


In a C-Plot, Gloria’s deals with her being absent from her home because of working too much and missing her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) who is soon to be out of the house. Her emotions boil over. Cam tells her to put her thoughts into writing. Her husband, Jay, slyly learns Spanish in order to impress her which she believes he’s suffering from dementia. Jay comes clean and tells that he’ll be spending the summer with her in Colombia.

Our final scenes show the families turning their lights off for the evening, with a voiceover of Jay saying: “Life is full of change, some big, some small. I learned a long time ago you can fight it or you can try and make the best of it. And that’s all a lot easier if you have people who love you, helping you face whatever life throws at you. At least that’s what helps me sleep at night.” After a pause, the Dunphy’s residence light turns back on – assuring us that family will always be ‘home’.

The Modern Family Series ended how it began, with laughs, love, and family.  Another aspect the family addressed in their own way in about every episode was that, yes, we may grow as individuals, but this growth would never cause them to grow apart. The family is set to go off in many different directions, to different states and countries, but we know the whole clan will still stay close and as a family, no matter the distance. 

Did you tune into Modern Family’s final episode? Are you saddened we won’t get anymore of the family?! Share your thoughts below!

Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.

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