'Modern Family' Co-Creator Explains That Surprising Family Member Death

Modern Family revealed the tragic death the show had been teasing in the opening sequence of the series' latest Halloween episode.

As Claire decorated the house for the spooky holiday she received a call from Jerry announcing that DeDe (Shelley Long) — Jay's (Ed O'Neill) ex-wife and her and Mitch's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) mother — had passed away suddenly while on a trip to Greenland with her women's group.

The sudden passing left the members of the Pritchett/Dunphy/Tucker clan dealing with their emotions in different ways throughout the episode, as fans of the shows mourned DeDe, a supporting character they had known and loved since season one.

Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the character's sudden passing — she died in her sleep in the hotel — in a recent interview, including why the writers decided to address death in season 10.

"We gather [with the writers] at the beginning of the season and talk about the big arcs and things that we want to have happen — the milestone moments," Levitan told the outlet. "It occurred to us that death is a giant part of the family experience and while Phil (Ty Burrell) had lost his mother in a previous episode, we've never seen the entire family have to deal with such a loss. It seemed like an interesting thing to have happen."

Levitan revealed that the decision to have DeDe's death announced the first minute of the episode came to represent how death can come at unexpected times.

Levitan revealed that the decision to have DeDe die came as she was a character that would touch the entire family.

"She's directly involved with three of our characters and she touched everybody's life in some interesting way," Levitan added. "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."

The decision to have the major death during the Halloween episode came as Levitan hoped to find "comedy on such a sad day."

"I've always been enamored with stories where people are very inappropriately dressed for very serious moments. It's been a thing of mine for as long as I can remember," he said.

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We can expect the impact of DeDe's death to be felt throughout the season, with Levitan teasing that his widower will be paying a visit to the family in an upcoming episode.

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.