Yes, the grim reaper will visit the show in an episode airing in the first half of this season, co-creator Christopher Lloyd tells EW. “We’re handling some bigger life events in this season,” he says. “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.”
Not surprisingly, Lloyd isn’t revealing who is headed six feet under — or if it’s one of the main family members — but he promises that he/she is a “significant character on the series” and the death “will be a moving event — and an event that has repercussions across several episodes.”
Modern Family — which features Ed O’Neill as the grand patriarch of the family and stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Ariel Winter, Sarah Hyland, Rico Rodriguez, Nolan Gould, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, and Jeremy Maguire — is entering the last season of its contract. Will this be the last-ever season for the veteran comedy that won a record-tying five consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys (and has been nominated every year but this one)? Lloyd remains optimistic that there will be Dunphy doofiness beyond this season. “There’s goodwill on both sides to make it happen, but there’s also complicated matters that have to get worked through, and there’s a time constraint on it, because we can’t have it take too long,” he shares. “I’m hoping that that doesn’t make the whole thing go away, but I think there’s a decent chance we’ll see it happen. I hope there is. From our standpoint creatively we’ve gotten excited writing this season and changing the lives of the characters — some in a significant way — and it’s made us think, ‘Wow, there’s a lot to explore in the lives of these characters.’ They’re in many ways such different characters than they were five or 10 years ago when we started and they’re just as interesting and just as funny. So our standpoint was, ‘Well, if we can do another season, we may as well. I’m hoping that we have some news on that [soon], and if it winds up that we tried and just couldn’t make it work, we will have a great final season for sure.”
Asked for an overall hint about season 10, Lloyd says, “There is a significant change in the dynamics of the family that people maybe thought was going to happen at some point down the line that is happening sooner than expected.” Is that clue related or unrelated to the aforementioned death? Well, that’ll be the joy of discovery that awaits you when Modern Family kicks off season 10 on Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.