Ever since Modern Family premiered in 2009, it brought fans hours of laughter every week.
The Pritchetts, Dunphys, Delgados and Tuckers may be fictional, but they feel like they're part of our own families as they deal with everyday issues that so many of us have experienced within our own family dynamics.
Unfortunately, fans are in for a major heartbreak when the show returns for its tenth season this fall.
The show runners at ABC confirmed that viewers will be forced to bid farewell to a "significant" member of the Pritchett-Dunphey clan early on in the upcoming season, which happens to be the last season of its contract with the network.
"We're handling some bigger life events in this season," Modern Family's co-creator Christopher 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."
Of course, Lloyd and co. aren't going to reveal who the grim reaper will be visiting, or whether it's a main character or not. All he was willing to share was that it is a "significant character on the series" that fans will be mourning. He also admitted that the death "will be a moving event - and an event that has repercussions across several episodes."
The stars of the show, Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Ariel Winter, Sarah Hyland, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons and Jeremy Maguire, have not commented on the news, leaving it up to fans to start speculating about who will die.
Some people are convinced that it is O'Neill's character, Jay Pritchett, the lovable patriarch who has been subjected to plenty of jokes about his age by his family, that will be headed to the grave. His death will be a big blow to the entire family, especially his step-son Manny (Rico Rodriguez), who looks up to him.
Others believe the show will get rid of one of the younger characters, like sisters Alex (Ariel Winter) or Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland). It would make sense for Hyland to be the one to go as she has been dealing with a slew of health problems over the last year and may want to step away from the show to focus on her well-being.
Then there are those who believe that killing off a character that has been a part of the show since day one would ruin the tone. This brought them to the conclusion that the creators are going to kill off Jay's dog, Stella, who is, of course, a significant part of the Pritchett family. Her death would surely take a toll on Jay as well as his youngest son, Joe, and maybe even other members of the family.
No one will ever be ready to say goodbye to a character who has been an important part of the series. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite dealing with death and the uncertainty of the Emmy-winning show's renewal for season 11, Lloyd reassured longtime fans that he is optimistic Modern Family will return for an 11th 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."
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."
Overall for season 10, Llyod says fans should expect "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."
He didn't clarify if this hint is related or unrelated to the impending death of one of the characters, so everyone will just have to tune in when the season premieres on September 26 at 9 p.m. E.T.