‘Modern Family’ Says Goodbye to Phil’s Father Frank In Emotional Episode

The Modern Family cast just shrunk by one beloved figure.

Earlier this week, on the hit ABC show’s episode titled “Legacy,” the Modern Family cast said goodbye to Phil Dunphy’s (Ty Burrell) father, Frank (Fred Willard). As we learned during the episode, Frank passed away unexpectedly of old age.

The episode built up to his death with a scene in which he was found wandering the grocery store alone and confused. Phil came to pick him up, gave him a haircut and asked him about how he was feeling, as well as whether he’d ever considered having a second child. Phil was clearly feeling guilty about not having taken over the family business.

“If you had another kid, maybe he would have taken over the business and you wouldn’t have had to sell it,” Phil said. “I always feel bad that I didn’t.”

Frank replied, “The answer is no, Phil, never. Well you did take over the family business, didn’t you? Keeping life light, making it fun for everybody.” Phil certainly did do that.

The show then cut to a monologue confessional from Phil, who reflected on the afternoon with his father, saying, “We didn’t do much that day, but it might have been one of the best days I’ve ever had with my dad. I just didn’t know it would be the last.”

In the next scene, we see Phil eulogizing Frank in front of his family. Anyone else’s eyes suddenly misty?

Willard, who is 80-years-old, played Frank for 14 episodes over the span of the series’ 11 seasons. He even earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010. The passing of his character marks the second in the show’s last two seasons. Last season, DeDe (Shelley Long), Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) mother died on the series.

Viewers will definitely miss Frank’s positivity and earnest smile. We hate goodbyes!


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Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.