The cast of Modern Family has been teasing a "significant" death all season and the time has family come to reveal who the unlucky family member is. Now, before you freak out: Jay (Ed O'Neil) and Gloria's (Sofia Vagara) dog Stella is still alive and kicking. But the Halloween episode of the sitcom did kick off with the sad news that Dede (Shelley Long), Ed's ex-wife and Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitch's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) mom, was the "significant" character who passed away.
Apparently, Dede died peacefully in her sleep while on a trip with her woman's group. Although no one expected a core character to die, Dede's death didn't really live up to the devastating hype that's surrounded this development all season. As executive producer Steve Levitan explained to The Hollywood Reporter, though, the writers wanted to kill someone who would affect the entire family because death isn't something the show has deeply explored before with the entire family.
"[Dede] is directly involved with three of our characters and she touched everybody's life in some interesting way," he said. "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."
Long was warned ahead of Season 10 what would happen to Dede and "was very sweet about it," according to Levitan. The Emmy-winning sitcom has not yet been renewed for a Season 11, and with its parent studio Fox being sold to ABC, the show's future is very unclear. The death of Dede was a way for Levitan and the show to start wrapping up if Season 10 is indeed the end of the show.
What did you think of Dede's death?
PHOTOS: Our Favorite TV Families
Modern Family airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.