Modern Family season finale: A definitive ranking of all 12 lead characters, from Phil to Gloria and Cam

Perhaps one of the reasons behind Modern Family's cult success is that each character has an audience and every character is so well-etched

Swetha Ramakrishnan September 28, 2019 08:57:21 IST
Modern Family season finale: A definitive ranking of all 12 lead characters, from Phil to Gloria and Cam

I don't think my heart is ready for the Modern Family finale. Too many properties have ended this year — Game of Thrones, MCU Phase 3Big Bang Theory, and we're probably not going to see a season 3 of the internet's favourite show, Fleabag it feels like a break-up.

Modern Family is the last bastion of the quintessential American TV sitcom (even though most of us watch it on streaming platforms now); I doubt there's going be another sitcom that we watch on TV, or religiously follow for 11 seasons over 10 years. For, how many times have we gone back to a random episode from a random season and just started watching from right there? How many times have we chosen Modern Family when we can't find something suitable to watch? How many times have we picked Modern Family when we're sad or stressed or just plain bored? How many times have we re-watched seasons or favourite episodes? How many times have the same jokes made us laugh with the same intensity? Check, check, check.

Modern Family season finale A definitive ranking of all 12 lead characters from Phil to Gloria and Cam

All members of Modern Family, in Season 10.

Through its 11-season run, Modern Family represents evolution, not just thematically but also technically. Evolution of characters, from kids into bonafide adults; from parents to grandparents; from narrow-minded to open-minded (Jay and Phil's relationship, or even Jay and Mitch/Cam's relationship is proof). Evolution of the word "modern". Evolution of love (including the legalisation of LGBT+ marriages). Evolution of the definition of a familial unit — at first the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker family struggled to be a conventional unit, but over the seasons, they seem to have embraced what makes them stand apart (this is best represented in episode 9 of season 3, "Punkin Chunkin", where the family realises they are split into Dreamers and Realists). We've also seen how each season strove to be relevant: be it with their cameos or their technique. Episode 16 of the sixth season, "Connection Lost" played out entirely only on screens, way before Aneesh Chaganty's Searching came into our lives.

Perhaps one of the reasons behind Modern Family's cult success is that each character has an audience (including Stella!) and every character is so well-etched. Season after season, the characters' personal growth is combined with the entire family's growth and even though the episodes are so good to watch in isolation, in succession, it all makes sense.

Modern Family season finale A definitive ranking of all 12 lead characters from Phil to Gloria and Cam

A still from Modern Family season 10.

And so, with the final season right upon us, it's time to rank all the characters: in the running are only 12 characters of the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker family. Dylan, Stella, Javier Delgado, DeDe Pritchett,  and the multiple other recurring characters are not going to be a part of this ranking.

12. Luke

Luke is the OG baby of this family (even though Joe is technically the youngest, he's more Jay than baby) and for that reason, he's been a fleeting character for me. I've always seen him through Phil and Claire's perspective. Luke does have an inherent likable quality in him, and some pretty great lines, but he's no Michelle Tanner.

11. Hailey

Hailey's emotional curve has really been something! Her character started out as the most stereotypical of the lot — an American teenager, obsessed with popularity, clothes and boys. And she's had some real ups and downs, but we've seen her date a scientist, have her own app, and now be a mother to twins. Sigh, how time flies.

10. Alex

We've really seen Alex grow into a strong, independent woman. When the series started, she was a scrawny 11-year-old, waiting to be the nerd stereotype. Ariel Winter brought the necessary cutesy humour into Alex's character, and ended up making us root for her, no matter what age. Plus, she's the only one who can out-sass Hailey.

9. Claire

Claire is the Anxiety Central of the family; the gold standard of obsessive perfectionism — and I can so relate. She's also terribly self-aware, and can be a mother even when she doesn't want to. The best thing about Claire is how every plan she makes invariably ends up failing, but she turns her misery into comedy every. single. time. Plus her mom fashion is always on point.

8. Jay

Jay's inability to Keep Up With The Delgados, Tuckers and Dunphys can be a show in itself. Now that's a reality show I'd watch. The most likable thing about Jay is that he has a separate relationship with every character of the family, be it Cam or Phil or Alex or Manny and especially Stella. He's such a father figure. PS: I totally get why he loved the Dog Butler.

7. Mitch

Mitch is the embodiment of the skeptic in every family. And yet, he's the most far-reaching one of the lot. He's an environmental lawyer, a proud father and proud gay man. He loves Cam deeply, despite his flaws. He accepts his father's awkwardness about his sexuality. He's a true realist. He is who a lot of people in the audience would relate to the most. He's also a pro at reactionary comedy (especially in his scenes with Cam).

6. Joe

Joe has some of the best one-liners of this series: a big feat for someone who has only been a part of the show for one-third of the time. Modern Family takes every moment it can to prove he truly is Jay's son. It also really helps that he's effortlessly funny and endearing.

5. Lily

Lily is sassier than Alex, Hailey and Cam combined — and a lot of that has to do with her I-don't-give-a-f*ck-attitude. She's the calm in the middle of two storms called Mitch and Cam. Her humour has sustained through seasons, whether it was as a kid who wouldn't stop running or a pre-teen who doesn't mince her words.

4. Manny

If I ever have kids, I would want one like Manny. So sensitive, it's comedy. So naive, it's comedy. So endearing, it's comedy. He's so adorable that he's almost edible (don't gasp, you know what I mean). As Manny grows up, he retains some of that naivete and sensitivity, and you can't help but call him a favourite.

3. Gloria

The best thing about Gloria is that her brand of comedy is basically Sofia Vergara being a version of herself. She's also a hustler, and tomorrow if anything were to go wrong with the family, I would bet on Claire and Gloria saving the day. The funniest thing about Gloria is her expressions.

2. Phil

Where do I even begin with Phil? He would be number one on most people's list and he's definitely the funniest character on Modern Family with arguably the best scenes. Who can forget, "WTF — why the face," or "when life gives you lemonade, make lemons, life will be all like, what?" or my favourite, "older Black ladies make the best iced tea." This one is a no-brainer.

1. Cam


Hear me out. Here's why Cam is my favourite: He's exxxtra, he has no idea how funny he is, he is secretly a 16-year-old aspiring actress in pretty much any given situation (most of us aren't given that luxury), he's so passionate it's hilarious, and for me, he's the soul of Modern Family. The cherry on the cake is that Eric Stonestreet is actually straight in real life, which makes this character i-c-o-n-i-c.

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