‘Modern Family’ reveals death of recurring character

Modern Family” wasted no time during its Wednesday episode for the long-awaited reveal of which character would die in the Halloween-themed episode of the 10th season.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Within minutes, Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) gets a call from her stepfather to tell her that her mom DeDe has passed away. However, a fun Halloween night is just what Claire and Mitchell needs to distract herself from the sad news (in addition to drinking), while their spouses Phil (Ty Burrell) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) try their best to cheer them up.

The Dunphy kids also deal with the news in their own unique ways. Luke (Nolan Gould) makes jokes about his grandmother coming back as a zombie, Hayley (Sarah Hyland) gorges on Halloween candy to cope, and Alex (Ariel Winter) has a surprising, out-of-character reaction.

See photos of Shelley Long on "Modern Family":

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Shelley Long on 'Modern Family'
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Shelley Long on 'Modern Family'
MODERN FAMILY - 'Mother!' - When Dede drops in unexpectedly, Mitchell and Cam come to a realization about her effect on their lives; Phil, Luke, Alex and Haley all have different bad news to break to Claire and compete about when to do it, the tiny window of time after her monthly spa day when she's her most relaxed, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, MAY 2 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'Mother!' - When Dede drops in unexpectedly, Mitchell and Cam come to a realization about her effect on their lives; Phil, Luke, Alex and Haley all have different bad news to break to Claire and compete about when to do it, the tiny window of time after her monthly spa day when she's her most relaxed, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, MAY 2 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HYLAND, SHELLEY LONG, ARIEL WINTER
MODERN FAMILY - 'Arrested' - Phil and Claire get the dreaded late night call that Haley has been arrested for under-aged drinking, so they bring Mitchell, the family lawyer, in tow to the police station. Cameron stays back to watch over Alex and Luke, but they get into some crazy mishaps under his care. Meanwhile, Jay gets out of baby shopping with Gloria, but ends up having to deal with a surprise visit from Dede, and tries to scoot her out before Gloria gets home to prevent Dede from seeing that she's pregnant and to avoid the potential blowback, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Peter 'Hopper' Stone ABC/ via Getty Images) SHELLEY LONG, SOFIA VERGARA
MODERN FAMILY - 'Arrested' - Phil and Claire get the dreaded late night call that Haley has been arrested for under-aged drinking, so they bring Mitchell, the family lawyer, in tow to the police station. Cameron stays back to watch over Alex and Luke, but they get into some crazy mishaps under his care. Meanwhile, Jay gets out of baby shopping with Gloria, but ends up having to deal with a surprise visit from Dede, and tries to scoot her out before Gloria gets home to prevent Dede from seeing that she's pregnant and to avoid the potential blowback, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images) SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'Princess Party' - The guest list for Lily's princess-themed birthday party gets a little out of hand when Mitchell decides to invite mom, much to Claire's dismay, and disinvite Fizbo, much to Cameron's dismay. Things get even more strange when Dede (guest star Shelley Long) shows up with Claire's old high school boyfriend (guest star Matt Dillon) in tow, and Jay and Gloria each turn to their own unique methods of dealing with this gathering of misfits, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images)ED O'NEILL, SHELLEY LONG, TY BURRELL, SOFIA VERGARA
MODERN FAMILY - 'Princess Party' - The guest list for Lily's princess-themed birthday party gets a little out of hand when Mitchell decides to invite mom, much to Claire's dismay, and disinvite Fizbo, much to Cameron's dismay. Things get even more strange when Dede (guest star Shelley Long) shows up with Claire's old high school boyfriend (guest star Matt Dillon) in tow, and Jay and Gloria each turn to their own unique methods of dealing with this gathering of misfits, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images)SHELLEY LONG, ED O'NEILL
MODERN FAMILY - 'Princess Party' - The guest list for Lily's princess-themed birthday party gets a little out of hand when Mitchell decides to invite mom, much to Claire's dismay, and disinvite Fizbo, much to Cameron's dismay. Things get even more strange when Dede (guest star Shelley Long) shows up with Claire's old high school boyfriend (guest star Matt Dillon) in tow, and Jay and Gloria each turn to their own unique methods of dealing with this gathering of misfits, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images)MATT DILLON, SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'The Incident' - Claire and Mitchell's mother, Dede, drops in for a surprise visit and is determined to make amends with everyone she offended during what has been deemed 'the incident' at Jay and Gloria's wedding. Needless to say, no one is thrilled to see her and everything comes to a head when the whole family shows up to dinner at Claire's house, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-9:30 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) JESSE TYLER FERGUSON, SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'The Incident' - Claire and Mitchell's mother, Dede, drops in for a surprise visit and is determined to make amends with everyone she offended during what has been deemed 'the incident' at Jay and Gloria's wedding. Needless to say, no one is thrilled to see her and everything comes to a head when the whole family shows up to dinner at Claire's house, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-9:30 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Mitch Haddad/ABC via Getty Images) JESSE TYLER FERGUSON, ERIC STONESTREET, SHELLEY LONG, TY BURRELL
MODERN FAMILY - 'Princess Party' - The guest list for Lily's princess-themed birthday party gets a little out of hand when Mitchell decides to invite mom, much to Claire's dismay, and disinvite Fizbo, much to Cameron's dismay. Things get even more strange when Dede (guest star Shelley Long) shows up with Claire's old high school boyfriend (guest star Matt Dillon) in tow, and Jay and Gloria each turn to their own unique methods of dealing with this gathering of misfits, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (9:00-9:31 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images)JULIE BOWEN, MATT DILLON, SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'The Incident' - Claire and Mitchell's mother, Dede, drops in for a surprise visit and is determined to make amends with everyone she offended during what has been deemed 'the incident' at Jay and Gloria's wedding. Needless to say, no one is thrilled to see her and everything comes to a head when the whole family shows up to dinner at Claire's house, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-9:30 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) SHELLEY LONG
MODERN FAMILY - 'The Incident' - Claire and Mitchell's mother, Dede, drops in for a surprise visit and is determined to make amends with everyone she offended during what has been deemed 'the incident' at Jay and Gloria's wedding. Needless to say, no one is thrilled to see her and everything comes to a head when the whole family shows up to dinner at Claire's house, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-9:30 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Mitch Haddad/ABC via Getty Images) SHELLEY LONG, JESSE TYLER FERGUSON
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There were also plenty of laughs in the heartfelt episode, from the costumes, such as Cam dressing up as Megan Markle, to poorly-timed announcements (the “Welcome to Hell” doorbell comes on right as they’re about to say DeDe is in a better place). The somber occasion is humorously juxtaposed by their silly costumes, most evident when Claire struggles with her spider outfit to hug her brother Mitchell dressed as Prince Harry.

DeDe Pritchett (Shelley Long) was Jay’s first wife, and in her numerous appearances was depicted as having a complicated relationship with her children. It was previously shown that DeDe was accepting when Mitchell first came out, while she was also often cruel to Claire about her appearance and perceived poor choices.

The show’s co-creator Christopher Lloyd told EW in September that a “significant character” will die and it “will be a moving event — an event that has repercussions across several episodes.”

“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,” Lloyd said. “But at the same time, it would seem unusual for a family not to go through it.”

Hyland previously told Variety that she would be fine with a death in the family as long as it wasn’t Stella, the family’s beloved french bull dog.

“‘If the dog dies, I leave,’” she said at the Women in Film and Variety’s annual Emmy nominee party. “I’m that person that watches ‘The Walking Dead,’ and I’m like ‘feed the zombie the baby before the dog.’ I’m a horrible person I know, but I just love animals so much.”

While it has not been confirmed, it’s been rumored that the show will go on with a shorter 11th season, with a final season of about 18 episodes. The series, which began in 2009, is ABC’s longest-running comedy series and has won a record-tying five consecutive comedy series Emmys.

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Modern Family Cast
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Modern Family Cast
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 16: The cast attend the FYC Event For ABC's 'Modern Family' at Avalon on April 16, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 16: The cast attend the FYC Event For ABC's 'Modern Family' at Avalon on April 16, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: The Cast of Modern Family along with show runners attend ABC Celebrates The 200th Episode Of 'Modern Family' at Fox Studios on November 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 03: (L-R) Nolan Gould, Steven Levitan, Ariel Winter, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell attend the 'Modern Family' ATAS event at Saban Media Center on May 3, 2017 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 03: Actress Julie Bowen and actor Ty Burrell attend the 'Modern Family' ATAS event at Saban Media Center on May 3, 2017 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
MODERN FAMILY - 'Modern Family' cast members Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell Pritchett), Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker), Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy), Nolan Gould (Luke Dunphy), and Ariel Winter (Alex Dunphy) talk about their favorite scenes from Season 9 of the show with show co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan, at an FYC event held Monday (April 16) at the Avalon Hollywood, hosted by 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. (Todd Wawrychuk/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HYLAND
MODERN FAMILY - 'Modern Family' cast members Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell Pritchett), Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker), Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy), Nolan Gould (Luke Dunphy), and Ariel Winter (Alex Dunphy) talk about their favorite scenes from Season 9 of the show with show co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan, at an FYC event held Monday (April 16) at the Avalon Hollywood, hosted by 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. (Todd Wawrychuk/ABC via Getty Images) JULIE BOWEN
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) 66th ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: 'Modern Family' cast and crew Nolan Gould, Eric Stonestreet, Ariel Winter, Sofia Vergara, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rico Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland and writer/producer Steven Levitan pose in the NBC/People photo booth during the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theater on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Larry Busacca/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: (L-R) Actors Sarah Hyland, Sofia Vergara, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Ariel Winter, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, and Ed O'Neill, winners of Ouststanding Comedy Series for 'Modern Family' pose in the press room at the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Steve Levitan (C) and cast and crew of 'Modern Family' appear onstage during the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Producer Steve Levitan (C) and cast and crew of 'Modern Family' appear onstage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) Cast and crew on set during filming for the American sitcom 'Modern Family' on location near the Park Hyatt hotel in The Rocks, on February 20, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Craig Greenhill/Newspix/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: Sarah Hyland poses at the Modern Family Media Call at The Sebel on February 20, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. The cast from the popular television program are in Australia filming their Australian vacation episode. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: Nicholas Loeb and Sofa Vergara arrive at the Modern Family Media Call at The Sebel on February 20, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. The cast from the popular television program are in Australia filming their Australian vacation episode. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: The cast of 'Modern Family' on stage at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/FilmMagic)
The cast of 'Modern Family,' winner of the Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series award, poses in the press room at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, January 18, 2014 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: The cast of 'Modern Family' attends the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Actors Sarah Hyland, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Eric Stonestreet, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen and Ed O'Neill, winners of Outstanding Comedy Series for 'Modern Family,' pose in the press room at the 65th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Actress Sofia Vergara (2nd-R) and the cast of 'Modern Family' pose in the press room after winning Outstanding Comedy on September 22, 2013 during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Emmy Award-nominated 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight (11:35 p.m. - 12:41 a.m., ET), packed with hilarious comedy bits and features a diverse lineup of guests including celebrities, athletes, musicians, comedians and humorous human interest subjects. The guests for MONDAY, OCTOBER 7 included the cast of ABC's 'Modern Family' and musical guest Korn. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) JESSE TYLER FERGUSON, ERIC STONESTREET, ED O'NEILL, SOFIA VERGARA, TY BURRELL, JULIE BOWEN
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: The cast of 'Modern Family' onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Actors Ariel Winter, Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Nolan Gould, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell and Sarah Hyland of the cast of 'Modern Family,' winners of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series award, pose in the press room during the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO -- Guests: The Cast of Modern Family -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Tyler Ferguson, James Lipton, Eric Stonestreet (Photo by Anthony Behar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO -- Guests: The Cast of Modern Family -- Pictured: (l-r) Ed O'Neill, James Lipton, Sofia Vergara (Photo by Anthony Behar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 29: Cast & Crew of 'Modern Family' accept the Outstanding Comedy Series award onstage at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 29: Cast and crew of 'Modern Family', winners of the Outstanding Comedy Series Award pose in the press room at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. Live on August 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - The cast of 'Modern Family' makes themselves at home on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 5/19/10 airing on the ABC Television Network. GM10 (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) ERIC STONESTREET, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ED O'NEILL, JUJU CHANG, JULIE BOWEN, JESSE TYLER FERGUSON, SOFIA VERGARA, ROBIN ROBERTS
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