For 11 seasons, “Modern Family” pushed the envelope for sitcoms and opened viewers’ minds to the untraditional types of families that are becoming more and more common in the world today. And with 250 episodes under the show's belt, it’s no surprise that there is a ton of hilarious stuff that fans might have missed the first time they watched the show.
Some of the behind-the-scenes details on the show may shock even the most loyal viewers of the popular comedy series. So, here are a few hidden details that will make this show even more enjoyable to watch the second time around.
The Cast’s Actual Baby Photos Were Used as Decor
Viewers probably wondered if the various photos framed on the wall were real or not. It turns out that they were! The show actually used the younger cast’s baby photos, which in the Dunphy’s case, was featured heavily by the staircase. In this shot, you can see a baby photo of Ariel Winter, who portrays Alex Dunphy on the show.
The Hidden Message in Alex’s Essay
In the episode “Connection Lost,” Alex asked her mom Claire to read her essay, which she did. But she lost interest after a couple of lines and just skimmed through the document. But fans noticed that Alex had set a trap for Claire that read “and I know you’re not reading this, mom.” Since Claire didn’t react to this, it was safe to assume that she just skimmed through the essay.
The Dunphy’s Kitchen Island Changed
The Dunphy’s kitchen island was a bit more Bohemian at the beginning of the series. It also had two large cabinets at either end of it in the first few seasons of the show. But somewhere down the line, the production team changed the Dunphy’s island table to modernize the set, which no longer had the large cabinets.
Phil’s Not-So-Dead Friend Ling
In the episode “Message Received,” the Dunphy kids find a message in Phil’s old answering machine from his friend Ling who was about to go on a helicopter ride. Phil later explained that Ling died in that crash. But in the episode “Lifetime Supply,” Phil wishes Ling good luck with flying his new chopper.
The Dunphys Own a Los Angeles Travel Book
Given that the Dunphys live in Los Angeles, it makes very little sense for them to own a Los Angeles Travel Book. And yet, they had one on their coffee table in the living room. The set dressers working for the show probably just picked up a local book instead of going out of their way to find a book about a location the Dunphy family would like to travel to.
A Publishing Error in Fizbo Newspaper Clipping
When Cam got into his clown costume, he became the beloved character known as Fizbo. But in one episode where Cam talks about how Fizbo came to be, there was a newspaper clipping about the clown that features duplicate text, which would never appear in a real newspaper. But it's truly a blink and you'll miss it moment!
The Dunphys Switched Dining Room Chairs
Over the years, the Dunphy’s dining room had some subtle changes. One of the more obvious changes included the kitchen’s carpet and the chairs around the dining table. But the tray at the center of the table was the one item that didn’t change. These changes definitely made the set look more modern, but there's still something classic about the original design.
Claire and Phil Share Their Daughters’ Room
In the episode “Up All Night,” viewers noticed that Claire and Phil’s bedroom was located on the far left of the house, which is the exact location of Alex and Haley’s bedroom. But in previous episodes, it was clearly stated that Phil and Claire’s bedroom was on the right by the stairs, so there's no logical way the set could be built to accommodate both rooms.
Alex’s Corkboard Never Changed
While a lot of things changed on the set over the years, the passage of time wasn’t quite as noticeable in Alex’s room. In fact, her cork board was the one item that had remained a constant through the 11 seasons of the series. Admittedly, there were a few extra photos added to it over the years, but none of the older photos were ever taken down.
The Dunphy’s Doggy Door
Claire and Phil Dunphy’s home was featured a lot over the course of the series, but one of the most unusual moments was in the episode called “Regrets Only” which showed a doggy door in their kitchen. While the Dunphys didn’t have a dog, Phil’s dad Frank did have a dog which was featured in the episode “Travels with Scout.”
There Was a Zach Barbie Reference
In the season 4 episode “Flip Flop,” the entire family tried to help Cam and Claire sell a house. One of the interested buyers was Zach Barbie, who Haley friended on Facebook. Well, in the episode “Connection Lost,” Zach Barbie is the first friend listed on Haley’s Mutual Friends list. So clearly, she never unfriended him.
Cam Broke Jay and Gloria’s Window
In the episode “A Year of Birthdays,” the families got together to throw a talent show for Manny’s birthday. Naturally, Cam and Mitch performed “Carolina in the Morning,” but when Cam threw his cane in the air, he accidentally smashed Jay and Gloria’s front window.
The Dunphy’s Cookbooks Provide Some Insights About the Family
Claire’s cookbooks may not have been the center of attention, but in this scene, there were two obvious book titles called “500 Low-Calorie Recipes” and “The Frugal Gourmets” by Jeff Smith. This shows that Claire loves to cook healthy stuff for herself and her family, but fans of the show should already know this about her.
We Never See Much of the Dunphy’s Porch
Viewers were lucky enough to see the Dunphy’s front porch during some of the Halloween episodes of the show. But there was a reference to the back porch in “Do You Believe in Magic” where Phil gifts Claire a swing and tells her he’s going to put it out on the porch, but they never showed the back porch during the run of the show.
Replicating the Dunphy’s Kitchenware is Easy
Viewers noticed that the striped vases and dishes that the Dunphys used on the show are available at Crate & Barrel and Pier 1 Imports. And since both stores offer bargain prices, pretty much anyone can replicate the Dunphy’s kitchen motif with these easy-to-find items.
The Dunphy’s Corkboard Shows Their Address
The corkboard in the Dunphy’s home is full of photos, calendars and envelopes. But one of the envelopes has the Dunphy’s address which is 2049 Oak Creek Dr., Cheviot Hills, California. But the face of the home used for the show is actually located in 10336 Dunleer Drive in Los Angeles, California.
Most of the Main Cast Almost Quit
In 2012, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Sofia Vergara sued 20th Century Fox to dispose their contracts so they could presumably draw up a new contract for their work on the show. Ed O’Neill did the same at a later point in time. Whatever their reasons for doing this was, it apparently worked, as they continued working together until the end of the series. Some sources speculate that their reasoning for doing this was to get higher salaries for the cast because the show was so popular.
The Season 9 Premiere Paid Tribute to the Pilot
In the season 9 premiere, Claire screams, “Kids, breakfast!,” so they’ll head on over to the dining table and have breakfast before school. Ironically, this was the exact same way things played out during the pilot episode of the series in 2009. It's hard to believe that nearly a decade had passed between the two episodes!
Sarah Hyland Felt Endangered By a Co-Star
When Sarah Hyland and her boyfriend, actor Matt Prokop, broke up in 2014, things go very scary for the actress. Prokop appeared on one episode of "Modern Family" in 2012 as Haley's date to Disneyland, Ethan. She told Glamour UK that she “feared for her life” when the two got into an argument and she even had to file a temporary restraining order, which eventually became permanent.
Lily's a TV Star in the Show
In Season 2 episode 24, titled "The One That Got Away," Hayley and Alex are watching a commercial on television. But viewers may have noticed that there’s a familiar face in the commercial—Lily. The reason for this is that Lily appeared in a made-up commercial during a previous episode in season 2 and it made it onto the airwaves.
Matt LeBlanc Turned Down a Role on "Modern Family"
Matt LeBlanc was offered the role of Phil Dunphy while the series was in pre-production, but after looking at the script, he felt that he wasn’t the right actor for the role and he was right. Fortunately, the right actor did come along, and his name was Ty Burrell. But during the run of "Modern Family," LeBlanc appeared as himself on the Showtime series "Episodes," and he won a Golden Globe award for his role.
Adele Was Referenced on the Show
In the episode, “Connection Lost,” Claire assumed that Adele, a famous signer, had friended her on Facebook. That later obviously turns out to be wrong, but a news story about an arson attack in the episode used the phrase “I will set fire to the rain,” which was a line used in one of Adele’s songs.
Alex’s Video Montage is a Homage to Previous Episodes
For Jay’s birthday, Alex made a video montage of the family in the episode “The One That Got Away.” And virtually all the referenced scenes are bits taken from previous episodes throughout the series that undoubtedly made viewers very nostalgic.
A Film Mentioned in Season 2 Appears in a Yahoo Ad
During the episode “Connection Lost,” viewers saw a Yahoo ad on the homepage that mentions the film “Croctopus 4.” This film was actually talked about in the second season episode “Our Children Ourselves,” and was referenced as a movie Phil and Claire once saw in the theater.
Julie Bowen Had Heart Problems During Filming
Julie Bowen actually received a pacemaker when she was in her 20s because she suffers from a condition that slows the pace of her heartbeat down. Despite this, she has managed to juggle a career in Hollywood and a personal life as a mom, too. She's never let her health problems get in the way of her passions.
The Robotic Gutter Cleaner Became a Reality
In season 1, Phil and his son Luke have a discussion of things they would like to own at some point. One of the items mentioned is an electronic robotic gutter cleaner which is brought up again in season 5. Only this time, Phil claims that he owns it.
An Episode Revealed the Hidden Secrets of the Dunphy Family
The episode “Connect Lost” shows various social media sites and regular websites that the Dunphy family frequents. But take a closer look and you’ll see characters from previous episodes mentioned, such as city councilor Duane Bailey and actor Fred Savage who guest-starred and even directed several episodes.
Crew Members Post on Claire’s Facebook Page
Yet again, in the episode “Connection Lost,” viewers saw a clickbait article on Claire’s Facebook page titled “10 Things Only Working Moms Get.” Some of the people seen having hit like or made mentions on the page included “Modern Family” crewmembers like Jim Hensz, Ike Hassid, and Sally Young.
Ariel Winter Was Almost Fired
Ariel Winter, who played Alex Dunphy, almost lost her job more than once because of her mother, Chrisoula Workman. Winter’s older sister claimed that Workman would often have on-set tantrums which almost led to Winter being fired. During the run of the series in 2012, Winter's older sister filed to become her legal guardian and the court awarded her guardianship of her sister in 2014.
Sarah Hyland Had Serious Health Issues
While Haley Dunphy seemed to be healthier than an ox, actress Sarah Hyland was dealing with kidney dysplasia, which required her to undergo a kidney transplant when she was 21. Despite her health issues, she continued to work through the entire run of the series and she always gave stunning performances.
Gloria’s Kitchen Drawer Holds Important Mementos
In the season 2 episode “The One That Got Away,” Gloria is seen sifting through a drawer in her kitchen. At first glance, the objects in the drawer might not seem important, but items like the car keys, the FrootLoop necklace, and a baby Jesus were all referenced in previous episodes.
Claire’s VIP FaceTime Contact
In the episode “Connection Lost,” one of Claire’s FaceTime contacts is Krista Levitan. If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because Krista is married to Steve Levitan, who is the executive producer of “Modern Family.” This episode is full of Easter eggs, like the names of cast and crew members who work on the show behind the scenes.
Lily’s Character Was Recast During the Series
Jaden and Ella Hiller were twin girls who shared the role of Cam and Mitch’s daughter, Lily. But the twins didn’t seem to enjoy acting. So, in season three, four-year-old actress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons was hired to take over the role, and she continued to play Lily until the show ended in 2020.
There’s a Reason the Show Was a Documentary
The initial concept of the show included character Geert Floorjte, a Dutch filmmaker and former exchange student who once lived with the Pritchetts. The idea was that Floorjte had returned to do a documentary on the family, but the executive producers scrapped Floorjte and kept the documentary style, hence why the characters talk directly to the camera.
Sofia Vergara Thought Ed O’Neill Was Bilingual
While on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Sofia Vergara said she watched Ed O’Neill on “Married With Children” and thought that he spoke Spanish. “He had a very [sultry] Antonio Banderas voice, the guy who was dubbing him,” she claimed. But her assumptions were proven wrong when she started working with him on “Modern Family.”
Rob Huebel Turned Down the Role of Phil Dunphy
Many actors were considered for the role of Phil Dunphy, and Rob Huebel was one of them. Unfortunately, he told Splitsider, "When I read the script for it, I just hated it." So, he told the agent that he was going to pass on the offer and he later regretted it because he actually liked the show when he watched it.
Writers Wrote Mitchell’s Real Life Coming Out Story
It took three attempts for Jesse Tyler Ferguson to finally come out to his father and get him to be okay with it. The story was so moving that the writers of the series decided to write it into his character, Mitchell, who ultimately had a tough time coming out to his dad, Jay.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Almost Played Another Role
It might sound odd imagining Jesse Tyler Ferguson playing anyone but Mitchell. However, producers originally wanted him to play Cam. But at the end of the day, they settled on Ferguson being Mitchell and the rest was Hollywood history.
Sofia Vergara Had to Look More Latin For the Show
Sofia Vergara is a natural blond, and in Hollywood’s eyes, a blond Latina just doesn't make sense. So, they had Vergara change her hair color to a darker shade to fit the stereotype that Latin women have dark hair. Either way, Vergara looks gorgeous, and later on in the series, she was able to return to a lighter hair shade.
Craig T. Nelson Was Almost Jay Pritchett
“Coach” actor Craig T. Nelson was originally offered the role of Jay Pritchett, but he claimed that he felt disrespected when he saw what they were going to pay him, so he turned the role down. Fortunately, “Married With Children” actor Ed O’Neill accepted the role and he did a marvelous job for 11 seasons.
Jay Has Been Reading the Same Newspaper For Years
“Modern Family” fans noticed that Ed O’Neill’s character used the same newspaper prop as the character Al Bundy from “Married... with Children.” So, naturally, they joked that O’Neill had been reading the same newspaper for over 30 years.
Stella the Dog Was Switched
Stella was Jay’s most beloved dog, who was played by Brigitte, a French bulldog, during seasons two and three. But the animal acting agency representing Brigitte parted ways with the pooch. So, another dog named Beatrice was hired to take her place on the show.
Julie Bowen Hid Her Pregnancy
Most viewers never realized that Julie Bowen was pregnant when she filmed the pilot of "Modern Family." But anyone interested in rewatching the show from the beginning will notice that her character Claire was constantly hiding behind food products and laundry baskets.
Ed O’Neill Has a Black Belt
On the show, Jay demonstrated his skills in the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu. But in real life, actor Ed O’Neill trained at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in California and he even earned his black belt. That's why he was able to master the moves he showcased on the series without any additional training.
Ariel Winter Underwent Surgery During the Show's Run
Like most teenager girls, Ariel Winter noticed changes in her body as she got older. When "Modern Family" started filming, she was just 11 years old. But by the time she was 15, she was a size F cup. And as time went by, she realized having a big chest was painful and uncomfortable, so when she was 17, she went under the knife to go from a size 32F to a size 34D and relieved herself of some back pain.
Fans Petitioned for Mitch and Cam to Kiss
A Facebook petition called “Let Cam & Mitchell Kiss on Modern Family!,” was launched in 2010. Then, in the fall of that year, viewers got their wish when Cam and Mitchell kissed in the background of a scene, which hadn't yet happened in the first two seasons of the series.
Sofia Vergara Called the Show Out
Sofia Vergara, who is Colombian-born just like her character Gloria, told TIME, “I went to the writers and said, 'We wouldn't do this, Colombians don't dress like that. I cannot blame the writers. You write what you know, and you cannot tell an American writer to write about some other culture and expect that it will be as natural as writing about an American person.” Because she spoke out, her character was written more authentically, which relieved many viewers of the show.
Nolan Gould is Smarter Than Luke Dunphy
Nolan Gould played Luke Dunphy, and while Luke wasn’t the brightest guy in the family, we can't say the same about Gould. It turns out that the actor got his GED when he was only 13 years old and he’s also a member of MENSA with an average IQ score of 150.
Eric Stonestreet is Openly Straight
Fans of the show know that Eric Stonestreet played Cameron Tucker, a flamboyant gay man that's married to his husband Mitchell. So, some people assumed the actor was gay too, including his friend, Bethenny Frankel from “The Real Housewives of New York City.” She initially thought he wasn’t straight when they first met, but soon realized that he was actually straight as an arrow.
Money Brought the Show to an End
“Modern Family” only had 11 seasons, but it could have gone on significantly longer. The only problem was that paying cast members like Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, and Sofia Vergara would have required a pay bump that the studio just couldn’t afford.