* AcceptableTargets: Colombians get an interesting treatment. On one hand, Gloria is one of the most sympathetic and positively-portrayed characters on the show. On the other, all Colombians know how to spot a fake crime scene and smuggle illegal goods onto an airplane.
** Gloria lampshades this by saying "What are we, Peruvians?"
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: Manny: Sensitive young man who is mature beyond his years, or creepy burgeoning "Nice Guy" (i.e. guy who thinks being "nice" entitles him to reciprocal affection from girls way out of his league) who's been poisoned by years of his mother telling him he's special?
** Well, he does wear a fedora...
* CargoShip: Played with hilariously InUniverse with Jay and Barkley, the dog butler.
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzKtgPXS7PE In the Moonlight]]"
** Cameron singing ''Ave Maria'' whilst Mitchell simultaneously attempts to kick a pigeon's ass in slow motion.
** In the Season 5 episode "The Late Show", we see two scenes where they sing ''Midnight Train to Georgia'' by Gladys Knight and the Pips, one with the kids and the other with the adults at the end.
* DoubleStandard: There's little mention of Phil lusting after Gloria compared to Manny lusting after Haley despite being essentially similar circumstances.
* EarWorm: "In the Moonlight" is so catchy, even Haley's grandpa ends up singing about how much Dylan wants to do her.
** Phil getting autotuned.
--> "I, like a lot of men in this town, enjoy making love to my wife-ife."
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Stella, Jay's adorable pet dog.
* FanDumb: The amount of hate the new Lily gets on various Internet forums for her acting abilities and interpretation of the character can come across as this. Especially when you consider that these are grown adults talking about ''a child who was four years old'' when she started (and is still only six now).
** If anything, Aubrey's line delivery has gotten better as she's gotten older, and she has a way of making her lines come off hilarious even if she doesn't sound very realistic. Honestly, in a comedy, which would you prefer? Funny or realistic?
* FridgeLogic: Mitchell deliberately left Cameron's last name off of Lily's birth record, instead of giving her a hyphenated name as they'd discussed. His explanation was that he was afraid that Cameron might leave him and Lily after deciding that he couldn't handle parenthood -- his name would only serve to remind Mitchell of Cameron's abandonment. This doesn't make any sense. If Cameron had walked out on Mitchell while Lily was a baby, Mitchell could have had Lily's name changed.
*** It's difficult to change a legal name, so he would have to face that loss through the whole legal ordeal. Plus, if Lily was older (like, in school/aware of her name) it can be confusing an awkward for the child to do so (hence why a lot of kids have different last names than their divorced parent, even if they only live with that parent).
** Jay reveals that he met Gloria when she and her sister were in a bar together. Except that sister has been spending the whole episode acting like she's never left her village in Colombia and has no concept of what America is like.
*** Maybe the Bar was in Columbia
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: The fourth-season episode "Arrested" has a brief scene almost near the end when Haley returns to her room after being expelled from college six weeks into her freshman year. Alex sweetly tells her how happy she is that Haley's home again, a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming that doesn't last as they almost immediately start feuding again. Within a week of that episode airing, it was disclosed that Ariel Winter, who plays Alex, had been removed from her mother's custody due to emotional and physical abuse and was now living with ... her own older sister.
** The very next episode, "Mistery Date," had a scene where Alex, after washing out of a Brain Bowl-type event unusually early, accuses her mother of trying to live through her. Again, a little hard to watch given what was really going on in the actress's life.
** An episode with a joke about {{The Monkees}} aired the very day that Davy Jones died.
** Later, a joke about Branson, Missouri aired the day after the death of Andy Williams, one of Branson's biggest attractions.
* HarsherInHindsight: In-universe. Phil and his father Frank's jokes to explain [[TheGhost Phil's mother's]] absence from web-cam chats and family visits ("She's sinking fast... in the tub, of course!") take on a much darker tone [[spoiler: once she dies prior to the Season 4 finale, with Claire describing her death as "sudden, but not entirely unexpected". The knowledge that she's been ill for a long time can make it hard to re-watch some of those jocular conversations, knowing it's actually their way of dealing with the declining health of their wife and mother rather than just their usual brand of silly humour.]]
* IronyAsSheIsCast: Luke is a young teen of below average intelligence, albeit with occasional flashes of brilliance. His actor is a member of MENSA and graduated high school at 13.
* NightmareFuel: Barkley the dog butler manequinn, who through a series of coincidences appears to be seducing and eventually marrying Jay. Gloria calls it [[{{Satan}} "el diablo."]]
** The Dunphy's house on halloween.
* OlderThanTheyLook: Some fans complain that Haley looks far too young to realistically come off as a 16 (now 17-18) year old. The actress who plays her, Sarah Hyland, is over ''20'' years old.
* OneSceneWonder: Stephen Merchant as the Vegas bellhop.
* {{Squick}}: See the EarWorm entry.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot: Claire running for city council in season three. It has a very promising start, complete with getting David Cross to play the incumbent she's running against...and then we barely hear anything about it until the actual election day episode, in which Cross doesn't even appear.
** And incredibly, some fans accused the show of devoting ''too much attention'' to that plot.
* UnfortunateImplications: Claire's old friend from work is a hard-working top executive... who has no family or intimate relationships beyond a set of lovers across the world. Valerie pities Claire/Claire envies Valerie.
** Until about halfway through the episode, Claire thought the dynamic was the reverse. She's devastated by the epiphany that Valerie pitied her.
** One episode plays AllPeriodsArePMS absolutely straight, on a level that's quite shocking for the time.
** The relationships between Jay and his brother, or Gloria and her sister. Jay has a relationship of insult and physical dominance with his brother ('so when he calls, my butt pops up! to say he's an ass!'), and Gloria has a relationship of verbal anger (as Manny states, "I understood 'crazy old witch', 'go kill yourself', then 'I love you'".) Both Jay and Gloria have aggressive but loving relationships with their siblings, but neither seem to understand the way their spouse behaves toward their brother/sister.