Characters: Modern Family
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Claire Dunphy (nee Pritchett)
Played By: Julie Bowen
- Best Woman: She's "Best Person" for Mitch at his wedding to Cam, something she can't resist punning on throughout her speech.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A more rounded and sympathetic version than most.
- Butt Monkey: Considering the way everyone in her family casually fling insults at her, especially her husband, apparently without even noticing, she definitely qualifies. Also ties into The Complainer Is Always Wrong below.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: You can bet that if Claire says something is going to go wrong, her kids and Phil will ignore it. When it does (and it usually does) instead of admitting it and listening to her the next time, you can bet they're just going to complain about how she always think she's right and just ignore like always.
- Cool Big Sis: To Mitchell.
- Daddy's Girl
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Though Jay and Phil have reached some stable ground.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Former Teen Rebel
- Happily Married
- Housewife: She takes on a variety of community projects on the side, and is desperate for a job.
- Mama Bear
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The former in comparison to Phil.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Nightmare Fetishist: Absolutely. The marriage proposal ideas she pitches to Mitchell are nothing short of cruel (yet she finds them romantic).
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: On Halloween.
- Not So Above It All
- Parenting the Husband
- Stacy's Mom:
- Dylan admits directly to her if he weren't dating Haley and Phil were out of the picture, he'd totally do her.
- It also comes up in "Chirp", where it comes up that Dylan had a wet dream involving Haley and Claire. Together.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to Gloria's Girly Girl.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter
- Walking Techbane
- Women Are Wiser: Though being around Phil makes anyone look wiser.
Played By: Sarah Hyland
- All Girls Want Bad Boys
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Sometimes.
- Basement-Dweller: After getting expelled from college. Phil even warns Luke that he needs to apply himself, because they only have the one basement.
- Book Dumb: In contrast to her under-performance in school, Haley has proven to be quite the fast thinker.
- Brainless Beauty
- Bratty Teenage Daughter
- Cool Big Sis: Occasionally. Often in somewhat 'odd' fashion, such as when she carved "Alex Dunphy Do Me" under the bleaches at their school to try and cheer Alex up.
- Daddy's Girl
- Dating What Mommy Hates: And, as of late, Daddy as well.
- Averted with Andy, in that Phil and Claire both greatly approve, but either Haley or Andy can be relied upon to pull back just as something's about to happen between them.
- The Ditz
- Everyone Can See It: Her mutual attraction to Andy. Somewhat Subverted in that they've both got around to admitting how they feel after a fashion, but still aren't together due to various self-imposed obstacles, and continue to deny they feel anything more than friendship toward one another when asked by anyone else.
- Also, they are the only ones who seem oblivious to the fact that they're basically a Generation Xerox of Claire and Phil.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Foolish one to Alex.
- Future Loser: Haley is the butt of a lot of jokes that involve this.
- Generation Xerox: It's brought up that Haley acts just like Claire did when she was teenager. Comes full circle in season 5 where Haley develops feelings for Andy, who is exactly as dorky as Phil.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Alex. Haley is the pretty one, Alex the smart one.
- Hidden Depths: In "See You Next Fall", Haley talks Alex out of her mean-spirited middle-school graduation speech by admitting that she is actually very anxious about whether she'll graduate from high school with her own class or not.
- Although not as clever as her younger sister, Haley does have flashes of brilliance.
- Haley shows a talent for photography.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!
- It's All About Me
- Lethal Chef: When Haley tries to make cupcakes for school they turn out impossibly inedible.
Claire: Where's the number for poison control?
Luke: Mom? My mouth's asleep, like at the dentist.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Alex's Tomboy.
- What Big Beautiful Eyes
- Will They or Won't They?: With Andy.
- Women Drivers: Haley is a completely incompetent driver when she first gets her learner's permit. At one point she ends up driving through a park.
- Brainy Brunette
- Deadpan Snarker
- Determinator: In "Someone To Watch Over Lily", Alex reveals that she hates playing cello but continues to do so because she's never quit anything in her life.
- Extracurricular Enthusiast: She plays the cello, plays lacrosse, and has participated in a bottle-collection program to help build schools in third-world countries. Note that she doesn't do all this because she loves all the activities, but rather to pad her resume for when she has to apply for colleges.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible one to Haley.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: with Haley. Alex is the smart one; Haley is the pretty one.
- Hidden Depths: "Best Men" reveals, much to Claire and Haley's surprise, that her band in which she plays cello is more alt rock rather than classical and that Alex can sing.
- Hollywood Nerd: Type II obviously.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation
- Insufferable Genius
- Jerkass: At times. See Insufferable Genius above.
- Little Miss Snarker
- Nerds Are Sexy: She gets her fair share of attention from boys. When Haley first sees her fanclub of the nerdy boys, Alex smiles and tells her "You have your fans, I have mine. Someday, yours will be working for mine."
- Not So Above It All: Case in point, she once tried to pass off as a medical student and passed out after seeing a C-section.
- Only Sane Man: Alex sometimes acts like this.
- Running Gag: Alex fainting at the sight of blood.
- Shaking Her Hair Loose: In "After the Fire", Alex undoes her ponytail and shakes her hair loose in front of a group of nerds who have crushes on her before she stops them from bullying Luke and Manny.
- She Cleans Up Nicely
- Stepford Snarker: Her mother tells Cam and Mitchell that Alex may be sarcastic on the outside, inside she's a "fragile little girl".
- Surrounded by Idiots: Frequently.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to Haley's Girly Girl.
- Tomboyish Name: Everyone calls her "Alex" which is short for Alexandra.
- Troll: particularly in season 1, and particularly towards Haley
Played By: Nolan Gould
- Badass Grandpa: You do not pull a fast one on Jay.
- Brutal Honesty
- Cool Old Guy
- Catchphrase: "Of course you did.", "And we're back."
- Also, "Ah, jeez", usually coupled with him visibly slumping.
- Character Development: he grows more comfortable around Manny, Cam, and Phil as the series goes along
- Deadpan Snarker: Just like the first character that made Ed O'Neill famous: Al Bundy (though Jay isn't as sarcastic as Al was. Probably because he's not married to someone as irritating as Peg, and Jay is much more successful in life than Al was.)
- Happily Married
- Hidden Depths: At first he seems like your stereotypical good ol' boy - loves football and lots of macho. But over the seasons, it's revealed he's more of a pragmatic intellectual and shows interests in astronomy, history, model building, and foreign culture among other things. Though the latter one should be self-evident given who he's married to.
- Also, while it may seem that he is with Gloria for her looks, it is very quickly revealed that while he's attracted to her physically, it is most definitely her personality that he is interested in.
- His relationship with Cam is equally deep - he seems pretty comfortable confiding things he literally will not tell anyone else with Cam.
- Jerk With A Heart of Gold: See Hidden Depths above.
- May-December Romance: Jay, who's in his 60's, and Gloria, who's in her 30's.
- Only Sane Man: In his immediate and very Colombian family. Also occasionally his extended family.
- Papa Wolf
- Parental Substitute: For Manny in some ways given how flaky and unsavory Manny's real father is. Sees more development in season 6 where he outright calls Manny 'his kid' and 'his son' to other people; for those who haven't seen him in a while, they assume they mean Mitchell.
- Pet the Dog: Literally. He loves dogs.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: With Gloria.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Manly Man to Phil's Sensitive Guy. Amusingly at times, the relationship between Jay and Gloria veers into Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy.
(to Manny) Jay: (Gloria) isn't sensitive like you and me. She wouldn't get it!
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: To be fair, Jay is in his 60's...but no denying Gloria's actress Sofia Vergara is smokin' hot.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: To her step-children, Claire and Mitchell.
- She is actually younger than Claire, as a few characters love to remind Claire.
- Badass: She knows how to handle a gun.
- Beware the Nice Ones: One of the most kind-hearted adults in the show... and you'd be wise not to anger her.
- The Brainless Beauty: Heavily inverted by Gloria, who initially comes across as this but is actually smart, spirited, and very sweet.
- Captain Obvious
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gloria occasionally falls into this territory and is revealed to be much tougher than she initially appears.
- Cute but Cacophonic: Gorgeous as she is, Gloria cannot carry a tune and a neighbor mistook her shouting for a parrot's.
- Gangsta Style
- Gold Digger: Subverted with Gloria but who is actually a very nice person who genuinely loves Jay. She is assumed to be this occasionally, but in reality she is with Jay because she loves him, not for his money.
- Hair-Trigger Temper
- Happily Married: To Jay.
- Hidden Depths: Is a damn good chess player, possibly even better than Manny.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Gloria's a crack shot with a pistol.
*Gloria fires a bb gun in Manny's direction*
Manny: Hey! You could have hit me!
Gloria: Oh please. At this distance, I could have unbuttoned your shirt if I wanted to!
- Innocently Insensitive: When Mitchell and Cam name her and Jay as Lily's new guardians - should something horrible happen to them - Gloria gets so excited by the prospect that she gleefully picks up "Liliana" and squeals that when something horrible happens to them, Lily is going to be all hers.
- Large Ham
- Mama Bear
- May-December Romance: With Jay, a man 20 years her senior.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Multi-Ethnic Name: Gains one upon her marriage to Jay, especially when she uses her former married name (Delgado) as her middle name.
- No Indoor Voice: She basically shouts a lullaby at Lily in one episode.
- Parental Substitute: Acts as a motherly figure to Lily.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The latter in relation to Jay.
- Spicy Latina
- Stacy's Mom: "Send Out the Clowns" made it official for Gloria, as Manny's new "friend" was only interested in her.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Claire's Tomboy, though Gloria occasionally shows signs of being a closeted tomboy.
- Trophy Wife: Unlike the typical example however, she and Jay really do love each other. When she finds out that Jay is dragging her to a weekend with all his old friends to specifically show her off, she goes from furious to determined to get there.
- Tsundere: Normally a dere, but the tsun side is never far behind.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
- Why Did It Have To Be Helicopters?: Gloria is terrified of the, how do you say in English the takatakatakataka.
- Women Drivers
Played By: Rico Rodriguez
- Adorably Precocious Child: Though admittedly the "precocious" part does bother the adults and doesn't earn him a ton of friends.
- Big Brother Instinct: Lectures his parents on not arguing will cause harm to Joe, when Gloria is still pregnant with him. After Joe is born, Manny didn't like how Claire was drinking while watching his baby brother and stated as such.
- Casanova Wannabe
- Creepy Uncle: Sort of. He had a crush on Haley, who is technically his niece. Of course, they're only related by marriage, close to the same age, and did not grow up together so how creepy Manny is will vary. It's also largely worn off as Manny's expressed interest in many other girls.
- The Dandy
- Fat and Skinny: The Fat to Luke's Skinny.
- In Love with Love
- Intelligence Equals Isolation
- In Touch with His Feminine Side
- Ironic Name: Perhaps unintentionally, but his last name means "skinny" or "thin" in Spanish. Although the actor has lost weight in recent years, he is still the "Fat" to Luke's "Skinny" as seen above.
- Momma's Boy
- No Social Skills
- Parental Substitute: The fact that Jay is more of a father to Manny than Manny's biological father has always been a plot point, though not always acknowledged or expressed by Manny. By season 6 though, it's pretty clear that Manny openly considers Jay his father-figure and has opened up to Jay as both friend and parent.
- Princely Young Man: Carries himself as such despite a poor upbringing.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Sensitive Guy to Luke's Manly Man.
- Serial Romeo
- Smart People Play Chess
- Trademark Favorite Food: Likes coffee a lot.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Many people are weirded out by how adult he acts
- Why Did It Have To Be Butterflies?: Snakes are to Indiana Jones as butterflies are Manny Delgado.
- Wise Beyond Their Years
Fulgencio Joseph Pritchett
Played By: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
- Badass Beard
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer
- The Comically Serious
- Daddy Issues: A recurring conflict between Jay and Mitchell is that Jay was never one to be openly affectionate during Mitchell's childhood, which made Mitchell's coming-out particularly uncomfortable. Ironically, a lot of the issues came about because Mitchell was so concerned about Jay's reaction and thus was/is very defensive about his sexuality - various episodes have shown that while Jay might not have been immediately comfortable, he certainly would not have anything more drastic than snark and squirm a little.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Fat and Skinny: A couple example. The Skinny to Cam's Fat.
- Happily Married: Initially Averted, in that while he and Cam were as happy as the other two couples on the show they couldn't legally marry. Played Straight as of the Season 5 finale.
- Hates Being Touched
- Hates Small Talk
- Hello, Attorney!: An environmental lawyer.
- He's Got Legs: Invoked in Starry Night, wherein Mitchell gets sprayed by a skunk while on an outing with Jay and Manny. The only thing available for him to change into is a dress Gloria bought and left in Jay's car, which prompts Jay to compliment his son's legs and say he'd do okay as a cross-dresser if he were "that type of gay".
- House Husband: Tries being one for a few episodes after quitting his original job to spend more time with Lily, during which time Cam goes back to work. Subverted in that it turns out they both hate this arrangement, and he gets a new job very quickly.
- Momma's Boy: Tends to get along marginally better with his mom.
- Neat Freak: Exploited. Cam sometimes leaves the house a mess (not cleaning it up), and knows that Mitchell will feel like he needs to clean it and will do so.
- Papa Wolf
- Red-Headed Hero
- Running Gag: Freaks out when near birds
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Depends. Mitch is the Manly Man because he's more Straight Gay and is the "stricter" father. However, he could be the Sensitive Guy due to him not being not as skilled in "manly things" like Cam is.
- Straight Gay: More than Cameron, at least, although he isn't particularly masculine either.
- Ugly Guy Hot Partner: With Cam.
- Waistcoat of Style
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Shows shades of this in some episodes with Mitchell wanting to earn his father's admiration and approval.
- Why Did It Have To Be Birds?
Played By: Eric Stonestreet
- Action Dad: Despite Cameron being overly dramatic and somewhat effeminate, when he thinks there's a stranger in Baby Lily's room he jumps out of bed, grabs a baseball bat, and charges in with a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
- All Gays Love Theater
- Badass Gay: In one episode, when he thought there was a stranger in Lily's room, he jumped out of bed, grabbed a bat, said "It's go time" with a Serious Business look on his face, and charged in ready to KILL whoever was in there (fortunately, no one was). In another episode, when Mitch almost gets into a fight with a rude Jerkass at a gas station, Cam gets out of the car and tells the guy he will "slam [his] head into that bumper so hard the airbag will deploy" if he didn't apologize. The guy apologized with genuine fear in his eyes. (Also, Cam was dressed up as Fizbo the clown during this scene, which just makes it more awesome somehow.)
- In one episode, he gets so pissed off over his extended family being good friends with Mitchell's ex, Teddy, that he punches a punching bag arcade game hard enough to set a record.
- Breakout Character: Cameron is the most popular character in the show. The fans just can't get enough of him.
- Camp Gay: Hoo boy.
- Chick Magnet: Before coming out, he apparently caught the attention of quite a few girls, as he likes to brag about.
- Also attempts this on a bet with Mitchell and Crispin - though, with his extremely camp personality and mannerisms, the girl he was hitting on knew he was gay all along, despite his beliefs to the contrary. She just wanted a gay best friend.
- Cleans Up Nicely: For all the jokes about his weight, it's acknowledged in-universe in Season 4 (by Jay, no less!) that Cam looks great after he rejoins his gym and finds the confidence to start wearing fitted suits. Though in Jay's case, he played football and knew Cam use to be a football linemen and thus actually has a better idea of what a muscular man looks like compared to someone working out for appearances.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
- Deadpan Snarker
- The Ditz
- Drama Queen: Sweet Jesus, yes.
- Farm Boy: A Missouri boy, and proud of it.
- Fat and Skinny: A couple example. The Fat to Mitch's Skinny.
- Happily Married: Initially Averted, in that while he and Mitchell were as happy as the other two couples on the show they couldn't legally marry. Played Straight as of the Season 5 finale.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Physically strong and made of awesome, he is partnered and married (later) to redheaded Mitchell.
- House Husband: Has been one for most of the series' run, although he was a music teacher before adopting Lily, a job which he eventually returns to (this time at Luke and Manny's school) once she starts kindergarten. He also briefly worked in a greeting card shop while Mitchell was unemployed. Later, he becomes the high school football coach to which he takes to quite well as it's one of his other great loves.
- Large Ham
- Magical Queer: Played with in Cameron's urge to solve anyone's personal problem that he might stumble across (to the point of hosting a wedding).
- Momma's Boy
- Overprotective Dad: Threatened to harm a kindergarten-age boy for pulling on Lily's hair.
- Papa Wolf: "It's go time."
- Performance Artist: To some extent.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Depends. Cam is the Sensitive Guy because he's been described as being more "momish" and he does tend to spoil Lily. However he could be the Manly Man because he does have more skill in "manly" things than Mitchell.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Generally when Lily is in trouble. He is actually mistaken for Mitchell's panicking wife on the phone when Lily is trapped in a car.
- Stout Strength: Can't relate to Mitchell's memories of being picked last in gym class, as a young man he once threw a dodgeball through plywood and broke it.
- Ugly Guy Hot Partner: With Mitch.
Lily Tucker-Pritchett note
Played By: Jaden and Ella Hiller (Seasons 1-2), Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Season 3-present)
- Berserk Button: For a while, any mention of her potential new adopted sibling. "Kill the baby!"
- Cool Big Sis: Both Haley and Alex are this to Lily, which is funny because they're both 10x better sister figures to their adopted cousin than they are to their own younger brother.
- Daddy's Girl: Played with. It's pretty obvious that Cam is all but rearing her up to be one.
- Granddaddy's Girl: Potentially with Jay since it's been shown the two of them are pretty close.
- Deadpan Snarker: Now that she can talk
- A Girl And Her Cat: Becomes very fond of pet cat, Larry.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Lily's Bunny. She keeps her dads up all night crying when he gets lost on the LA Subway in "Planes, Trains and Cars".
- Has Two Daddies: And loves to invoke this trope word-for-word.
- Hidden Depths: Despite Lily's catty attitude, she has shown to be a lot more selfless than what one may think.
- Jerk Ass: Has become incredibly blunt and/or catty as she gets older. Though one episode suggests she gets at least some of it from Claire and likely, Jay who is particularly close to his granddaughter and vice versa.
- A lot of it could also be that she is still very young and may not understand what things are rude to say to someone directly.
- She also seems to mostly snark at people older than herself. In one episode when she's at a gymnastics competition, she hugs another gymnast who just fell off the balance beam and helps her her readjust her hair, which was too tight and was throwing her off.
- Karma Houdini: Although she's generally a pretty well-behaved and non-destructive kid (particularly for a 5-year-old who is obviously spoiled), Lily gets away with a lot of snark and disrespectful attitude towards adults. Part of this is that her dads are of the hyper-progressive coddling variety, and the other part is that her pinpoint snark accuracy and timing is so impressive most of the time that the adults are left speechless in her wake.
- Like A Daughter To Me: Gloria considers Lily to be her daughter' she's even Lily's godmother and the one who Lily's dads turn to when Lily has questions about "girly things" that her fathers are a bit embarrassed to answer.
- Like Father Like Daughter: Both her dads are apparently terrified of spiders in the house. As a result, when she thinks they're about to ask her to kill a spider, she basically mimics Cam's "It's go time" moment, complete with grabbing a rolled up magazine..
- Only Sane Man: Even though she's much younger, Lily appears to realize how insane everyone else in her adopted extended family is.
- Precocious Crush: Developed a crush on Manny, her uncle.
- Silent Snarker: Though it's now headed to Little Miss Snarker territory now that she can speak.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Luke begins to see Lily as this, as does Mitch and Cam's best friend and "first child", Sal. In turn, it's implied she's beginning to feel this way about Fulgencio-Joe.
Played by: Reid Ewing
Played by: Rob Riggle
- Jerkass: He'll do anything to upstage and embarrass Phil.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: He even offers Claire a job just so he can constantly call Phil and torture him with sexual innuendo about her in front of their son.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A rival real estate agent to Phil. Every time someone steals a house out from under him or outsells him at work or embarrasses him, it's Gil Thorpe.
Played by: Nathan Lane
- Adam Westing: His character is basically Nathan Lane
- Camp Gay: Even more than Cam.
'Mitchell: But it said No presents please.
'Cam: Say it like Pepper would say it.
'Mitchell: (beat) Oh. [[Note: It'd sound more like (sarcastic) No presents? Please! :P]]
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Downplayed. Mitch and Cam do like Pepper, but they make up excuses to avoid his parties. It's implied they aren't the only ones, though Cam and Mitchell's reasons for not wanting to go is because it's a big hassle to dress up in costumes and whatnot.
- Odd Friendship: With Jay
- Punny Name
- Who Names Their Kid Pepper Saltsman?: Even Gloria points out what a weird name "Pepper" is. Also unintentionally lampshaded by Cam:
Cam: (comforting an upset Pepper) You are NOT a joke! You are Pepper Saltsman!
Played by: Adam DeVine
- Dogged Nice Guy: To his own girlfriend, Beth, who seems at best indifferent to him. Actually Averted with Haley, in that she's pretty quick to realize she'd be lucky to have him if he weren't with Beth.
- Generation Xerox: Though he's not actually related to the family, he's gearing up to be Phil to Haley's Claire, to the point of becoming Phil's assistant in the hopes of becoming a real estate agent.
- Genius Ditz: He seems like a pure ditz, but he's actually very competent at most things he turns his hand to.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Appropriately, since he works in childcare, he barely ever swears. It also helps emphasize his resemblance to Phil.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Meets the family when Gloria hires him to be Joe's nanny. He's way better at his job than any of the female candidates.
- Insistent Terminology: Prefers "manny" to "male nanny", but admits that this causes a problem in a household where his charge's older brother is actually named Manny. He finally settles on "bro-pair".
- Nice Guy
- Will They or Won't They?: With Haley.