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    Season One 

  • The family being introduced to Lily in the pilot.
  • The fact that Jay and Cam have a tradition to watch football, putting aside Jay's issue's with Mitch being gay.
  • Jay spends the whole second episode being unfavorably compared to Manny's clearly unsavory biological father. At the end, he pays for a limo to take the family to Disneyland, but convinces Manny his father sent it so he won't know the man flaked on him again.
    • Even better, the limo was the one he already paid for for his and Gloria's trip.
  • Claire and Phil's "wedding" on the Hawaii vacation.
  • Dylan giving a passionate speech about how great Haley's family is because they've made her who she is, by giving her "the kind of confidence you get from having a family like this, that's accepting of hot foreigners and gay dudes and nutty people." Which he immediately ruins by performing a song he wrote for Haley about how "I just wanna do you, do you, maybe that will heal you, heal you ... on the insiiiiiide."
  • Haley teaching Claire how to use the TV remote.
  • The whole family jumping into the pool.
  • The family having a mud fight and getting the best possible family photos.
  • Phil:
    “Everyone’s afraid of something, right? Heights, clowns, tight spaces. Those are things you get over. But then there’s our children. Will they fit in? Will they be safe? Those are fears you never get past. So sometimes all you can do is take a breath, pull ‘em close and hope for the best. I mean, things don’t always work out, but you gotta love it when they do.”
  • Claire letting Phil win the race, because, as she says,
    Claire: The first day is tough on all my kids, especially the one I married.
  • Mitch and Claire admitting to each other that they love their “clowns”- Cam and Phil.
  • Alex was willing to take the blame for smoking so that the family could still celebrate Christmas.
  • Mitch and Jay hugging.
  • Mitch’s advice to Manny:
    Mitch: For years and years, everyone’s desperately afraid to be diffrrent, you know, in any way. Then suddenly, almost overnight, everyone wants to be different, and that is where we win.
  • Mitchell quitting his job when given an ultimatum by his jerk boss. "If Lily can stand up, so can I."

    Season Two 

  • In "Someone To Watch Over Lily", Cameron announcing that Jay and Gloria would be Lily's Godparents, if anything happened to him and Mitchell.
    • Gloria's utter happiness over having a daughter is Played for Laughs, but it's still a great moment.
  • After Manny stops talking to him for firing a worker he likes, Jay tells him he can handle the screwing around of his employee, but not when it puts "his kid" in danger. Manny picks up on this and starts talking to him again.
    • All three subplot endings in that episode are very sweet; there's also Claire letting Phil know he doesn't have to cover up his work troubles or feel less manly because of them, and Cameron rescues Lily from a racist commercial.
      • The second briefly becomes a Funny Moment when Cam tells the commercial crew off for treating the babies like interchangeable racial stereotypes (Lily's Vietnamese, and the commercial was a Godzilla parody with bad Japanese accents)... and proceeds to accidentally pick up the little Asian boy sitting next to Lily instead.
    • Even Haley's misplaced pride that she fixed her mom and dad's relationship was really sweet. And in The Stinger she threatens the pizza guy that he shouldn't come around anymore after mistakenly thinking her mom has a crush on him.
  • Mitchell being willing to immediately shave off his beard because Cam said he didn't like it, followed by a tender moment where Cam reassures Mitchell that he actually does like his beard and tells him not to get rid of it.
  • Luke's reason for picking Phil to stay with if he and Claire ever got divorced. Claire assumed it was because she wasn't as fun but it was really because Phil would need him more.
  • Cam accepting that Mitchell might have a son, complete with the Meaningful Echo of "I need to have my reaction."
  • The Dunphy kids, recovering from walking in on their parents having sex, realize that at least it means Phil and Claire still love each other.
  • Claire blows up at Phil for always ignoring her suggestions. After finally learning what she's angry about, Phil brings out some pictures when they were first dating to show her what a loser he was, and all the ways she's changed him for the better.
  • Jay tearing up on telling a story about his mother standing up to his little league coach as a kid, and then the whole ending scene where his emotional outburst prompts everyone to put aside all the bad feelings that have built up over the day.
    • Even more so that Cam runs around the table to hug Jay, and Jay is not at all bothered.
  • Cam finds out that Mitchell had worried about him freaking out over being a parent, and leaving Mitchell and Lily. Mitchell makes it up to him by reading his own rough draft of Cam's idea for a story about adoption to help Lily acclimate to the idea, after which Lily claps when she hears the word, just like Cam's been trying to get her to do.
  • Jay meets Mitchell's other gay friends for the first time, and contrary to Mitchell's fears he fits in perfectly and the whole group has a blast. Several of them show up in later episodes where it's shown that Jay wasn't just being nice. He actually does like 'em.
  • Jay and Gloria find themselves saddled with a dog, which Manny instantly falls in love with. Jay says "no", drives the dog away to get rid of her...only to break at the last minute, bring her home, and place her in Manny's arms. Come next season... Jay's really attached to Stella as much as Manny is.
  • Mitchell's explanation of his participation in the flash mob: "This dance is my love letter to Cam."
  • Phil takes every chance he gets to hold or grope Gloria up until "The One That Got Away", where he finally realizes how lucky he is to have Claire and catches her from falling into the pool instead of Gloria.
  • Alex loses her shot at becoming popular, initially Played for Laughs, and ends the episode tearfully lamenting that she has no friends. Clare and Phil immediately and almost wordlessly know exactly how to comfort her.
  • Alex, originally planning to give a rather degrading speech to her class in her middle school graduation, changes it at the last minute after Haley confesses her anxieties about doing well in school and, perhaps for the first time on the show, (in a way) genuinely compliments Alex.


    Season Three 

  • Mitchell getting over his anxiety about raising a boy after blowing up a birdhouse.
  • When the family comes home only to find Phil tightrope walking above the front lawn, and the following speech from Claire about how Phil had taught the entire family a life lesson without saying a single word.
  • Phil making friends with his neighbor, after they hadn't met for years.
  • "There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You think the dreamers would find the dreamers and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not, the opposite is true. You see, the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun, and the realists? Well, without the dreamers, they might never get off the ground."
    • To clarify, this comes from Cam, who has spent the whole episode trying to convince Mitchell (and later, Jay and Claire as well) that a story about he and his friends chucking a pumpkin across a football field actually happened, and gives this speech over a montage where the entire family tries to replicate it.
  • Jay arranging for the Dunphys' front yard to be covered with snow on the last day they can all be together until after Christmas.
  • Jay on being upset when Manny's biological father stops by and interrupts things: "Manny and I, we got our own thing. I mean, I know I'm not his real dad... I guess I just don't like the reminder."
    • Also in the same episode, where Javier calls Jay out on not liking him, Jay points out that his reasons aren't due to Javier being Gloria's former husband, or even Manny's father — it's because of the way he constantly flakes out on Manny, and he doesn't like seeing his stepson that badly hurt and disappointed all the time.
  • Cam and Gloria spend an episode getting on each other's nerves over their attempts to "correct" each other's lives, but then realize that it's all due to their own insecurities, and get over it, resulting in them both making dinner in perfect sync, almost like a dance.
  • At the Disneyland episode, Luke promising a sick Phil that they'll always have fun together even after Phil enters old age.
    • The finale of that episode, when it's revealed that Jay, after being inspired by "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," still stuck around for Claire and Mitchell when they were kids, even when he knew that his first marriage was a disaster.
  • Phil is shell-shocked after learning that Haley had sex with Dylan, but this actually allows him to give the perfect response to it, followed by Haley tearfully saying in a confessional "I have a cool dad."
    • Doubly so, because although Phil wanted to be open about how supportive he was of her decision, he was having trouble expressing his feelings and initially thought he blew it.
  • Jay and Cam's dad bonding over their sons' sexuality. Not because they didn't approve but quite the contrary — they bonded over the fact that they often had no idea how to handle the situation yet still wanted to support their sons. In fact, their initial dislike of each other was actually Papa Wolf mentality because they felt the other treated their son like a lesser one in the marriage.
  • One episode has Stella constantly jumping into the pool. At one point, Gloria is the only one there to see it, and she tries to stop Stella from jumping by trying to persuade her that she doesn't hate her. And when Stella jumps in anyway, Gloria only hesitates for two seconds before jumping in to save her. This is heartwarming for two reasons, depending on how you interpret the scene:
    • Gloria, despite all of her complaining, really does love Stella, or
    • Gloria really doesn't like Stella, but knows that Jay adores her, so is willing to put aside her own dislike of the dog for her husband's happiness.
  • Although it's played for laughs, when Phil, Claire, Cam and Mitch get drunk and Claire offers her egg for surrogacy, Phil is very heartfelt about wanting a baby that was like Mitchell and Cameron, and Claire talks ecstatically about being able to see the best of both her and Phil in her children.
  • When Phil's former co-workers leave the company and ask him to partner with them, Phil asks Jay for advice. Jay flat-out tells Phil that he is a great father and businessman, and encourages him to take the chance. Not only is this a big deal for Jay, but he'd previously spent the entire episode trying to avoid Phil after accidentally blurting out "I love you."
  • Lily talking about one of her male toys having a boyfriend.
    • The synchronize "AWWW" of her fathers only made the scene all the more heartwarming.
  • Lily not wanting to go onstage for her dance recital unless her grandpa Jay danced with her. Which he does.
    Mitch: I think I'm lying on a rock...
    Cameron: I'm lying next to my rock.
    • Finally getting to see Jay and Manny getting quiet one-on-one time doing father-son things. They plan out a whole day... making a model airplane together. And when they end up having to take care of Lily, they team up to do that together pretty well too. Not to mention the nice short scene of Jay, Manny, and Lily as grandfather, son, and granddaughter that includes some nice comedic and general chemistry between all three.
    • Luke hid Haley's acceptance letter because he didn't want her to leave home.
  • Phil's attempts to have a memorable day with Alex, culminating in writing her initials on a diner's moon sign, in homage to Eugene Cernan.

    Season Four 

  • Jay's reaction to Gloria's pregnancy.
    Jay That’s the greatest news I’ve ever heard! ... I get to have a new start with the woman of my dreams. I think I’m gonna cry!
  • Haley's leaving for college; she and Alex share a genuine hug and helpful advice (in their own way), and Luke has to wear a robot mask so that he wouldn't tear up when Haley leaves (which he does, anyway).
    • Haley calling her parents during her first night in college, while wearing the shirt with a picture of her as a little girl that she was horribly embarrassed by earlier.
  • Claire, after having a particularly rough day, overhears Alex and Haley's webcam conversation where Alex admits that Claire did her a favor by shaving her goth classmate's hair off, and Haley admits she misses Claire. Then Luke, after being embarrassed by her and scolding her earlier at school, apologetically hands her a rose without another word.
  • At New Year's Eve with both their parents away on a trip, Haley and Alex are shocked when Luke brings a girl over so that they can make out in his room. Not prepared to deal with their younger brother going through puberty they initially don't know what to do about this situation. They get Luke's date to leave by threatening to tell her parents which angers Luke. At midnight Haley and Alex look at Luke sleeping in his bed, toasting each other as they lament him growing up and wishing he would stay their "stupid little brother" forever.
  • Haley giving Phil a surprise hug when she overhears his speech about how he loves her too much to let her leave to spend the night with that older guy she works with.
  • Phil blowing off a meeting to go watch Luke sing the title role in "Phantom of the Opera", after seeing Mitchell make up with Jay at the golf course and hearing "Cats in the Cradle" for the first time ever ... and being surprised pleasantly when his own father shows up to see him for the first time in three seasons.
    • Nope. Same reasons as before, but Luke singing was a surprise. Phil blew off the meeting to see the scenery Luke painted. Your Mileage SHOULD NOT Vary about whether Phil's original reason was more heartwarming.
      • Even more heartwarming is that Frank drove all the way from Florida just to see the scenery Luke painted.
  • Alex admitting to Haley that her sister is actually pretty smart, after which they hug, in "My Hero."
    • The reason for telling her that is fairly heartwarming in its own right. Haley had been trying to get Alex to be more self confident around boys and teaching her how to act to get a guy's attention, and they had met a pair of guys they had been talking and playing games with. After losing to the girls, one of the boys mentions feeling "un-masculated" at which point Haley decides to leave with Alex. When Alex asks if she did something wrong or if the guy didn't like her, Haley tells her she did nothing wrong and the guy was totally into her...but that she can do better than a guy who feels emasculated (emphasizing the "e") at losing to her.
    • Jay confiding in Cam about how although Jay liked Mitchell's ex, he didn't like them together because it made Mitchell a bad person to be around. And that that's one reason he really likes Cam — because Cam makes Mitchell happy. Though Jay didn't know it, Cam really needed that reassurance at the time.
  • After Phil gets loaned an RV, the Dunphys take it for a test drive as Phil toys with the idea of them going up to Yellowstone in it that summer. After a fight causes Phil to storm out of the RV, disappointed at the idea's apparent failure, the others feel awful and sit down, leading to the kids confessing secrets that they've been hiding (Luke is failing a class, Alex is having boy trouble and Haley had a bad audition for a job), realizing that actually, the RV might be exactly what they need. And then they all learn Haley's dance routine together.
  • Lily is in a gymnastics competition, and Mitchell is worried that he's getting competitive about it in an ugly way and doesn't want to pass it on to Lily. His fears turn out to be unwarranted when, after Lily's main rival for the gold medal falls off the balance beam, she runs over and gives her a big hug, before helping her adjust her hair, which was too tight and distracting because it hurt. For all their family's unconventional ways and Lily's cattiness, Cam and Mitchell are raising her right.
  • In one episode, Jay and Gloria think the other families aren't inviting them to game nights and that everyone else (including Pepper) is mocking them behind their backs. Jay seems particularly saddened at the idea that Pepper might be ripping on him when he's not around.
  • Phil reminiscing about what a good mother his mom was (to the woman she wanted to set his dad up with, no less) and Alex's note from her grandmother in "Goodbye Gracie".

    Season Five 

  • The story of Jay's proposal to Gloria, when one remembers that Manny started out not liking him that much. Long story short, the three of them were watching TV, Jay asked Manny to give him "that thing" meaning the remote, but Manny gave him the ring, which Jay intended for a later time, instead.
  • Mitch and Cam's proposal to each other. After spending the whole day trying to come up with the best proposals for each other, they end up both getting down on one knee while trying to change a tire, and both realize what the other is going to say and both simply say "Yes" at the same time.
  • Although it's in a scene that's Played for Laughs, Phil says that Mitchell is his favorite redhead.
  • During Alex's 16th birthday she spend the entire time saying she should be studying and while this is Played for Laughs at the time her breakdown over the cake and subsequent trip to a psychologist reveals how she has a major issue revolving around her intelligence and how her family doesn't understand the pressure it puts her under. Claire meanwhile realizes how little she's focused on Alex and tries to make it better during the school open day but fails under the pressure. Cue their meeting at the end of the episode where Claire says what she's learned and that if she was Alex she'd probably have a breakdown every day. Alex then bursts into tears and hugs her mother saying nothing more then "Thank you".
  • The family showing up to surprise Haley at her photography exhibit, shortly followed by her own utter joy at finding out that somebody actually bought one of her photos.
  • Haley, without any prompting, stepping up to the podium at the realtors' banquet, accepting Phil's award, telling his jokes and telling everyone what an awesome dad he is (heartwarming because her father's fall off the stage earlier came about because he was thinking Haley was bored and didn't care about him anymore (which the episode had earlier suggested was true).
  • In one episode Alex is getting increasingly sad and frustrated at constantly being ignored and being treated like a complete stranger even by people she goes to school with. To make her feel better, Haley secretly writes "Alex Dunphy do me" on the bottom of the bleachers and then shows it to Alex, telling her it means a guy has noticed her.
    • She doesn't write it, she edits Dylan's graffiti of "HALEY Dunphy do me" (she obscures the H with the student sticker she got before and turns the Y into an X). Considering Haley's obsession with appearance and fears about her popularity at school being the highlight of her life, it's a sweet gesture.
  • After spending a whole episode trying to get to dinner at a fancy restaurant in time and ultimately failing, the family instead has a blast simply getting tacos together.
    • Jay telling Haley to put on some Gladys Knight & bounce Joe to the music if she’s having trouble getting him to fall asleep - Haley immediately comments that she remembers Jay doing that with her when she was a baby.
  • Lily giving the Puppy Pound toy she got at the Christmas event for the needy to one of the children there who wanted it when she learns he won't be getting any other gifts.
  • Haley persuading Andy that his relationship with his girlfriend isn't emotionally healthy, by admitting that she has been the "Beth" in relationships herself, being All Take and No Give. It's a nice moment of development for her.
    • Followed by (thanks to a few words from Alex) passing up a chance—that she obviously wants—to start her own thing with Andy, because she isn't sure she'd be good for him.
  • Jay stepping up and getting Mitchell and Cameron's wedding back on the road after a series of disasters nearly ruin everything. He calls his country club and gets a venue sorted in what looks like minutes, which is a good piece of development after being unable to admit to his friends there that his son was marrying a man earlier in the episode (for fear of their reactions). His gesture mends the rift between him and Mitchell.
    • On top of that, those same friends can be seen congratulating Jay as the ceremony is being prepared, with Jay noting that it’s time they started doing things differently at the club.
  • Jay walking his son Mitchell down the aisle at his wedding to Cam.
  • Claire's 'best person' speech at the wedding.
  • Cam confronting his grandmother about his relationship with Mitch:
    Cam: What if I told you I was in love, and that I’ve never been happier in my entire life, and that I’m about to get married?... And what if I told you the love of my life is this man standing right here?

    Season Six 

  • Jay's speech at the wedding in Phil's video. He refers to Mitch and Cam as his two sons.
  • Jay comforting Manny over being dumped by his girlfriend by saying he wishes he could just give him a hug... and then realizing he actually can when Manny hugs him first and bursts into tears.
  • Gloria's impassioned speech about wanting to spend time with Manny's Spanish tutor not because he's young and handsome, but because no-one in her own home can appreciate how smart she is in her own language, since she has to translate everything for her husband and sons, is a borderline Tear Jerker. Jay responds by re-hiring the tutor — not for Manny, but for himself. His fumbling declaration to Gloria (in Spanish) that he "wants to be able to tell her how much he loves her in every language she knows" is wonderfully sweet.
    • A tiny heartwarming moment occurs when Gloria thought Jay rehired the Spanish tutor for Manny. Gloria tells Jay that Manny isn't going to like that. Despite her tirade earlier in the episode, she still ultimately goes along with what Manny wants.
    • All the stories in that episode are all heartwarming. Haley gets a job as a fashion stylist, despite facing a mean receptionist and harsh boss and crying in her car, returning to the job only after remembering how brave Andy was talking to Phil.
    • And Cam allowing the news story to focus on Mitchell, after hogging all the spotlight earlier.
  • Haley's speech to Andy in the hospital in 6x17. slips into Tear Jerker territory when Beth shows up.
    Haley: Okay, you want to talk about it? How real is your relationship? Real is when someone finds out you're in the hospital and drops everything because she doesn't want you to be freaked out alone. I'm not trying to be mean, it's you ever feel like you're settling for something here? We've all done it.Talked ourselves into the penguin because we didn't think we had a shot at the elephant. If I'm your elephant, you have a shot. That's what I'm trying to say.
  • Jay, after believing that he has turned into a grumpy, old man like his dad, tries to destroy the drone that has been spying on Gloria.
  • Haley motivating Alex to not be despaired after receiving a rejection from Harvard.
  • In "Patriot Games", Alex and Sanjay admit that the best part of school has been their competition, and that they like each other.
  • Season 6's "The Cold" shows the very touching speech Jay gives at Cam and Mitch's wedding, telling them he hopes their marriage is as happy as his and Gloria's. After initially toasting to them as the grooms, he pauses, and instead toasts to them as his sons.
  • Haley and Andy's developing relationship. It not only brings out the best in both of them, but the fact that it mirrors Claire and Phil's relationship makes it much more sweeter.
  • After Haley reveals that she thinks of herself as a worthless loser, Phil reassures her that her failure at college does not define her and that she has intelligence that cannot be found in school.
  • In "Valentine's Day 4: Twister Sister", Phil breaks-up with Julianna, instead choosing Claire to spend his Valentine's Day with. He calls Claire "as sexy and exciting as the first day I met [her]."
    Phil: "A guy like me gets that lucky, he quits while he's ahead."
  • Alex wanting Claire to go with her to Europe.
  • In a small moment, Phil thinks that Luke wants to transition to a female. Phil, without hesitation, is completely okay with it, and says that if it's what Luke wants, than he can do it.

    Season Seven 

  • While the context is played for laughs, Sanjay and Alex deciding that they can make their long-distance relationship work because they've both always been beating the odds is pretty cute.
  • Luke choosing to stay with Alex, who is crying about her breakup with Sanjay, over making out with a pretty college girl.
  • After a few hours of confusing Mood Whiplash at a party house, Haley and Andy part as friends so he can go back to Beth. Seconds later, Haley runs back in and leaps into his arms, and the episode ends on them passionately kissing.
  • The winter finale:
    • Alex spends the episode trying to show her family she actually cares, with them just thinking she's being sarcastic. She finally gets through to them when she sings Silent Night while playing the piano.
    • Though the plan went pear-shaped, Jay wants to retire and give Claire the closet company, but doesn't want to force her into it, so he pretends he's giving it to some guy he made up in order to see if she'll fight for it.
    • Phil's speech to Andy when he finds out he's sleeping with Haley despite being engaged is both heartwarming and awesome.
    Phil: That's my daughter and you're engaged to someone else. If it's a fling, it's over. Do you understand me? But if it's something real, you need to be honest with Beth. It's time to step up and be a man.
    • After Andy and Beth finally break up (because she was cheating on him twice over) he starts getting depressed and it looks like he and Haley are going to fall into Will They or Won't They? again. Gloria just tells him to get over it and he's lucky to have Haley, and at the end of the episode he and Haley are finally starting a real relationship.
  • From "Spread Your Wings", Claire realizing why Phil has enjoyed the ducks for so long—because they remind him of Haley, Alex, and Luke.
    • Phil setting the ducks free and, as a result, realizing the importance of letting his own kids go.
    • Alex calling Phil, with Phil's absolute delight over hearing his daughter's voice.
    • Not to mention, this episode really showcases the close bond between Phil and Alex, in that Phil was completely understanding of Alex and her struggles and didn't try to force her into staying.
    Phil: My story isn't your story.
    • Also, when Alex hesitates to jump into the pool at the freshmen gathering, the students are all heard encouraging her. After she jumps in, the students all cheer for her, with Alex showing the biggest smile upon realizing that they all care for her, and that she will be fine at college after all.
  • Jay and his navy buddies have a tradition, everytime one of them dies they head out to some bar and have a drink, unfortunately due to a storm, Jay is unable to leave the house. What does Phil do? He pours Jay a shot and places a four-leaf decoration next to him. Jay calls Phil back and pours him one and they have a drink together.
  • Claire insists the family go through the house and throw out any old toys and keepsakes as junk. They all are reluctant, Phil not wanting to drive them to goodwill. Claire does it herself but as she tries to give them away, she realizes they mean something. She returns home in tears, apologizing to the family for all the stuff she's made them give away over the years. At which point Phil reveals that every single trip, he's put the keepsakes in a storage locker. The family go there and are joyful to rediscover their past toys and all the memories that go with them.
  • Haley and Andy kissing in the rain.
  • Phil wanting to go to Paris with Claire because he misses her.
  • In "Express Yourself" Andy tries his hardest to do the things 'Wild' Haley would do out of fear that she might end up realizing he's to slow for her. Haley's response:
    • Haley: I know you can't keep up! But I'd rather slow down. I like the me I am when I'm with you.
  • In "The Day Alex Left For College", Phil and Luke spent a day together trying to sell a house for Phil. Whilst Phil is initially surprised by Luke's aversion to the day, by the end, he lets Luke go with his friends, modeling his own parent style to that of his father's.
    • Luke going back to the duck eggs they found earlier, and giving it to Phil so that they can fulfill his fantasy of raising ducks.
    • Also, Alex hugging Haley at her college dorm.
  • After discovering that Claire had her assistant helping her with the housework, Phil gets ready to yell at her. However, he overhears Claire tell her assistant that even though she has tried so hard to be successful at work, she has neglected being a mother to her kids, the one job that she really loves. After the assistant leaves, Phil comes in, with Claire now aware that he knows, expecting Phil to be angry. Phil, though, starts helping Claire with making sandwiches for the kids, without saying a word. Claire rests her head on his shoulder and thanks him.
  • One episode has the entire Dunphy family having a bad day, most prominently Phil and the cancellation of Family Camp. After the whole family eats dinner in a mournful manner, Claire, Haley, Alex and Luke decide to surprise Phil by organizing a trip to New York, immediately lifting his mood and theirs.
  • Haley letting Andy go to Utah for his job, knowing that their relationship will suffer.
  • Jay summing up the couples on the show:
    Jay: Why do we choose partners so different from ourselves? It's not fate or chance or clichés like 'the heart wants what the heart wants.' We choose our partners because they represent the unfinished business from our childhood. And we choose them because they manifest the qualities we wish we had. In doing so, in choosing such a challenging partner, and working to give them what they need, we chart a course for our own growth.
    • After spending time at a couples counselling session, Jay & Gloria, Phil & Claire, and Mitch & Cam all voice their annoyances of their partners, causing a lot of tension between the couples. At the end, it shows each of the couples working hard to change themselves for their partner, demonstrating the persistence, imperfections and love found in all marriages.
  • Phil and Andy's relationship, with Phil acting as a father-figure to Andy. Though their friendship initially developed through their similar personalities and interests, it is clear that they both respect and care for one another immensely, with Andy confiding in Phil, and Phil treating Andy like one of his own.
  • Mitchell elaborately asking Cam to the prom.
  • Haley to Andy:
    "I think you're the first man I've ever loved."


     Season Eight 

  • After Lily supposedly insults Tom, a transgender kid, Mitch, Cam, Gloria and Jay discuss it. Jay asks Mitch and Cam if Lily someday wanted to be Lou, what would they be with that. They initially said that they would love him unconditionally, but that there would be things they would struggle with.
    Mitch: "There'd be a lot of things that I'd be giving up that I've always imagined doing, like walking her down the aisle in her wedding dress."
    Cam: "Or whispering in her husband's ear that he'll never replace me."
    Jay: "That's interesting, because the minute it took me to accept the fact that my son was living a different kind of life than the one that I anticipated, Mitchell called me an old, straight, white bigot. And now, you're just like me.
    • Not only does that scene give insight into Jay's relationship with Mitch, in that Jay loves Mitch but had to change what he had always envisioned of Mitch's future once he came out, but that Jay and Mitch aren't so different from each other. This is especially heartwarming because Jay and Mitch have long struggled with their relationship, with Mitch being gay causing rifts between them.
      • It also reveals the struggle that Jay, and Dede, went through when Mitch came out, that is often neglected. As hard as it was for Mitch, his family also had to love and support him, despite having difficulty in figuring out what it meant for their son and his future.
    • Also, later in the episode, you find out that Lily wasn't making fun of Tom because he used to be Tina, showing that Lily is respectful and open-minded.
  • Cam to Lily:
    Cam: Daddy and I would accept you no matter what. Boy, girl, gay, straight.
  • After painting over the mural of her fathers on her bedroom wall, Lily keeps a photo of it by her bedside.
  • Manny sending in a video to Julliard, saying that everything he is is a product of Gloria and Jay, thanking them for encouraging him to chase his dreams and being an example to him.
    • This is especially poignant for Manny and Jay, as initially they had a difficult relationship. It demonstrates the beauty of step-relationships, that whilst you may not be related by blood, you can have a lasting connection and it does not diminish the love and support you can give.
  • Phil, Claire and Haley making sure that people come to Luke's party, including Phil posing as a transfer student to inject energy into the party.
  • Claire and Gloria giving each other mothering advice, and assuring each other that they're doing their absolute best for their respective children.
  • The family playing football on Thanksgiving, as they have done the day after Thanksgiving for the past 15 years.
  • After Manny spent Halloween trying to explain his Dalton Trumbo costume, with no one understanding it, he feels like he can't relate to his peers, and that no one will ever accept and appreciate him. While at Luke's party, he runs into a girl with a Dorothy Parker costume, with both of them recognising each others' costumes. Both of them are elated that someone has fully understood their costumes, something that they had struggled with all night long.
  • Phil calling fatherhood 'the best job he's ever had.'
  • "Knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Your son." "Your son, who?" "Your son who'd hate to think you threw away a shot at happiness just to protect his feelings."
  • Jay and Dede apologising to Claire and Mitch for giving them a hostile childhood.
  • Claire surprising Phil by learning magic, after Phil had believed that she didn't plan anything for Valentine's Day.
  • Haley assuring Alex that she doesn't need to be ashamed about being in a relationship.
  • "Sometimes life can be simpler than we think. We're born... we die... and in between, if we're lucky, we laugh... which makes the journey worth taking."
  • Mitch and Jay playing catch together; something which didn't happen when Mitch was a child.
  • Claire and Phil expressing their dissatisfaction that their life looks so different than they imagined it would be at this stage.
  • Manny and Luke graduating from high school.
  • "Here's to you son."

     Season Nine 

  • The whole family singing Total Eclipse of The Heart. Quite possibly one of the most heartwarming endings of the show. It doesn't even feel like acting; just complete, genuine love.
  • The family reminding Jay of all the good memories he gave them. Extra heartwarming is the fact that after Phil's Mom died, Jay texted Phil everyday for a week to check up on him. For all his faults, Jay really loves Phil.
  • Jay, Gloria and Joe all hugging and thanking Manny for taking care of them.
  • Alex being aware of how often she shows-off at college, and trying her best to eradicate it. She then allows herself to show her vulnerabilities to others.
  • Luke being genuinely concerned about Haley’s job prospects, and persuaded her to stay. After she gets rejected by a wealthy woman, Luke allows Haley to keep her job. Keep in mind that Haley was treating Luke horribly the whole day, but Luke still forgave her. Aww!
  • Gloria granting Manny’s wish to give him a short goodbye, even though it breaks her heart not to.
  • Jay and Shorty referring to each other as their best friend.
  • In a strange way, Jay allowing Mitch to confront him.
  • Claire convincing Phil that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks; they can continue to love Halloween as adults.
  • Gloria giving Cam a pumpkin seed, in hope that the subsequent pumpkin will beat the Missouri record.
  • Claire buying Phil the magic shop.
  • Cam allowing Mitch to sing in front of his family, something that he had avoided in fear on their judgement.
  • Jay telling Gloria that she's so much more than how she looks. For a character that is often told how attractive she looks, it's clear how much Jay loves her qualities and who she is even more.
    Jay: "You could be my age and 30 pounds heavier, and you would still be unbelievably out of my league."
  • Jay reassuring Manny that things get easier after having one honest conversation.
  • Claire encouraging Phil to lean on her when times get tough.
    Claire: "Don't you dare not come to me with [your problems.]
  • Manny and Joe sleeping on the couch together.
  • After Manny brings his teacher/girlfriend home, Jay urges Gloria not to over-react and say something that would alienate Manny, as he knows too well from his own kids the effects. Gloria supresses her urge to scold Manny, and instead allows him to feel completely comfortable.
  • The family dropping everything to see Phil at the hospital.
  • The whole family organising the Dunphy Games to cheer up Phil.
  • Mitch and Cam striving to live their life to the fullest. Though it doesn't last long, it's still sweet nonetheless.
  • Earl's request that his urn be sent to Jay when he dies, demonstrating their friendship despite their differences.
  • Mitch and Cam try to convince a girl to go on a date with Luke, by using their own relationship as an example:
    Mitch: "I mean, you think it's amazing now? You can't even imagine what it could grow into. If you guys have even the smallest chance of having what we have, you have to go for it."
  • Phil and Claire saying that they fail a lot, but that it teaches you lessons.
  • Cam and Mitch, understandably, struggle with Lily hitting puberty and how to deal with her changing. Despite their difficulties, they put that aside for their daughter, and be there for her.
  • Phil and Claire coming to term that they are getting older and being okay with it.
  • Cam assuring Mitch that he has what it takes to be a prosecutor.
  • Andy being sweet and understanding about Haley, despite not seeing her for 2 years. It’s clear how much love they still have for each other since they’ve moved on.
  • Cam praises Gloria for instilling Manny with enough confidence to travel cross-country by himself.

    Season Ten 
  • Jay, Claire and Alex organise for Gloria and Manny to uphold their tradition of eating apple pie and watching the fireworks together on the 4th of July, as they have done since Manny was born.
  • Phil assures Luke that he won’t screw up at community college, and to just take it one day at a time.
  • Jay vents his feelings towards Phil-that he wants to impress him.
  • It’s clear the impact Phil had on his real-estate class students after just one class and how much he’s loved teaching them.
  • Jay and Alex having a heart-to-heart about her future.
  • Mitch and Cam realising how much better their life is because of their kids.
  • Cam and Phil reminiscing about Dede’s effect on their lives.
  • Gloria thanking Dede for raising two incredible children, and making Jay the person he is today.
  • In a strange way, Lily doing what Dede would have wanted by messing with Gloria.
  • Luke really coming into his own at community college in a way that he never was at school.
  • Alex thanks Phil for always believing in her, throughout her whole life when she was plagued by self-doubt. She then hugs him.
  • Haley freaks out upon finding herself pregnant and asks Claire what she and Phil were like upon finding themselves unexpectedly pregnant with her 25 years ago:
    Claire: When I met your father, he did not have his life together. But to his credit, he really stepped up when I got pregnant, and I think that’s what made it work. You know, having someone to depend on.

    • This is quite beautiful as it paints a picture of how responsible Phil was, despite being in his early 20s, dating a woman for only a few months, in a situation where anyone would freak out. One would assume that Phil would have reacted positively, due to him seeming like such a natural Dad, but the fact that he really stepped up when Claire needed him the most, when he was just as scared, really demonstrates his love for her.

    • Haley considers this, and decides to go through the pregnancy with Dylan, despite how terrified she is.
      Haley: I’m scared. But it’s less scary knowing I’m going through it with you.
  • Phil and Mitch consider the other to be “the brother I never had.”
  • Haley finds her old doll Lulu and begins to treat it like it’s her baby. Throughout the day, she keeps on accidentally hurting it, convincing herself that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a mother.
    Haley: (voice breaking) I’m gonna be a horrible mother!
    Alex: Ok. First, it’s just a doll. And you’ve been taking care of us our whole lives.
    Luke: Yeah. Remember how you used to pick out my first day of school outfit so I wouldn’t get beat up?
    • When Alex and Luke find out she’s pregnant, they don’t snark at her or give her a hard time. Even when Haley tells them that it’s Dylan’s, Alex tries her best to be supportive to her sister.
  • When Haley finally tells the family she’s pregnant, she expects them, Claire especially, to freak out. What she gets is something entirely different.
    Phil: (smiling) You’re pregnant?
    Haley: (hesitating) Yes. And we’re really happy about it.
    Haley: (scared) Mom?
    Claire: It’’s a once...and...
    ''(She sees how terrified Haley is, refrains from yelling and smiles at her.)
    Claire: (sighs) A baby! Unbelievable! (hugs Haley.)
    • Despite how nervous Claire and Phil are about the future, they know that she needs their support now more than ever. She’s in such a vulnerable position that yelling won’t help, and she is most likely more disappointed in herself than they could ever be.
    • The rest of the family’s reactions are all sweet too towards Haley and Dylan, and they all fully embrace it.
  • Upon visiting Haley and Dylan’s new place, Phil vents to Jay about how unprepared they are for the baby. Jay, as he knows from experience, tells Phil that the future is uncertain and thus there’s no point in trying to control it.
    Phil: It’s a disaster. The place is too small. Everything needs fixing. I’m trying to stay calm, but... there’s a hole in the ceiling, Jay. A hole in the ceiling! Rain is gonna fall on the crib. What happens if a, an owl picks up a pinecone and drops it? My grandchild’s gonna get hit by a pinecone!
    Jay: [...] Who the hell knows what’s gonna happen? ... Let me tell you something about life. We all have the illusion that we’re in control. I wanted to play pro football, some guy takes my knee out. I graduate from school, I’m gonna drive my motorcycle across the country, and some suit pulls my draft number. I worked my ass off to put my daughter in college, some juggler knocks her up. I put in the years, I build my business so I don’t have to answer to anyone, and I still have to jump through hoops for a damn sausage! . ... All I’m saying is that things are always gonna change and you have to deal with it. But the good news is, five years from now, while you’re playing with your grandkid, you won’t even remember today.
  • Claire cancelling her planned trip with Phil to Italy for Haley’s sake. Researching on twins, she doesn’t want to miss her daughter giving birth in case the babies come early.
    • Even sweeter is that earlier Claire and Phil expressed how much they needed the vacation before the hectiness of the babies, but Claire ultimately decides that that craziness will be nothing compared to when Haley’s in labor without her Mom by her side.
  • Phil, though he’s just as frightened, reassuring Claire that, like everything that happens in their home, the twins being there will be a time to cherish.
    Phil: It’s overwhelming for sure, but haven’t a ton of our best memories come from the anarchy of our house? Like when Luke got his head stuck in the banister?
    Claire: Which time?
    Both chuckle
    Claire: Or when Alex’s science fair project blacked out the whole neighbourhood during the Super Bowl? Laughs
    Phil: Or when, uh, Haley snuck into Luke’s window the same week we bought him a slingshot?
    • Just hearing Phil say to Claire that he’s petrified of the future is comforting to her, as she felt alone and ashamed of her apprehensive feelings.
  • Jay is upset when Gloria and Manny reveal Jay's great-uncle, a supposed hero of the Alamo, was a coward (and, worse, a vegetarian.) They're dressing up Joe as Gloria's great-uncle, a hero of the Spanish army. Suspicious, Jay finds out the man was a fraud who never went near the army. He's about to reveal it when Joe talks of how he's happy to be playing a hero due to the teasing he gets in school. Jay realizes he can't ruin Joe's hero worship like Jay's and keeps quiet.
  • Claire reassuring a crying Haley that she’ll always be there to take care of her and the twins.
  • After feeling homesick of his old work, Jay plays an old video of him welcoming members to his company, featuring a young Claire on her father’s lap.
  • Phil assures Gloria that she’ll be an outstanding realtor, convincing her to take his class.
  • Alex doing everything to make sure Haley has the perfect baby shower. When Dylan runs off, she understands how valid his feelings are, and assigns the family to find him. During Claire’s speech, Alex has her arm around Haley, truly illustrating their closeness.
  • Gloria, Alex and Haley trying to comfort Lily as she gets her first period.
  • Haley, in her own way, soothing Phil, slowly easing her and her family’s fears about becoming a mother.
  • Cam and Mitch telling Lily that they’ll always be there for her:
    Mitch: We’re your parents, ok? We are gonna make mistakes and we are not gonna have all the answers, but when do you wanna talk about it, we’re here for you.
    Cam: Yeah. We love you.
    • This prompts Lily to unlock the bathroom door, where she had hid in all day.
  • Jay, Phil, Cam and Mitch discuss their fears— their “bears”— to one another, valaditing their feelings and comforting each other.
    Phil: If things get too quiet, my mind goes to a dark place fast. I start to worry about the people I love and all the bad things that could happen to them. I suppose talking pushes those thoughts out and helps me feel ok.
    Jay: I get it. We can all spiral. But you can’t talk your way out of it. You got to think your way out of it.
    Cam: I guess when I was a kid, I realised I wasn’t ever gonna fit in, so I decided to stand out. I embraced my flamboyance to let the world know what their insults won’t hurt me. Want to make a joke about me? Go ahead, cause I’m in on it.
    Phil: That’s really beautiful, Cam. And you’re not alone. We were all insecure nerds in our own way.
    Mitch: I guess my “bear” is the fear of dying young.
    Cam: Why not live your limited days with leaving nothing unsaid? Tell the people who matter the most how you feel.
  • As the group retires for the night, Mitch hesitates & asks Jay if he needs any blankets, clearly struggling with telling his father that he loves him. Jay just smiles & says that he knows.
  • Jay tells Mitch, Cam and Phil that he hopes they can come back next year to try and see a bald eagle, seconds after finally spotting one.
  • Phil surprises Alex at Caltech, sporting as much college attire as possible.
    • When she confides in him that college wasn’t the best years of her life, he suggests a trivia game, where they simply have fun answering questions in a Scottish accent.
    Alex: Only my Dad would think that a trivia game where you balance hats on your head, drink beer as a reward, and eat hot wings as a punishment, needed that one last twist of a Scottish accent.
  • Haley and Dylan wanting Alex to be their witness to their wedding.
  • After trying to organise Haley’s wedding at their house, Claire and Phil tell Haley and Dylan to elope and have the wedding that they’ve always imagined.
    Claire: We’re really sorry that this all got away from us. But all we care about is that you’re happy. And you should have the wedding you want.
  • Haley & Dylan returning in the dead of night & getting married in the Dunphy house, with Phil & Farrah officiating.
  • Gloria, despite hating her husband’s dog beds, helps Jay to get a famous dog to promote them.
  • Luke and Haley figure out that Alex is scared of finishing studying, but assure her that if they can handle the real world, she’s “gonna do just fine.”
  • Jay gifts Phil with a “World’s Best Grandfather” mug, the same one that Phil first gave Jay when Haley was born.

    Season Eleven 

  • Haley freaks out that she doesn’t have any motherly instincts. When she gets locked out, she, without hesitation, manages to climb on the roof and into the house.
  • Lily’s delightful smile upon seeing her dads and their friends taking their shirts off and jumping into the pool, after being self-conscious all day.
  • Jay accepting that Gloria is working and their dynamic has changed.
  • After getting dumped by their respective partners, Alex and Luke reassure each other that they can both do better.
  • Manny subtly revealing to Jay that he lied to hang out with him on Halloween, referring to Jay as his Dad.
  • Cam and Mitch comforting Lily as a boy she liked didn’t like her back. Mitch hugs her, as Cam gets the ice cream.
  • At Christmas, the family all dressed up in matching pyjamas.
  • Phil reminisces about his Dad after his passing, explaining how he was the ultimate cool dad, with a Call-Back to the pilot episode.
    Phil: When I was growing up, he was the cool dad. He was hip. He knew all the dances to Grease . He knew all the expressions. “BFF” Best Friends Forever. “TMI” Too Much Information. “BJ” Blue jeans. It made me feel lucky. We didn’t do much that day, but it might have been one of the best days I ever had with my dad.
  • The ending of “Paris”, with the cast waving to the camera.
  • The family reminiscing about parenting, while reassuring Haley and Dylan that they haven’t messed up their children.
    • The discussions are so heartwarming it convinces Phil and Claire to keep the R.V.
  • Cam receives a call that a couple picked him and Mitch to adopt their baby. It’s a tough decision, given how heart-wrenching the process was last time.
    Cam: None of our best memories have anything to do with work. They all have to do with that little girl right out there. (Both look out to Lily, talking with a boy)
    Mitch: Well, she’s not so little anymore. Oh, oh, I think we’re about to have a hand-holding moment!
    Cam reaches out and holds Mitch’s hand
    Cam: You know, we got pretty good at this parenting thing, didn’t we?
    Mitch: (teary) Um, so, uh, we have to tell the agency tonight?
    Cam: Well, technically, we have 24 hours to decide.
  • The next day, Mitch and Cam discuss the pros and cons of having a baby at their age, and ask Gloria, amidst her having an open house. Mitch and Cam come to the rational conclusion to not adopt. They get the call, look at one another,... and decide to adopt AND buy the house.
    • Plus, Lily is completely on board, especially since last time, she’d always express pure hatred towards the idea of a potential sibling.
  • From the finale:
    • Jay secretly learning Spanish so he can go to Colombia with Gloria.
    • The group hug.
    • Phil reassuring Claire that although all their children have moved out, they always come back, and suggests leaving the porch light on at night for them. The final shots of the episode are the three houses turning off their porch lights for the night... with the Dunphys turning theirs on again.
    • The Stinger is the camera moving along photos of the whole family, ending with the family portrait from the season one finale.
    • The callbacks to the first episode. As one comment states:
    Even in this scene, they showed Jay at his son’s soccer game, the way he was in the very first episode, back then he was struggling to get up; now Gloria’s struggling to stand up too. We see Mitch and Cam back in an airplane, with their newborn, eating cream puffs, like they were in the first episode, except the baby that was then is now their tween daughter. And Phil and Claire writing something on their schedule (which, you guessed it, they were doing in the first episode, too), except this time it’s not something kid related they’re scheduling, but their own lives. This beautifully showcases that they are all grown up and older; their lives have changed, but they’ll still carry these past pieces of themselves for the rest of their lives. Like, I’ll carry this show for the rest of my life.


  • Modern Family being credited as the monumental influence into the legilisation of gay marriage across the world, particularly America in 2013 and 2015.
  • Jesse and Eric have said that kids have come up to them and said that Mitch and Cam made it easier to come out to their parents. In one particular case, a kid came out to his parents:
    Kid: I'm gay.
    Parent: Well, which are you? Mitch or Cam?
  • The cast all being extremely close to each other and referring to each other as their family. Julie, especially, is extremely close to Sarah and Ariel and has helped both of them when they have encountered issues in their personal lives.
    • In Sarah case she relates how, that before proposing, her fiancee Wells Adams after asking for her actual parents blessings literally asked for both Julie and Ty's blessing as well, which they gave.
    • The recurring cast, such as Reid Ewing and Adam Devine, have commentated on how welcoming and friendly the whole cast is. When in other sitcoms, *cough Friends*, you hear how excluding the main cast is to the guest cast, it's especially heartwarming.
  • One of the first shows in history to show an inter-racial marriage with a significant age-gap positively.
  • The whole comedy style of the show deferring away from the typical snarky and crude sitcoms at the time. The creators really wanted a genuine and relationship-driven show, and it was a risk that paid off. Due to its success, many shows copied Modern Family's style.


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