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Back in early September, "Modern Family" co-creator Christopher Lloyd told
Entertainment Weekly that Season 10 of the hit ABC comedy would feature a dark moment -- the death of a "significant character on the series." The character's demise, he said, "will be a moving event -- and an event that has repercussions across several episodes."
That death was revealed on the Oct. 24 Halloween episode of the Emmy-winning series -- and yes, fans were moved -- but perhaps not in quite the way the show's execs had in mind.
Disappointed viewers took to the internet in droves to bash the hype as the person who died was someone who, though important to some of the characters, had little screen time and was rarely on fans' minds: Claire and Mitchell's mother, DeDe, the ex-wife of patriarch Jay Pritchett, who's been played by Shelley Long on only seven episodes since 2009 (though she did lend her voice to Wednesday's episode too).
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Julie Bowen and Jesse Tyler Ferguson appear on the Oct. 24, 2018,
© Eric McCandless / ABC
Sarah Hyland, Shelley Long and Ariel Winter appear on the May 2, 2018, episode of
"Dede was the MAJOR character that died in #ModernFamily?! Dede??? #youvechangedMF,"
tweeted one fan.
"Modern Family killing off DeDe is anticlimactic & feels like they hyped up an insignificant death for ratings. How boring. I was convinced it was going to be Dylan,"
Many more shared their disappointment in memes and GIFs. "Me: when I found out who died on Modern Family,"
wrote another online commenter, sharing a GIF of Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer in "Guardians of the Galaxy" when he make it clear he has no idea who Chris Pratt's Star-Lord even is.
The tweets kept on coming, with this commenter summing up the feelings of many: "The person they killed off in modern family is Jay's ex wife. Got us all worked up thinking it was a main character." Added yet another: "I cried more when Rosario died on #WillandGrace #ModernFamily."
Another referenced Shelley's other more notable sitcom exit. "Nope. Diane leaving #Cheers was way more emotional than DeDe dying. Sorry, #ModernFamily."
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Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, executive producer Steven Levitan and actors Ariel Winter, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet arrive at the FYC Event for ABC's
DeDe's death was revealed at the very beginning of the episode, which was titled "Good Grief." Claire and Mitchell learned from their mom's husband that she died peacefully in her sleep while on a trip to Greenland with her women's group.
Steve Levitan, the show's co-creator and co-showrunner, told
The Hollywood Reporter that they delivered the sad news right away to show that death can happen when people least expect it.
"I lost my mom suddenly two years ago and that experience of getting that call and gather[ing] as a family was very fresh to me," Steve told THR. "I thought that was the interesting part [of the story] and the biggest challenge was how to do we get this big monumental and sad moment and still get some comedy out of it. We liked that challenge."
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The cast of
Why DeDe though? "She's directly involved with three of our characters and she touched everybody's life in some interesting way. It seemed like the right character to put everybody through something. She seemed like right character because she so directly affects so many of our characters," he explained.
As for how Shelley took the news, "She was very sweet about it," Steve said. "We don't yet know if we're coming back for another season and we usually only see DeDe once a year. This was a good way to get a great send-off. The ramifications and emotional impact of this loss will remain for a little while."
Related slideshow: 'Cheers' cast: Where are they now?
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since "Cheers" -- the NBC sitcom about a cast of characters at a Boston bar where everybody knew your name -- left the small screen.
Wonderwall.com is taking a look at what's happened to the beloved show's cast.
Ted Danson brought Sam Malone -- the owner of Cheers who also worked behind the bar -- to life. The ladies' man had a rough past that included letting alcoholism ruin his career in the major leagues. Fans watched him try to find love with Diane Chambers and Rebecca Howe throughout the show's 11 seasons.
"Cheers" put Ted Danson on the map in Hollywood, netting him 11 Emmy nominations and nine Golden Globe nominations (he won two of each). He picked the role of Sam Malone back up on "Frasier," "The Jim Henson Hour" and "The Simpsons" after the series ended. Since then, he most notably starred on the CBS sitcom "Becker" from 1998 to 2004 and FX's "Damages" in 2007 and also has worked on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: Cyber" as character D.B. Russell. He currently stars on NBC's "The Good Place" alongside Kristen Bell. Ted is happily married to third wife Mary Steenburgen and shares two daughters with his second wife, Cassandra Coates.
For five seasons, Shelley Long played Diane Chambers, the Boston University student who ends up working as a waitress after her fiance leaves her. She has an on-and-off relationship with Sam but ultimately opts to move to Los Angeles and leave Boston behind.
Shelley Long won two Golden Globes for her work on "Cheers" and later reprised her role on four episodes of "Frasier." After "Cheers," she also landed another iconic role playing Carol Brady in the film remake of "The Brady Bunch," 1995's "The Brady Bunch Movie," as well as "A Very Brady Sequel." These days, you can see Shelley pop up every now and then on "Modern Family" as Jay's ex-wife, DeDe Pritchett. Shelley, who's single, has an adult daughter, Juliana, with ex-husband Bruce Tyson.
Every bar needs a regular! Norm Peterson, played by George Wendt, was that guy on "Cheers." We followed his journey from accountant to interior decorator and painter throughout the show's 275 episodes.
After "Cheers," George Wendt starred on his own sitcom, "The George Wendt Show," which ran for a few months before its cancellation. From there he popped up on tons of shows including "Seinfeld," where he played himself, to "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "Frasier," where he reprised the role of Norm. He also did a stint on reality television, teaming up with "Cheers" co-star John Ratzenberger to scout comedic talent on Season 6 of "Last Comic Standing" in 2008. He transitioned to the stage from the small screen, starring as Edna Turnblad in Broadway's "Hairspray" in 2007 and 2008 and more recently starred in "Death of a Salesman" on the stage in Ontario, Canada. He's been married to actress Bernadette Birkett since the '70s and is the uncle of comedy star Jason Sudeikis.
John Ratzenberger played Cliff Clavin, another quirky bar regular. Cliff, a postal worker, served as the resident know-it-all who also just so happens to still live with his mom.
"Cheers" earned John Ratzenberger two Emmy nominations and launched the actor's amazingly successful movie career -- despite the fact that you don't often see his face! When it comes to his films' box-office earnings, John actually became one of the most successful actors of all time after transitioning to voice work once "Cheers" ended. He's voiced characters in all of Pixar's feature films with some of his most notable roles being Hamm the piggy bank in "Toy Story," John in "WALL-E" and Mack the truck in the "Cars" franchise. John also spent some time on reality television competing on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007 and scouting comedic talent with "Cheers" co-star George Wendt on Season 6 of "Last Comic Standing" in 2008. He most recently voiced Juan in the Pixar smash hit "Coco." John has two children with his first wife, son James and daughter Nina, and has been happily married to second wife Julie Blichfeldt since 2012.
Rhea Perlman played Carla Tortelli, the hilarious waitress and mother-of-four who ends up having four more children throughout the show's 11-season run.
Playing Carla Tortelli treated Rhea Perlman very well! The role netted her six Golden Globe nominations and 10 Emmy nominations (and four wins!) for best supporting actress. She made appearances in a few films including 1996's "Carpool" and "Matilda" and made a return to television when she starred as the titular character on the 1996 sitcom "Pearl," which ran for one season. More recently, she wrapped up her role as Danny's mom, Annette Castellano, on "The Mindy Project" in 2017 and took over for Rosie O'Donnell in an Off-Broadway production of "Good for Otto" in 2018. Rhea married Danny DeVito back in 1982 but their relationship turned rocky in recent years: They split in 2012, reunited in 2013 and split again in 2017, though some reports claim they're not entirely over yet. The couple share three kids: Lucy, Grace and Jacob.
Dr. Frasier Crane was born on "Cheers"! Kelsey Grammer first played the psychiatrist, who was a love interest for Diane, during the show's third season. He remained on the series until the end, after which his popular character landed his own spinoff, aptly titled "Frasier."
Kelsey Grammer portrayed Frasier Crane for 20 years total thanks to "Frasier," which ended up being one of the most successful spin-offs in the history of television. The sitcom ran for 11 seasons on NBC and netted him four Primetime Emmy Awards. Like many other "Cheers" cast members, he also made an appearance as Frasier on "Wings" in 1993. He never quite duplicated his Frasier Crane success on the small screen, starring on a handful of sitcoms that were canceled quickly (like "Back To You" and "Hank"). It wasn't until he made the transition to a TV drama that he had another hit on his hands -- the Starz series "Boss." His work as Richard J. Daley earned him a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV drama in 2012. Kelsey's personal life has been dramatic, as he's been married four times and has seven children (and one grandchild!). He has daughter Spencer Grammer, an actress, with first wife Doreen Alderman. He had actress daughter Greer Grammer with a girlfriend after his first divorce. He didn't have children with his second wife but went on to marry model Camille Donatacci and have two more children, daughter Mason and son Jude. His split from Camille was chronicled on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in 2010. Kelsey announced his girlfriend and future fourth wife, former flight attendant Kayte Walsh, was pregnant later that year. After suffering a miscarriage, the two wed in 2011 and went on to have three children -- daughter Faith and sons Kelsey and Auden.
Sam's second major love interest, Rebecca Howe, was played by Kirstie Alley starting on Season 6. Rebecca took over the bar for a short time before Sam regained ownership.
Kirstie Alley picked up two Emmy nominations and one Emmy win for playing Rebecca Howe and her television career continued to thrive even after "Cheers" closed its doors. She nabbed another Emmy for the 1994 TV film "David's Mother" and landed her own show on NBC a few years later, "Veronica's Closet." Kirstie starred in and served as executive producer on the series, which ran from 1997 until 2000. From there she found success as a spokesperson, first for the store Pier One from 2000 to 2004 and then famously for Jenny Craig from 2005 until 2008 after losing 75 pounds with the company's program. After parting ways with Jenny Craig, she gained weight back, but this time she took a different route to help her slim down -- competing on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2011! Kirstie was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Season 12 of the popular reality show and came in second place, losing out to football player Hines Ward. In 2012, when given the chance to return and compete once more amongst fellow "DWTS" all-stars for Season 15, Kirstie said yes -- once again dancing alongside Maksim. Unfortunately, this time Kirstie was the seventh star eliminated. Kirstie married and divorced twice over the years. She shares two children with second husband Parker Stevenson -- son William and daughter Lillie -- and became a grandmother for the first time in 2016 when William welcomed his own son, Waylon. The actress has also made headlines for her staunch support of her Scientologist faith, which she's defended against abuse claims made by fellow actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini in recent years.
Woody Harrelson didn't even have to go by another name for his "Cheers" role! The actor played Woody Boyd, a bartender. He made his first appearance during Season 4 and hung around the famous watering hole until the very end.
Woody Harrelson became a major Hollywood player after "Cheers" ended. The show provided him his first big break, nabbing him five Emmy nominations and one win during his time on the show. From there, he made a smooth transition to the silver screen, landing roles in big flicks such as 1992's "White Men Can't Jump," 1994's "Natural Born Killers" and the "Hunger Games" franchise, just to name a few. Woody has three Academy Award nominations under his belt -- one for playing Larry Flynt in 1996's "The People vs. Larry Flynt," one for his work as Captain Tony Stone in 2009's "The Messenger" and most recently for playing Willoughby in 2017's "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." The actor married second wife Laura Louie, with whom he has three daughters, in 2008 after 20 years as a couple. They've raised their girls at their home on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Bebe Neuwirth played Lilith Sternin, a bar regular who made her first appearance during the fourth season. The psychiatrist strikes up a relationship with fellow regular and doctor Frasier Crane during the fifth season, which leads to a marriage, a child and a divorce on the "Cheers" spinoff "Frasier."
Lilith Sternin didn't disappear once "Cheers" ended -- Bebe Neuwirth starred on 12 episodes of the spin-off "Frasier," which earned her an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series. The character also made an appearance on "Wings" back in 1992, another NBC show from the "Cheers" creators that often featured guest appearances from the beloved bar's crew. Bebe continued to make appearances on television throughout the '90s and '00s on a wide range of series including "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "The Good Wife." She played Nadine Tolliver on "Madam Secretary" from 2014 until 2017 and most recently appeared on an episode of CBS's "Good Wife" spinoff "The Good Fight." Besides landing work on television and in the occasional film, Bebe has also starred on the stage, most notably winning a Tony for her performance as Roxie Hart in "Chicago" in 1997. Off-screen, Bebe married second husband Chris Calkins in 2009.