Why Modern Family’s Series Finale Didn’t Include A Flash-Forward

Modern Family Series Finale Group Hug

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Modern Family’s series finale.

Modern Family finished its 11-season run with a big group hug and several goodbyes for the various members of the extended Pritchett family. The two-part series finale saw Mitch and Cam making the big decision to move away with their newborn after Cam was offered his dream job. Meanwhile, Phil and Claire faced an empty household after everyone decided to move out and/or away. However, the series managed to avoid providing the audience any direct glimpses into the future, which the Modern Family showrunners specifically decided against using.

Modern Family’s series finale did feature callbacks to the show’s pilot episode, but what was absent was a flash-forward to the future, a la the Dawson’s Creek or Six Feet Under finales. For viewers, flash-forwards might’ve offered a sense of comfort, a confirmation that the Pritchett family members got their happy endings. Showrunners Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd decided that it wasn’t the way to go. Here’s what Levitan told Deadline:

I think there was a pitch that there was a shot from the future. Ultimately we decided not to do that. I think what we tried to do was let the audience know that there were good things in store for these characters and let their imaginations fill in the rest.

That’s a nice way of looking at it. Flash-forwards don’t always need to be included to tie up characters' storylines. Most recently, the beloved sitcom Schitt’s Creek ended its six-season run with the characters waving goodbye to their parents, as opposed to jettisoning the story into the future. Similar to Modern Family, everyone was moving on, but there was no flash-forward in sight. Christopher Lloyd also said that flash-forwards essentially had no place on a sitcom, and that he and Steve Levitan decided to see the characters off in a different way. In his words:

Flash-forward seemed like a terrible idea to me because that’s science fiction where you’re time traveling, so we didn’t go too far down that road. But it’s hard and there were a lot of good (finale) ideas that were proposed and were considered. We chose to give space in the episode for several pairings. The three kids had a moment, Claire and Mitch had a moment, Jay and Phil had a moment, Gloria and Cam had a moment, but you could just as easily I suppose have said the moment should be between Jay and Claire or Jay and Mitchell, or the parents and the Dunphy kids. We just had to choose which goodbyes we wanted to give the spotlight to, and those were the ones that we settled on. I think it was nice to have the kids, the kids who have been through a lot of adventures together, to give them a private moment.

Modern Family’s ensemble cast is incredibly large and so not every pairing got to have their standalone moment s in which to bid everyone adieu. The showrunners had to make decisions regarding who would get a bit more alone time and what ideas had to be discarded, but Christopher Lloyd believes that it all worked out in terms of the story. Here’s what he had to say:

There’s a nice private moment between Phil and Claire where they were in the upstairs bedroom which is now empty and they were reflecting back over the last 20 years of their life and that seemed right. Sure, it would have been nice to have another 15 minutes of airtime to give a few more people a few more pairings, maybe a final moment, but then you get into an issue of well, when is a finale just too long. I feel like we accomplished it in a fairly short and sweet way and that’s better as far as I’m concerned.

And that’s a wrap on Modern Family! It’s sad that the show is ending, but there’s always hope for a spinoff. Not to mention all the shows that the cast members will be moving onto after the dust has settled.

In the meantime, there are several more shows wrapping up soon, so be sure to check our list of all the big TV finales coming this spring and summer.

Mae Abdulbaki