This family needs a dumb-ass-ectomy.
—Alex Dunphy, “Snip”
Alexandra Anastasia "Alex" Dunphy is the middle child and second daughter of Claire and Phil Dunphy. Alex is evidently the most intelligent and accomplished of Claire and Phil's children. She is the older sister to her goofy brother, Luke, and the younger sister to her shallow sister, Haley.
Before the show
Alex was conceived in a hotel room in Disneyland ("The Graduates") and her birth was a surprise to her parents (“Alone Time”). She was born on January 14, 1996. Her older sister Haley is three years older and her brother Luke is two years younger. Claire says that during her pregnancy with Alex, she had a "pregnancy brain", implying that the brainy Alex was strongly competing with her for resources ("When a Tree Falls"). She had a poem published in Highlights Magazine when she was five years old ("Patriot Games").
Although Alex is younger than most of her family, she is arguably the most intelligent and well-read, even more than Manny and her lawyer uncle, Mitchell ("Other People's Children"). Being an overachiever, she tends to address people with sarcasm and condescension, although most of the time, nobody gets her humor. She is also shown to be competitive just like her mother, Claire, which she admits is because she is not used to not coming in first. She takes great pride in her schoolwork, much more than Haley or Luke, and she rarely ever has meltdowns regarding her schoolwork — except for once in "Under Pressure", where she rages at her birthday party and after Claire attends an open house, discovering that Alex has to cope with 6 hours' worth of homework in total for all her AP classes. Claire said to Alex, "I don't know how you don't have a meltdown every day", prompting Alex to break down and hug her mother.
Having raised by inexperienced parents, Alex learned to be extremely self-reliant at a young age. Phil even compared her to a self-cleaning oven ("Under Pressure"). Due to her stellar abilities, her parents also tend to pay less attention to her concerns in favor of her less capable siblings. Alex often breaks the fourth wall when her family discusses ridiculous ideas and she feels like the odd ball. In "Grill, Interrupted", her grandfather Jay confides in her that the family needs a leader and one day he will not be around to do it anymore, implying that in the future, she will be the one to keep the family in check because she is the only one capable enough to do it.
She enjoys messing with her family when they are rude to her, which is fairly often, taking advantage of their inferior intellect by fooling them into believing unrealistic things. She once convinced Haley that she could charge electronics by rubbing the battery on her head, and Luke that he could do the same by holding it in his mouth ("En Garde"). As much as she enjoys torturing her brother and sister, she always has their backs. In "Undeck the Halls", she confesses to smoking even though she did not, just to bring back Christmas for them. In "Games People Play", Alex says she would have tutored Luke if she had known he was failing Pre-Algebra.
Alex is almost always bickering with her sister Haley, usually regarding her appearance. According to Haley, Alex has no fashion sense, hence why she finds it difficult to make friends at school. It is shown in several occasions that Alex does indeed care about her reputation, like when she refuses to be seen getting dropped off by her mother when she is meeting with her friends ("Benched"), and when she accepts advice from Haley on how to be friends with a popular girl at school ("Strangers on a Treadmill").
Alex is also shown to yearn for her mother's approval through academic awards ("Integrity"). She is highly intellectual and excels in many co-curricular activities. In high school, she is part of the debate team and the French club ("Rash Decisions"). She practices lacrosse, and she plays the cello and sings the backup vocals in her band, Electric Light Dorkestra ("Best Men"). She later admits to Haley that she eventually hates playing the cello but continues to play it because she is not used to quitting ("Someone to Watch Over Lily").
Alex is also implied to be multilingual, being part of the French club and speaking some Chinese in "Planes, Trains and Cars". She says that she also know Elvish ("Yard Sale"), she faints at the sight of blood ("Arrested", "Heart Broken") and she's allergic to peanuts ("Ringmaster Keifth").
Extremely smart and studious, Alex is shown to be a hardworking student and is awarded more than any other student in the school. She is often seen reading books at home and even on vacations. In high school, she takes advanced classes, once becoming classmates with Haley. She graduated valedictorian from junior high ("See You Next Fall") and senior high after Sanjay forfeited their tie-breaker race ("Patriot Games"). After graduation, she applies to several Ivy League universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and MIT. She eventually opts for Caltech.
When Alex discovers she was not accepted into Harvard, she breaks down. When confronted by Haley, she admits to feeling indignant at how she had done perfectly her entire life but was still rejected.
As an undergraduate at Caltech, she majors in biochemistry and is also shown to be involved in robotics.
Upon graduating from college, she lands a high-paying job at a multinational corporation specializing in face recognition technology. She eventually resigns and returns to her alma mater to work as a researcher for her former professor, whom she later dates.
In "After the Fire", it is revealed that Alex has her own fan base, similar to her popular sister, though hers is composed of nerds. Alex tells the surprised Haley that "someday, your fans are going to work for my fans."
Claire is Alex's mother. Alex and Claire get along as well as any mother-daughter pair. They were implied to be close when she was younger but grew distant as she grows up, just like Haley, but they both still love each other. Alex is known to be the smartest of the family, so Claire doesn't have to take care of Alex as much as Alex needs to take care of her mother. She admits to having "fallen asleep at the wheel" when it comes to Alex ("Under Pressure"). In "Mistery Date", Claire inadvertently embarrasses Alex during her competition, and reacts badly to her consequent loss. She later tells Alex that she wants to be the mother who shows their smart kid off, as she can't do that with Haley or Luke. Claire eventually realizes that she doesn't want to become that kind of mother, but she still wants to support Alex in the best way that she can. As Alex grows up, however, Claire is shown to be more abrasive in the way she interacts with her daughter, such as in "White Christmas", where she and the other family members interpret Alex's sincere attempts at participating in the family celebrations as sarcasm. She also clearly struggles to accept Alex's sexuality, as evident in "Kids These Days" and "We Need to Talk about Lily".
Phil is Alex's father. Like Claire, Alex and Phil also shared a close relationship as she was growing up, although now that Alex has grown and is much smarter, she considers her dad to be an idiot, but she still loves him very much. Like Claire, he typically pays lesser attention to the self-sufficient Alex as compared to her more problematic siblings. He realises this in "The Last Walt" and attempts to create a good memory with the only child that he has yet to do so with. Alex is also shown to be comfortable with Phil. She is the one who inadvertently reveals to Phil that Haley is no longer a virgin ("Virgin Territory"). In her attempt to console Phil about Luke's presumed virginity loss, she also accidentally tells him she's lost hers too: "Don't be so naïve, we were all 17 once. It's not like we all–". Phil then states in the private interview that he sat there frozen for 20 minutes after realising what Alex was going to say ("Double Click"). Like Claire, he is not so open to the knowledge of his younger daughter's active sex life ("Kiss and Tell").
Haley is Alex's older sister, who happens to be her polar opposite. While Alex is smart, introverted and geeky, Haley is shallow, outgoing and popular. At the beginning of the series, Haley and Alex had a much more strained relationship. Alex always tried to distinguish herself from her sister and Haley constantly mocked her on her life choices, such as clothing, homework, boys, with Alex usually reciprocating. As years progress, however, the two girls grow closer. In "Crying Out Loud", the sisters reconcile after arguing with each other, and lean their heads against each other like when they were younger. Though they still mock and roughly tease each other, it is more of a sisterly banter, and the two girls are never shy to show their love for each other.
Mitchell is Alex's uncle. They are implied to be close off-screen as whenever an episode centres around their adventures together, there is always a form of prior communication between the two in the backstory.
As the family speeds off in different directions to make their express Christmas celebration a success, Mitchell is left with Alex to go and buy a Christmas tree with Lily. While together, they discover that they have a lot in common.
Claire convinces Mitchell and Cameron to talk to Alex about the likely possibility that her boyfriend, Michael, is gay, but she doesn't believe it.
Alex has been secretly texting Mitchell about Claire, partly to discuss what type of wine to get her as a gift, and partly to laugh at her behind her back. When the family gathers at Haley's exhibition, Alex hugs Mitchell as a greeting, much to Claire's annoyance as she suspects that the two are hiding something from her.
Cam is Alex's uncle by marriage. In "Basketball", Cam invites Alex to a high tea party out of spite for not being invited to Mitchell and Haley's, but Alex keeps talking while pouring the tea that she accidentally fills his cup. Later, it is Cam who accidentally talks a lot and pours into Alex's teacup to the brim. The tea party does not last long as the butthurt Cam refuses to accept that he's not wanted at his other niece's tea party but his partner is, and crashes it.
Jay is Alex's grandfather. They have a good relationship due to Jay's preference for Alex to her sister Haley. Alex reveals in "New Kids On The Block" that she accepted the offer to work in Antarctica because Jay encouraged her to, and was worried about disappointing him if she were to quit.
Luke is Alex's younger brother. Although they have their fights, they generally have a good relationship, and tend to care for each other. When they were younger, Alex enjoys terrorizing Luke. For example, Alex once convinced Luke that Phil's old girlfriend, Denise, was Luke's biological mother and that Luke was adopted ("Truth Be Told"). She and Haley also frequently pinned Luke down and dressed him up in Roaring '20s drag, as revealed in "Me? Jealous?". However, Alex has way less fights with Luke than she has with Haley.
Gloria is Alex's step-grandmother. From as early as Season 1, the two is shown to bond over their defiance of Claire as an authority figure. Even as she grows older, Alex still trusts Gloria, inviting her along for sexy clothes-shopping because she wants her opinion, much to Claire's chagrin ("Kids These Days").
Lily is Alex's cousin. When Lily was younger, she and Alex were shown to be close, such as Alex taking care of Lily in "Dude Ranch" and Alex babysitting her often. As Lily grows up, however, she begins being rude to Alex, as in "Red Alert", when she dismisses Alex's attempt to help her through her first period by calling her a nerd.
Manny is Alex's step-uncle, although he is the same age as her younger brother, Luke.
Jeremy is a boy that Alex likes, as revealed in "The Kiss". Her family finds out and they all try to get involved in helping her manifest her crush.
Alex mentions that she will be having a phone date with Jeremy for Valentine's Day.
Alex meets Jimmy while on vacation with her family in Wyoming in "Dude Ranch". Although she does not like him initially, she eventually develops a romantic relationship with him.
Jimmy first flirts with Alex, much to her annoyance. He later argues that she shouldn't be fighting what they had together and Alex states that she just wants to be left alone. Before obliging her wish for him to leave, Jimmy kisses her without her consent. Later, Alex confronts Jimmy and tells him that he "stole" her first kiss. He says that he doesn't want it, and makes to give it back by kissing her again. She says that she doesn't want it now, and gives the kiss back to him, kissing him passionately before she leaves, confused at what she has done. Near the end, Alex tells Jimmy that their homes are "2,443 miles apart".
"Door to Door"
Alex is revealed to have been "Skyping with her boyfriend".
Michael is a boy who first appears in "Baby on Board". He asks Alex to the prom after she says it's lame. There is a lingering question as to whether he's gay or not.
"Baby on Board"
There is a prom at Alex's high school. After saying it's lame, she gets asked by a boy named Michael. She attends the prom with him as her date.
Alex meets Jason at a tour of CalTech in "Do Not Push". The two click, and Jason convinces Alex to consider attending CalTech even though it's close to her parents and she wants a school somewhere on the east coast. They make awkward attempts to flirt with each other, both claiming that they have Asperger's syndrome, just to seem more interesting to the other, before quickly redacting the statement. By the end of the tour, the two have developed an actual interest in each other, with Alex calling Jason "sweetie" after thinking Jason has called her "darling" (when he was actually just clarifying his surname). The two hug and depart. Alex befriends Jason on Facebook, but he is never mentioned again.
Alec was Alex's boyfriend for an unknown amount of time in Season 6. He appears only in "Strangers in the Night". He is a model and Alex shows her parents a picture of him in a supermarket flyer which makes them believe she is making him up. He later shows up at her door and breaks up with her because his dad got transferred to Africa to work there as a baby heart surgeon. None of the Dunphy family believe he is real, until Alex shows she is not just a compulsive liar and goes out with the completely real Teddy Keys.
Teddy Keys was Alex' "rebound" after Alec broke up with her in "Strangers in the Night". He is a "bad boy" who recently got out of juvy and rides a motorcycle, but he is shown to have a romantic side, giving Alex two white roses throughout the episode. At first, Claire and Phil do not believe Teddy is real, as all of the facts Alex produces about him correlate to various items in her room (i.e., "Teddy" being a teddy bear on her bed, "Keys" being her car keys on her dresser, his working at MattressKing being her mattress and a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. on her wall). However, he does indeed arrive at the door, and though initially happy that Alex was not, in fact, a compulsive liar, Claire and Phil realize that she is actually going on a date with a seemingly dangerous kid and quickly run out after them.
Sanjay is often mentioned in previous episodes as he is Alex's all-time academic rival, but he first appears in "Patriot Games". It is then revealed that Sanjay had been crushing on Alex for a while.
Alex is furious upon learning that she has been asked to be co-valedictorian with her all-time academic rival, Sanjay Patel. Due to having the same GPA as one another. Alex and Sanjay then decide to settle things with a physical test, in form of a race to determine who gets the valedictorian spot. Prior to the race, Sanjay goes over to Alex's house to confess his crush on her. Alex is flustered, but then convinced by her family that it was possibly a distraction. On the day of the race, Alex prepares for the race confidently, and tries to ignore Sanjay. Sanjay is then confused, as to why Alex is ignoring him. When the race starts Sanjay refuses to run. However, in front of their parents, Sanjay reveals that he doesn't care for the valedictorian spot, and that he cares more about Alex knowing his true feelings for her. He then expresses his embarrassment about his skinny legs--in which Alex tells him she likes, they then move towards each other, while exchanging compliments about each other. Alex then kisses Sanjay, who tells Alex competitively that he kisses better than her. Alex then strikes back and tells him she is destroying him and they continue to kiss. While Alex is in college, it is revealed that the two have broken up.
Reuben is a friend of Luke's and is said to be quite the dork. After Alex's break up with, Sanjay, she feels lonely and is desperate for someone to make her feel better (about herself, mostly). Reuben has a huge crush on Alex and comes running up as soon as he finds out she and Sanjay are broken up, resulting in the two of them being in a relationship. Reuben is pretty much Alex's recovery boy, since they break up a very short period after they got together. Alex also mentions that she has tried breaking up with him before and that he is annoying, desperate and dorky.
"Phil's Sexy, Sexy House"
It is found that Alex talked Reuben into having sex with her, which is stopped when Phil is playing a virtual reality game when he says tells whoever he is fighting to come out, Reuben thinks that Phil is talking to him, so he comes out and tells Phil that Alex talked her into doing it. Claire is also visibly disappointed that Reuben is the one who was in there with her, and though she could do better.
Ben is the marketing manager at Pritchett's Closets & Blinds who doubles as Claire's assistant (Claire has even called him a "suck-up" as he does everything he says). Even though Ben is older than Alex, he's still the type she seems to be drawn to, being an "underachieving man-child" who still lives with his mother at age 26.
"Do You Believe in Magic"
It's revealed that Ben fell for Alex when she worked at Pritchett's Closets & Blinds for the summer, and later stole her portrait from Claire's office. He also sent Alex flowers as her secret admirer. When Alex found out who sent her the flowers, she passionately kisses him on his table.
Alex mentions that the two are now dating and she's trying to hide it from her family, especially her mother.
Phil and Claire pay Alex a surprise visit to her dorm room and discover her relationship with Ben. Claire isn't too happy about it, but Phil is just happy to see Alex happy.
Alex invites Ben to her family's boat trip to the lake in order to watch the eclipse, but does everything she can to avoid him the entire trip. She ends up accidentally leaving him stranded on an island.
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Phil Dunphy"
Alex intends to break up with Ben, and expects him to freak out. However, his passive acceptance of her decision prompts her to lash out at him, hence she is the one causing the scene instead.
Bill meets Alex when she burns a bagel bite in the microwave in her dorm room after overindulging in a pity party over her sister Haley dating her school professor and crush, Arvin. Bill wakes her up and carries her out of the smoky room. Bill almost proposes to Alex in "We Need to Talk about Lily" after her outburst. He breaks up with her in "The Last Halloween", having lost respect for her after she unknowingly sent her nudes to his pervy colleague's number, thinking it was his.
Arvin is a British professor Alex seems to have a crush on, although he starts dating her sister, Haley, instead. After Haley cheats on him and chooses Dylan over him in "Torn Between Two Lovers", Arvin leaves. He reappears in "Baby Steps", mocking Alex's employment at a less-than-ethical corporation and her luxurious fashion choices afforded by her high salary. Somehow, even after Arvin refuses to defend her from student rioters (he even incites them to further ostracize her), they begin to question if they could have something more. Alex accepts his offer to work for him, and they exchange a few texts to "prove" that they were already dating prior to her employment so they wouldn't get in trouble. Alex later learns that his research has been moved to Switzerland, and goes with him there in "Finale Part 1/Finale Part 2".
- Ariel Winter is the same age as the character as she portrays.
- Alex plays the cello and sang in a band called Electric Light Dorkestra ("Best Men").
- From "Pilot" until "Suddenly, Last Summer", Alex wears small, framed glasses. From "First Days" onwards, Alex switches to bigger glasses with thicker rims. Both have black square plastic frames, which seems to be her preferred style. Also, at times, she can be seen without her glasses.
- She also wears contacts, though only on rare occasions, such as in the show's promo picture.
- She plays lacrosse ("Best Men").
- It is implied that she leans democratically as, in "Under Pressure", she wonders if Hillary is going to run for president or not and states frustration over it, although she may have brought it up only because she understands the pressure Hillary must be facing.
- Blue index cards help her study better ("Under Pressure").
- When she was younger, she won a spelling bee in school. The winning word was "responsibility". Her parents didn't even know she was in the spelling bee yet she felt obliged to win ("Under Pressure").
- She told her therapist in "Under Pressure" that her family "doesn't get her", and it makes her feel kind of alone.
- In "Under Pressure", it is noted she takes AP Bio, Advanced Lit., and AP History.
- She began drinking recreationally at age 16, sometime around the events of "A Hard Jay's Night".
- She lost her virginity at age 17, as she accidentally reveals to her father in "Double Click".
- Like her brother and her sister, Alex has an allergy. She is allergic to nuts as specified in "Ringmaster Keifth".
- Alex is the only Dunphy child not to attend community college.
- Alex first walked at six months ("Spanks for the Memories").
- Alex's first words were when she was 1 and she said "Sorry it took me so long to walk" ("Spanks for the Memories").
- She is allergic to cats. ("Snapped")
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