"Goodnight Gracie" is the twenty-fourth and last episode from Season 4 of Modern Family, it aired on May 22, 2013.

Plot Summary

Everyone flies down to Florida to be with Phil after his mom's passing. Claire helps Phil with Gracie's last wish for Frank, and the kids reflect on the gifts Grandma left for them. Gloria has to contend with an outstanding arrest warrant in Florida, Cam finds himself fitting right into an elderly women's group at Frank's retirement community, and Jay runs into a pivotal person from his past.

Episode Description

The entire family headed down to Florida to be with Phil, whose mother passed away. Certainly he needed his family there and hugged Haley, Alex, and Luke when they arrived… and then the neck pillow Claire brought for him. As for everybody else, Mitchell was glad to be there (anything to get him out of the office), as was Cameron (anything to get him away from his gossipy friends), and Gloria took her mourning seriously, even wearing a black veil. Which she explained she needed because she had a bench warrant in Florida. Her ex-roommate down there turned their apartment into a brothel after she left, but her name was still on the lease. Jay figured she would pay a fine and that would be the end of it.

JAY: Quick and easy.

GLORIA: Yes, that was the name of the whorehouse.

Jay thought Mitchell would be good backup just in case, but they figured who would ever believe Gloria looked like the sort of person who would run a whorehouse? (MITCHELL: Yeah, I better go.)

As Manny went to indulge in the amenities of the gated community (for seniors...yes, he fits right in), Cam ingratiated himself with a group of senior ladies discussing books. He was quite a hit, even taking them on in Mahjong. That is, until he noticed one of them cheating by keeping tiles in her jacket. He quietly told one of the other ladies who planned to do something about it...right after she pocketed all of the cookies at the rec center. And let's not talk about the nice silver-haired lady who was making her coffee a bit more "Irish". Suddenly, Cam felt like he was back home again.

Frank, Phil's father, gave him a box his wife left for the Dunphy family. Phil couldn't read the note his mother left behind, so Claire read it for him. His mother's last request was for Phil to set Frank up with Annie Fitzsimmons, a very nice lady who lived a few streets away. Phil was appalled. He thought it was crazy. Which is exactly how his mother thought he'd react, but she wanted Frank to find someone before all the "vultures" came swooping in, given the very high female-to-male ratio of the community. Phil thought it was crazy his mother said Frank would follow anything with a casserole, but Phil going right for the cookies Haley made might make you think otherwise. There were other items in the box, none of which were his mother's ashes. Haley got some jewelry, Luke got a pocket watch because his grandmother thought men acted more dignified with them. (LUKE: Is this chain in case you swallow it?) Alex, who felt she had a special bond with her grandmother, got a lighter. Was it a special lighter? The note that came with it simply said "this is a lighter." Claire pressed him into fulfilling his mother's final wish for him, but Phil wasn't having it.

PHIL: When my dad is ready, he gets to pick his own girlfriend. That's the big upside to your wife dying. (awkward pause) Also not having to think before you speak.

Gloria had time to wait at the courthouse, but many other defendants needed a lawyer, too, so they begged Mitchell to represent them. (Wouldn't Mitchell need a Florida law license to do this?) Given how tough-as-nails the judge was, Mitchell was quite happy to get everyone's court cases dismissed. But Gloria had no problem with it.

GLORIA: Yes! Go make your mistakes with him! I don't want to go to jail for prostitution! (another defendant is VERY interested) Like you could afford me.

Thankfully, Gloria got her cased dismissed before Mitchell tried to defend a black man wrongly accused of rape in the Depression-era South. (Yes, he was going Gregory Peck on everyone.) Meanwhile, Jay met one of Frank's neighbors, Charlotte. It took him time, but he figured out where he knew her from. He got his Navy basic training in Pensacola. And Jay, right before he shipped off to Vietnam, became a man thanks to her. (If you need me to explain that, stop reading and leave. Seriously, it's way past your bedtime.) He was 18 and she was 31 and...well, just play the song Lola in your head and remove the last lyric and you get the idea. He kept trying to jog her memory about it, but saying he was shipping off to Vietnam and she had the ass of Ann-Margret. That got him an invite. Jay told her he regretted not calling her back, but she said she kept something of his. His Jefferson High class ring. (Jay didn't go to Jefferson High.) Then it must have been the medal. (It wasn't a Navy medal.) Then it must have been the love letters. (Jay doesn't write.)

JAY: (disgusted) Turns out she sent more men off to war than Lyndon Johnson.

Claire took a walk with Phil to get his mind off of things...and hopefully his mind on setting his dad up with Annie Fitzsimmons. She knocks on the door quickly and Annie is a delight...although the player with his shirt open and a white mullet wasn't so much. Phil and Claire pretended to be vacuum salesmen (Annie actually needed one of those), and they retreated quickly. Phil was livid for Claire tricking him like that, but when they got back to his father's house, they discovered his mother was right about the "vultures." They were circlin the carcass on the day of her funeral, in fact. They were now determined to do whatever it took to separate Annie from her Jack LaLanne-wannabe boyfriend (never in my life did I think I'd use Jack LaLanne in one of these synopses), but it turns out the oily bo-hunk (come on, Sixteen Candles reference, you had to like that) was actually Annie's brother. And given Phil having a heartfelt talk with Annie to explain his mother's last wish, it was obvious that Phil's mother was a special lady. Something he realized, too, given all that she did for him. He broke down crying and Annie comforted him.

At the ceremony, Phil thanked everyone for attending and made way for Alex to give a little tribute to her grandmother. She lit fireworks. Frank had told her the story about how they missed the Fourth of July one year because they got drunk in the afternoon and took a little catnap that ran too long, so Frank and she made their own fireworks. Which grossed Alex out until he explained he lit fireworks for her...then they made love all night. Frank also pointed out there was more to Alex's card than "this is a lighter". (things stick together all the time in Florida)

ALEX: This is a lighter. It belonged to my favorite actor, Paul Newman. One day, he came to the restaurant where I was waitressing and accidentally left it behind. For the first time in my life, I did something I wasn't supposed to and slipped it into my pocket. One of the customers saw and said "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me." That customer turned out to be the love of my life: your grandfather. So, dear Alex, who I love so dearly, who's probably too much like me for her own good, don't be afraid to break the rules. You never know what might happen.

And everybody heads back to California. Although Manny and Luke didn't know why everyone's in such a rush. They were enjoying their rocking chairs and drinking lemonade.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Fred Willard as Frank Dunphy
  • Millicent Martin as Charlotte
  • Anita Gillette as Annie Fitzsimmons
  • Ann Magnuson as Shelley
  • Caroline Aaron as Judge Bartley
  • Mary Jo Catlett as Edith
  • Peggy Miley as Hattie
  • Ruth Williamson as Marilyn
  • Jeff Pomerantz as Marv
  • Tina D'Marco as Anita Menchaca
  • Vic D. Vine as Defendant
  • Louise Claps as Irene
  • Judy Kain as Doris
  • Carol Mansell as Myra



  • Lily is absent in this episode. It is understandable, as she is very young and wouldn't have known Grace as well as the other family members.
  • Gloria mentions that she used to live in Florida and was a wanted woman there until Mitchell saved her from trouble.

Cultural References

  • The episode title is a reference to the closing words used by George Burns and Gracie Allen in their shows: George: "Say good night, Gracie." Gracie: "Good night." The reply "Good night, Gracie" is sometimes said to have been used, but actually it never was.
  • Dylan bought the box-set Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
  • Jay says that his old girlfriend "had the ass of a young Ann-Margret."
  • As for the Dunphy children, "Amazing Grace" is played at the funeral, appropriate considering their grandma's name.
  • Grace's lighter belonged to Paul Newman.