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Modern Family Wiki
Modern Family Wiki

Legacy is the eleventh episode from Season 11 of Modern Family, it aired on January 15, 2020.

Plot Summary

Phil pays a visit to his dad to make sure he is ok after hearing some concerning news about him. Meanwhile, Jay gives Claire and Mitch a bunch of their old childhood memorabilia that triggers them to reevaluate a long-held story about their first family vacation.[1]

Episode Description

Phil goes to visit his dad in Florida after Frank shows some worrying behaviour. The two have a fun day, reminiscing about a legendary giant penguin whose footprints were found on the beach and garnered a lot of local attention before they stopped appearing. While driving, the car breaks down and an attempt to repair it by Frank leads to it being flipped over, so the two hitch a ride with an arguing couple who they quickly manage to help forget the argument and have fun. Phil decides to cut Frank's hair and asks if he ever regretted not having another child who could have taken over his family business. Frank tells him he has no regrets, as he considers the family business to be keeping things light and fun which Phil has always done. Phil states in an interview that it was one of the best days he ever had with his dad, however he didn't know it would be the last, as Frank passed away soon after. Phil gives a moving speech during his wake, and later does something he knows his dad would have enjoyed; using his special flippers to leave giant penguin footprints on the beach

Jay invites Claire and Mitchell to sort through their childhood mementoes before they are thrown out. The two find an old Atari and remember it was bought for them by Jay as compensation for cutting a vacation short, although Jay insists he didn't and bought them the console anyway. Determined to prove their dad wrong, they try to find evidence backing them up. Although they do and are prepared to rub it in his face, they're stopped short when they learn that Jay only brought them home early as when he was trying to start up his closet business he made ends meet by working nights as a bartender. They later let him know how much they appreciate him during Frank's wake.

Meanwhile, Jay wants to initiate Joe to dog bed sales. Joe turns out to be a better seller than him and not only manages to make a sale but convinces Jay to get another dog. Jay comments that out of the two things he created in his later life, while the dog bed business hasn't worked out great he managed success with Joe.

While at the mall with Gloria, Cameron and Lily, Manny spots Brenda Feldman who he had read a love poem ten years previously. Manny is ready to hit her with another grand gesture of affection, but Gloria talks him out of it and Cameron helps him to score a date with her. Cam runs into one of his rivals who beat him to a prestigious teaching award and enjoys rubbing his face in that fact, until Gloria embarrasses her while trying on dresses. To return the favor, Cameron manages to sabotage a house sale that Gloria's rival realtor stole from under her nose by dressing himself, Manny and Lily up as yokels pretending to live next door.

Main Cast

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

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Joe Pritchett
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy (Haley Marshall)
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett
  • Dylan Marshall

Guest Starring

  • Fred Willard as Frank Dunphy
  • Marsha Kramer as Margaret
  • Paula Marshall as Beverly
  • Hayley Erin as Brenda Feldman
  • Siobhan Murphy as Fiancee
  • Todd Giebenham as Fiance
  • Melissa Greenspan as Debra
  • Eddie Alfano as Lon
  • Diego Parada as Carlos
  • Marty Ryan as Don
  • Nicole Sun as homebuyer
  • Andrew Flory as Ronald
  • Daniela Sommers Espinosa as Sue
  • Danielle Griffin as Dog Owner
  • Sheila Shaw as Freida


  • Haley, Alex, Luke and Dylan are absent in this episode. For the three formers, it's been odd since Frank is their grandpa.
    • With this, this episode has an absence reversion from Snapped in which they appeared, but Manny, Lily and Joe did not.
  • Sarah Hyland said in an interview that since she was not featured in this episode, she discovered the truth about Frank while watching it.
  • This episode marks the final appearance of Frank Dunphy.
  • It is unknown how Frank actually died.
  • With this episode, Phil is the only main character to have lost both parents during the run of the show.
  • Four months after this episode aired, Fred Willard (who played the recurring role of Phil's father Frank) passed away on May 16, 2020.
  • This episode aired on Andrea Martin's 73rd birthday.


  • Jay incorrectly refers to Lily as Joe’s cousin when she is in fact his half-niece.


  • Phil talks about growing up near Lake Okeechobee, Florida.
  • This episode aired exactly six years after Under Pressure.
  • Margaret's 13th episode though she is only heard.
  • Frank's 14th episode. It is also his final appearance.
  • Part of this episode revolves around a legacy, which also has been the subject of episodes Goodnight Gracie, Good Grief and Putting Down Roots.
  • Brenda Feldman returns from the Pilot.
  • With this episode, every kid has been absent one time at least, during a granddad or grandmom's passing as Goodnight Gracie did not feature Lilly and as in Good Grief Manny and Joe were absent.
  • This is the third episode in which none of the Dunphy kids appear after Las Vegas and Valentine's Day 4: Twisted Sister.
  • No mention of Lorraine and Ray at all in this episode though they were Frank's new wife and stepson in Frank's Wedding.
  • Death seems to be the only theme that happens each season though characters who die aren't always seen on screen.
    • In season 1, Jay accidentally kills Manny's turtle in Truth Be Told.
    • In season 2, Jay mentions his mother in Mother's Day.
    • In season 3, Walt dies offscreen in The Last Walt.
    • In season 4, the family gathers for Phil's mother's funeral in  Goodnight Gracie.
    • In season 5, Mitch and Cam organize a false funeral for Larry's wife in The same title episode.
    • In season 6, Jay loses offscreen a former navy buddy and Cam and Mitch's former neighbor Mr. Polaski also passes away on-screen in Marco Polo and Integrity.
    • In season 7, Jay also loses offscreen a former buddy navy in The Storm.
    • In season 8, Cam loses his granny and Gloria mentions her dad in A Tale of Three Cities.
    • In season 9, Earl Chambers dies in In Your Head.
    • In season 10, Dede passes in Good Grief.
    • In season 11, Frank passes in this episode.
  • Phil mentions Luke in this episode and says that he used to cut his hair, something he tried to make in Clean for a Day.
  • Manny is the second character to have a problem with a mechanical staircase after Phil in The Old Man & the Tree
  • Cats are mentioned again against dogs, something which occurred in Sleeper

Cultural references

  • Jay owns a painting by William "The Refrigerator" Perry
  • Phil says that gymnast Mary Lou Retton put her feet in the feet
  • Mitch was a fan of Flashdance as a child.
  • Claire refers to the 1980s as the Golden Age of Bullying; bullies were especially prominent in TV and movies of the period.[1][2]
  • Frank wants to recreate the VJ-Day kiss and the Oswald/Ruby assassination
  • They sing "Sweet Caroline" in the car
  • Mitch and Claire claim to have seen the Monkees in 1983. In reality, they did not tour between 1969 and 1986.
  • Phil once cut a hedge into the shape of magician Doug Henning.
  • Frank knew all the dances from Grease
  • Claire and Mitch had an Atari in their youth.


  • The A.V. Club gave it a "B-."