"Message Received" is the twenty-second episode from Season 5 of Modern Family, it aired on May 7, 2014.

Plot Summary

Jay, Gloria and Manny challenge each other to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. Mitch and Cam's wedding is getting too big and costly so they resort to selling a couple of their prized possessions, and Haley, Alex and Luke play a joke on Phil and Claire.

Episode Description

Something old and something new with the Dunphys and the Pritchetts, and not just about Mitchell and Cameron's upcoming wedding. The problem is, everybody wants to see it, and quite a number of the relatives love the concept of an open bar. And pie on Cam's side. At this point, they would have to kill the centerpiece budget (quickly vetoed by Cam) or sell something valuable they have to pay for the extra expenses. Sadly, Lily's ruby ring wouldn't fetch much because it was made of candy. (A playground transaction she regretted). In his youth, Mitchell traded away a football Jay got him that was signed by Dan Marino. Had it been signed by Rita Moreno, much different story. But he did get a vintage Spider-Man comic #3, featuring the debut of Doc Ock. That had to be worth something, but Cam insisted he instead sells the vintage belt buckle his grandfather gave him that was worn by Wyatt Earp himself. Well, that's the story his grandfather told him, anyway. It turns out those were very popular at gas stations in the 1960's and was worth $20 at best. The Spider-Man comic, on the other hand, was worth a lot more. But Mitch wouldn't tell Cam that. No matter how crazy Cam's story got about his grandfather rescuing Wyatt Earp during a train robbery or that they wrestled for the belt buckle.

Manny apparently has an aversion to pickles. He wouldn't even eat a classic sandwich Jay made for him because the pickle was touching it. Jay decided this was a good teaching lesson for Manny, so he wouldn't let Manny leave until he at least tried it. Then Gloria reminded him he refused to eat any of her mother's blood sausages. And detente was a beautiful thing. For Gloria, anyway. And then Jay insisted she rub Stella's belly, something she hated to do. (GLORIA: It was like, 30 nipples). They all try it, and all three are grossed out. (GLORIA: Why so moist, Jay? WHY???).

Haley found a box of old things her parents were hanging onto in her bedroom, and she wanted to know if it could be thrown out. There was a lot of sentimental value, like the bottle of Zima Phil had in there. (PHIL: It was like a party in a bottle). They found a picture of Claire dating a much hotter guy before Phil named Bobby Nash, and there was also an answering machine with several messages still on it. And Phil's outgoing message showed he was a big fan of Wayne's World. On the machine, Haley, Alex, and Luke found out Mitchell had an issue with "distance" when it came to dating Phil's female cousin. (ALEX: That's the ONLY problem?). Oh, but it gets worse. Claire left a message on the machine telling Phil she was pregnant. At a Duran Duran concert, no less.

HALEY: I was conceived at a Duran Duran concert?!?

ALEX: A classy start to a classy life.

CLAIRE: You were not conceived at the concert; it was after the concert.


CLAIRE: It was a very nice car. The seats folded all the way back. (leaves)

HALEY: Ugh, images!

ALEX: I can't believe they kept it.

HALEY: I have a name!

And Haley also had a plan for a bit of revenge. They got Claire to repeat a text they "accidentally" meant to send to Phil and combined it with the recording from the machine. Phil, who was already feeling inadequate thinking Claire only dated him to get back at Jay, got a phone call on the golf course. "Phil, I don't want to bother you while you're playing golf, but I'm pregnant". Needless to say, Phil freaked out and left the course...and his playing the dust. Phil gets home and starts acting like any father would when they think their wife is pregnant without actually saying anything.

CLAIRE: (after being hugged and her grocery bags taken) Did you finally get a hole-in-one?

PHIL: Oh, I hope our baby has your sense of humor.

Claire denies she is pregnant, but Phil doesn't believe her for some reason, given her swollen ankles and her mood. And now she was REALLY mad at him. But then Phil plays the message, and they both realize it was the kids. (CLAIRE: I don't know whether to be angry or impressed). They're ready to lay into the kids, but then they decided they could have some fun with it. They waited for Haley and Alex to return and had a knock-down, drag-out argument that they could hear saying they regretted having any of their kids because they screwed them up so badly. Claire claimed if she hadn't gotten pregnant, she never would have married Phil and would be on a ranch in Aspen with Bobby Nash. Phil walks upstairs, and he was really selling being humiliated by Alex, Haley and now Luke. Although Claire couldn't be sure if he was just acting.

Mitchell retrieved his Spider-Man comic book from the attic in Jay's house. He had to admit some sentimentality for it since Spider-Man was a nerdy kid with a secret side, which made Mitchell feel better about having this other side he had to keep quiet for so long. Unfortunately, he ran right into a spider web and dropped the comic in a puddle. The comic was beyond redemption, but Cam tried to comfort him saying he still had the buckle. At which point Mitchell told him the buckle was a complete lie and was worthless. Mitchell instantly regretted ruining Cam's story. (CAMERON: It's OK. I had suspected the dates didn't line up. Now I'm starting to think that wasn't Amelia Earhart's compass). Gloria still said Jay could help, but both Mitch and Cam wouldn't dream of it. Jay suggested they scale it down and not make such a big deal about it, but Mitchell said Jay would be going over the moon if it was Claire getting married. Jay said he didn't want Claire's wedding to be a big deal, either. Oops. Things were degrading quickly. And Jay saying Mitch and Cam wouldn't want any of his friends there did not help. (MITCHELL: OK, who doesn't want them there? Me or you?). Jay wanted everyone to calm down because he didn't think he was out of line not wanting his friends to see him walk Mitch down the aisle or throw the bouquet or have a father-son dance, or whatever went on at a gay wedding.

JAY: I'm just saying I don't know how this stuff plays out. Fine, I admit it. This whole wedding thing is weird to me.

MITCHELL: (shocked) Oh, wow.

JAY: Now see, why do you get to be you, but I don't get to be me? I didn't choose to be uncomfortable! I was born this way!

MITCHELL: Are you really throwing a gay anthem in our face right now?

Jay was exasperated, wondering what more Mitchell wanted from him. Mitchell finally agreed. If Jay was that uncomfortable, he didn't have to go to the wedding. Both Mitchell and Cameron storm out.

Claire went up to the bedroom and wondered why Phil was upset. Phil admitted he heard her say earlier that Bobby was her boyfriend and she only married Phil because her dad hated it. She told him it was about the outfit she was wearing, but Phil still wondered if they would have been together had she not gotten pregnant. Claire admitted she did the same thing. She told Phil that she watched him wash the car with the kids and they got into a slap fight. She thought she was so lucky to have married him. (PHIL: I knew you were watching. That's why I dropped the sponge). Plus, Bobby Nash never made her laugh like Phil did. And she wanted him to pick up the ViewMaster she 'dropped'. And the kids, listening outside their door, we're sure they were fine. And the door locking made them run like hell.

But on the good side, Manny did finally eat a pickle and Gloria gave in to Stella all but begging her to rub her belly.

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

  • Cameron Watson as Appraiser
  • Mark Proksch as Coleman


  • Jay and Manny previously refused to try new things in "Boys' Night".
  • Claire's romantic life is put on the line, while in "Sleeper", was Phil who felt guilty about an ex-girlfriend.
  • This is the third time that Phil is seen playing golf, after "A Slight at the Opera" and "Flip Flop".
  • On Phil's answering machine there's a message from his old friend Ling who built his own helicopter in which he says he's testing it for the first time that day. It was previously said in "Fifteen Percent" that Ling died, probably from the helicopter crashing. Anyway that message comes before Claire's one when she tells him she's pregnant and they do not have to get married, but in "Lifetime Supply", when Phil was on the TV gameshow he said he was married and had a beautiful baby daughter and he also wished good luck to his friend Ling who built his own helicopter and was testing it that very day, creating a continuity error assuming the messages were recorded and played in a temporal order.


  • Haley was conceived after a concert in Phil and Claire's car.
  • Mitchell had a pager in the eighties and Phil apparently did not know his future brother-in-law was gay.

Cultural References

  • Manny reads the New Yorker.
  • Cam mentions the 2014 Tonys, and complains about there being another revival of Anything Goes
  • Mitch owns a rare Spiderman vs. Doctor Octopus comic.
  • Cam has a belt buckle he claims was once owned by Wyatt Earp. He suspected that the dates didn't align (Earp died in 1929).
  • Phil's answering machine is a reference to Wayne's World.
  • Haley was conceived at a Duran Duran concert.
  • Phil's golf buddy compares his wife to Larvelle Jones (played by Michael Winslow), the "sound effects guy" from Police Academy.
  • Jay and Mitch reference Born This Way by Lady Gaga.