‘Modern Family’ Is Ending. So Is the Era of Big Sitcoms

February 5, 2019, 10:50 PM UTC

After a decade on the air, the Dunphys are almost done.

ABC announced today that its long-running hit sitcom Modern Family has been renewed for its 11th and final season. The Emmy-winning, ratings-dominating series—which premiered in the fall of 2009—will conclude at the end of the show’s 2019-2020 run. An exact date for the series finale has not been determined.

“For ten years, our characters have bravely faced turning points in life and moved through them to great personal enrichment,” said Christopher Lloyd, who co-created the show with Steven Levitan. “We have chosen a different path by doing one more season of Modern Family.”

An instant critical hit upon its debut, Modern Family tells the story of several intertwined broods, including the Dunphys, a goofy if affectionate upper-middle-class family led by Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen); the Tucker-Pritchetts, the groundbreaking prime-time gay couple led by Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet); and the Pritchett-Delgados, the oft-caustic yet loving duo headed up by Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara).

In a tweet, Ferguson—who received five consecutive Emmy nominations for his role in the show—bid a pre-emptive farewell to the show that launched his career. “Will be hard to say goodbye,” he wrote. “Love my family.”

Modern Family aired its 200th episode last year, reaching a milestone that’s become increasingly rare for major network sitcoms (several U.S. hits never made it to the ten-season mark, including The Office, 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother). As cable and streaming services continue to expand, so does the TV-comedy format: Whereas sitcoms classics such as Cheers and M*A*S*H ran for more than a decade, and often featured more than 20 episodes a season, recent hits such as Girls and Orange is the New Black were marked by shorter episode-counts and lifespans. Once Modern Family concludes next year, only a handful of current comedies will have been on for longer than a decade, including The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Thanks to its success, Modern Family has become a draw for big-name guest-stars, like Matthew Broderick and Elizabeth Banks. The series, which is filmed in the laugh-track-free “mockumentary format,” has also aired several experimental episodes, most notably a 2015 installment that played out almost entirely on a series of Apple screens.

Though the show’s viewership has declined slightly in recent years, Modern Family was long a ratings juggernaut for ABC: The series was the most popular scripted show of the 2011-2012 season, and during its early years, it averaged more than 10 million viewers a week. It’s won a remarkable five Emmy awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, and was most recently nominated in that category in 2017. Clearly, Ferguson won’t be the only who’ll have trouble saying goodbye.