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Modern Family star says recent reunion proved co-star ‘was not dead’ after accidental blunder

A recent Modern Family cast reunion served a double purpose by proving that one of the show’s cast members was actually alive.

Last month, the stars of the ABC sitcom reunited to host the Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series category at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards – but Jesse Tyler Ferguson has since revealed he had to step in when Ty Burrell revealed he would not be able to attend.

Speaking on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday (1 March), Ferguson, who played Mitchell Pritchett in the series, said he told Phil Dunphy star Burrell to change his plans due to a recent blunder that left Modern Family fans worried about his fate.

The furore occurred in November 2023 when the show’s cast shared a reunion photo that accidentally caused huge worry among the show’s fanbase.

Ferguson and Sofia Vergara, who played Gloria Delgado, shared a selection of images on Instagram showing off what they described as a “nearly perfect” reunion.

The cast members that could be seen in the photos included Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker), Ed O’Neil (Jay Pritchett), Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy), Ariel Winter (Alex Dunphy), Nolan Gould (Luke Dunphy), Rico Rodriguez (Manny Delgado), and the now grown up Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Lily Tucker-Pritchett).

However, Burrell was not there and his absence was marked with a framed photo of the actor held by his on-screen children.

Ferguson wrote on Instagram: “Nearly perfect reunion. We were only missing you, Ty! So we brought a cute pic in your place,” with Vergara sharing a video of Burrell’s photo on her mantelpiece alongside the caption: “We miss u Ty!!”

Those who saw the photos, though, were left momentarily shocked and saddened after assuming that Burrell was no longer with us. After several messages of concern appeared in the comments section on both Vergara’s and Fergusons’ feeds, others were forced to step in to point out that Burrell is very much alive.

“THIS MADE ME THINK HE WAS DEAD I PANICKED,” one concerned fan wrote, with another writing: “Please never ever do this again. Thought he’s gone!!”

‘Modern family’ fans were left worried about Ty Burrell’s fate because of this photo (Instagram)
‘Modern family’ fans were left worried about Ty Burrell’s fate because of this photo (Instagram)

Another commented: “I had to check Google to make sure he didn’t die.”

Speaking on The Tonight Show, Ferguson said: “When the SAG Awards happened, he was supposed to do something else. I was like, ‘Ty! You can’t miss it again! People will really think you’re dead!’ It’s like, ‘We need to present you to show that you’re not dead!’ So he made it.”

The actor continued: “Honestly, on that night, we were all busy. Sofia was supposed to be doing press, I was supposed to be here in New York, Julie was shooting a show, Ed had a glass of wine to drink. And so we all cancelled those very important things, and we figured out a way to come together because the last time we had a reunion, Ty Burrell wasn’t able to come, and so we posed with photos of Ty… and then the internet thought he was dead.”

Ahead of filming the final season in 2019, the sitcom’s co-creator Steven Levitan shared a photo of the cast recreating a photo they took during filming of the first season. He wrote: “10 years ago we took the first cast photo outside our first #modernfamily table read. Today, the ending begins.”

‘Modern Family’ cast reunited at Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards last month (Getty Images)
‘Modern Family’ cast reunited at Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards last month (Getty Images)

US sitcom Modern Family ended in 2020 after 11 seasons, and its depiction of blended families and same-sex partners was considered a fresh approach to the domestic comedy format.