Modern Family is going to kill a "significant character" this season, but that's a little misleading. It's probably going to be Stella, Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria's (Sofia Vergara) beloved French bulldog. Co-creator Christopher Lloyd was drumming up intrigue with that "significant character" quote, but note that he didn't say "main character" or "human character." Stella has been part of the show since Season 1, and she's certainly a significant character, and her death will be very sad and it will be a sitcommy learning experience for Joe (Jeremy Maguire). It's the kind of definitive plot point a show should do as it moves toward its end, which Modern Family is probably doing. But when the character death was announced, fans starting speculating on who it would be, and the second-most common theory (after Stella) was that it would be Jay, because he's old. But Modern Family is a light comedy and is not the type of show to kill off main cast members. It can go sad, but it can't go tragic.
But it should.
This impending death is sort of like what happened on The Walking Dead in the Season 6 finale, when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed someone but the show didn't reveal who, which lead to an offseason filled with rampant speculation. In the comic on which the show is based, Glenn was the character killed. But it would have been very predictable and obvious for the show to repeat exactly what happened in the comic. So what the show did was kill Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) first and then kill Glenn (Steven Yeun) later in the episode. That way it managed to be surprising and stay true to itself.
Modern Family should do this, too. Stella's death would be true to the show, so she has to go. But that would be obvious, so the show should twist, too. It should kill Jay. It would be too dark to have Jay succumb to despondence after the death of his pet, but it would be funny to have him fall down a manhole after the dog's funeral. Or like he gets in a pool at night and doesn't realize there's a short in the lamp and he gets electrocuted. That would be stupid and crazy and would get Modern Family the headlines it doesn't get anymore. If you're gonna go out, go out swinging. Like Negan's baseball bat.
It doesn't even have to be Jay. A scenario could be devised for the death of every single other major character. Phil (Ty Burrell) does something Darwin Awards dumb. Alex (Ariel Winter) dies and no one notices. Cam (Eric Stonestreet) becomes a martyr for the Islamic State. The only one who couldn't be killed is Gloria.
None of this will happen, of course. According to Nolan Gould, who plays Luke Dunphy, the death has already been filmed. But there are still a bunch of Season 10 episodes left to shoot, and maybe another season, if ABC has its way. So there's still time for it to (not) happen. But it would be funny if it did, right?
Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on ABC.