[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the series finale of Modern Family. Read at your own risk!]
ABC's landmark comedy Modern Family closed their eleven season run with a bittersweet finale that saw the Pritchetts and Dunphys scattering to different parts of the globe. True to form, the show threw in some callbacks to earlier episodes, a pop-in from past guest star Elizabeth Banks, and some tears as all the families realize it might be awhile 'til they're together again. Oh, and there were hugs aplenty.
There were teary moments in the finale, but if you watched the special that aired prior to the finale episode, that hour really primed the emotional pump for the show's final hour. Watching how the kids have literally grown up on the show and how the cast has gone through life's good and bad moments together was more emotional than the finale.
Empty nests figured heavily into the series closer as Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) realized they had to do something about their overcrowded house and asked Haley (Sarah Hyland), Luke (Nolan Gould), and Alex (Ariel Winter) to decide among themselves who would move out. One by one, the kids show how grown up they are: Alex found out her new non-profit job with Arvin (Haley's ex) is being moved to Switzerland and she got a bonus when she finds out the flirty feelings between her and Arvin were mutual. Luke revealed he'd been accepted to the University of Oregon so he's moving out to attend college. Haley and Dylan announced they found an apartment they could afford so they packed up twins Poppy and George and moved out too. Phil and Claire were a little stunned when they realize all the kids would be leaving and Claire immediately went into to denial mode. Like real life, it was all moving too fast for them and it took them a bit to mentally catch up.
The changes continued as Cam (Eric Stonestreet) was shocked to learn Missouri college football coaching job he was rejected for came back around. As he and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) just adopted baby boy Rex and moved into their new dream home, Cam didn't even want to tell Mitchell about the job offer, but the pressure built during their housewarming party. Mitchell found out and told Cam to take the job - it was time Mitchell supported Cam's dream. An overwhelmed Cam and Mitch channeled their emotion into a karaoke duet of "Endless Love."
Gloria (Sofia Vergara) was worried about Jay (Ed O'Neill) and also fretted about Manny (Rico Rodriguez) as he prepared to travel around the world. Gloria and Joe were planning to spend the summer in Colombia and Jay seemed distracted, until he revealed he's been learning Spanish to surprise Gloria because he's going with her and Joe for the summer.
As the collected family wound up getting some extra hours to spend with each other as Mitch and Cam's flight to Kansas City was delayed repeatedly because of tornadoes and hail, memories flooded back. While they're waiting for their later flight, Mitch and Claire went to their high school to steal back their skating trophy that their mom had given back to the school because they fought over it so much. While there, they reenacted their ice skating routine to "Hungry Like the Wolf."
After Haley and Alex pranked Luke for one last time, Claire and Phil stood in one of the now-empty bedrooms in the house they first moved into as naïve newlyweds. Recalling Jay's advice to him, Phil told Claire he was thinking about their next chapter and he thought the first thing they should do is take a cross-country RV trip. Claire loved the idea. The camera panned to family photos of the Modern Family for one last time.
The genius of Modern Family is that it ended as it began: with the families growing and changing, while maintaining their close bonds and sense of humor. The show that felt like a warm hug each week closed out their run with a well-crafted episode that didn't feel like a permanent goodbye, but instead like a "see ya later." One can't help but think about where these families will be in five years. Let's hope we'll get to find out - it's sad to think this is the last time we'll see these lovable characters.
Modern Family is now streaming on Hulu.