Wednesday’s episode of Modern Family took the ABC family comedy’s annual Halloween episode and turned a holiday based around death into a day of mourning a death. The “significant character” that meet their end would be DeDe, ex-wife of Jay, and mother of Claire and Mitch.

DeDe, who was introduced in season 1, appeared in seven episodes, most recently showed up last season. The news was revealed in the episode’s first minute when Claire, played by Julie Bowen, received a call from DeDe’s new husband, Jerry. Turns out, she had a heart problem that she didn’t want to talk about, survived an impossible chain of events during her women’s group trip to Greenland, then died peacefully in her sleep while clutching 10 pages of suggestions for the hotel staff.

Throughout the show, DeDe was always difficult. She told Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara, that at her wedding she’d come back to haunt her. She threatened to murder Cam if he ever hurt Mitch. And she didn’t want to pay for Claire’s voice lessons as a kid in case she ended up with her father’s nose.

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According to Steve Levitan, Modern Family co-creator, the show was “just trying to, at this point, put our characters through something new and interesting and challenging for us, so I think you’re right. That is one of the things that make this complicated and interesting. Whenever people have any kind of a complicated relationship with somebody, and then they die, it brings up a lot of things. So when we were talking at the beginning of the season about some different places to go, this idea came up, and we liked it. There will be, in fact, another episode that will deal with ramifications of this.”

While some might have felt a full-on death episode would be too harsh for the show, Levitan had no concerns. He even pointed to an episode several seasons ago when Phil’s mom died. Levitan also added Stella, the Pritchett family dog, is safe.

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