Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Ranking Modern Family Characters Cover

Although the series is now over, Modern Family remains one of the most popular comedy shows of the past decade, and it was its characters that made the show such a cultural icon. All the families had their own quirks and relatable characteristics, and watching them grow and develop throughout the seasons was part of what gave Modern Family so much charm. As such, I thought I’d make this article ranking Modern Family characters!

As with any show, there were favourites and least favourites, so this list will explore the best and the worst of what the Dunphys and the Pritchetts had to offer us. Although there were many characters whose lives intersected with the protagonists, only the main family members will be mentioned here, which means blood relatives and those who married into the family. Obviously babies haven’t had time to develop personalities, so Poppy, George, and Rex will have to sit this one out!

13. Lily

I know it’s wrong to hate a child, but it’s really hard not to with Lily. She has such a caustic personality, and takes pleasure in making other people’s lives miserable. Whilst she certainly has her funny moments (“Somebody call a wambulance”), often she just comes across as moody and ungrateful, and I never really warmed up to her. However, I do feel for her in the later seasons, as the lack of attention from her parents seems to really get her down, and I wonder if being spoiled was part of her problem, because she becomes a lot more likeable towards the end of the series.

Lily Modern Family

12. Manny

This one pains me. I loved Manny. He was such a special child, and easily would have been top 5 for me up until about season 6 or 7. The sensitive boy who loved poetry was a joy to watch, but the obnoxious man-child who objectifies women and thinks he’s better than everyone else was not. Instead of maturing into a respectful young gentleman who appreciates others, he became exhausting. He was no longer funny, and watching him lament over whichever boring storyline he had in a given episode was a total drag. He lost all his personality, and unfortunately didn’t just stop being a good character, but actively became a bad one.

Manny Modern Family

11. Cam

Although Lily is undoubtedly worse, it’s not hard to see where a lot of her more toxic traits come from. Whilst Lily gets better in the later seasons, Cam has the opposite problem. In the early seasons he was one of my favourites, but he just gets worse and worse as he gets older. Although his sass and over-the-top pettiness often makes me laugh, his selfishness and narcissism become draining to watch, and the way he treats Mitchell on top of his neglect of Lily makes him utterly unlikeable towards the end. He has little respect for Mitchell’s pride or dreams, and always prioritises his own wants. He’s especially bad when it comes to his family in Missouri, and he allows them to treat Mitchell like garbage, when he should have been standing up for his partner. With Cam, it feels like everything has to be about him or he throws a tantrum, and it’s hard to root for a character like that.

Cam Modern Family

10. Dylan

Now, contrary to a lot of people in the fandom, I actually like Dylan. I think he’s a polite, sweet guy, and he was my favourite choice for Haley. However, the reason he’s so low on this list is because he’s so unbelievably stupid. And I mean ‘unbelievably’ in the literal sense, it just didn’t feel real. Part of what made Modern Family so great was that the show felt relatable, and although the characters and plots were exaggerated, they felt based in reality. Dylan didn’t. He was made far too dumb, and it detracted from his character. It was an unnecessary choice from the writers, and it was frustrating because I feel like Dylan had a lot of excellent qualities that really could have shone through if they’d had any idea what to do with his character. Instead, they sent him off on so many side adventures as a way to get rid of him for a season or 2, and they even made him marry someone else for a while. Ultimately, his relationship with Haley came full circle, and I was glad that they ended up getting married and starting a family, but his character was too poorly developed to rank any higher.

Dylan Modern Family

9. Alex

Now we’re starting to get into the realm of characters who aren’t bad, they just aren’t as good as the ones above them. Poor Alex is the definition of gifted kid burnout, and she should have been so much higher up, but the later seasons let her down big time. As a child, she was an inspiration. Top of her class, hard-working, funny, she was absolutely brilliant. But she peaked in high school, and her lack of drive or direction as an adult was saddening. She descended into a spiral of bossiness and lashing out emotionally at others, which not only pushed others away, but hurt her own development too. Her self-esteem got so low that she started sleeping around with Luke’s friend Reuben just because she wanted to feel something, and she even dated Claire’s lonely assistant, Ben. She flits around for a while without setting her heart on anything in either her career or romantic life, before eventually committing to Haley’s ex-boyfriend, Arvin. It was painful to watch. However, she did end up taking a prestigious new technology job, so hopefully her future will be bright after all.

Alex Modern Family

8. Joe

Joe’s great, he shines in almost every scene that he’s in, but unfortunately for him he was just born too late to compete with the characters who’ve been in Modern Family since day 1. Obviously his first couple of seasons don’t really count for anything since he was just a baby, but even as a toddler he had a fantastic personality, and was hilarious to watch. Not only did he have the cutest little voice, but the writers gave him some great one-liners, and his side plots were unique and amusing. There’s something so adorably ridiculous about a tiny kleptomaniac, and I like that they developed his character as he got older, even addressing his speech issues. Let’s just forget about that terrible plot where he had a crush on his own half-sister, as that was all kinds of creepy.

7. Jay

Jay is probably the character who grows the most over the seasons, and although he’s not necessarily one of the funniest to watch, he earns his place in the middle of the pack simply by having such a heart-warming storyline. He starts off as a pretty typical old man, engrossed in toxic masculinity, and begrudgingly tolerant of his son’s homosexuality. He expresses clear discomfort with anything that doesn’t fit his pre-defined notion of what a man should be, and although he’s not actively hostile towards Cam, he’s not particularly accepting either. However, slowly, he unlearns all the negativity that he was raised to believe, and he embraces a much more open-minded worldview. He tells Mitchell how proud he is, he puts effort into building strong relationships with Cam and Phil, he encourages Claire to succeed as a woman in business, and he even learns Spanish so that he can speak with Gloria in her native tongue. He’s also a loving step-father to Manny, and he’s always willing to challenge himself with new ideas. Some people are good from the outset, but I think it’s so much more powerful when they go through a difficult growth journey to get there, and that’s why I think Jay is such an excellent character.

Jay Modern Family

6. Haley

Haley has the complete opposite trajectory to Alex. In the early seasons, she comes across as very shallow, without much potential for the future. She has no drive or direction, and her personality is pretty grating. But eventually, she learns to embrace her positive traits, and stops defining herself by other people’s expectations. She realises that success isn’t just about having academic smarts, and she makes real progress in the fashion and social media industries. Her relationships are also pretty indicative of where she’s at in life. Andy is a real turning point for her, as for the first time she understands that she wants someone selfless who makes her a priority, she wants something real. And although it doesn’t work out between them, she uses the time to really find herself, and when she eventually ends up with Dylan, they’re both better people than they were before. She’s not perfect, but she seems content with her life, and I think being a wife and mother is something she adapted to beautifully, without giving up on her own dreams either.

5. Mitchell

You may think it’s unfair that I’m ranking Mitchell so much higher than Cam when they both have plenty of toxic traits, but Mitch gets a bit of a pass from me just because he’s so darn entertaining to watch. Even when Mitchell’s in the wrong, he’s so funny about it that it just doesn’t feel as big of a deal as when Cam is in the wrong. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mitch, he’s not only successful at his job, but genuinely cares about environmental causes. It’s also really fun to watch his scenes with Claire, as their sibling relationship is one of the most nuanced in the entire show given their complicated childhood. Mitch often struggles with selfishness, but in the end he agrees to move their entire life to Missouri because it’s what’s best for Cam, and that kind of loyalty deserves all the praise in the world.

Mitchell Modern Family

4. Luke

Some of you may be surprised that I’ve rated Luke so highly, but honestly I think he’s very under-appreciated within the Modern Family fandom. Although I feel he wavers a bit in the middle seasons, he’s consistently a fun character to watch, and it’s great to see his personality develop. He starts off as an adorable little rascal who idolises his dad, and honestly his relationship with Phil in the early seasons is my favourite dynamic of the entire show. Luke can be pretty cheeky, and doesn’t always follow the rules, but he’s never cruel to anyone, and is usually supportive of both his family and friends. He really finds himself as he gets older, and although it was a bit disconcerting watching him in a relationship with an older woman from the country club, he usually makes decisions that are sensible for himself, even if his family don’t always agree. It was great seeing him come up with a clever business idea, and I like the thought of him becoming incredibly successful as an entrepreneur, despite his lack of academic prowess.

Luke Modern Family

3. Claire

Claire is an absolute inspiration. She manages to raise 3 children, be an excellent wife, and run a closet empire all at the same time. Even in the early seasons before she takes over Jay’s company, she still is impeccably organised, and unwaveringly determined in any mission she sets her mind to. As well as being a feminist icon, she’s also incredibly funny. Her one-liners always land brilliantly, and her interactions with the other characters often lead to delightfully awkward situations. Claire’s no-nonsense attitude and sassy demeanour may sometimes come across as abrasive, but she just believes in tough love, and has high standards for both herself and other people. Possibly the best thing about Claire is that she comes across as just an average woman. She’s totally believable as a character, and a lot of her life feels very relatable.

Claire Modern Family

2. Gloria

I’m probably ranking her a little higher than her personality really deserves, but honestly it’s because I cannot help but smile when she’s on screen. Sofia Vergara is an absolute legend of an actress, and she truly brings Gloria to life. Although I cannot deny Gloria’s many toxic traits and flaws, the pros easily outweigh the cons. At first, it’s natural to assume that she’s a gold digger, but as the series goes on, you realise that that’s really not the case. Gloria genuinely loves Jay, and he means the world to her. She makes every effort to fit in with the family, despite Claire being initially rather hostile towards her, and as time goes on they develop quite a touching relationship. And although she spoils Manny, she also is as attentive a mother as it’s possible to be, and she’s quite literally his cheerleader (remember when she decorated his locker?). She really helps Jay to grow as a person, and I credit her for a lot of the improvement in Jay’s relationship with Cam and Mitch. Her Colombian heritage is fascinating to learn about as well, and her anecdotes are so funny due to the casual way in which she tells them. Gloria would be my ideal aunt, and for that reason she earns her spot in second place.

Gloria Modern Family

1. Phil

Could there be anyone else in the top spot? Phil is a genuine treasure, and is quite possibly the nicest guy on any TV show, ever. Enthusiastic, helpful, loving; he’s nothing but kind and supportive to everybody that he meets, and his boundless energy is viewing perfection. His love for his children is so pure, and it’s heart-warming to see a man who’s so open with his emotions. Men are usually taught to be stoic and reserved, but Phil always rejected this narrative and shares his feelings in a healthy way. He has numerous hilarious storylines (his magic, his penchant for learning new skills, the whole Clive Bixby shtick), and he owns every scene that he’s in. He eagerly accepts his daughters’ boyfriends, and shows them the hospitality that he was initially denied by Jay. His goofy grin is always a welcome sight, and Modern Family just wouldn’t be the same without him.


Do you agree with this ranking of Modern Family characters? Which place was your favourite character? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community! And if you love the show, why not try your hand at this Modern Family quotes quiz?

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)