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Goodnight Gracie

"Goodnight Gracie" is the 24th and final episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom Modern Family, and the series' 96th episode overall. It was aired on May 22, 2013. The episode was written by Steven Levitan & Jeffrey Richman and it was directed by Steven Levitan.

"Goodnight Gracie"
Modern Family episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 24
Directed by Steven Levitan
Written by Steven Levitan
Jeffrey Richman
Production code 4ARG23
Original air date May 22, 2013
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Games People Play"
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"Suddenly, Last Summer"
List of Modern Family episodes



Phil's (Ty Burrell) mother passes away and the whole family flies to Florida for the funeral.

When they get there, Jay (Ed O'Neill) runs into a woman who he is sure he knows from somewhere. While talking to her he remembers that he lost his virginity to her when he was 18 but she has trouble remembering him. Jay tries everything to make her remember but it is not easy since it is revealed that many boys lost their virginity to her back then.

An arrest warrant is pending in Florida for Gloria (Sofia Vergara), because after moving and subletting her room in a house there, her roommate turned their apartment into a brothel. Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) agrees to represent her in court, and at Gloria's urging, he ends up negotiating the acquittal of numerous other defendants to the increasing ire of the judge. When he finally comes to represent Gloria, the judge settles the case since she can not stand to hear him anymore. After his success at the court, Mitchell regains confidence in his ability as a criminal attorney and wants to return to the court.

Cam (Eric Stonestreet) meets a few residents of the retirement community and when he sees that they have some common interests, he spends time with them, talking about books and playing Mahjong. The women are insatiable gossips, just like Cam, and the stories he overhears are proved valuable later.

In the meantime, Phil's mother left gifts with attached notes for Phil and her grandkids, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould). In Phil's letter she writes about the last thing she would want him to do for her. That last thing is to set up his father, Frank (Fred Willard), with another woman so he will not be alone. Phil does not like the idea at all, but Claire (Julie Bowen) says that he has to honor his mother's wish, especially since it is her last one.

Haley's letter was accompanied by a necklace, Luke's by a pocket watch and Alex's by a lighter with a note saying "this is a lighter." Alex, who was very close to her grandmother, is hurt by the seemingly shallow gift. Alex asks Frank about the note, and he notices it is in fact a letter which, in the humid environment in Florida, has become stuck together.

As the family attends the memorial service for Gracie, the contents of the letter are revealed in a voiceover by Alex, telling the story of how she acquired the lighter when her favorite actor, Paul Newman, left it behind at the diner where she was working as a waitress. Frank, witnessing her pocket the lighter, promises to keep her secret, and the letter ultimately encourages Alex to, occasionally, break the rules, saying, "You never know what might happen."



In its original American broadcast, "Goodnight Gracie" was watched by 10.01 million; slightly down by 0.02 from the previous episode.[1]


"Goodnight Gracie" received generally positive reviews.

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave an A- grade to the episode saying that it was one of the best episodes of the entire run. "It was hip to rag on Modern Family when this season started, as is natural for anything so lauded and yet so conventional. Nothing’s changed as this season ends, and too frequently the show strains to fulfill its promise. But when it’s good, as this fleet, funny, and sweet finale shows, there are few comedies on television more satisfying."[2]

Leigh Raines of TV Fanatic rated the episode with a 5/5 saying that it was perfectly balanced. "Humorous and heartwarming. Those are the two words I would use to describe the Modern Family season 4 finale. It was a perfect balance that proved once again why Modern Family has won all of those Emmys."[3]

Dalene Rovenstine from Paste Magazine rated the episode with 9.4/10 stating that the season was not the best but it went out with one of the strongest episodes. "The season definitely wasn’t the best, but it’s going out until next fall on one of its strongest episodes. A death on a sitcom is hard to do, but with “Goodnight Gracie”, Modern Family achieved the perfect balance lighthearted comedy, touching human emotion and heartwarming family drama."[4]

Zach Dionne from Vulture rated the episode with 4/5.[5]

Michael Adams of 411mania rated the episode with 8.5/10 saying that it was an interesting season finale. "In my opinion, a season finale should have a cliff hanger moment, or at least something that will make you come back in September, and Mitchell wanting to quit his job is not it to me. But despite the lack of a cliff hanger, I thought this was a really well done episode. It was very funny, and touching at the same time. [...] When a sitcom writer can mix amazing humor and heartwarming moments together, that's the stamp of a great show."[6]

Wyner C from Two Cents TV gave a good review to the episode saying that it was kind of bittersweet one. " I felt the emotion and the love – I laughed. What more can I ask for in an episode?"[7]


  1. ^ Sara Bibel (May 23, 2013). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'MasterChef', 'Modern Family', 'Criminal Minds' & 'Law & Order: SVU' Adjusted Up; 'How To Live With Your Parents' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. 
  2. ^ Bowman, Dona (May 22, 2013). "Goodnight Gracie". The A.V. Club. 
  3. ^ Raines, Leigh (May 22, 2013). "Modern Family Review: Breaking the Rules". TV Fanatic. 
  4. ^ Rovenstine, Dalene (May 23, 2013). "Modern Family Review: "Goodnight Gracie" (Episode 4.24)". Paste Magazine. 
  5. ^ Dionne, Zach (May 23, 2013). "Modern Family Season Finale Recap: Grandma, You're a Firework". Vulture. 
  6. ^ Adams, Michael (May 22, 2013). "Modern Family Review - 4.24 'Goodnight, Gracie'". 411mania. 
  7. ^ Wyner C (May 22, 2013). "Modern Family – Recap & Review – Goodnight Gracie". Two Cents TV. 

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