The show starring Ed O’Neill was an immediate hit and holds the record with Frasier of five straight Emmy Awards as television’s best comedy.

Levitan and co-creator Christopher Lloyd knew from the start the show would include a gay couple who adopts a baby.

“When we locked it in, I remember saying to Chris, ‘Well, there goes Middle America’,” said Levitan, whose concern proved to be unfounded. “We got zero blowback. They were embraced because here was this couple, their first priority was their baby and raising it and doing it right, and people said it was hard to argue with that.”

Stonestreet added: “We were able to make all the same mistakes raising a child that everyone else did.”

The younger cast members, including Rico Rodriguez, Ariel Winter and Nolan Gould, grew up on the show. Sarah Hyland, who was 18 when Modern Family began, mentioned the “keyboard trolls” who criticised the changing appearances of her and Winter over the years.

“Between the two of us, we have gone and tackled them with all of our spite and wit,” Hyland said.

Between the two of us, we have gone and tackled them with all of our spite and wit.

Sarah Hyland

Rodriguez credited O’Neill, who was sick Wednesday, for taking him under his wing as a 10-year-old newcomer.

“Some of the jokes would just fly right over my head,” Rodriguez said. “He was always there for me.”

Before the finale, ABC is presenting a fan-curated tribute on March 11. The network will kick off the night in prime time with the series’ very first episode, followed by favorite episodes that fans get to vote on next month.

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The cast will soon be leaving behind the security provided by being on an enduring hit.

“I had been working almost 20 years when I got lucky with Modern Family,” Vergara said. “I might never get a job again, but now I have the money and I can sit in my house.”

The series airs in Australia on the Seven Network; it previously aired on the Ten Network but Ten lost the rights when the network entered administration. The show is expected to end in May for Australian viewers.

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