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Jesse Tyler Ferguson made Ty Burrell show up for ‘Modern Family’ reunion at SAG Awards to quash death rumors

After most of the cast reunited in November and posed with a framed photo of Burrell, some fans assumed the worst.
/ Source: TODAY

Jesse Tyler Ferguson made the “Modern Family” reunion at the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards happen by convincing former co-star Ty Burrell that it was a life or death situation… sort of. 

Fans of the ensemble comedy, which aired its final episode in 2020, were delighted to see Ferguson, Burrell, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen reunite last month to present an award at the 2024 SAG Awards.  

“This really brings back memories. You guys ever miss it?” Burrell asked on stage before the rest of the cast joked about what they’ve been up to since the series finale. 

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on February 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson reunite at the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.Michael Buckner / Variety via Getty Images

Ferguson recently stopped by “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and explained how they pulled off the surprise reunion. He revealed that an odd internet rumor about Burrell played a role in bringing them all together. 

When host Jimmy Fallon showed a photo of the “Modern Family” stars at the awards ceremony on Feb. 24, Ferguson said, “Honestly, on that night, we were all busy. Like Sofia was supposed to be doing press, I was supposed to be here in New York, Julie was shooting a show, Ed had a glass of wine to drink. And so we all like canceled those very important things.” 

The group had last reunited in November 2023, Ferguson said, but one key member was missing.

"The last time we had a reunion, Ty Burrell wasn’t able to come, and so we posed with photos of Ty. Because he was the only one who wasn’t there. We had all the kids and everyone," he said.

“Then, the internet thought he was dead,” the Broadway star added as Fallon laughed. 

The late night host displayed the Instagram photo Ferguson was referring to. On Nov. 16, Vergara uploaded a few photos of the entire cast — including Sarah Hyland, Nolan Gould, Ariel Winter, Rico Rodriguez and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons — posing together as Winter held up a framed portrait of Burrell. 

Fans were confused by the picture, and despite the smiling faces, some in the comments worried that it was a memorial for Burrell.

“Had to google and check that Phil was still alive….” one person wrote. 

Another said, “Bruh i thought Phill died, i almost had a mini heart attack.”

A third pointed out that most of the cast happened to be wearing black in the photo, and there was a large floral arrangement in the center, suggesting they were in mourning. Then, Vergara unknowingly added to fans' concern by posting a video of a few cast members looking at the photo and repeating “We miss you Ty!”

Ferguson saw the online reaction, so when it was time for the SAG Awards, he wanted to make sure fans knew Burrell was alive and well. 

“When the SAG Awards happened, he was supposed to do something else,” Ferguson continued. “I was like, ‘Ty! You can’t miss it again! People will really think you’re dead!’ It’s like, ‘We need to present you to show you that you’re not dead!’ So he made it.”

Ferguson said he was glad that all of them were finally able to get together again. They had a good time and put those theories about Burrell to rest. 

Stonestreet previously addressed the Burrell conspiracy during an appearance on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna in December. He said the rumors about Burrell were somewhat understandable. 

“We didn’t realize it at the time, but it did kind of look like a memorial. We’re all in black,” he joked. 

He echoed Ferguson’s sentiment that it is always a fun time when the “Modern Family” stars are back together. 

“It’s fun, right? That group of people hadn’t been together since we wrapped,” he shared. “I hadn’t seen the kids since we wrapped, so it was great to see them.”

Stonestreet also revealed he hopes to have them attend his upcoming wedding to his fiancée, Lindsay Schweitzer

His idea is “to build a house and host a wedding and do a reunion with all the ‘Modern Family’ (cast),” he shared. “I don’t know how many times I can get all my crew to Kansas City, so we want to do something special.”