This article started as a joke. It started as a tongue in cheek list of random characters on television who were secretly serial killers. I’ve set precedence with How I Met Your Mother, with the realization that Ted Mosby was secretly Ted Bundy’s son, and that every other character was a figment of his subconscious. I stand by that analysis, especially in light of the ending of the show.
But then the story turned to something darker. Because I added one character from Modern Family, and then realized that implied another, and another. Because I realized that essentially every single character on Modern Family was a serial killer. Every. One.
Let us review this murderer’s row.
The string of failed relationships, the obscenely younger wife, the meticulous and conspicuous wealth, the closet business that provides seemingly innocent access into the homes of strangers. Oh sure, at face value it’s all simply explained,a March-November relationship, a lonely older man. But then how do you explain the seventeen previous Mrs. Pritchetts, all buried in shallow graves in the Colombian countryside.
But Gloria, ah, Gloria survived his appetites, because in Gloria he found a soul as black as his own. They both sprung their traps on the other that fateful honeymoon: the black widow looking into the eyes of the butcher of brides. Was what sparked then love? Ask the men she lures into her home while Jay is away on business. Ask them once they discover what’s in the back of the closet.
The fedoras, the silk, the blood frenzy. Doted on his by his mother, destroyed by her psychoses, was there ever really a chance for this child of death? Even in adolescence, he learned to hunt, fabricating elaborate romantic entanglements with girls who could not even pick him out of a lineup. The boy is actually twenty-seven now, in his twelfth junior high in twelve years, kept young and bloated by a cocktail of drugs and spite. Have you ever seen one of his “interests” past a single episode? Neither have their parents.
She first killed at age fourteen, ambushing a neighborhood bully who harassed her brother to tears. She drowned him in a lake by the path on the way home from school. It was ruled an accident. It’s always ruled an accident.
I’ll admit that Phil was the original inspiration for this list. Simple, kind Phil. With the strange predilection for magic and other juvenile pursuits, a desperate need for the approval of a male parental figure, the real estate job that requires fake earnesty and plastic smiles, the almost too-perfect family that he has constructed methodically as a cover. The reason his clients always say the gardens in their new homes grow so beautifully? The bodies fertilizing them.
The simple masquerade, the mop of hair, he draws them in like a lost puppy, old and young alike. He particularly revels in growing close to someone, staging their death, and then soaking in the pity that pours his direction. You don’t think that the old neighbor’s oxygen hose got kinked on its own, do you? That’s what happens when you watch Luke’s mom through the diaphanous curtains. He’s a borrowed dress away from going full Bates. Oh, wait.
Kicked out of college, but not for the reasons so carefully arrayed. But because she was the sole survivor of the slaughter of her entire sorority. She said it was a drifter, one they even caught and convicted, but everyone who looked into her eyes knew the truth. And not even her defenders could quite explain how all the doors and windows had been barred from the inside.
Little Alex Dunphy, the forgotten middle child, the one who’s a little too quiet, a little too smart. Tortured at schools, mentally abused by an older sister who is a shrill and vicious harpy, she kills slowly in the little shack behind the science building at school. Only the janitor has the keys. Well, had. He lasted six weeks.
One word: Fisbo.
The obsessive neatness, the meticulous compulsions, the fussiness. The only time he feels alive is when he lets the beast out.
Well, okay, one character isn’t a serial killer. She’s just an asshole.