Alex Dunphy was the lovable bookworm among the Dunphy children on Modern Family. With Haley and Luke as her siblings, Alex always felt a little different from her family members. She had a good head on her shoulders, was brilliant, and had her choice of top colleges. She grew up and changed a lot in the span of 11 seasons, and not just physically.
Ariel Winter was just a child when she signed on to play Alex Dunphy in Modern Family and (literally) grew up in front of the camera, just like her character. From the pilot to the emotional finale, Alex Dunphy changed over the years in more ways than one.
Updated on June 11th, 2022, by Lynn Gibbs: Alex Dunphy was an important part of the Dunphy, Delgado-Pritchett, and Tucker-Pritchett clans. She was the smartest of the kids and, sometimes, the only logical thinker when things went awry. Alex wasn’t always given the respect she deserved but she never lost sight of her goals or what was important to her — school and her career. As she aged, Alex’s interests changed subtly and she found herself in better relationships with her siblings. Her physical appearance also modernized for the better, making her the show’s blossoming flower.
Season One: Young, Sassy, And Brilliant
The pilot for Modern Family aired in 2009 and introduced the three families and their relationships with one another. From the start, Alex Dunphy was a well-put-together child who seemed like she didn’t fit in with her clan.
It was clear she got her brains and her drive from her mother but lacked the social aspects that her father and siblings had. As the Dunphys’ brightest child, viewers saw her giving her parents a run for their money because she could out-smart them. At this time in the series, Alex was one of the more likable characters because of her smart quips.
Season Two: Potential First Kisses And Making New Friends
In season 2, Alex Dunphy was still just a young girl who loved school and hated her sister, who was her exact opposite and they butted heads constantly. However, Alex does take a lesson from Haley in trying to get her first kiss with a love interest, as well as wanting to know how to befriend a cool girl at school.
Alex didn’t always portray her best self in this season, however. She joined a band and was embarrassed that her mom came to watch her play. She also tried to get her parents to realize that Haley was lying about her job as a waitress. Alex did not mind trying to shine a light on the truth this season as long as she looked good.
Season Three: Jealousy Over Haley
In season 3, Alex Dunphy finally got her first kiss in the episode ‘Dude Ranch.’ She also continued going after Haley in spurts of jealousy and annoyance. With Haley planning on going away to college in the future, this season gave Alex some time to reassess their relationship, but it was very one-sided.
Alex’s best and worst outfits were similar to seasons 1 and 2 and doesn’t change until much later on her journey. She was used to wearing graphic t-shirts with sweaters over them and adored plaid shirts at this time.
Season Four: Homecoming Dances & Sarcasm
Alex Dunphy continued to grow in season 4 when she got her first boyfriend. The show did a fantastic job at slowly transitioning Alex from a little girl to a growing teenager. Alex was still young in this season but it was obvious she was now interested in boys and going through puberty.
She introduced her family to her boyfriend but was caught off-guard when they all assumed he was gay. One of the worst things Claire did to the family was spread the rumor about Alex’s boyfriend. Viewers couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Her issues with her family seemed to sprawl from that moment because she used sarcasm as a defense mechanism.
Season Five: Alex’s Anxiety Took Center Stage
In season 5, Alex Dunphy was going through a lot. Physically, she was blossoming into a young adult, but mentally she was crumbling. She was overworked at school and felt like she had no one to vent to at home. She ended up going to therapy in ‘Under Pressure’ to get to the root of her anxiety and it wound up being one of the saddest scenes.
This was also a big season for Alex and Haley as sisters. Haley may unintentionally do some nasty things to Alex but in this season they came together on more than one occasion. They were forced to stay in the basement together after a possum blocked the exit, and were also stuck like glue after a toy got stuck in both of their hair, resulting in bonding over a mutual crush.
Season Six: A Peek At The Near Future
In season 6, viewers had never seen Alex Dunphy more driven. With graduation around the corner, Alex started going on college tours. And although Alex wanted to go to college on the East Coast so that she could be away from family, she saw a lot of promise at Caltech — a closer choice to the Dunphys.
Alex had a few choice words about being named co-valedictorian, but it ended up being for the best. She ended up choosing to attend Caltech at the end of the season and fans were excited about her new glow-up adventure.
Season Seven: College And A New Outlook On Life
As bright as Alex Dunphy is, she wasn’t all that likable as she got older. She could be sarcastic, snarky, and rude to those she didn’t understand. Her character development was beautifully told in the Christmas episode where the family stayed in a log cabin, and an unexpected guest joined them. As much as Alex and her new guest had in common, Alex realized she was the mirror image of this woman and that scared her since the woman was alone and cynical at an older age.
By this point in the series, Alex is now in college and is a young woman. Alex’s best story arcs were on the rise as she transitioned into a new stage in her life.
Season Eight: A New Sense Of Style & A Closer Bond With Haley & Luke
Things began to slowly change in season 8. Alex started playing around with fashion and chose more floral and colorful tones than her regular go-to plain-Jane tops. She’s older and wiser in the eighth season too, which meant she was getting along more with her siblings. In ‘A Tale of Three Cities,’ the three had never bonded more and it was fun to see as viewers.
It was also a Modern Family milestone event for the Dunphy children, as getting along in another state without their parents was unheard of before this.
Season Nine: Mature Relationships
In season 9, Alex was dating Claire’s assistant Ben which was weird for everyone. The two did eventually break up but it was a solid relationship for a while. With her being at Caltech and Haley in the workforce, the two were getting along more and more. They still had their differences but now that Alex was playing around with makeup and fashion, Haley grew more respect for her.
With Alex almost done with school, fans were surprised when she started dating the fireman who saved her from her smokey dorm room in an unexpected plot twist. But as usual, Alex’s sense of humor cramped the relationship and she judged him for not being as smart as her. As much as Alex had grown, she still had a lot to learn about relationships…
Season 10 & 11: Alex Left The Nest For A New Future
In season 10, Alex Dunphy had come a long way from the series pilot but she still had underlying issues around her intelligence and her family.
In the series’ final season, things appeared to come full circle for Alex. She finally landed an amazing job opportunity abroad and started dating Arvin — the man she wanted to date all along. Fans were happy to see Alex going off and living her dreams while also fulfilling her personal life, which was something she ignored in the past. As many bad things as she did to the family in the past, she was more open and giving by season 11.
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