When news broke that a “Modern Family” character was going to be killed off, fans feared the worst. So did cast members.

Ariel Winter said she and her co-stars learned that someone was going to die when headlines about it first started popping up on news sites.

“We got the table draft like 10 minutes later and I opened it and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s me, I’m done. They fired me,’” Winter told Variety while attending the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s A Time for Heroes Family Festival in Los Angeles. “And then I’m like, ‘It’s not me, thank God,’ but also sad because we no longer have Shelley Long.”

Long’s character, DeDe Pritchett, met her demise on the show’s Halloween episode, ending the speculation of which “Family” member would be offed. For the show, dealing with grim subject matter was also new ground.

“We’ve never really talked about death before on the show,” Winter added. “It’s a very sad topic, but I think we tried to make it as light hearted as possible to just show how everybody deals with death differently. Grieving is not always the way you think it is, so I think it’s important.”

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