The Best Phil Dunphy Quotes



The best Modern Family Phil Dunphy quotes combine the character’s most hilarious moments as the family’s self-appointed jester, and the poignant scenes revealing Phil’s unique approach to parenting. Indeed, very few TV dads can compare to the brilliant combination of hilarity and sweetness that is Phil Dunphy. Much of this has to do with how Phil himself was written with actor Ty Burrell in mind, ensuring their synergy. “We wrote Phil for Ty because there’s something about the fact that this guy is unrelentingly nice, never stops trying, and is a big kid,” explained Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan (via Entertainment Weekly). “All of that applies to Ty.”

Not surprisingly, for his performance as Modern Family’s most likable character, Ty Burrell won two of the six Emmy Awards he was nominated for throughout the show’s run. For most of Modern Family, Burrell absolutely steals this unique twist on the mockumentary format from the rest of the cast – despite sharing the spotlight with performers like Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, and Eric Stonestreet. From advice he gave to his children and his secret real-estate tricks, to his trademark awkward phrasing, here are some of the best Phil Dunphy in series history.



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15 “Dance Until Your Feet Hurt, Sing Until Your Lungs Hurt, Act Until You’re William Hurt.”

Modern Family season 4, episode 2, “Schooled”

Phil Dunphy Modern Family

Phil is a character who loves giving everything he has to any task at hand and dancing, singing, and acting are no different. Phil loves trying new things even if he fails he’ll always give everything he has and this quote proves it. Phil is sure to dance until his feet hurt, sing until his lungs hurt, and act until he’s just as good as the famed actor William Hurt. This is just one of the many twists on old adages where Phil Dunphy quotes himself, from his own book of wisdom.

14 “Never Be Afraid To Reach For The Stars Because Even If You Fall, You’ll Always Be Wearing A Parent-Chute.”

Modern Family season 4, episode 2, “Schooled”

DUCK VILLAGE - modern family - phil and claire with lily

Phil Dunphy is one of the most supportive fathers in recent television history and this quote proves it. He always tells his children, Claire, and the rest of their family that they should try to reach and strive toward their dreams and what they really want in life. In this quote, he tells his kids that they shouldn’t be afraid to reach for the stars because he’ll always be there to help them if they fall. Though not as memorably funny as most Phil Dunphy quotes, this makes the list for its sheer warmth.

13 “Buy Low, Sell High. People Are Going To Look At This And Say, ‘That Guy’s High.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 14, “Moon Landing”

Modern Family Claire Phil Boat Wonder Woman Costume

Unfortunately, but hilariously, Phil misspeaks a lot throughout the series and has odd phrasing that he doesn’t catch before he speaks it into existence. As he tries to relay some real-estate advice, it starts out pretty well and normal enough, but he completely loses track of it by the end of the thought. He means to say that people will look at him and think that he’ll be able to sell properties at a high rate, but instead, he says that people will look at him and say that he’s inebriated. As this one shows, some Phil Dunphy quotes allowed Modern Family to get edgy without earning the ire of censors.

12 “It’s Like They Say, Sometimes God Closes A Door, But Sometimes He Closes It So Hard, You Can’t Get Your Wife Out.”

Modern Family season 2, episode 3, “Earthquake”

Claire and Phil looking upset on Modern Family

Phil puts his own hilarious spin on the well-known mantra of “sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window.” Delivered by Ty Burrell in a deadpan fashion, this line shows Phil maintaining his optimism even when he doesn’t know how to help Claire, so he instead makes a joke about the situation by playing with the phrase. While there are many Phil Dunphy quotes with hidden bits of wisdom, this one is memorable for combining sheer silliness with the concept of acceptance.

Related: Modern Family Ending Explained: What Happens To Each Character

11 “Do You See Me Saying ‘I’m Done?’ Never. Because There Is No ‘Done’ in Dunphy.”

Modern Family season 5, episode 9, “The Big Game”

Phil on a screen and Claire sitting beside him in Modern Family

Phil never gives up on anything in his life and is endlessly optimistic as he tries every option to find success with whatever task is at hand. Again, he trips over his words with this quote, as there is actually a “done” in Dunphy. Nonetheless, this particular quote best represents Phil Dunphy’s trademark optimism in the face of seemingly insurmountable goals – including his own failure to grasp the English language.

Modern Family season 1, episode 13, “Fifteen Percent”

Phil smiling while using his iPad on Modern Family

Here, the joke is on Phil, but on a more important note, it’s crucial how the producers of Modern Family have championed a male character with so few masculine traits. Phil is a successful working man who provides for his family and fixes things around the house, but he’s also an ex-cheerleader who loves High School Musical and can’t play sports. He’s also a loving husband and father of three, raising two daughters and a son without many traditional masculine traits himself. Out of the best Phil Dunphy quotes, this also dives into his backstory as an outsider who became successful in his own ways.

9 “I’ll Admit It – I’m Turned On By Powerful Women. Michelle Obama, Oprah, Condolezza Rice, Serena Williams…Wait A Minute.”

Modern Family season 3, episode 5, “Hit and Run”

claire and phil in the kitchen - modern family

Ty Burrell’s delivery of this line is perfect, particularly the last part. He realizes what really turns him on at the same time audiences do, and he plays it with the most incredibly accurate facial expression. The timing works well, too, as he pauses for just long enough for Phil to put the pieces together and figure out what else those four women have in common. It’s masterful acting, and it’s also a well-written moment – one of the show’s funniest ever. This line also shows how Phil Dunphy quotes amazingly toe the line between hilarious and offensive.

8 “When Life Gives You Lemonade, Make Lemons. Life Will Be All, ‘Whaaat?”

Modern Family season 4, episode 2, “Schooled”

Modern Family Phils-Osophy

Many of the best Phil Dunphy quotes are from his “Phil’s-osophy,” but this one might be the single best line from that book. From “The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you if you just lower your expectations,” to “Watch a sunrise at least once a day,” that leather-bound book of Phil’s life lessons should really be published and unleashed upon the world. However, Phil suggesting to surprise life instead of the other way around is not only a genuinely profound thought, it’s also a hilarious and unforgettable twist on the lemon analogy.

7 “I Always Felt Bad For People With Emotionally Distant Fathers; It Turns Out I’m One Of Them. It’s A Miracle I Didn’t End Up A Stripper.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 21, “Travels with Scout”

Phil hugging Haley in Modern Family

Phil ended up being a cheerleader, so he wasn’t far off. Phil’s relationship with his father, played by the great Fred Willard, was always used to fantastic comedic – and dramatic – effect over the years, which is what made it so sad when his mother passed away. Not only was a beloved character’s mother dying – a beloved character’s wife was dying, too. The great thing about Phil realizing this is that it deepens his relationship with his dad. Consistent with Modern Family‘s intergenerational storytelling, Phil is a terrific example of an emotionally involved dad who was raised right.

Related: Modern Family Cast & Character Guide

6 “I Love Filmmaking And I Love Love. I Guess You Could Say I Enjoy Making Love On Film And I Love Doing It By Myself.”

Modern Family season 5, episode 17, “Other People’s Children”

Phil sitting on the couch on Modern Family

Like most Phil Dunphy quotes, this one couldn’t possibly have been worded in a more awkward or humiliating way. All he’s trying to say is that he enjoys watching romantic movies. He does cry every time he watches Dirty Dancing, so that’s not a surprise. However, Phil also insinuates an astounding number of things here, despite just trying to explain exactly what draws him to cinema’s most romantic works. Seriously, a lot of Modern Family‘s raunchy humor was hidden in some of the best Phil Dunphy quotes.

5 “I Am Brave. Roller Coasters? Love ‘Em. Scary Movies? I’ve Seen Ghostbusters, Like, Seven Times. I Regularly Drive Through Neighborhoods That Have Only Recently Been Gentrified. So, Yeah, I’m Pretty Much Not Afraid Of Anything.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 9, “Fizbo”

Modern Family Phil Dunphy fun

Phil says this in the context of helping his son Luke overcome fear. However, when Cam’s clown alter-ego, Fizbo, shows up, Phil’s lifelong fear of clowns rears its painted, wacky head. Apart from Phil considering Ghost Busters a scary movie being hilarious, the part about gentrification underscores how Phil Dunphy quotes sometimes allowed Modern Family to take short but sharp stabs at sociopolitics.

4 “The iPad Comes Out On My Actual Birthday. It’s Like Steve Jobs And God Got Together To Say, ‘We Love You, Phil.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 19, “Game Changer”

Phil sitting on the couch pointing to his phone on Modern Family

Like most dads, Phil is obsessed with technology and he always wants to get the latest gadgets on the day of release. For Phil, on one particular year, the stars aligned. The iPad – which, back then, was the hottest new item from Apple – was being released on his birthday! Phil’s a man of simple pleasures, and this made his year. Notably, despite being topical, this Phil Dunphy quote remains relevant to today’s still gadget-obsessed society.

3 “Success Is 1% Inspiration, 98% Perspiration, And 2% Attention To Detail.”

Modern Family season 4, episode 2, “Schooled”

Phil Dunphy teaching college courses on Modern Family

Phil’s formula for success is an amalgamation of so many other formulas for success that it doesn’t even mathematically add up. Unless one of his other points, which isn’t explicitly stated but is sort of implied, is that you should always give 101%, in which case it’s a unique and original mantra for shooting for the stars. Whether it’s an intentional push to go beyond 100% or a simple error, this is one of many Phil Dunphy quotes that are great with or without context.

2 “Always Be Closing. Don’t Ever Forget, Great Home Ideas Just Keep Lurking, Mostly Nearby. Often People Question Realtors Sincerity. Take Umbrage, Violators Will – Ah, I Always Forget X.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 7, “En Garde”

Claire and Phil sitting in the car on Modern Family

The phrase “Always Be Closing” is an old adage in the sales game. But Phil Dunphy, being the real estate wiz that he is, has taken that one step further and finished the alphabet with it – almost. He stumbles on the “X,” but that’s only three letters away from completing the whole alphabet. He still managed to remember 23 of the words that he lives his life by, which is impressive enough. Unfortunately, Modern Family never revealed the rest of Phil’s A to Z of sales.

1 “I’m The Cool Dad, That’s My Thang. I’m Hip, I Surf The Web, I Text. LOL: Laugh out Loud. OMG: Oh My God. WTF: Why The Face.”

Modern Family season 1, episode 1, “Pilot”

Modern Family Phil tight rope walking

This was one of Phil’s first lines ever in the pilot episode. It’s the perfect way to introduce the character: extremely lovable, yearning for respect in the eyes of his kids, and earns it pretty much just by trying. The way Phil twists the “F” in WTF shows how Modern Family cleverly cherry-picks at ‘dirty’ language to arrive at brilliantly wholesome comedy. The best of Phil Dunphy’s quotes, “Why the face” remains forever burned into the minds of long-time viewers who remember watching the pilot episode of Modern Family.


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