When ABC's Modern Family first premiered back in 2009, the adorable little Lily Tucker Pritchett was only a baby, introduced to the world and her big extended family through a now iconic "Circle of Life" recreation. The adopted daughter of Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett, Lily spent the first two seasons of the series as a tiny tot, offering adorable facial expressions and a welcome dose of cuteness to every scene she was in.
Starting with the series' third season, Lily was recast. Pint-sized scene stealer Aubrey Anderson-Emmons arrived and the rest is history. Lily quickly went from being the adorable little baby everyone fawned over to a total sass queen who was as unpredictable as they came. Always ready with a good witty remark and some totally bruising honesty, Lily has remained one of the series' most entertaining characters (even as Modern Family's quality has waned in the later years). Let's take a look back at ten of her sassiest moments over the years.
One of the first signs of a new level of sass for young Lily came in the fourth season episode "Fulgencio." To Cam and Mitch's horror and amusement, Lily seemed to have develop quite the sassy mouth overnight, coldly commenting on her fathers' emotions and observing that they should cry her a river. It was her repeated mention of a "wahmbulance," though, that really tipped them off to the fact that something was going on.
As it turned out, none other than Mitch's sister, Claire, had inadvertently taken little Lily under her wing, teaching her some of the typical snarky remarks that Claire was accustomed to making at the two men's expense. Thus, Lily's snark-tastic humor was born. There was really no going back after that.
As part of Cameron's love of all things dramatic, he has frequently been shown to love staging over-the-top photoshoots, featuring Lily dressed as iconic queens of entertainment. The fourth season episode "Bad Hair Day" finds him setting up yet another one of these photo shoots, with a decidedly less-than-enthusiastic Lily as his model for the day.
While baby Lily had to go along with the over the top changes of costumes and photo shoots, toddler Lily has a lot more to say, and a lot more attitude to go along with it. When Mitchell shows up, Lily quickly makes it clear that she's over this whole photoshoot thing, asking "Can I take a break? I wanna be alone." Ironically, that sort of over-it attitude is exactly what Cameron had been trying to capture in his photos, but sassy Lily gets her way and is able to take a break.
In the fourth season episode "Heart Broken," Mitch and Cam have their own little The Hangover experience. After a Valentine's Day 'session' they can't remember the morning after, they learn that they've inadvertently agreed to let Dylan (Haley's on-again, off-again boyfriend) live with them. Clearly, both men are mortified, but neither of them have the heart to tell the young man he needs to leave.
As it turns out, however, they need not have worried about offending Dylan at all, because little Lily has it all handled. Before either Mitch or Cam can even broach the subject with Dylan, Lily is practically screaming at him: "You can't live here. Get out. It's weird. You're a big boy." In case he didn't get the point, she doubles down, reminding him, "This isn't a hotel." Yet more total savagery from a four-year-old.
Lily has never exactly been known as someone who provides comfort well - or at all, really. In the fifth season episode "Farm Strong," Cameron's obnoxious sister, Pameron, comes to visit. At the time, Cam and Mitch are planning their forthcoming wedding, and Cam is afraid of his sister's reaction to the news, since he thinks she's the most sensitive person in the family. As it turns out, of course, it's Cam who winds up being the most sensitive, when he learns that Pam is engaged to the boy he was in love with when they were younger.
After Cameron's emotional outburst, everyone takes turns telling him why he's too sensitive, and why they're afraid to tell him anything. Lily gets in perhaps the most bruising comment of them all, flatly telling Cam, "sometimes, when you read to me, I pretend to fall asleep so you'll go." Ouch.
Sometimes, you really can't argue with the logic of children. In the series' fifth season, Cam and Mitch's wedding planning was underway, and it was all but a guarantee that Lily would serve as their adorable flower girl in the ceremony. In the episode "Other People's Children," Gloria and Claire are tasked with taking Lily shopping so that she can find the perfect dress for her moment in the spotlight during the wedding.
As soon as they arrive at the mall, Lily quickly sets her sights on one dress and one dress only: a costume of Belle's iconic yellow gown from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. When Claire tries to protest that she can't possibly wear a costume to the wedding, Lily levels her with a total masterful take-down, pointing out that Belle was a hero and a princess, and accomplished far more than Claire ever would.
As Lily gets older, she starts to become more curious and inquisitive about things, as most kids do when they reach that trouble-making age. In the sixth season episode "Haley's 21st Birthday," Lily is left at home with her older cousins Alex, Manny, and Luke as babysitters. During their night in, she starts to focus on one particular subject, which leads to some real feats of acrobatic logic on the teens' parts: where do babies come from?
Manny tries to offer the tried and true familiar explanation that storks bring babies, which seems like a safe enough route to travel. Lily, mishearing the answer, assumes that "the stork" is actually "this dork" - which she takes to mean the socially-challenged Luke.
While plenty of Lily's best jabs are at her fathers' expenses, it's also been shown that Lily loves to take shots at her older cousins, too. In the sixth season episode, "Grill Interrupted," the smartest kid in the extended Pritchett family, Alex Dunphy, has just gotten into Caltech, her dream school. As part of the extended celebrations, Dunphy matriarch Claire begins to give a rousing speech in support of her daughter.
When Claire begins the speech and toast, she starts it off by addressing it "to my brilliant daughter." This, then, sets Lily up for the perfect blink-and-you'll-miss-it joke she makes at Haley's expense: "so, not you." Haley's status as one of the dumbest members of the family is often discussed within the series, but few jokes are as totally succinct and savage as Lily's.
Cameron's hyper-emotional state is something that the show frequently features, especially as the butt of many, many jokes. By contrast, Mitchell's almost no-nonsense approach to life is far less frequently discussed. But the sixth season episode "Crying Out Loud" puts these two total opposite personalities in contrast with one another, especially when it comes to their mutual fear that Lily may be growing up devoid of normal emotions.
When Lily comes home from school one day to find Cameron sobbing and in hysterics, her demeanor is considerably cool. She remarks that Cameron is "always having a moment," and therefore it's hard to understand any of his feelings when he's feeling them all the time.
As Lily gets older, she also begins to get a bit more of a smart mouth to her, especially concerning her fathers' relationship. A large part of it likely comes from growing up around people like the more closed-minded Jay, and the more foul-mouthed Sal.
While playing cards with both of her fathers, the series offers one of Lily's most colorful quips of all. "Do you have any queens?" Cam asks, clearly playing a game of Go Fish. And that sets up Lily's snarky retort: "Yeah, two big ones." Her use of the stereotype is clearly learned from somewhere, but it's also not the first time she's mouthed off that way, according to Cameron. "It was funny the first time. Now it's just getting mean," he tells her. As Lily gets older, the line between sass and meanness continues to blur.
Arguably one of Lily's most iconic moments of them all occurs in the fourth season episode "The Future Dunphys." Lily begins to become more curious about things of a female nature, so Mitch and Cam encourage Gloria to spend more time with her, to be able to answer her questions when they arise. However, when Gloria and Lily go out to spend a girls' day together, Lily stuns Gloria with this question: "Did you know I'm gay?"
The moment leads to some of the series' best humor and heartwarming material all at once, as it's revealed that Lily thinks her fathers being gay means that she is gay - as if gay were their ethnicity. In the process, Lily winds up learning a lot more about her home country of Vietnam. However, this surprising and hilarious 'revelation' still stands as one of her best (albeit unintentional) moments of sass to date.