Jay forces the family to take their family vacation on a houseboat on a lake in an effort to create memories that will last long after he’s gone. Meanwhile, Mitchell runs into an old flame that opens some old wounds; Cam has to stay out of the sun at all costs; Phil and Claire try out some adventureous excursions; and the kids’ quest for a good time may not be as fun as they expected.
Phil and Claire realize that Alex may be more self-sufficient in college than they give her credit for when they drop in for a quick visit. Meanwhile, Manny is determined to avoid a long tearful goodbye after Gloria and Jay move him into his college dorm. Finally, Mitch may have accidentally accelerated a planned renovation, and Hayley gets an unexpected opportunity when she befriends a wealthy female member at the country club.
Phil’s convinced he is going to have a day of bad luck after failing to successfully complete his daily superstition. However, Claire is eager to make it to a concert and has no time for his silly notion. Meanwhile, Mitch is certain that Cam is undermining him during their kitchen renovation, and Jay is determined to get Gloria to admit she was in a car accident.
Jay’s best friend, Shorty, is back from Costa Rica and stays at the house so they can catch up and reconnect. However, Shorty is spending more time with Gloria and seems to be avoiding Jay. Meanwhile, Alex is ready to shed her good-girl image and is going to prove to Claire that her relationship with Ben is definitely a sexual relationship.
Phil and Claire still want to celebrate Halloween in a big way, but it seems no one shares their same enthusiasm making them wonder if maybe everyone is right. Over at the Pritchett’s, Mitch and Cam are frustrated by how long Jay is taking to finish their kitchen remodel, which forces Mitch to finally stand up to his dad. Meanwhile, Gloria’s hospitality is wearing thin when Cam oversteps his boundaries as a house guest.
Claire is determined to make up for her less-than-joyful mood at Jay and Gloria’s wedding by throwing their tenth-anniversary party. As part of the festivities, Phil is going to perform a magic trick featuring Gloria appearing out of thin air in her wedding dress; that is if Gloria can still get into it!
During Jay's Thanksgiving toast, he honors the entire family on their recent successes, even though everyone knows that isn't quite true. As everyone desperately tries to hide the facts about their perceived triumphs, Phil works hard to master a classic magic trick and prove he's not the family failure.
The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan recount all their biggest celebrity encounters. Phil shows a house to his musical hero, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and is determined to make a good impression despite the intense pain radiating from a very inconvenient part of his body. Meanwhile, Jay’s day at jury duty takes an unexpected turn when he gets to serve it alongside one of America’s biggest football icons. Finally, Manny’s encounter with his favorite playwright and a celebrated actor and comedian don’t go exactly as you’d expect.
After leaving his real estate firm to strike out on his own, Phil decides a solo camping trip in the wild will be just what he needs to boost his confidence. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s plan to teach Cam a lesson in gullibility and Lily a lesson in responsibility backfires.
When Claire lands a big opportunity for Pritchett’s Closets, Jay expects a little validation for his contribution; and Pam’s ex-boyfriend Bo shows up and Mitchell sees this as the perfect opportunity to get Pam out of the house. Meanwhile, Luke and Alex stumble upon a successful online business that finally gets them on their feet.
Claire’s request to build a “She Shed” in their backyard is denied by the homeowners association and only Luke and Phil know the real reason why. Meanwhile Pameron lets Cam in on a family secret that forces him to visit Mitch’s therapist to work through this new information.
Gloria has to rush Phil to the hospital for an emergency surgery after he experiences some intense stomach pains and rallies the entire family to be by his side.
When Luke goes missing after a night out in a sketchy neighborhood, Manny, Phil and Gloria team up to track him down. Meanwhile, Haley is desperate to land an interview with the creator of a popular lifestyle website and interrupts Alex during one of her college classes. Alex’s professor, Arvin Fennerman, then proceeds to try and give Haley a piece of his mind.
Phil thinks that Gloria is upset at Jay for dropping the ball on Valentine’s Day, so he convinces Jay to spice things up with a little role playing that doesn’t go off as planned. Meanwhile, Mitch and Cam may have unwittingly ruined Luke’s Valentine’s Day date and are forced to make things right.
When Jay overhears Gloria on the phone talking about spanking, he assumes she is frustrated in the bedroom. When he attempts to light the spark again by giving her exactly what she wants, he realizes he might have made a mistake. Meanwhile, now that Mitchell has an amazing new job, he and Cam throw a party to rub it in Cam’s friends’ faces so they can no longer give him “the look of pity”.
The family goes on a wine tasting trip and stays in Haley’s new boss’ country house where the only rule is: Don’t touch the tiara! Meanwhile, Gloria and Mitch are invited to a party at Oprah’s house but can’t bring anyone else.
Haley’s brilliant astrophysicist boyfriend comes to meet the family, setting Claire and Phil off in a competition about which one of them is smarter, making Alex feel self-conscious about her dim but handsome firefighter boyfriend, Bill. Mitch and Cam go on a yoga retreat, but when Cam finds out his dream team, the Kansas City Royals, is having spring training next door, he can’t resist sneaking out.
When Gloria’s ex-boyfriend Jorge stops by for a visit, his striking resemblance to Manny makes Jay question if he might be Manny’s real dad; Phil agonizes over getting the perfect anniversary gift for Claire; Cam and Mitch are out of their depth when Lily gets into a fight at school over bras.
When Haley hears that her loopy boss is looking for a product with the magical properties of peppers, she tries to gain favor by convincing Gloria to sell her salsa to NERP; Mitchell gets Cam the police ride-along he’s always dreamed of.
When Dede drops in unexpectedly, Mitchell and Cam come to a realization about her effect on their lives; Phil, Luke, Alex and Haley all have different bad news to break to Claire and compete about when to do it, the tiny window of time after her monthly spa day when she’s her most relaxed.
Haley meets Arvin’s parents but when things don’t go as planned, fate leads to an unexpected reunion with all of her ex-boyfriends. Meanwhile, the family seizes on a nursing home visit with Jay’s mean sister, Becky, to settle old scores. But as Jay, Claire and Mitchell compete for her time, Phil, Cam and Gloria end up getting trapped in the home’s basement with no way out.
Mitchell sneaks out to “Hero-Con” with fanboy Phil, dressed as their favorite characters from the show “Clash of Swords.” It’s great until Phil commits the ultimate fan faux pas. In a clash of another kind, Gloria’s dinosaur party for Joe is ruined when her nemesis, Dr. Donna Duncan, upstages her with a far bigger and better party right next door.