Jay Francis Pritchett is the patriarch of the family and father of Claire, Mitchell and Joe, who is on the south side of middle age. He is married to Gloria and is stepfather to Manny; however he is much older than Gloria and is often mistaken for her father. At times there is a cultural clash between Jay and his wife and stepson because of their strong Colombian heritage. Most of the time Jay manages to tolerate Manny's sensitivity and Gloria's attitude. Although he usually acts tough, he values all of his extended family members. In Season 4, he is expecting a new child, Joe, who was born in "Party Crasher".
Jay is first seen watching his stepson Manny's soccer game. Also there, Gloria is eagerly and loudly shouting encouragement to her son, and begins arguing with another parent. Jay asks her to take it down a notch. Jay and Gloria are then interviewed, where Gloria discusses the differences between their backgrounds: she is from a small area in Colombia which is "number one for murders", while Jay comes from the city and owns a big business. Back on the pitch, Manny lets the other team score a goal when he is distracted by a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl riding by on a bicycle. Much to the team's dismay and the dismay of one of the parents, who Gloria threatens to 'take her out'. Gloria speaks to the father of one of the other players, who assumes that Jay is her dad. After the match, Manny tells Gloria that he's quitting soccer and wants to visit the mall and tell his sixteen-year-old crush, Brenda, that he loves her. In an interview, Gloria tells that Manny is more like his father; very passionate. She says that all they did was "fight and make love." This is a shocker to Jay.
After arriving at the mall, Jay tries to convince Manny not to admit his love for Brenda, but Manny does it anyway. Moments after Manny reads a poem, she reveals she has a boyfriend. Jay is mistaken for a mall walker so he decides to buy some new fashionable clothes.
In in interview with Mitchell, it's revealed Jay isn't comfortable with him being gay even after 5 years. The last scene is at Mitchell and Cameron's house where Lily is going to be introduced to the rest of the family. We learn that all three families are related. Before Lily is introduced, Jay, who is uncomfortable having a gay son, says that Mitchell and Cameron shouldn't adopt and, if they're bored, should get a dog. Cameron enters, holding Lily aloft before the family while "Circle of Life" from The Lion King plays. The entire family, including Jay, fawns over her.
In an interview, Jay is asked what's the key to being a great dad, and he can't come up with an answer. He is later seen in a fancy car and makes fun of Luke's girly bike, calling him Sally. Phil says he is getting a new one, and Jay agrees before he drives off. Later, he tells Gloria he is taking her to the wine country to relax for a couple days while Manny goes with his dad to Disneyland.
Gloria reminds him he has to help Manny make his fan, in an effort of bonding the two. Jay gets annoyed that Manny is obsessed with the safety and tells him to skip those directions. It is also shown that Jay is a little jealous because Manny speaks so highly of his dad, Javier. Gloria walks in with some drinks and pretends not to notice the tension between Manny and Jay. When Jay is installing the fan, one of the blades falls and hits Manny, and he says he broke his arm. He and Jay fight about the safety, then Manny says he hates Jay and doesn't want to live with him. Jay yells back, but is shown to be upset from the fight.
While Manny is waiting for his dad to pick him up, Jay gets a call saying Javier can't make it. Jay gets upset and feels bad for Manny, saying "Who's the bad guy now?" He goes outside to tell Manny and covers for his dad, saying that Javier gave his airplane seat up for an old lady. Manny doesn't believe him, but Jay assures him it's true. When the limo-scene comes to take Jay and Gloria to the wine country, he tells Manny his dad wanted Jay to take him and Gloria to Disneyland. Manny is very happy, and at the end of the day he evens falls asleep on Jay. Jay finally answers the question about being a good dad, and he said mainly, it's just about showing up.
Jay is at home putting his model airplane together. After being pressured by Claire, Phil does his usual job of trying too hard to ingratiate himself with Jay. He thinks Jay can't handle the fact that, being the silver back papa ape, this new stud comes in beating his chest and is taking away one of his females. Phil is not the enemy: poachers are. Still, Jay lets him help with the model airplane and asks Phil, out of kindness, if he wants to fly it. Gloria will take Alex out on the town, and Claire gets to stay home and watch Manny.
Jay and Phil are having fun flying the remote-control model airplane. Well, Phil is. He sees the peacefulness of flying a plane and insists on talking to Jay about it constantly. Jay suggests doing a "thread the needle," where Jay will fly the plane through a hoop that Phil holds. Jay missed, and nailed Phil in the nose with the plane. It was by accident, as far as Jay was concerned.
Jay drops Phil off, bringing his nose in a separate bag. Claire is beside herself because she knows Jay did the "thread the needle" miss on purpose. She hates that Jay never took to Phil and she is ready to throw him out of the house. Jay finally relents and apologizes to Phil, saying that he actually likes him. Unfortunately for Jay, Phil is under the influence of a lot of painkillers and sits on Jay's lap for a big hug. This of course is the time for Mitchell and Cameron to arrive, and Cameron gets on Jay's lap to get his in-law love. Manny decides to join the pile.
Things are a bit strange around the house. Gloria wants Jay to join her in the shower. A bird gets stopped by a window and stops Jay from getting lucky.
When Gloria and Jay were first married, DeDe wanted to be invited to the wedding to prove she was "over" Jay and Gloria getting married, and Mitchell convinced them to invite her. She had a few too many "Horny Colombians," as Gloria's male relatives called them. That is, the same ones that kept grabbing Claire's behind at the wedding... with Phil's semi-tacit approval. DeDe gives a toast that made the Nuremberg trials seem like Mardi Gras. And that was before she was dragged out kicking and screaming...and mocking Gloria... and had wedding cake all over her backside.
Mitchell stops at Jay's house to ask him if it's OK to invite DeDe to dinner. He is alone, because Manny decided to take Jay's advice for revenge after getting a dingdong drawn on him at a slumber party... by setting fire to the kid's bike ("Not my best parenting moment."). Jay is not amenable to the idea of DeDe coming to dinner to talk to Gloria, so much so that he is pretending this conversation with Mitchell is not happening so he can have full deniability with Gloria when Mitchell springs it on her.
A fight ensues later, but in the end, everybody is happy.
It's time for the big game at the Pritchett house. Well, Jay doesn't want anybody over, since people who don't know football tend to talk while Ohio State is on.
At Jay's house, Phil huddles Manny and Luke together, after his customary uncomfortable hug with Gloria, to discuss feelings, but Jay streamlines the conversation by getting them to agree they don't hit each other in this house. A point he emphasizes by smacking both upside the head.
There is a fight where Luke accedentily admits that Claire called Gloria a gold digger. Needless to say, Gloria is completely offended and refuses to come out of her room. Jay is not happy with Claire. She tries to defend herself by saying that it was over a year ago when she said it, and that she is young and gorgeous, while Jay is... and she notices how deep the hole is.
Jay is upset that Claire thinks he can't get someone like Gloria, so he gets some advice on if he is sexy. Mitchell isn't having it, but Cameron likes the dangerous/rich combination Jay brings to the table and would totally pick him up in "one of his bars."
Gloria still won't forgive her. Claire demands to know what she can do to make up for it, and Gloria suggests jumping in the pool. Claire doesn't want to do it, but she does. Gloria won't fall for the old "help me out of the pool" trick, so Jay just pushes her in. The rest of the family follows.
Gloria cannot believe that Manny is going into 5th grade. Jay and Gloria have a disagreement over Manny's decision to wear a Colombian poncho on his first day of school. Manny wants to show his classmates that he is proud of his Colombian heritage, but Jay thinks he will get beat up because of it. Gloria tells Jay that he is overreacting and consequently undermining Manny's confidence.
After Jay drops Manny off at school, he returns back to the house to get Gloria and treat her to a spa day. When getting into Jay's car, Gloria discovers Manny's poncho thrown in the trunk. She makes Jay drive back to Manny's school and return it to him, showing his support for whatever Manny wants to do. When Jay and Gloria arrive at Manny's school and pull him out of class, Manny thinks that they are there to tell him someone has died, which is usually the case when you get pulled out of class in Colombia.
Jay gives Manny's poncho back to him, and Manny informs his parents he will be playing the traditional Colombian pan flute, and doing the dance. Gloria then tells Jay to break the flute because the poncho plus the flute plus the dance is more than she can handle. So, Jay stomps on the flute, "accidentally" breaking it so Manny cannot perform.
At the end of the episode, all of the families reflect on how difficult it is to be a parent, but despite of all of the trials, it is the best job in the world.
Everybody is enjoying Manny's interest in fencing. Jay couldn't be prouder, especially since he didn't have any trophies Claire or Mitchell won growing up.
There may not be an actual final meet for Manny. He decides he wants to retire, thus ending Jay's hope of a trophy at his house. But Gloria is supportive of his retirement...until Manny tells her that it's because he doesn't want to fence against a girl. Needless to say, Gloria rips him one for not respecting women, and the match is back on. Jay is especially happy, since he already had t-shirts made that said "Who Da Manny?" They went well with "Haley's Comets" when she ran a 5K a few years back. Claire's "Claire and Present Danger" shirt tops all of them, though.
Before the finals start, Jay and Gloria find out that the girl Manny's competing against had many bad things going on in her life and they try to tell Manny to tank the match, but he misinterprets their hand gestures as "show no mercy." And he doesn't. It's a slaughter. Jay is mortified to be bringing a four-foot trophy to the car, until he sees Mitchell and Claire ice dancing together.
Gloria is thrilled to have Lily over, as Claire and Phil's kids are already sleeping over, and even Jay is enthused. It's at Jay's house, where everybody is in their PJ's, he makes Sloppy Jay's (Jo's, natch), and they watch a Western. At least, he does. However, Manny is more than a little excited about Haley coming over, so Jay must ready the hose to be on the safe side. Perhaps they'll need the hose for Haley as well, who wants to hang out at a party at a boy's house down the street instead.
Haley, Alex, and Luke arrive at Jay and Gloria's house. Lily is already taking to Gloria's singing, Luke is practically in tears, and Haley is already trying to worm her way out of staying at Grandpa's.
At their poker game, Gloria has a great pair, but Haley gets a straight and heads straight out. However, Grandpa is lightning fast and is already ahead of her. Under the guise of fixing the lights, Jay knew these moves Haley was trying because Claire tried the same things when she was 15.
Jay has been very successful in preventing Haley from escaping, but Gloria realizes that she doesn't want Haley resenting her grandparents. Even though Claire and Mitchell pulled the same stunts, Gloria wants Jay to act more like a loving grandpa instead of a tough parent. He relents and invites Dylan into the house, who was hiding in the bushes waiting to take Haley to the party.
Haley is more than happy...until Dylan gets a whiff of the Sloppy Jays and notices "The Gunfighter" on the TV. They're in for the night. Although Luke is determined to make sure Jay is still alive.
Everybody is gathering at the hospital, but we don't know what's going on. Jay is beside himself, in spite of Mitchell's reassurances that it could have been worse. He wanted to know how this could happen.
Grandpa Jay is the grandpa we'd all like to have, since he's getting Luke a crossbow. Gloria objects, but only on the basis of how accident-prone Luke is. Not like her, who had a machete as a kid. Manny needs advice from Jay on how to get a hot girl, since obviously Jay is an expert in this. Jay's advice to Manny is... be the funny guy. This instead of having power or money.
Right when Mitchell is telling Claire that Fizbo "is a bad-ass," the scorpion makes its appearance and scares the crap out of Fizbo, who runs, as do the kids near him. He knocks over the crafts table and gets too close to Phil, who freaks and backs into Jay. The crossbow goes off accidentally and deflates the bouncy castle, and Bianca, the girl Manny was trying to impress, was trapped.
After pulling a practical joke on Jay, which is a Colombian tradition at Christmas, Jay is not much for having Gloria and Manny doing any more Colombian Christmas traditions at the house, and neither is happy about it. No fireworks, no having the Baby Jesus deliver the presents. After dropping off some Christmas presents, Jay decides to be flexible and buy some fireworks for Manny, since he wants Manny to have some of his own Christmas traditions with him and Gloria. That is, once Jay gets off one last practical joke of his own.
Jay enjoys traditionally manly hobbies such as watching football (Jay used to be a quarterback in college) constructing model airplanes, golfing, and fishing.