'The Conners': Everything we know about the new 'Roseanne' spinoff without Roseanne Barr

Raechal Shewfelt
The cast of
The cast of The Conners — Maya Lynne Robinson, Jayden Rey, Michael Fishman, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, and Lecy Goranson — pose for a promotional photo. (Photo: Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)

Even viewers who watched Roseanne from its 1988 premiere are curious about exactly what The Conners, the rebranded version of the show that’s now without its star and co-creator, Roseanne Barr, will be like.

You’ll remember that the Roseanne reboot was canceled in May after she tweeted a racist comment. The series was then picked up as a spinoff, with the rest of the cast — Sara Gilbert, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson, and others — as well as most of the crew, intact.

Less than a week before the premiere on Oct. 16, here’s what we know:

Roseanne won’t be involved with the show at all. Really.

ABC’s decision to cut ties with the star of the network’s highest-rated show of last season was somewhat surprising, but it was decisive. Barr reached a settlement with Tom Werner, the producer of the original and the reboot, so that it could happen. Executives at ABC were the ones who demanded she leave, although her co-stars weren’t happy with her either.

Yes, the cast knows the situation with Roseanne Barr is awkward — and even sad.

They’re excited to be back on the air, but they’ve known Barr for at least 30 years and worked with her for many of them. They get it.

“Sara and I had this scene in the first show, where we addressed the grief,” said Metcalf, who plays Barr’s sister, Jackie. “Sometimes when you’re an actor and you have to go to that place, you substitute something, but in this case there was no need to do that, because it was there. And it was real. And still makes me choke up, because that part of it’s been really hard.”

John Goodman, who plays Roseanne’s husband, Dan, seconded that.

She is missed, definitely,” he told Jimmy Kimmel on Monday night.

John Goodman and Sara Gilbert’s characters mourn Roseanne in the first episode of <em>The Conners</em>. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
John Goodman and Sara Gilbert’s characters mourn Roseanne in the first episode of The Conners. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)

Roseanne’s character will be killed off.

Barr herself told Brandon Straka on his YouTube show Walk Away in September that she knows exactly how it happens. “They have her die of an opioid overdose,” she said.

The actress said she had actually come up with the idea of Roseanne struggling with the drug, after her experience following a knee surgery. “There was a bit of a fight for me to quit and get off [opioids],” Barr noted.

Still, she strongly disagreed with the show’s decision to have her character die that way.

“I wanted to show [opioid struggle] in the show,” Barr said. “But I was never going to have Roseanne die of an opioid overdose. It’s so cynical and horrible. She should have died as a hero or not at all. … It wasn’t enough to [fire me], they had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show.”

The people who are still behind the show could have changed their minds about that storyline, though.

Darlene and David are moving on romantically.

Dodgeball actor Justin Long is set to play a love interest for Darlene, who’s ex-husband, David (Johnny Galecki), is still nearby. In fact, David has a love interest of his own, a girlfriend named Blue, who will be played by Juliette Lewis. What we don’t know is exactly how David and Long’s characters or Gilbert and Lewis’s will interact, although it’s a good bet that not everything will go over smoothly.

DJ has a new wife.

While DJ’s wife was played on the Roseanne reboot by Xosha Roquemore, theater actress Maya Lynne Robinson has joined the cast of The Conners to fill it. The character was previously said to be serving in the military in Afghanistan.

The audience’s time in Lanford will be limited.

Although 13 episodes of Roseanne were ordered before it was canceled, The Conners will initially get 10 shows to prove what it can do without its matriarch. Still, that’s enough for people to see the family moving through their grief and begin coming back to life. Speaking of which…

There will be a Halloween-themed episode.

Just like Roseanne always did, The Conners will feature a festive episode, and it comes on the third episode of the season. (So it won’t be all about Roseanne’s death.) ABC provided this description of the Oct. 30 episode:

It’s Halloween, the favorite time of year for the Conners, but an email from the school banning certain costumes, including Mark’s, sets off an argument between Dan and Darlene. Jackie introduces someone new (guest star Steve Zahn) to the family at the Halloween party and insists that Dan vet him, only to immediately wish that she hadn’t.

The Conners will still be the Conners.

The Conners premieres Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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