Dan Conner had a heart attack in the second-to-last season cliffhanger of “Roseanne.” He survived. Until he didn’t.
John Goodman’s character, it was revealed by Roseanne in the last season’s closing minutes in 1997, had really died at his daughter’s wedding. The audience spent 24 episodes believing he pulled through. Roseanne’s narration explained she constructed a fantasy to cope.
It was one of the most divisive moments in recent television history when the show ended, but in this year’s short-lived revival, Dan was very much alive after the show opened with a self-aware joke about the controversy.
Now, after Roseanne Barr’s racist Twitter rant in May that prompted ABC to cancel the revival midseason, and spin off the series in “The Conners,” Goodman has said how the show will address the matriarch’s absence.
She’s dead, Goodman said.
And this death might finally stick.
“I guess he’ll be mopey and sad because his wife’s dead,” Goodman said of his blue-collar hero character Dan, in an interview with the Sunday Times.
The often media-shy Goodman opened up about Barr’s controversial departure that drew reactions from President Donald Trump, whom Barr supports.
In May, she made references to President Barack Obama’s former adviser Valerie Jarrett and apes. Jarrett is black. The tweet in late May read: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
ABC canceled her show a day later, and the network’s president, Channing Dungey, called her tweet “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Trump appeared to reference the cancellation days later, calling it a “double standard” for conservatives after comedian Samantha Bee made a vulgar comment about his daughter, Ivanka.
Barr later apologized and blamed Ambien for her tweets. Her representative did not return a request for comment.
But months after the fallout, Goodman revealed a shock that still lingers. The popular show revitalized characters dormant for two decades, and nearly as quick as it came back, the show ended.
“I was surprised. I’ll put it this way, I was surprised at the response,” he told the Sunday Times. “And that’s probably all I should say about it.”
He paused for a long moment and thought about all that came before. “I know, I know, for a fact that she’s not a racist,” he said.
The new show, “The Conners,” will premiere in October. It will feature the core Conner family, but Barr will have no financial or creative ties to the series, ABC has said.
It may be difficult for Barr to see her characters animated on screen without her control. “Roseanne” was one of the biggest shows of the 1990s, and it brought Barr commercial and critical acclaim with her depiction of a struggling working-class family.
In the closing minutes of the series finale, after she revealed Dan had died and wielded the power of her character’s fate like a god, Roseanne wrote in her book that love is stronger than hate. But she also wrote more prescient words: “I learned that no one can stop me but me.”