Over its first batch of episodes, Roseanne ushered the Conner family into 2018 with dominance, and fans have delighted in most of it. (Definitely not all of it, but most.) One huge moment we have yet to experience in full is Johnny Galecki's return as estranged husband and father David Healy. His absence from this sitcom has largely been due to the actor's full-time job on CBS's Big Bang Theory, though he was able to make a temporary exit to film one Roseanne installment. Had he not been available, though, star and executive producer Sara Gilbert had a safety net.
I did have a backup plan. The backup plan was going to be [Darlene] dealing with the heartbreak of him being an absent father. Darlene would have plans for him to show up, he would say he was going to show up, and then he wouldn't show up. I was still going to deal with the relationship, but it would not have been the same without him.
That would have been an interesting take as well, given how rarely TV shows address absent characters like this in a negative light. As well as how often divorced TV couples are played for their strengths instead of rampant weaknesses. But it also would have been a much harsher and less enjoyable way to think back on David's role within this family at large. Him not the best father or husband in the modern day isn't the most over-the-top extension of how rocky David and Darlene's relationship was during the show's original run. Sure, they were just teenagers for a chunk of it, but not every part of our personalities change as we mature.
Whatever potential During Sara Gilbert's talk with TVLine, it was brought up that executive producer Whitney Cummings had struggles with approaching David's character in a way that reflected negatively on him, since he was such a beloved character for so many years. But Gilbert herself doesn't have that issue, and welcomes the chance to introduce such a rarely addressed element.
I feel like people are their own heroes. David couldn't handle the pressures at home and I think he has, throughout the years, come home and seen his kids. People put placeholders in their heads, and go, 'As soon as I finish this, I'll be back and involved more.' A lot of people are drifters who are really good people. They can't face the day-to-day of their lives, but they can face trying to save the world [doing humanitarian work]. It's an important type of person to talk about that isn't really represented on TV too much.
Ahead of Johnny Galecki's return episode, fans aren't quite sure what to expect when David and Darlene are in a room together again for an extended period, nor what his relationship is like with daughter Harris and son Mark. But it will apparently be cordial enough that Darlene won't wring his neck, and Sara Gilbert's backup plan perhaps indicates a completely opposite situation from where things are in the show. David might still be a relatively cool person who, by not being around all the time, is more of a friend to his kids than a proper father. Roseanne definitely isn't trying to turn him into a monster or anything. Just a guy whose life drifted in a different direction from his loved ones. Or maybe he is a monster. We'll have to wait and see what happens, and heaven help us if he starts talking about Glenn Quinn's Mark.
You can check out a clip from David's return below.