Roseanne returned to the small screen in 2018 and delivered huge ratings and a whole lot of buzz for ABC, but that buzz turned negative after leading lady Roseanne Barr posted some controversial tweets, and the show was swiftly cancelled. ABC later ordered a spinoff starring the Roseanne cast with the exception of Barr herself, called The Conners. The big question was how the spinoff would address Barr's absence when Roseanne Conner was a central part of the Conner family. Many believed that the only way to do it would be for The Conners to kill her off, and Barr confirmed that her character would die, then went on to totally spoil how Roseanne was killed off. Here's how she put it:
Oh yeah, they killed her. They had her die of an opioid overdose. So it wasn't enough to just do what they did to me. They had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show. They had to cruelly insult them. And that's what they chose to do. So there's nothing I can do about it. It's done. It's over. There's no fight left. I did what I had to do to save my own life and I did it.
The news that Roseanne Barr's character will be killed off for The Conners isn't altogether shocking. Killing Roseanne Conner off is really the one way for the spinoff to believably establish the family matriarch as indefinitely off-screen, and all signs pointed toward Barr never being asked to contribute to the show. The early description of the spinoff indicated that something huge was going to happen to shake up the family, and John Goodman went so far as to state that his character's "wife's dead." The bigger surprise is that Roseanne Conner died of an opioid overdose.
Admittedly, the Roseanne revival did set the stage for Roseanne Conner to struggle with a painkiller addition in the then-ordered second season, so the reveal that she died due to opioids will at least have some basis in a Roseanne storyline. Still, according to Roseanne Barr, the decision to kill Roseanne Conner off in such a way was insulting to people who loved the Conner family and Roseanne. She admits that The Conners and her character's fate are entirely out of her hands, but she's clearly not happy about the direction the new show decided to go with regard to Roseanne.
Roseanne Barr went on in her interview with Brandon Straka of The Unsilent Minority to share that Roseanne Conner's problem with painkillers was actually her idea and based on her own experiences after undergoing a knee surgery a few years ago. That said, the ultimate handling of that storyline is not what she was going for. Here's how Barr put it:
I never was going to have Roseanne Conner die of an opioid overdose. It's so cynical and horrible. I mean, she should have died as a hero, if they really wanted to kill me off. Or not at all.
The actress didn't go into detail on how she would have liked Roseanne Conner to die "as a hero," so we can only speculate about how she would have handled her character's exit if she'd had any say in the matter. Roseanne fans can at least find out what officially happened to the character when The Conners premieres on ABC Tuesday, October 16 with the original cast (and at least one newcomer) on board. It should be interesting to see how the Conners ratings compare to the record-breaking numbers from the Roseanne revival's first season.
There are plenty of other projects set to hit the airwaves in the fall TV lineup, so be sure to figure out what to watch and when to watch it sooner rather than later. If The Conners isn't up your alley, there are plenty of other options.