Why The Conners Fans Shouldn't Get Ready To Say Goodbye To Ben In Season 4

ben and darlene hugging on the conners season 3
(Image credit: abc press)

While tons of The Conners fans would love to see Sarah Gilbert's Darlene end up romantically linked up with Johnny Galecki's David — based more on a love for Galecki than on any proof that their relationship would be stable — the sitcom's creative team has put the work in on developing her topsy-turvy relationship with Jay R. Ferguson's Ben. While that appeared to all go belly-up at the tail-end of Season 3, with Ben turning down Darlene's marriage proposal, that doesn't mean the show is trying to send Ben away.

The Conners showrunner Bruce Helford has confirmed to TVLine that Darlene's relationship with Ben is not at all done-zo, and even if it doesn't look like they're getting right back into the throes of love and romance, the characters will be entwined for the foreseeable future. In his words:

You can pretty much guarantee that Ben and Darlene are [always going to be] part of each other’s lives now. They have such a history now that they can’t just untangle, in the way that you might ordinarily do if you don’t stay together. . . . Ben is so beloved by everybody else in the family that that’s kind of what makes it interesting going forward.

This situation obviously wouldn't be very fun for viewers if Ben, Darlene and others were just living misery-soaked existences due to their split, so it should be interesting to see how the writers will handle the overall kinship while sticking the tone. And I can definitely appreciate a dynamic where Ben is given lots of love from John Goodman's Dan, Laurie Metcalf's Jackie, Michael Fishman's D.J. and the rest, even as his situation with Darlene hits some presumably cringe-y moments. As if Darlene needed another reason to get judgmental with Lecy Goranson's Becky.

As fans will remember, Darlene did make some work sparks fly with Brian Austin Green's Jeff, and he's confirmed to be returning in Season 4. Interestingly enough, Green will be pulling double duties on ABC, as he's also competing on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. It would be interesting to see him show up at the homestead while Ben is also around. I probably shouldn't only hope for chaos on The Conners. Probably.

Considering Dan and Katey Sagal's Louise will likely be getting married in Season 4, and also considering Maya Lynne Robinson's Geena will be around in D.J.'s life more, I imagine the romance in the air will bleed into Darlene and Ben's lives again sooner rather than later. But I'm betting it'll be a while longer before one of them puts another proposal out into the ethers.

With Seinfeld fave Jason Alexander and The Wonder Years vet Fred Savage already confirmed for upcoming episodes, The Conners Season 4 is set to kick off on ABC with a fully live episode on Wednesday, September 22, at 9:00 p.m. ET, during the biggest premiere week of the 2021 Fall TV season.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.