How Roseanne Undid the Original Series Finale and Brought Dan Conner Back to Life

ABC's revival of the beloved sitcom had to do some heavy lifting in its first episode to erase its much-maligned original ending

By Billy Nilles Mar 28, 2018 12:30 AMTags
Watch: Roseanne Barr & John Goodman Overjoyed on "Roseanne" Return

When ABC announced their revival of Roseanne, there was one big question on the minds of the beloved sitcom's fans: What about Dan?

As viewers of the much-maligned ninth season remember well, the show's original series finale saw Roseanne Conner (played by creator and star Roseanne Barr) reveal that the entire season had been a work of fiction and the heart attack her dear husband suffered at their daughter Darlene's wedding at the end of episode eight was actually a widow-maker. That's right: Dan was dead. 

Of course, John Goodman was immediately attached to appear in the nine-episode revival meaning that, like Will & Grace before them, the writers of the new season would have to find a way to undo the unthinkable and bring Dan back to life. (And wipe away the bizarre revelation that Roseanne's daughters actually wound up with the opposite Healy brother, but that's another story altogether.) So how'd they do it? Now that the revival's premiered—to truly massive ratings!—we've finally got some answers.

Roseanne Returns: See Photos From the ABC Revival

As it turns out, the reveal of Roseanne's work of fiction in season nine was itself a work of fiction! At least, we think. Let's work through it.

In the first moments of the premiere episode, with the camera trained on that iconic living room, we hear Roseanne off-camera shouting Dan's name. The action quickly cuts to the couple's bedroom, where Dan awakens from his slumber, sleep apnea mask and all. He's alive!

"I thought you were dead," his wife tells him.

"I'm sleeping," he replies. "Why does everybody always think I'm dead." And that's that. 

From there, the episode moved on to telling its new stories about Roseanne and Jackie's (Laurie Metcalf) estrangement since the 2016 presidential election, Darlene's (Sara Gilbert) move home with her two kids, and Becky's (Lecy Goranson) decision to become a surrogate for a woman played by none other than Becky 2, Sarah Chalke.

It's only when Dan escapes to the garage to find the misplaced family gun, with Rosie in tow, that we get our second and last (for now) wink at the season nine finale. As the pair for looking for the firearm, Dan stumbles across a bound manuscript.

"Well, looky here," he says. "Written by Roseanne Conner."

His wife's reply? "Oh, trash that."

"This woulda sold like hotcakes," he tells his wife. "If only you hadn't killed off the most interesting character." Ba-dum-chh!

Were the brief winks to the original ending enough for you? Or were you hoping for more? Sound off in the comments below!

Roseanne airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.