How Will ‘The Conners’ Handle The Absence Of Roseanne? Here’s How Past TV Shows Moved On Without A Matriarch

ABC Television Network

The Roseanne reboot will move forward — without Roseanne Barr. One month after Barr’s Twitter tirade forced a sudden cancelation of her revived ABC comedy, a new spinoff, titled The Conners, will make its debut on the network’s fall schedule, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The logline for the Roseanne spinoff, which will star John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, and Michael Fishman, teases that “after a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.”

Barr will retain all rights to her Roseanne Conner character, so there is no chance that a replacement actress will come in to try to fill her shoes, a la Darrin on Bewitched. That sure makes it sound like Roseanne Conner is no more.

Of course, if ABC kills off Roseanne Barr’s iconic character, it wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has occurred on network television.

Valerie

In the 1980s, Valerie Harper’s character was killed off of the actress’s self-titled sitcom after Harper got into a salary dispute with producers. Harper’s Valerie Hogan was offed in a car crash after the first season of the CBS sitcom Valerie. The show was then revamped and retitled Valerie’s Family: The Hogans, before Harper’s memory was completely obliterated with a title change to The Hogan Family, with Sandy Duncan filling Harper’s shoes as leading lady.

Eight is Enough

In 1977, a real-life tragedy changed the course of the ABC family comedy-drama Eight is Enough. The show’s original premise was based on the family life of syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, his wife Joan, and their eight kids. But when Diana Hyland, the actress who played the family matriarch, succumbed to cancer after just four episodes of the series, her character’s sudden death was written into the script. When the second season of Eight is Enough began, viewers learned that Tom (Dick Van Patten) was a widower. A love interest was promptly brought in for the dad of eight via a school tutor named Abby (Betty Buckley), whom he later married.

Kevin Can Wait

Kevin James’ sophomore CBS comedy had a change in direction for its second season, and one of the changes was to kill off his character’s wife, Donna (played by Erinn Hayes). At the 2017 Television Critics Association panel, CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl announced that Hayes’ character would die off-camera ahead of the second season of Kevin Can Wait and James’ former King of Queens wife, Leah Remini, would join the cast of the show. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kahl promised that Donna Gable’s death would be addressed “tastefully” and that it was “something that will have taken place in the past.”

On the Kevin Can Wait Season 2 premiere, Donna’s untimely demise was briefly addressed when her husband Kevin Gable (James) received a “we miss you card” from her gym and revealed he missed her too. Kevin then segued into a joke about a coupon for a kung fu class. Donna’s death got another mention in Episode 2 when Kevin’s kids called him out for over-parenting “ever since Mom passed away,” and Kevin later revealed he had been “living in a cocoon since Donna died.” Kevin Can Wait producer Rock Reuben told TV Guide that Donna’s cause of death would only be revealed only if “it becomes necessary for a story.”

Unfortunately, Kevin Can Wait was canceled after its second season, so Donna’s death still remains a mystery — and always will.