'Roseanne': The Four Biggest Burning Questions for ABC's Revival

How will producers write around (spoiler alert from 1997!) Dan's death in the series finale?
Courtesy of ABC
Reunited cast of 'Roseanne'

Twenty years after ABC's Emmy-winning Roseanne wrapped its nine-season run, the Disney-owned network plans to bring back the working-class Conner family for another run. That ABC would reboot the series at a time when broadcasters are looking for broad-skewing programming that appeals to Donald Trump's middle-class America isn't surprising. No, the biggest twist here is that star John Goodman, whose Dan Conner was revealed to have died in a heart attack in the series finale, is going to return for the eight-episode revival. He'll join fellow original castmembers Roseanne Barr (Roseanne), Sara Gilbert (Roseanne's youngest daughter, Darlene), Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne's sister, Jackie), Michael Fishman (son, DJ) and Lecy Goranson (eldest daughter, Becky).

As ABC prepares to rejoin the Conners and head back to Lanford, Ill., The Hollywood Reporter offers a look at four of the biggest burning questions for the upcoming revival.

How will they address Dan’s death?

Tom Werner and Bruce Helford are returning to executive produce the revival, spearheaded by Gilbert who also serves in the same capacity. They are joined by series newcomers Whitney Cummings and Jax Media's Tony Hernandez. Barr, as she did during the 220-episode-plus initial run, will continue to write on the series. The biggest question they'll be tasked with answering is what's going on with Dan. Toward the end of season eight, Dan suffered a heart attack at Darlene's wedding. But he seemed to bounce right back and was home with Roseanne soon. However, when the Conners won the lottery in season nine, Dan wasn’t around much and returned with a bombshell: He'd had an affair while in California. The conflict grounded the final season and, and as Darlene dealt with complications during her pregnancy, Dan and Roseanne reunited.

So All's well that ends well? Not really: Dan was never there to begin with. The final moments in the series finale included a voiceover admission from Roseanne in which she revealed her family never won the lottery; David and Darlene were never a couple (he was with Becky this whole time!); and Dan really died from the heart attack he suffered all those episodes ago.

So, did Dan fake his death? Will his ghost show up in the ABC revival in the spring? Or will producers opt to skip over Dan's big reveal from the series finale?

Will Johnny Galecki return?

In show terms, it's odd to think of David and Becky as a couple. But per Roseanne's season-nine finale, Mark was Darlene's husband and David and Becky were together the entire time. That's a massive change after eight seasons of David and Darlene — and Galecki and Gilbert's brief onscreen reunion on The Big Bang Theory (which was created by Roseanne alum Chuck Lorre). Are producers going to stick by David with Becky? Perhaps even more importantly: Will Galecki make an appearance? The actor, who just signed on for two more seasons of Big Bang Theory, is a series regular on a show that's produced by a different studio (Warner Bros. Television) and on a different network. Additionally, he is also juggling executive producing on the upcoming CBS comedy By the Book, which is also slated for midseason (where it could compete opposite Roseanne.) While both camps have yet to rule out a cameo or two, that Big Bang Theory creator Lorre worked on Roseanne would seem to leave that door open. Which again begs the question: Will David be on Becky or Darlene's side?

There's really only one Becky, right?

Goranson originated the role of Becky and played her for half of the show's run (seasons one through five and eight), while Sarah Chalke stepped in partway through season six and remained on board until the end. When Goranson returned in season eight, they both played Becky — while appearing together in only one episode. And they are both confirmed to return to the revival, with Goranson as Becky. So who is Chalke going to play? ABC thus far has only confirmed that Chalke will "appear in another role" during the revival. But given that she played Becky for a good chunk of the series (40 episodes, to be exact), who the hell is she going to be now?! Chalke playing anyone other than Becky may sound like an odd choice, but let's remember that the actress did cameo during Roseanne's 1995 Halloween episode — after Goranson came back to the series.

How will Barr's political affiliation impact the revival?

ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey recently stopped short of outright confirming that her Roseanne revival would tackle Trump, though the executive told reporters that Barr — who has supported the president — is "going to speak very honestly" during the show's return. (Barr has stressed that the show itself is "not about Trump" but a Midwestern family instead.) Still, ABC greenlighted the revival to speak to a portion of America that Dungey feels is underserved in America — and likely voted for Trump, too. So while it remains unclear just how much Trump will be a factor in the upcoming eight episodes, Roseanne historically has not been afraid to tackle timely subjects like gender equality, depression, the class system and child abuse at a time when they weren't frequently seen on the small screen (we'll miss you, The Carmichael Show.) That's a long way of saying to expect the new Roseanne to tackle timely issues that resonate with Americans. (We're guessing Darlene was With Her.)

Roseanne returns to ABC in 2018. An official premiere date has yet to be announced. 

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