Well, that was anticlimactic.
In tonight’s premiere of The Conners, Roseanne Barr’s absence from the Roseanne spin-off was explained by having her character die from an opioid overdose. Barr — whose namesake sitcom was canceled last spring after a racist tweet — actually let the cat of the bag in September, revealing her character’s fate during an interview on Brandon Straka’s YouTube show Walk Away.
“Oh yeah, they killed her,” she told Straka. “They have her die of an opioid overdose.”
ABC took great pains to keep the cause of Roseanne Conner’s death a secret by asking critics to refrain from sharing details in their premiere reviews. A network spokeswoman also declined last month to confirm or deny Barr’s statements on Straka’s show.
Tonight’s episode, titled “Keep on Trucking,” didn’t specify when Barr’s character kicked the bucket. Instead, the family is attempting to adjust to life without “Granny Rose,” whom they believe died of a heart attack. It’s not until Roseanne’s sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), receives a call from the coroner that they learn what really led to the death of their beloved matriarch. Though initially in denial, Dan (John Goodman) comes to accept the outcome, since the family begins to find Roseanne’s pills stashed around the house.
By episode’s end, Dan returns to the bed he shared with Roseanne and puts his arm around her pillow.
The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.