The Conners premiered Tuesday night, revealing that the family matriarch, Roseanne Conner, died of an opioid overdose following knee surgery. While fans had a range of reactions to the way Roseanne Barr's character was written off the Roseanne spinoff, most felt for John Goodman's character, Dan Conner.
In the finale scene of the premiere episode of The Conners, Dan Conner gets into bed, folding over the sheets on just one side of the bed. He lays down, looks sadly at the empty side of the bed next to him and folds those covers down, too. Before shutting his eyes for the night, he lays his arm across the pillow next to him, as if he's holding his late wife.
Fans of the show were heartbroken for Goodman's character.
"Did I cry. YEP. Still love Roseanne. Always will. Cried for John Goodman. Love that man. You could really feel his real emotions. #theconners extremely hard as I want to watch it only for John," one fan wrote.
Did I cry. YEP. Still love Roseanne. Always will. Cried for John Goodman. Love that man. You could really feel his real emotions. #theconners extremely hard as I want to watch it only for John.— Laura (@Laurastar4444) October 17, 2018
"This was a sad part. Going back into the bed you shared with someone for all those years," another said.
This was a sad part. Going back into the bed you shared with someone for all those years ?— Marielle Leone (@MarielleLeone) October 17, 2018
"This scene was so moving and touching at the same time without any dialogue. John was fantastic. #TheConners," another wrote.
This scene was so moving and touching at the same time without any dialogue. John was fantastic. #TheConners— Justin (@JWalkerDaniels) October 17, 2018
"This scene had me holding back tears...so real!" one person said.
This scene had me holding back tears...so real!— Tammy Finney (@ClancysMom78) October 17, 2018
Throughout the episode, Dan struggled to come to terms with Roseanne's death and her secret problems with addiction. Though the family first thought she lost her life after a heart attack, Dan found a hidden pill bottle with someone else's name on it, leading to the tragic realization of what happened.
In a confrontation with the neighbor whose drugs Roseanne had, the neighbor told Dan that Roseanne had been part of a group of neighbors who supplied prescription drugs to each other when they were too expensive to afford.
"Roseanne called me. She told me her knee wasn't healing fast enough and that I was the only person she could turn to. She said she needed those pain pills to get back to work cause you guys were running out of money," the neighbor, Marcy, revealed. "I would never have given them to her if I knew she had a problem."
Meanwhile, Roseanne Barr herself was furious with the way her character was written off the show, calling the death "unnecessary, grim and morbid."
In a statement from Barr and good friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the 65-year-old said: "While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne's cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show," the statement read.
"This was a choice the network did not have to make. Roseanne was the only show on television that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country."
On her Twitter feed, Barr's thoughts were less collected. "I AIN'T DEAD BITCHES!!!!" she wrote after the episode ended.0comments
The rest of the 10-episode season will reportedly deal with the aftermath of Roseanne's death, following Barr's firing from Roseanne and ABC after she made a racist remark on Twitter.
The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.