ABC exec says Roseanne Conner could be killed off in sitcom spinoff in which her family lives on

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey arrives at the ABC portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday.
(Nina Prommer / EPA/Shutterstock)

Roseanne Barr lost her sitcom in June after posting a racist tweet. But the fate of her character Roseanne Conner may be a lot worse this fall.

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey isn’t giving any spoilers as the network moves ahead with a new series, “The Conners,” that follows the “Roseanne” clan without its matriarch. But she acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that having Roseanne leave this mortal coil is one of the exit strategies being considered.

“We obviously had to come with an answer because we have to make the episodes and the characters have to have a point of view,” she said. “We’ve discussed all different versions about what we might do with the character.”


Dungey was insistent that Barr be banished from the network after the comedian posted a tweet that compared former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape. The executive’s condition for keeping the show’s cast and production intact for a spinoff was that Barr not profit from it in any way.

Dungey remains comfortable with her rapid decision to shut down her network’s No. 1 show, even though it injected her into a public debate about political leanings and acceptable behavior on social media.

“I am a behind-the-scenes person,” Dungey said. “I didn’t get into this role to be a cover story. But it was important. This was something that needed to be done. There was generally good feedback on it.”

Whether Roseanne Conner is dead or simply gone, “The Conners” will continue to deal with the themes that made the revival one of the most-watched series of the last TV season, Dungey said.

“We’re still going to be exploring a lot of the same themes that we set up in the episodes we did last season,” she said. “We’re still going to still see Dan Conner struggling to find work and making ends meet. You’re going to see Darlene struggling with what it means to be a single mother. You’re going to be see the challenges they face in this world with very limited resources.”

Will that include paying for a funeral? “You’re going to have to tune in on Oct. 16,” Dungey said.


Twitter: @SteveBattaglio