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Portrayed by Roseanne BarrA bossy, loud, caustic, overweight, and dominant woman. She frequently meddles and tries to control the lives of her husband, daughters, sons, sister, and friends. Despite her dominating nature, Roseanne is a loving mother who works hard and makes as much time for her kids as possible.
- Abusive Parents: Roseanne's father was physically abusive to his daughters.
- The case is made several times through the show that Roseanne herself is emotionally and verbally abusive. Given that the entire show is a book Roseanne is writing, this may not fully be the case.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Her curves are quite glorious. Especially when they were on full display in the dress she wore in "Satan, Darling".
- Big Sister Bully: Though the "instinct" part didn't stop Roseanne from bullying her like crazy well into adulthood.
- Big Sister Instinct: Towards Jackie, especially during the two-part Fischer episode."If you ever come near her again you're gonna have to deal with me, and I am way more dangerous than Dan. I got a loose meat restaurant; I know what to do with the body."
- Freudian Excuse: Roseanne's anger and control issues are the result of growing up with an abusive father. The show also implied this might be the source of her compulsive overeating.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Jackie.
- Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Your mileage will definitely vary.
- Mama Bear: To her children, her sister, her daughter's boyfriends who she eventually all but adopts. Basically, if Roseanne considers you family or a loved one, she will unleash full fury on anyone who's wronged you.
- Never My Fault: She had a tendency to try and deflect blame any time something backfired on her, often using Insane Troll Logic to get there.
- Progressively Prettier: Roseanne was never straight-up ugly, but she was very overweight and as a hard-working blue collar Midwestern woman, personal appearance was fairly low on her list of priorities. However, as the seasons wore on, Roseanne the actress began to wear much more flattering hair and makeup, lost a bunch of weight, and combined with her real life surgeries, her looks definitely improved.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: It varies.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Eventually becomes this with Leon.
Portrayed by John GoodmanDan Conner is the husband of Roseanne and father of Becky, Darlene, DJ, and Jerry. In the beginning of the series, Dan is an easygoing, drywall contractor.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: A pretty noticeable aversion. Dan is a nice guy who works an honest nine-to-five job but loves the Harley he's had since high school and was so big into biker culture that he actually owned and ran a shop repairing and selling restored classic bikes.Mark: (Seeing Dan's Harley for the first time) Nice bike. Ever think about selling it?Dan: Actually, I was planning on being buried with it.
- Anyone Can Die: Dan, revealed in the final episode he really did die from his heart attack. All episodes from that point onward were just fantasies dreamt up by Roseanne for her book.
- Berserk Button: Messing with his Harley motorcycle in anyway makes him quite pissed off.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Compared to Roseanne, Dan is typically much more laid-back and easy to get along with, and generally lets Roseanne run things. But when he gets angry, everyone listens, Roseanne included (though she can talk him down sometimes).
- Big Beautiful Man: Dan is a beefy guy who is also a Chick Magnet.
- Big Brother Instinct: Do not abuse Jackie. He may be less dangerous than Roseanne, but he's not a threat to be taken lightly.
- He may actually be more. Roseanne will just kill you, Dan will hurt you. Repeatedly.
- Chick Magnet: Dan tends to attract women who explicitly gush about how handsome and sexy he is in addition to being such a nice guy. To say Roseanne is unhappy with this would be an understatement.
- Derailing Love Interests: Becomes involved with another woman while out in California looking after his mother. Then it turns out that this DIDN'T happen, it was just how Roseanne felt after he died from his heart attack.
- Henpecked Husband: At times.
- Noble Bigot:
- Is generally a good guy, but whenever there was a slight hint that DJ might be gay (such as wanting to be a witch for Halloween,) Dan didn't take it well. In an early episode, Becky and Darlene find boxes of dolls under DJ's bed. Dan starts worrying that DJ is playing with dolls, but ends up relieved when he realizes he's dismembering them.
- He also seems genuinely upset and uncomfortable to realize his possible bigotry when he sides with DJ over not wanting to kiss a black girl in the school play.
- Oedipus Rex: Dan has very serious, unresolved issues with his father throughout the show's run. It doesn't help when Conner Sr. marries one of Roseanne's friends and has a kid with her.
- Papa Wolf: Dan is a down-to-earth, laid back, all-around nice guy. Until you harm, threaten to harm, or screw over his wife, children, or sister-in-law. Once that happens, run. Just...run.
- Parental Neglect: Dan's mother was (literally) insane, and his father was a traveling salesman who was rarely home.
- Tranquil Fury: If Dan's hollering and yelling, he's just blowing off steam. But when he gets quiet, run.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: The basis for her relationship with Mark.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: In the early seasons.
- Character Development: She eventually grew out of her bratty martyr tendencies to become a genuinely helpful person. One of the most telling signs was her moving into a trailer with Mark, a purposely hard road-not so she could complain, but for the sake of starting a life outside her parents' home. Later, she decided to go back to college and continue the education she'd missed out on after marrying Mark.
- The Dutiful Daughter: When Darlene seemed to slip into a depression during her tomboy-to-emo transition, it fell on Becky to pick up the slack. For a while, she ended up doing the majority of the chores without getting any recognition for it, and it only got worse when she saw Roseanne give Darlene money for clothes to try and snap her out of it.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Darlene.
- Happily Married: To Mark, despite all their issues. The finale reveals that she was actually married to David; Roseanne switched her and Darlene's spouses in her book because she thought those couples were a better match.
- Hypocrite: Sometimes. She accused Darlene of being selfish or stuck-up, but she had her own moments of this as well.
- It's All About Me: Her bratty tendencies put her in this territory. To emphasize, her response to her family hitting financial times yet again isn't to be sympathetic or supportive, but to get angry that there wasn't enough money for her to go to college or for her boyfriend to keep his job.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Gives one to Darlene accusing her of milking her depression. She was harsher than she needed to be, but it did convince Darlene to get off the couch and do something.
- She also gives one to Dan when his bike shop business fails, claiming that it's Dan's lack of business skill that bankrupted the family, costing her both college and Mark (who was leaving Lanford to take a better job).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Darlene's Tomboy.
Portrayed by Sarah GilbertBorn in 1977, Darlene in the early seasons is a tomboy who loves sports and has trouble in school, but during high school she becomes moody, artistic, an animal rights activist, and a vegetarian.
- Big Sister Bully: To DJ, especially in early seasons.
- Book Dumb: In her early years. She became progressively more invested in her studies as the years went on.
- Brainy Brunette: She is eventually revealed to be both poetic, smart, and a talented artist. Interestingly, her sister Becky got better grades in the early seasons, and while she never lost that intelligence, she did end up having to put her education on hold when she eloped with Mark.
- Break the Haughty: Went through some of this in seasons 7 and 8, especially 7.
- Character Development: In the first seasons, Darlene was a sports-obsessed tomboy who always had her hair tied back into a tight braid to give a boyish appearance. But the moment she started going through puberty she let her hair down, started avoiding sports all together, and abandoned all of her friends to become a Deadpan Snarker.
- Daddy's Girl: Darlene was closer to Dan than Becky was.
- Deadpan Snarker: After puberty, Darlene goes from a tomboy to this.
- Emo Teen: Seen as this by her family during the bulk of season 4.
- Girliness Upgrade: In the first three seasons, Darlene was a tomboy. Then she becomes a depressed Goth chick, wearing black and outright declaring her hatred of all things girly (to the point where Roseanne and Dan deliberately tease her by pretending to set up a stereotypical sweet sixteen party for her). After falling in love with David, she becomes slightly more feminine, though she never loses her love of flannels and jeans.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Becky.
- Happily Married: To David. In reality, she was married to Mark, while Becky married David; Roseanne switched the couples in her book because she thought that David was better suited to Darlene, and Mark to Becky.
- Heel Realization: Darlene went through this over the course of a few episodes after her break-up with David. She realized she felt closer to David than anyone and how much she hurt him by dumping him, as well as how badly she treated him. It didn't help that her new boyfriend dumped her for treating him the way she treated David.
- Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: To a lesser extent when compared to her mother.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The masculine girl to David's feminine boy.
- Soapbox Sadie: In later years.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Much like her mother, she slowly becomes more cruel and mean-spirited in later seasons. She mellows out later in season 8, though.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Becky's Girly Girl.
- What the Hell, Hero?: To push her vegetarian views on her family, she launches a smear campaign on the Lunch Box by painting a chalk outline of cows outside of the restaurant complete with blood smears. Her mother, of course, calls her out on the fact she's effectively trying to sabotage the family business.
David Jacob "DJ" Conner
Portrayed by Sal Barone in the Pilot, then Michael Fishman for the rest of the seriesBorn in 1981, DJ is the youngest Conner child, for the majority of the series, until Roseanne gives birth to Jerry in season 7. He is frequently taunted by his sisters and peers.
- Cloudcuckoolander: At times.
- Creepy Child: D.J. "Barbie Killer" Conner.
- Deadpan Snarker: In later seasons.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Once he discovered girls, he was constantly on the prowl for booty.
- Noodle Incident: Tying in to his Creepy Child status. Becky comes down and complains about his hair clogging the drain in their bathroom.DJ: It's not my hairDarlene: Then who's is it?DJ: Don't worry, it's dead. (Walks off.)
Portrayed by Laurie MetcalfJackie is Roseanne's younger sister by three years.
- Abusive Parents: Jackie's father was physically abusive to his daughters.
- Break the Cutie: Grew up in an abusive household, constantly hounded and browbeat by her overbearing (s)mother well into her thirties, has trouble finding a successful career despite her ambitions, loses several good boyfriends for various reasons (one left when she refused to quit the police force,) gets badly beaten by one of them, has another sue for custody while still pregnant (though that was resolved when she promised to stop shutting him out of the child's life.) Maybe her Flanderization-induced wackiness in later seasons isn't so farfetched.
- Freudian Excuse: Her father's aforementioned abuse is heavily implied to be responsible for her promiscuity and inability to have a successful relationship. It goes from being implied to outright stated after her ordeal with Fisher and her inability to let Fred get close.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Roseanne.
- Large Ham: In later seasons.
- Small Name, Big Ego: A common thread among her many jobs was that she always tried to talk them up to make them sound a lot more important than they were. She tried to make it sound like she was the star of a high school play when all she did was raise the curtain. When she was injured in the line of duty as a police officer, she always tried to talk it up as though she took a bullet saving a baby carriage, when in reality she pulled her back after she tackled some fat naked guy and they both fell down the stairs.
Extended Family Members
Beverly "Bev" Harris
Portrayed by Estelle ParsonsBev is the mother of Roseanne and Jackie and the wife of Al, as well as the daughter of Nana Mary. She is overbearing and shrill and is avoided by all members of her family. She nags them with her shockingly whiny voice, often with good intentions but coming off the wrong way.
- The Alcoholic: Played for drama in one episode. Specifically though, after she is sent to Alcoholics Anonymous, she uses this as a chance to make everyone else feel bad about not being more sensitive to her "illness" and judge them for supposedly being alcoholics themselves.
- Butt-Monkey: Easily the most abused character on the show, though given her treatment of her daughters at times it's almost justified.
- Compassionate Critic : She sees herself this way, but everyone hates the things she says, even when she's trying to be nice. To Jackie: "I think it's wonderful that you have ideas, because if you don't keep having ideas, how do you know when you come up with a good one?"
- Domestic Abuse: Not stated, but it's implied Al was just as cruel to her as he was to Jackie and Roseanne. Not to mention the constant cheating.
- Extreme Doormat: To her husband, which could explain the way she treats her daughters.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Is a pathological believer in this.
- Manipulative Bitch: At her worst.
- My Beloved Smother: At her best.
- Pet the Dog: Had a lot of these moments to keep her from being entirely unlikeable.
- Shotgun Wedding: It's revealed in season 6 that she and Al only got married because she was pregnant with Roseanne.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Outed herself in the final season. Though it turned out to just be a part of Roseanne's book, because she was disappointed in all the crap Bev had to take and wanted her to assert herself more.
- Useless Bystander Parent: When it's revealed that Roseanne and Jackie's dad used to beat them, Jackie (partially defending him) points out that Bev wasn't much better, as whenever it was about to happen she'd just go into the kitchen to wash dishes and act like nothing was wrong.
Portrayed by Shelly WintersNana Mary is Beverly's mother, and grandmother of Roseanne and Jackie who first appears in season three at a family barbecue. She is a brash, outspoken, and lovable retiree who gambles with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Unlike Bev, she is popular with the family.
- Blind Without 'Em: "If she wears her glasses, she'll be in Lanford by 9. If she forgot 'em, she'll be in Lansing by midnight."
- Cloudcuckoo Lander
- Cool Old Lady: The reason Roseanne and Jackie adore her.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. She revealed in one Thanksgiving episode that she's had two of them in her lifetime.
- Lady Drunk: Though not as much as her daughter.
- Open-Minded Parent: Played with. She was more of a free spirit, but Bev viewed this as a bad thing because she believed she had no stability when she was a kid, coupled with the fact that she never knew who her real dad was. Mary reasoned that the reason Bev became so straight-laced and conservative was because she was specifically rebelling against Mary's liberal tendencies. Since this was during season nine, which later revealed that the entire show was a book Roseanne was writing, this is most likely Roseanne's interpretation of Bev and Mary's relationship and the reason behind it.
- Really Gets Around: In her younger days, and quite proud of it.
- Vague Age: Some of her sexual conquests seem to imply she's much older than she looks, though we're not clear on an exact number for that yet.Ann Marie: How old is she? She looks good.Roseanne: I dunno. I don't think anybody knows.... The only people who ever knew are dead.
Portrayed by Glenn QuinnBecky's boyfriend-later-husband, who her parents greatly disliked at first.
- Big Brother Bully: To David.
- Dumbass Has a Point: He noticed that, between seeing him buy a heavy winter coat and not breaking a work contract he was hired to do, Dan didn't really want to move back to California and wanted to stay and try to mend his marriage.
- Freudian Excuse: Comes from one hell of a broken home.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: David once pointed out that the only people who liked having him around were himself and Becky, which doesn't count for much since David is his brother and Becky is his wife.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A brother example. With David.
- Happily Married: He and Becky had their issues and their marriage was on the rocks more than once, but for the most part they were this trope. The finale reveals that he was actually married to Darlene, but they also fit this trope.
- Hidden Depths: Quite a bit in later seasons.
- Jerkass / Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Depending on the episode or situation. Mostly the latter in the later seasons, especially during Darlene and David's wedding episode where he not only shows compassion towards the brother he bullied his entire life, but also his own pain over their crappy home life.
- Mr. Fanservice: Mark is extremely handsome, which is part of the reason Becky fell for him. In one episode, even Darlene admits that he's "gorgeous" (although she then declares that she must "gut herself like a fish" for saying so).
- Parental Abandonment: His parents threw him out of the house when he was 16.
- Pet the Dog: Gets a few of these moments with David, especially in the later seasons.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The manly man to David's sensitive guy.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: In the later seasons, a stark contrast to his early appearances.
Portrayed by Johnny GaleckiDavid is Mark's younger brother. Whereas Mark was a rebellious delinquent at first, David is friendlier to the Conners, soft-spoken, artistic, and intelligent. He later enters a relationship with Darlene and collaborates with her by illustrating graphic novels that she writes, though he tends to be the more submissive one in the relationship.
- Abusive Parents: His mother, good lord.
- Break the Cutie: Almost as bad as Jackie.
- Butt-Monkey: For a time he was pushed around quite a bit by the others, especially Mark and DJ.
- Freudian Excuse: Darlene, the first person to consistently care for him, still had a tendency to treat him badly, and then he basically lost her when she left for art school. Adding that to the emotional abuse he suffered from his mom and the disrespect he often received from nearly everyone else, it's easier to understand why David started acting more snotty.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A brother example. With Mark. Also DJ, to a point.
- Happily Married: To Darlene (yes, really). It turns out that in real life, as opposed to Roseanne's book, he was married to Becky.
- Henpecked Husband: He came across as a little spineless around women in later years.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The feminine boy to Darlene's masculine girl.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Mark, Dan and DJ's manly man.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Wasn't quite as sensitive and sweet in later seasons.
Crystal Anderson Conner
Portrayed By Natalie WestA neurotic yet sweet childhood friend of Rosanne and Jackie's. Once divorced, once widowed, Crystal struggled to raise her son Lonnie by herself, eventually marrying Dan's father Ed.
- Alone Together: How she ended up with Ed.
- Butt-Monkey: A fairly regular target of the others snark.
- Glamorous Single Mother: Averted. She's in the same economic state as the Conner's until marrying Ed and often has trouble getting Lonnie to listen to her.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Rosanne and Jackie.
- May–December Romance: Knew Ed when she was a little girl.
- Out of Focus: Goes from a regular in the first four seasons to one or two appearances in the later seasons.
- Serious Business: Bowling, which her friends mock her for.
- Your Cheating Heart: Her first husband Sonny cheated on her repeatedly.
Portrayed by Ned BeattyDan's traveling salesman father. He has a tense relationship with Dan, stemming from Ed being away most of the time when Dan was a kid and constantly trying to get Dan to follow in his footsteps, but is loved by the rest of the family.
- The Atoner: Tries to be a better father the second time around and showers Dan and the Kids with Gifts to make up for Dan's lousy childhood.
- Big Fun: An utterly nice guy and as large as his son.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Ed made himself out to be the bad guy and hid Dan's mother's mentally instability from him so Dan wouldn't think badly of her.
- Lonely Together: How he and Crystal ended up together. As he put it "it's a hell of a lot to have in common".
- May–December Romance: With Crystal.
- Papa Wolf: Ed took all of Dan's anger over supposedly not caring about his ex-wife. But when Dan gets drunk, comes to house to talk to him, and scares Crystal and Lonnie, Ed is not happy and tells so to Dan when his son comes by the next day to apologize.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Tells Dan to back off when Dan tells Ed to stay away from Crystal.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: The main reason Dan resents him so much.
Portrayed by Michael O'KeefeFred is a mechanic who works at the garage with Dan and is introduced to Jackie, leading to a one-night stand, accidental impregnation, and marriage.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Had this relationship with Jackie at first. When he finally got her (mostly because he impregnated her) they both realized it was a mistake.
- Only Sane Man: Never seems too effected by the insanity of Jackie's family, aside from occasionally being weirded out.
- The Stoic: Stood out by being perpetually laid back and calm, often making him the perfect foil for the ever-more-neurotic Jackie.
- Taking the Kids: A rare example where the couple's not even married; Fred sues Jackie for partial custody of their son Andy before the kid's even born yet. This is mostly because Jackie refused to let Fred have anything at all to do with Andy's life and Fred wanting involvement.
Friends of the Family
Portrayed by Martin MullLeon, originally as Roseanne's boss at Rodbell's Luncheonette and later as her business partner in The Lanford Lunchbox, is portrayed as a foil to Roseanne; although they have a contentious relationship at times, it is apparent that Leon is still a good friend of Roseanne's, eventually becoming an extended family member of sorts.
- Bad Boss: Averted. Roseanne certainly treated him like one, but anyone else would've fired her after the first day.
- Deadpan Snarker: He kind of had to be to deal with Roseanne. Though really, it was give and take between them.
- Happily Married: To Scott.
- Jerkass: At his worst.
- Straight Gay: Lampshades the hell out of this during "December Bride":Leon: Oh yeah! Well you just think about it, young lady. Hmm? I hate to shop! Huh, I am absolutely insensitive. I detest Barbara Streisand. And for God's sake I'm a Republican!Roseanne: But do you like having sex with men?Leon: Well it's...Roseanne: GAY!
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Eventually becomes this with Roseanne.