"I am so amazing. If I ever get off this couch, I'll be unstoppable."
Popular sitcom that ran from 1988 to 1997 on ABC. It focused on the trials of the working-class Conner family. There was mother Roseanne (Roseanne Barr); father Dan (John Goodman in the role that made him famous); preppy daughter Becky (originally played by Lecy Goranson, and taken over -repeatedly- by Sarah Chalke — one of the most famous instances of The Other Darrin outside of Darrin himself); sarcastic daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert); son D.J. (Michael Fishman); and Roseanne's younger sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf).Probably the Trope Codifier for the Dysfunctional Family on American TV, sharing the title with Married... with Children. The Conners were generally stable but were still prone to dealing with domestic arguments, problematic neighbors, daughters who seemed to like bad boys and taking in a kid whose home life was far worse than theirs. The Healey brothers, Mark (Glenn Quinn) and David (Johnny Galecki) were added to the show as long time boyfriends to Becky and Darlene, eventually marrying them. The show was also noted for a welcome subversion to the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife rule.Was in talks for a sequel Revival written and produced by the Arrested Development guys.Has character sheet.
Provides examples of:
Absurdly Bright Light: one Christmas, Roseanne and co. defy their POA with a light display designed for this. (They wear sunglasses to turn it on.) We don't see the display, but we do see that it does indeed create absurdly bright light.
Abusive Parents: Roseanne's father was physically abusive to his daughters. Dan's mother was also (literally) insane, and his father was a traveling salesman who was rarely home. You'd have an easier time finding parents who aren't abusive on this show; even Roseanne herself has an episode where, in a fit of anger, she strikes DJ, and then panics over it because she very badly doesn't want to be the kind of parent her father was.
Mark and David's mother, especially to poor David. It's a mark of just how bad everyone's parents were that when Roseanne lets Dan know that she's agreed to let David live with them, he initially refuses ... until Roseanne says "Dan, I grew up in a house like that." Dan immediately sighs and leans back on the bed, accepting that he can't let David go back to that kind of house.
Actor Allusion: When Michael O'Keefe (Fred) left the show, he went to another show on ABC called Life's Work, where he was the husband of an assistant district attorney with two children. In one episode of Roseanne, while complaining about Fred's Christmas present to Jackie, Roseanne says that they never see him "since he moved in with that D.A. chick with them two kids."
Character Death: Roseanne's dad. Given their strained relationships, his death brought out mixed feelings in Roseanne and Bev, but in the end he was missed.
A-Cup Angst: Jackie's small breasts are a source of embarrassment to her. Doesn't help that Roseanne teases her about them, and a woman at the health spa in season 9 says they're "much too small for her body".
A Date with Rosie Palms: There was an entire episode dealing with the fact that DJ was going through puberty and had locked himself inside their bathroom to masturbate for hours on end. In another later episode, after his girlfriend leaves, he looks down at his dad's photo of Julie Newmar in his hand, then gives the cameras a naughty look and rushes to his room.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Becky. Not just marrying Mark, but in the first season she cheated on her boyfriend with a leather-clad stud. Roseanne and Dan's early relationship was apparently built on this as well (which is why Roseanne is so worried when Becky gets together with Mark).
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 dream up by Roseanne for her book. Technically every episode was a fantasy, as the whole series was written by Roseanne in the downstairs office.
Anything That Moves: Nancy. After coming out as a lesbian, she would occasionally casually say, "Ugh, I'm so fed up with women. I'm gonna go back to men this week."
A Nazi by Any Other Name: Edelweiss Gardens (although it certainly fits other creepy brainwashing cult tropes). German, employs a vast a majority of blonds fitting the Aryan phenotype, one of the employees even makes a one-handed salute that, apart from a closed fist, is disturbingly reminiscent of the Nazi salute? Yeah. Roseanne even says, "Today, it's "Hi, I'm Hans the Hare", tomorrow it's "I was only following orders"."
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: An inversion in the context of the episode. In one, Jackie is upset that she's done something she regrets. To try to get her to open up and tell them, everybody else starts talking about bad things they've done. They're all very forgiving when Roseanne mentions pledging (but never donating) a huge amount of money to a telethon just to hear Jerry Lewis say her name on TV and when Bonnie reveals she and her husband once robbed a liquor store. However, when Jackie announces that she slept with Arnie, everybody else is disgusted and outraged (apparently in high school, they all took a blood oath and promised he would never be allowed to breed.) In fact, when Roseanne realizes, "She will forever be known as the woman whose sister slept with Arnie," everybody ignored Jackie and starts to comfort Roseanne. Sleeping with Arnie was just that unforgivable.
The list of complaints lobbied against her former husband by Bev goes from jaywalking back to arson: "He was rude to my children, cheated on me, had horrible table manners and made me drive an old car with bald tires!" Subverted when one considers that bald tires are much more likely to blow out, so that last one was a legitimate danger to Bev's life.
Ascended Extra: Mark was supposed to be a one-shot date for Becky. He ended up lasting the rest of the series and marrying into the family.
Author Avatar: Being originally based on Barr's work as a stand-up comedian, this show screams it, almost from day one. By the time she has bought into her own media hype, it all but beats you over the head with its self-indulgence. The final episode proves it's also an in-universe example, as Roseanne reveals that the entire series was the book she's been writing in her office in the basement, and the self-indulgence the show descended into is her way of escaping from and fixing the things she felt were out of place in her life, but out of her control.
Babies Ever After: The series finale has Darlene and David's baby daughter Harris coming home from hospital, the reveal that Becky and Mark are expecting a baby, and Leon and Scott adopting a toddler (since they were going to California to get her and her name was Nadia, it was implied from Russia) in a few months.
Betty and Veronica : For Darlene, Brian and Barry (in "Vegas Interruptus"), and later David and Jimmy. For Becky, Chip and The "Tongue Bandit" (Johnny?) or Dean and Mark.
Birthday Episode: Roseanne and her friends pretend to throw a surprise sweet sixteen party for Darlene. It turns out it was all a ruse to annoy Darlene. The women turn it into their party. Roseanne flashes Dan in a game of Truth or Dare, and all Hell breaks loose.
Book Ends: Though not exact, it comes close. The very first episode has Roseanne going to Darlene's school because she was barking in class. In the finale, during a conversion Roseanne brings it up and when Darlene says she can't believe that she barked in class, Roseanne replies with almost exactly what she told the teacher at the time: "Oh honey, we all barked".
Break the Cutie: Jackie grew up with an abusive father and a distant mother and only had her bossy sister to turn to for comfort, which made her completely dependent on and subservient to said sister who often took gleeful advantage of this. She goes from failed career to failed career, is physically abused by one of her few serious boyfriends, gets pregnant out of wedlock and ends up marrying the father only for them to get a divorce after barely a year. Is it any wonder she's such a mess by the final seasons?
Break the Haughty: Darlene gets hit with this hard in Season 7. For years she was the ultimate deadpan snarker, constantly belittling everyone from her family members to her boyfriends. It was mostly treated for laughs, but the repercussions of her actions really hit her hard after she breaks up with David. First the guy she left him for leaves her due to her poor treatment of him, her family gets angry at her for turning down a lucrative job that would have set her up for life, and she learns from David (with prompting from Becky) to tell her that he believes that they never really connected, which devastates Darlene. It all culminates in the episode where she does get back together with David, and she tearfully tells him how she feels, in probably what could be her most vulnerable moment in the entire series.
This was also directly addressed by Roseanne when Darlene wonders why her siblings and father are so upset by her usual snarking. When she was living in the house, her snarking came across like they were all in it together and were merely dealing with humor. However, after she left for college and had job opportunities (including one specifically mentioned for a $30,000 salary job, which she turned down), and then also continued asking for financial help from her family, Roseanne pointed out that she seemed like 'one of them', with a superior attitude and her snarking came across as mean-spirited and condescending instead of affectionate.
Brick Joke: The lottery ticket that would make the Conner family one hundred and eight million dollars richer shows up briefly in the episode before when Bev almost uses it as a coaster.
Buffy Speak: Since Joss Whedon wrote for the show at one point, it should come as no surprise there were examples of this trope:
Jackie: You are my problem!
Roseanne: Aw, what'd I do now?
Jackie: Same thing as you always do, Roseanne. You sit up there on your...
Jackie: Yeah! Ya act like some big high-and-mighty, self-righteous, pedestal-type person, and you poo-poo everything in my life.
Burger Fool - Roseanne does a stint at a chicken joint as one of her many odd jobs over the series to keep her family afloat. It's not too bad, but her barely legal boss has a superiority complex and can't understand how her family comes before her responsibility to him. The family actually makes more fun of her when she gets a job sweeping hair at a salon.
Her waitress job at the restaurant in Rodbell's had some tones of this as well. The ridiculous costume for starters, and her boss Leon seemed to enjoy making them suffer (when the restaurant finally went under, he told them that management had phased out those horrible uniforms years before.) Leon himself said he hated the place as well. When the diner was shut down, on their last day, they had a toast, when he said, "We're not standing in the parking lot watching the place burn, but this is nice, too."
Although the salon job was something of a subversion. Roseanne's coworkers all understood the job was crappy but they never made Roseanne feel bad about it and were pretty nice, if a little ditzy (at the end of her first day, when her boss asks her about the job, Roseanne says point-blank, "I hate it," the boss, realizing that the job sucks, says, "Of course you hate it, but are you staying?") Roseanne was not very pleased when the only ones who were making her feel bad about it were Dan and the kids.
Butt Monkey: Bev is easily the most abused character on the show, though given her treatment of her daughters at times it's almost justified. Darlene also treats Molly this way, and Roseanne treats just about everyone this way except Darlene, who can match her snark for snark.
Cain and Abel: Mark was the Cain to David's Abel. In one later season episode, David finally called Mark out on his selfish, Jerkass tendencies when Mark was deliberately and remorselessly hitting on a young waitress at the Lunch Box whom David was interested in (while he and Darlene were separated) just to show he could and to make David miserable. After the two got into a fight and Becky showed up, David lied to protect Mark, and then told Mark he doesn't know why he did and warns him that he's hurting Becky, the only other person besides David who actually likes Mark at all.
Call Back: In the pilot episode Dan and Roseanne have a fight about how Dan doesn't do anything around the house, leading to this exchange.
Dan: You want me to fix dinner? I'll fix dinner! I'm fixing dinner!
Roseanne: Oh, but honey, you just fixed dinner three years ago!
In the eighth season finale, they have the same argument following Dan's heart attack after Roseanne refuses to cook the unhealthy foods Dan likes. The only difference is now Roseanne says "eleven years ago."
Except it isn't true. At least once we've seen Dan cooking a meal, making chili, imitating Julia Child.
In the episode in which David Crosby and his band appear, Roseanne's fellow waitress at Rodbells, Bonnie, turns out to be quite the singer.
Character Development: Quite a bit, but Mark is a particularly notable example, going from your standard bad boy rebel to a goofy dork with rough edges.
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. This was discussed and pointed out frequently, as her family members tried to understand the change in her.
Chew Toy: Poor Jackie had some of the worst luck of anyone on the show, and in one season later on, turned the luck around on her baby's father Fred, the next chew toy.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Virtually everyone who didn't live in the house completely disappeared without explanation by the end, neighbors, best friends, rather important characters. Although sometimes justified at least one neighbor moved away, and coworkers lost touch because of the main characters getting a new job.
Crystal, one of Jackie and Roseanne's closest childhood friends gets married again to Dan's father Ed and she vanished from the show pretty quick. Becoming more of The Ghost up until the end of the series where she actually had one last appearance during Roseanne's baby shower. Why neither her nor Dan's father appeared at later notable events like their granddaughter/honorary niece Darlene's wedding or following the Conner's lottery win is a mystery. At one point during Darlene's wedding Dan mentions that he hasn't spoken to his father in two years.
Jackie's husband/ex-husband Fred stopped appearing altogether a couple episodes after they divorced, although was occasionally referenced as taking care of their infant son in various episodes. Like other characters, his absence in the face of the Conners winning the lottery(including his best friend and boss Dan, his ex-wife Jackie and his infant *son* Andy) is nigh-inexplicable.
One neighbouring family introduced a few seasons into the series got tons of episodes and development, including one daughter pursuing main character David Healy and her overweight wallflower sister catching Roseanne's attention as somebody who needed support and guidance. The Conners even all traveled to California with them in an RV at one point. Unlike their previous sets of neighbours who'd had proper send-offs, they eventually just stopped appearing.
Lampshaded beautifully in "Breakin' up is Hard to Do" with Dean breaking the fourth wall, pleading with the audience to bring him back, only to mouth off the an off-stage Roseanne. The "In Memoriam" tribute is a wonder to behold.
Cloudcuckoolander: Nancy and Nana Mary could definitely be this at times. D.J. was too at times.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Roseanne is the master at finding creative and downright twisted ways of disciplining her children. To punish D.J. for skipping school, she walked him to school wearing patched overalls and plaid shirt with a straw hat sporting a sunflower. To top it off, she kissed him goodbye with caked on bright red lipstick.
Dan was no slouch in this department, either. In one episode, Becky and Darlene try to get permission to go to a concert in Des Moines by buttering up Roseanne and saying that Roseanne and Dan deserve a weekend to themselves. When she realizes they were just trying to manipulate her (instead of being actually nice), it really hurts her feelings, which sends Dan into Tranquil Fury. In the end, they get their weekend to themselves... by shipping Becky and Darlene off to Bev's for the weekend. The very end of the episode lets us hear Dan suggesting vacation slides, and making Darlene sing show tunes.
After D.J. pulls a prank on Darlene, Roseanne asks Darlene how he should be punished. Darlene suggets that D.J. wear a suit and tie to school the next day. They actually go through with the punishment, but Roseanne says she would have made him wear a dress (it was too late for Darlene since she only got one wish).
Deadpan Snarker: After puberty, Darlene goes from a tomboy to this. Pretty much everyone in the family cracks wise, though.
D.J. slips into this toward the end of the series.
Deus Angst Machina: Crystal was kicked out of her parents' house at 16, moved in with a crazy aunt, and her past love life is messy and traumatic enough to rival Jackie's. Plus, she lost the only man she ever did love in a strange and bizarre accident and was left to raise her young son all by herself! Thankfully, her life seems to turn around some after she marries Ed.
Diet Episode: Played for Drama when Dan is put on a diet following his heart attack. It eventually leads to the largest fight Dan and Roseanne ever had on the show.
A more comedic example was the second-season episode "I'm Hungry."
Discontinuity Nod: David had his name changed after his first appearance (where he was called Kevin). In a later episode, Roseanne remarks facetiously that "David" is just a name Darlene gave him and not his real one.
The name change is especially odd because although rarely used, "David Jacob" was already DJ's full name. In one episode one of his sisters actually just called him "David!" while yelling at him.
Disproportionate Retribution: One of the Halloween episodes featured everyone pulling an elaborate prank on Roseanne during the credits. Roseanne and Jackie began to suspect their mother is secretly bald, after finding a wig that looks exactly like Bev's hair. Bev reveals that she is indeed bald, followed by everyone else revealing to a shocked Roseanne that they're bald too. Roseanne wonders how she could manage to top this prank. She then pulls out an old-fashioned detonator and blows up the house.
Distracted by the Sexy: Roseanne worked a combination of this and I Have Boobs, You Must Obey! in the final season. When Dan calls from California he says he's most looking forward to coming back home to all the familiar things he's missed. Roseanne is horrified because after winning the lottery, she redecorated the whole house, threw all the old stuff out, and it wasn't the same familiar "home" Dan was looking forward to. She then changes into an eye-popping neglige, under the theory that "Men prefer boobs to end tables any day." Jackie rather abruptly says, "Well, it's working. I'm your sister and even I can't take my eyes off your rack."
Domestic Abuse: A serious episode centered on Jackie's boyfriend beating her. Roseanne's father was revealed/retconned to have been unrepentantly abusive to his family in the second season-ish.
This is Lampshaded right after Becky and Mark get married. David says to Mark, "Thanks to you, I'm now related to my girlfriend."
Dramatic Sit-Down: Exaggerated for comic effect in one episode. Roseanne tells Dan she's pregnant, and Dan proceeds to sit in one spot staring into space for about eighteen years.
Dumbass Has a Point: While he wasn't a dumbass, D.J. was strange bordering on creepy. When they were getting the diner off the ground, they were agonizing over the name. D.J. mentioned he felt left out since everybody else was getting to do things. Roseanne says it's his diner, too, and he'll get to help. He automatically shouts out that he gets to name it. Everybody panics slightly (again, D.J. was weird,) but when he says "The Lunchbox," everybody agreed that it was absolutely perfect.
The Dutiful Son: Charlotte is the Tildens' dutiful daughter: she's easygoing to the point of being a doormat and does all the cooking and housework while Molly runs around being a wild child.
Extreme Doormat: Charlotte, see above. There was one time when she was locked out of her house and was planning to stand outside in the rain for hours instead of being able to muster up the courage to ask Roseanne if she could stay at their house.
Fake Guest Star: Roseanne in its nine years never added actors to the main billing whose characters were newly introduced. The only character who was dropped from actor billing was Crystal after she stopped appearing, but numerous other characters were introduced who became indispensable to the show's plot, particularly Bev, David, Jerry, Leon, Mark, Nancy, and Scott. However, none of their actors ever got more than a guest credit, as the main billing became strictly limited to the fictional immediate family (minus Jerry, who was born later) and Jackie.
Fake Nationality: Glenn Quinn was Irish, and had a couple of slips through the show, including once when Mark came home drunk, which seemed oddly fitting, since the struggle between the two accents sounded pretty much like someone who has had a few too many and are slurring their words. Sarah Chalke was also a Canadian actress, playing the American Becky.
Five-Temperament Ensemble: Darlene (choleric), Becky (melancholic), Dan (phlegmatic), Aunt Jackie (sanguine), and Roseanne and D.J. (leukine).
Other characters: Mark (choleric), Nancy (melancholic), David (phlegmatic), Ziggy (sanguine), Bev and Arnie (choleric/sanguine), Fred (phlegmatic/melancholic), Crystal and Nana Mary (phlegmatic/sanguine), and Leon and Scott (leukine).
Flanderization: Bev, Roseanne and Jackie's mom, who starts out as a slightly annoying, overly-critical conservative woman, but later in the series becomes an insane, ultra-fundamentalist closeted lesbian who nags everyone around her in a shrill, high-pitched shriek of a voice.
A one-time gag at the end of a later episode had her only faking that personality; her "real self" in the gag was a Ladette with a deeper voice who drank beer with Fred. When asked why she didn't act this way all the time, she said, "Well that wouldn't be much fun now, would it?"
A particularly bad example happened with Mark. Originally a leather-jacket-clad greaser bad boy who wasn't booksmart, but always seemed sharp and was shown to be even better than Dan at fixing motorcycles. After marrying Becky and returning to the show he became an idiotic dope/manchild who routinely shocked the rest of the characters with his lack of sense. Only when teaching David how to tie a bowtie before the latter's wedding at the end of Season 8 did Mark's original stoic, streetsmart badboy persona get one last moment in the spotlight.
There was one other moment, though, which showed some Hidden Depths as well. Becky becomes frustrated at living in a trailer and begins to look at going back to school. Mark is against it since they were planning to start a family and tells Roseanne to butt out. However, as the episode wears on, Mark tells Roseanne about how Becky is making all these decisions without him and he's afraid she's going to outgrow him, ending the episode by asking Roseanne how many doctors are married to mechanics, and sarcastically congratulating her on getting a doctor in the family and getting rid of him at the same time. It shows him as a vulnerable man scared he's losing the woman he loves instead of the chauvinistic pig he'd been before.
And David. He went from a mildly sensitive artist from the wrong side of the tracks to an uber-sensitive, in-touch-with-his-fem-side, snobbish doormat.
Jackie is one of the worst sufferers of this. In the earliest seasons, she's a confident, clever woman with bad luck in love. She's slightly neurotic, but it just added to her charm. Later on, the neuroticism completely engulfed her character to the point where any little thing would reduce her to a babbling twitching mess. It was amazing to think that she wasn't in a mental hospital with her kid taken away.
Foreshadowing / Hilarious in Hindsight: The episode "Ladies Choice" becomes funnier after Bev comes out in the final season. Granted, it was all part of Roseanne's book, but still.
Outside of Roseanne's stories, Jackie did come out as a lesbian, and looking back, there are quite a few (probably unintentional) references. Aside from picking traditionally masculine jobs as a police officer and trucker (and remembering that Roseanne did make use of gay stereotypes quite frequently), there were frequent jokes about it. When Nancy came out to Roseanne and Jackie, they mentioned that she didn't act it, since she wasn't a flannel-wearing trucker (Jackie was wearing flannel at the time, and had been a trucker), and during her wedding Jackie said to Dan that if she didn't know there were nice guys like Dan in the world, she'd have given up on men a long time ago.
In the aforementioned episode where Nancy comes out as a lesbian, Roseanne attempts to explain this to Darlene who confidently remarks "It's okay mom, I know all about lesbians". This made funny by the fact that in real life Sara Gilbert is a lesbian.
Also, in one episode of the final season, Roseanne is talking to Jerry as she's feeding him. She talks about the more bizarre things happening, and then says, "It's almost like some crazy lady made it all up."
Freudian Excuse: Roseanne and Jackie are implied to have quite a few issues with men due to their father's abuse — mainly Jackie's promiscuity, but a case could certainly be made for Roseanne's control issues (the show also mentioned it might be the reason behind Roseanne's overeating.) Mark also reveals a few of these later on due to his and David's Abusive Parents, and even Bev seemed to have these with her own mother.
The Friend Nobody Likes: Mark had shades of this. 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. DJ at least liked him as the cool older brother he never had, or at least liked him a lot more than he liked David, who he absolutely despised for a while.
Halloween Episode: Halloween probably meant more to the Conners than any other holiday on the calendar. The lengths they'd go to were pretty epic and adorable. Roseanne was even depressed the year Becky couldn't come over (having married Mark and moved to Minnesota), resulting in a Halloween Carol.
Hyde plays Darlene's boyfriend after he breakup with David.
A wee Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays DJ's immensely boring friend, George.
Dann Florek appears twice, once as Becky and Darlene's school principal, and again as a surgeon.
Hide Your Pregnancy: They tried to do this with Laurie Metcalf's pregnancy. They started with loose clothing that got larger and larger and then resorted to putting things in front of her (the most memorable moment being when Jackie sits in the bathtub with a heavy quilt over her when she, Dan and Roseanne get high on twenty year old pot). However, Metcalf ended up with one of the biggest baby bumps ever, forcing them to write in a one night stand conception so they didn't have to remove her from the rest of the season.
Informed Flaw: Dan despises his dad and repeatedly explains that he is a horrible person. Every time he's shown, though, he is wonderful and kind to the entire cast, and never once, not even to his new wife, does he seem bad. This was on purpose, and not played for laughs.
His onscreen behavior was the biggest part of Dan's loathing. His complaint was that his father was always gone and put work before his family. His doting father "routine" when he was around was, in Dan's mind, one big cover for the fact that he didn't give a crap about his family and would buy them off with gifts in the minimal time he spent with them.
Then again, a lot of the behavior that Dan interpreted as neglectful turned out to be a result of his father's attempts to shield his family from his wife's chronic mental illness.
Jail Bake: The morning after Dan beats up Fisher and spends the night in jail, Crystal comes over and gives him a cupcake with a nail file baked inside it.
Jerk Ass: Roseanne; Darlene and Becky (to a less extent when compared to their mother)
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.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mark 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. When David complains that their parents aren't there for his wedding, Mark looks him dead in the eye and tells him the Conners were better parents to the two of them than their birth parents ever were. They are their real parents as far as he's concerned.
* walks on camera to odd one-knee pose* "I helped pick the numbers!"
A high proportion of episodes from Season 9 consist solely of Jackie and Roseanne hamming it up - going to a day spa, hanging out with the girls from Absolutely Fabulous, and so on.
Let's Get Dangerous: The fallout of Jackie's relationship with Fisher is mostly centered on her and Roseanne (and, to a lesser extent, Darlene) as they discover the bruises and have to deal with both the domestic abuse and the idiosyncrasies of their own sisterhood. Roseanne convinces Jackie to see a doctor and tells Dan they're going to the hospital. They go, and Dan is left to his own devices. And then he silently gets his coat and leaves through the back door. It may well be the most intense and subtle pre-asskicking declaration in sitcom history.
Mama Bear / Papa Wolf: Roseanne and Dan, respectively. They're not only protective of their own children, but also of Jackie, Roseanne's sister (as Fisher found out the hard way), and David, Darlene's boyfriend (as his real mother found out the hard way). Messing with anyone the Conners consider family is generally a bad idea.
Also Becky's boss, who fired her using abusive language. Dan was mean to him, but Mark actually hit him. Although Dan likely was about to beat him senseless himself until he found out Mark had beaten him to it.
Darlene is quite the bitch about it too. Her interfering with the operation of Roseanne's diner—the chief source of income for the family—doesn't help her case at all.
Mental Story: The last season turns out to be a book that Roseanne is writing.
Moebius Neighborhood: The neighborhood's geometry is extremely vague, and the Conners deal with arriving, recurring, and departing neighbors, but never more than one family at a time.
Monochrome Casting: Somewhat subverted; while most of the main characters are Caucasian, several friends, neighbors, poker buddies and co-workers are not.
Mood Whiplash: Aside from its famous final season and ending, later seasons stray into new territory with slightly Anvilicious episodes about racism and abortion.
Mr. Alt Disney: Edelweiss Gardens, in an episode that aired immediately after the two-parter where they visited Disney World. And with a pretty hefty dose of Those Wacky Nazis, complete with the other "Hans the Hare" mascots dressed as Hitler Youth.
Musical Episode: "Sweet Dreams", a protracted fantasy set in the master bathroom.
Nested Story Reveal: In the season 2 finale, Dan builds Roseanne an office in which she can realize her dream of becoming a writer. In the final episode, it's revealed that the entire series has been based on a semi-autobiographical story she's been writing in the office. In the story, she's changed a number of details about her life that she didn't like, while in reality, Dan actually died from his heart attack during Darlene's wedding; Darlene actually married Mark, while Becky married David; her sister, rather than her mother, was a lesbian; and Roseanne didn't win the lottery. This is seen by some fans as brilliant, but by others as a desperate attempt at a Retcon to justify some of the series' poorly-received plot lines (particularly in latter seasons). So it's not entirely played straight, but Not a Subversion either.
Nobody Poops: Completely averted. Roseanne probably had one of the most visible bathrooms on television. Characters were shown in the tub, dyeing their hair, getting high, brushing teeth, and even taking a pregnancy test. An entire episode focused around D.J.'s new-found love of the bathroom.
In fact, the show had three bathrooms. Becky and Darlene's bathroom upstairs, where Darlene dyed her hair and Becky had her first hangover, D.J.'s bathroom, where Darlene saw Jackie with her bruises after Fisher beat her, and the downstairs bathroom, where most of the show's insanity occured (it was used frequently as a safe haven to gossip and hide from everyone else, such as when Roseanne and Jackie were gossiping about their parents.) These people were supposed to be poor, right?
And yet, it took about six seasons before Roseanne finally got the dishwasher she'd been asking him to install since the beginning of the series.
The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Roseanne frequently asked for him to build or install various things for her (the dishwasher, built-in shelves, an ironing board in the wall, etc.) Dan constantly put them off; however, when he was renovating the house he hoped to flip for profit, he added them all in. She said it felt like he was cheating on their house with another one.
Noodle Incident: Roseanne once got a phone call from Darlene and Becky while she was at work about something D.J. did. Roseanne could barely hear anything over Becky's scream, but all we know about what D.J. did is that Roseanne promised she would bury it in the backyard when she got home.
No Periods, Period: Averted. Aside from episodes centered on Roseanne's comically insane mood-swings, Darlene's first period, and a pregnancy scare, periods are pretty much the domain of cheap jokes.
Not Blood Siblings: Repeatedly lampshaded with David and Darlene, after the Conners took him in.
Roseanne (to Dan): Oh, look honey, our kids are necking.
Nouveau Riche: The ninth-season has the Conners becoming this after winning the lottery ticket. Or so Roseanne would have us believe.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The end of a later season episode revealed that Bev is actually faking her spazziness as a way to mess with her family.
Oedipus Complex: 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.
One Steve Limit: Averted. DJ's full name is David Jacob, although he's rarely referred to as such. Oddly enough, David was originally called Kevin.
In the series finale, Glenn Quinn's normal Irish accent slips out slightly.
The Other Darrin: One of the most egregious and ridiculous examples of all time, with plenty of unabashed Lampshade Hanging. When Lecy Goranson left the show for school, Becky was written out as having moved to Minnesota, but eventually returned, now played by Sarah Chalke. At the beginning of the 8th season, Goranson returned and played Becky steadily for a run of episodes, with Chalke actually cameoing as a different character in the Halloween episode. After this, Chalke was brought in again as Becky on-and-off over the course of that season for any episodes Goranson was unavailable for, including the Disneyworld two-parter and Darlene's wedding. Finally, at the beginning of the 9th and final season, Chalke took over again all the way until the finale.
Becky (Chalke), while watching Bewitched: I like the second Darrin much better.
Roseanne (to Goranson): Where the hell have you been? It feels like you've been gone for three years!
"Ladies and gentlemen, the role of Becky Conner, formerly played by Lecy Goranson, then by Sarah Chalke, and then Lecy Goranson again, will be played tonight by Sarah Chalke."
Naturally, Lampshaded in one episode: grown-up D.J. is shown curled into a ball, rocking back and forth and chanting, 'They says she's the same, but she isn't the same, they says she's the same, but she isn't the same...'
Also, Becky (Sarah): "I've always wanted to go to Disney World!" Followed by Roseanne: "Aren't you glad you're here this week?"
One of the credits scenes was a throwback to fifties era "Two of a kind" style show introductions using both Beckies that features deliciously lampshaded lyrics. "They walk alike, they talk alike, abruptly leave the show alike!"
Out of Focus: An in-universe example. While not an Unfavorite, DJ was often forgotten about by both his parents and the writers because he kept to himself while his sisters caused endless grief and drama. One episode had him totally silent for almost the entire thing, but then ended with him telling his horrified parents he'd gone three days without speaking and they hadn't even noticed.
Parental Favoritism: Played straight and inverted. One episode directly dealt with the fact that each parent had a "favorite" daughter. Roseanne favored the more girly Becky while Dan favored athletic, sporty Darlene. Deliberate attempts to reverse this ended badly.
On the other side of this, Roseanne and Jackie each developed a favorite parent. While in their parents' first appearance, the girls seem equally irritated by both of them, later on, Roseanne began to favor their mother slightly since their father was physically abusive and unfaithful; whereas Jackie defended their father, saying he was doing the best he could in a bad situation, while absolutely despising their shrill, controlling, judgmental mother, one time genuinely hoping that dropping the news she was unmarried and pregnant would kill her, and telling Fred that he could only refer to her either as "Bev" or "Sea Hag."
Playing Gertrude: The math on Bev and Nana Mary's ages is a little hazy, but Shelly Winters is only seven years older than Estelle Parsons.
Poorly Disguised Pilot: In one episode, Roseanne is in New York and meets the women of Absolutely Fabulous. It didn't really seem to be a pilot, until you realize that Roseanne was attempting to produce an American version of the show. It then seems like she brought over the Ab Fab ladies to see if their British style of comedy would fly in America.
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.
Put on a Bus: When Roseanne's real-life marriage to Tom Arnold fell apart, his character was written out of the show. He left his wife a letter claiming to have been kidnapped by aliens. The episode's tag showed it was true.
This was also due to Arnold getting his own short-lived series.
The Bus Came Back: Arnold's character returned in one episode to try to patch things up with Nancy, claiming his alien story was him panicking at being married. The end, however, reveals he was abducted by aliens and was trying to get Nancy to go back with him.
Rags to Riches: In the ninth and final season, the Conners win a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot. Only to be retconned at the last episode where it's revealed Roseanne's just writing all of the season as a way to deal with the loss of Dan.
Real Life Writes the Plot: In a symbolic sense, the final season. Since the show was a reflection of Roseanne's real life, they needed to create a rags to riches plot to reflect Roseanne achieving success as a stand-up comic. That's where winning the lottery came from.
This was also an underlying theme in many of the last season episodes, when the rough-around-the-edges blue collar Conners would deal with prissy health spa patrons, snooty New York socialites, and the blue-blood Wentworth Family of Martha's Vineyard.
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Averted with baby Jerry and Jackie's son Andy. Jerry is born in the 8th season but is still a baby at the end of the series.
Spartan Sibling: Played straight between Darlene and Becky; subverted between Mark and David. David assumed that all of the abuse his brother slung at him was malicious — when finally called on it, Mark reveals that he always thought it was just friendly teasing, and doesn't understand why David is so upset about it.
Spin-Off Babies: "Little Rosey". Look it up. Considering the mentally and physically abusive childhood she and Jackie had from their horrid parents, making an animated kids show about it seems... not smart.
Stop Copying Me: In one episode, D.J. does this to Darlene, much to her irritation. Eventually:
Rosanne: What's going on in here? Dan: Darlene is repeating everything D.J. says a second before he says it. Roseanne: (to Darlene) Don't be so childish!
Straight Gay: Both Leon and Nancy, and almost anyone each of them was paired with. Roseanne played this trope straight regularly before many other shows did.
In later seasons, however, Leon and his husband were incredibly flamboyant. Partly justified in the finale, in which Roseanne reveals a lot of it was a fictionalized account of her life and she changed some things around to suit her own tastes.
The Talk: Subverted. Roseanne and Dan are preparing themselves to give this to Becky, when they discover that Darlene actually needs it more.
Another version of Type 1 occurs with DJ, when he was beginning to get erections in class. Roseanne, who doesn't trust Dan to do this right, decides to try and tell DJ that awkward moments happen to everybody, and tells the story of her first period. This sends DJ screaming from the room. When Dan stops him and tells him that he shouldn't run from the room, DJ says it's about her period, and Dan simply says "As you were."
Take That: When Disney purchased ABC all their shows were forced to do a Disney World episode, Roseanne obviously didn't enjoy having to make a two-episode Disney World commercial, so in the very next episode they turned around and created an elaborate slam against Disney for being forced to do so (including mocking their treatment of employees), and made it's mascot a rabbit as a way to cover their butts if they get called out on it.
Becky (Chalke): I always wanted to go to Disney World!
Roseanne: Aren't you glad you were here this week?
Trademark Favorite Food: Sort of, while it was by no means a "favorite," it seems like for the first few seasons, the Connor family lived on Roseanne's notorious meatloaf.
Additionally, if any cereal is being eaten in a scene, it will typically be "Fruit Rings."
Dan in Season One had a great affinity for creamed corn.
Tranquil Fury: If Dan's hollering and yelling, he's just blowing off steam. But when he gets quiet, run.
True Love Is Boring: Zig-zagged in a way. Since we later learn that the series proper was a story-within-a-story told by Roseanne, and she changed the details about her own life she didn't like, it would seem she thought it certainly wasn't boring. However, played straight with the actually series finale itself, where we learn that her husband died a year ago.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Roseanne and the other producers consciously subverted this, but Roseanne's real-life plastic surgeries over the years diluted it somewhat.
At least one of those surgeries was explicitly worked into the show's plot, namely her breast reduction. Others, such as Roseanne Barr's weight-loss surgeries were also addressed (specificially in a throwaway line where Roseanne said she has lost quite a bit of weight working in the diner and being around food so much, it now makes her queasy.)
Like pregnancy, it was convenient to do so, being a necessary surgery in real life as well as on the show. The others weren't.
Uncanny Family Resemblance: One of the clip shows had frame stories first set in the past and then in the future. In the past, Michael Fishman plays a young Roseanne. In the future, John Goodman plays an adult DJ.
The Unfair Sex: Roseanne was often verbally and emotionally abusive to Dan. She belittled him and often denied him the chance to father the kids (which those kids needed). Not that Dan was much better, given the chance; their whole family was situated at Dysfunction Junction, after all.
Unlike most sitcoms, there was an episode that dealt with this. When D.J. started dating, the first girl he went out with bossed him around and treated him like dirt, and he did nothing to stop it. Roseanne saw it and was forced to accept that it was because he thought this was perfectly acceptable, since he grew up watching Roseanne and Darlene step all over Dan and David respectively. After the girl basically bosses D.J. into going to Chicago with her without permission, Dan and Roseanne actually sit him down and explain that it is not okay for him to let someone control his life like that, and he needs to break it off with a girl if she tries it. Naturally, after the talk is over, Roseanne refuses to practice what she preaches and keeps treating Dan the same way she always does.
However, David later reveals the real reason D.J. is dating her is because she slips him the tongue. Of course, he's not gonna tell his parents that.
Another episode talked about this. Jackie went on a date (although nothing sexual happened) with another man while she was married to Fred. When they separated for a few days, Roseanne made it her priority to get Fred to move back into the house and pull Jackie out of her depression (by telling her it wasn't her fault). When Dan saw how hurt Fred was at this betrayal of trust, he confronted Roseanne for blaming everyone except Jackie for what she did.
Darlene is also no slouch in this department. Ironically, it's often Roseanne who ends up reminding her to tell David she does really love him every now and then.
What Could Have Been: While talks about a revival were in the works, Roseanne was very tight-lipped about what the Connor family was up to, saying it was intellectual property which might be developed later. However, apparently the talks fell through, because at the end of 2009 she posted a blog that gave a few details as to what the family was up to:
DJ gets published.
Mark dies in Iraq.
David leaves Darlene for a woman half his age.
Darlene meets a woman and they have a test tube baby.
Becky works at Wal-Mart.
Roseanne and Jackie open the first medical marijuana dispensary in Lanford, Illinois and pay off the mortgage before the house is foreclosed on.
Arnie becomes the best friend of the governor of Illinois.
Mom sells a painting for ten grand.
Nancy and Arnie remarry.
Jerry and the grandsons form a band like the Jonas Brothers
In-universe, one episode had Roseanne's father getting injured, and Roseanne going on a trip to see him, and Jackie babysitting for about a week while she was gone. This turned into an interesting version of What Could Have Been had Dan married Jackie instead of Roseanne. While Roseanne's gone, Becky is polite, Darlene is nice, and there was even one scene where Jackie is sending them off to Leave it to Beaver-style music.
When You Coming Home, Dad?: Dan had this relationship with his dad, who was a traveling salesman who rarely ever saw his family. As an adult, they're still tense with each other at best.
And a Halloween Carol, warning against apathy and grumpiness rather than greed.
Your Costume Needs Work: When Dan and Roseanne visit Vegas, the one thing she wants to do more than anything is see Wayne Newton. They can't get tickets to see Wayne, but do get tickets to see a concert of Vegas impersonators. While there, the real Wayne Newton shows up while Roseanne's in the bathroom, and when she gets back, she begins to ruthlessly heckle him.