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‘Roseanne’ Cast Then and Now: A Look Back at the Stars of the Groundbreaking Comedy

The show just celebrated its 35th anniversary — catch up with the Conner family!


When Roseanne premiered on ABC in October of 1988, it made a splash for the way it mixed laugh-out-loud dry humor with an honest look at working-class family life. The charismatic Roseanne cast and award-winning show, which pulled extensively from comedian Roseanne Barr’s life experiences and never shied away from subversive subject matter, just celebrated its 35th anniversary. And in the decades since it’s premier, there has never been another sitcom quite like it.

Cast of 'Roseanne': Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman and John Goodman in 1989
The cast of Roseanne (clockwise from left: Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, John Goodman and Michael Fishman) in 1989Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Although there was a small but well-loved lineage of classic comedies set in ordinary American homes — from The Honeymooners to All in the Family — the Roseanne cast depicted a family more real than any seen on television before. They struggled to make ends meet working blue collar jobs, but the way they overcame challenges with humor, candor and love was a breath of fresh air for viewers. And over the course of nine seasons, from 1988 to 1997, it was like looking in a mirror for many families.

Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne Barr, John Goodman and Sara Gilbert in 1989
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne Barr, John Goodman and Sara Gilbert in 1989George Rose/Getty

Given the prevalence of ’80s/’90s nostalgia and the demand for TV reboots, Roseanne was brought back for a 10th season starring the original cast in 2018. However, this reboot was cancelled following controversial statements by Barr, and ultimately spun off as The Conners, which featured all of the original cast except for Barr. Earlier this year, The Conners was renewed for a sixth season and it’s clear audiences are still invested in the beloved family.

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in 1989
Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in 1989Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty

The Roseanne cast then and now

On the occasion of the original show’s big anniversary, we’re taking a look back at the original Roseanne cast to see what they’ve been up to and how much they’ve changed in the last three and a half decades.

Roseanne Barr as Roseanne Conner

Side-by-side of Roseanne Barr then and now
Left: 1989; Right: 2023Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty; @officialroseannebarr/Instagram

Roseanne Barr began her career as a stand-up comedian in the ’80s, and quickly found fame as an edgy, outspoken woman in a male-dominated field. In her act, she popularized the concept of the “domestic goddess,” which led to her Roseanne character. Roseanne drew from Barr’s life and stand-up routine, and earned praise for her unvarnished, hilarious depiction of a working mother.

Barr made her film debut in the 1989 dark comedy She-Devil, co-starring Meryl Streep. She then appeared in other movies like Look Who’s Talking Too, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Blue in the Face in the ’90s, and made cameo appearances on TV shows like General Hospital, The Nanny, My Name Is Earl and The Office. She had her own talk show from 1998 to 2000, and later had a short-lived reality show, Roseanne’s Nuts, that centered on her macadamia nut farm in Hawaii. She then became a judge on Last Comic Standing from 2014 to 2015. Barr even ran for president in 2012.

Now 70, Barr has frequently been in the news — throughout her career, she’s been no stranger to controversy, and in 2018 her inflammatory social media posts caused a major scandal that led to the cancellation of the Roseanne reboot. But this year, Barr has come back into the spotlight with her first comedy special in 16 years, Roseanne Barr: Cancel This! on Fox Nation.

John Goodman as Dan Conner

Side-by-side of John Goodman then and now
Left: 1998; Right: 2023Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty; LISA O’CONNOR/AFP via Getty

John Goodman played Barr’s husband on Roseanne. He’s long been known as a likable “everyman” type, and started his career four decades ago, with roles in movies like Revenge of the Nerds, True Stories, The Big Easy and Raising Arizona. Since the original run of Roseanne ended, Goodman has remained a reliable star of screens big and small, with roles on TV shows including Treme, Damages and Alpha House. His eclectic variety of movie roles includes cult favorites like Matinee, The Big Lebowski and Speed Racer, family fare like The Flintstones, The Emperor’s New Groove and Monsters, Inc. and acclaimed dramas like Argo, Flight and Trumbo.

Now 71, Goodman currently stars as the patriarch of an evangelical family in the comedy show The Righteous Gemstones. Long known as one of the few larger leading men in Hollywood, Goodman has made headlines for his impressive weight loss in recent years.

Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner

Side-by-side of Lecy Goranson then and now
Left: 1997; Right 2023Derek Storm/FilmMagic/Getty; Michael Loccisano/Getty

Lecy Goranson played the Conners’ oldest child, Becky. While Becky could be spoiled and superficial at times, she was smarter than she initially appeared, and like her siblings, she had a rebellious streak. From seasons six to nine of Roseanne, Goranson left the show to attend college, and was replaced by actress Sarah Chalke, but Goranson ultimately returned to the 2018 Roseanne revival and The Conners.

Now 49, Goranson appeared in the movies How To Make an American Quilt and Boys Don’t Cry in the ’90s and has guested on episodes of Sex and the City, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Fringe, Damages and Inside Amy Schumer.

Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner

Side-by-side of Sara Gilbert then and now
Left: 1990; Right: 2022Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch via Getty; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/Getty

Sara Gilbert played Roseanne and Dan’s middle child, Darlene. Artsy and tomboyish, Darlene embodied ’90s teen angst. While she was on Roseanne, she appeared in the thriller Poison Ivy, co-starring Drew Barrymore. She’d later act in movies like High Fidelity, Riding in Cars With Boys and most recently, 80 for Brady.

From 2004 to 2007, she had a recurring role on ER and she later joined the cast of The Big Bang Theory (alongside actor Johnny Galecki, who played her boyfriend on Roseanne — they remain friends to this day!).

In recent years Gilbert, now 48, has appeared in shows like Atypical, Equal and Living Biblically, and she currently serves as an executive producer on The Conners, where she appears among many of her former castmates.

(Read about how there’s a strange rumor going around That Darlene Conner From ‘Roseanne’ Died)

Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner

Side-by-side of Michael Fishman then and now
Left: 1990; Right: 2022Ron Davis/Getty; Bobby Bank/Getty

Michael Fishman played D.J., the youngest child in the Conner clan (until baby Jerry Garcia Conner came into the picture in season eight, that is). D. J. and his older sisters had an ongoing rivalry, and his character went from cute kid to rebellious teen.

Fishman showed up on episodes of Seinfeld and Walker, Texas Ranger in the ’90s, and while he hasn’t been in many movies, he’s made appearances in A.I. and Undrafted. He also appeared as his TV mom’s sidekick on her talk show, The Roseanne Show. Now 41, Fishman’s most recent credit was in the 2023 TV movie Abducted By My Teacher: The Elizabeth Thomas Story.

Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris

Side-by-side of Laurie Metcalf then and now
Left: 1993; Right: 2023Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty; Michael Loccisano/Getty

Laurie Metcalf, who played Jackie Harris, Roseanne’s sweet but neurotic younger sister, was already an accomplished actress by the time she was cast in the sitcom. Metcalf started out acting onstage in the late ’70s, and had her first credited movie role in Desperately Seeking Susan, which starred Madonna and Rosanna Arquette.

Following Roseanne, she starred in The Norm Show, alongside the late comedian Norm MacDonald, and she’s appeared on many other popular shows including Malcolm in the Middle, Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and The Big Bang Theory (which also featured Roseanne alums Sara Gilbert and Johnny Galecki).

Now 68, Metcalf is still working steadily, and received acclaim for her Oscar-nominated role as the title character’s long-suffering mom in Lady Bird. Metcalf’s other film credits include Uncle Buck, JFK, the Toy Story series and Scream 2.

Where can I watch episodes of Roseanne and The Connors?

You can currently stream all episodes of Roseanne on Peacock TV, Apple TV, or Prime Video. And despite delays from the SAG-AFTRA strike, season 6 of The Conners season will still return to ABC on Wednesdays at 8 p.m/ET, most likely in early 2024.

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in 2018
Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in 2018Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Read more about Roseanne here!

Roseanne Barr Shows Off Her Incredible Weight Loss in New Pics

Baby Jerry From ‘Roseanne’ Is All Grown Up

Roseanne Barr Was Really in Love with John Goodman During the Show’s First Season

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