Wednesday’s Halloween-themed The Conners turned a legacy character into something of a ghost.
In the episode, Becky mentions in passing that she is one of Dan and Roseanne’s three children (with Darlene and D.J. rounding out the trio), seemingly forgetting about her MIA younger brother Jerry Garcia Conner. But instead of correcting her, Dan confirms her assertion, declaring that he and Roseanne “had one favorite and two backups.”
Despite being absent from ABC’s ill-fated Roseanne revival that preceded The Conners, Jerry’s existence was confirmed when Roseanne mentioned him being holed up on a fishing boat in Alaska. So how did Jerry go from being an off screen presence to eradicated from the franchise’s canon completely?
As showrunner Bruce Helford explains to TVLine, when Roseanne relaunched in 2018 “we decided that some of the things from the 8th and 9th seasons wouldn’t apply, as they were either limiting to opening new creative roads for the characters or part of the ‘dream’ period, like winning the lottery. We didn’t really have room to add Jerry Garcia, but we had a soft spot in our hearts for him, so we put him on a fishing boat and said he rarely contacted the family.
“As we moved on to The Conners,” Helford continues, “we decided that, with the wonderful additions of Ben, Louise and Emilio, our cast was large enough to do stories for 40 episodes a season, and that since we hadn’t brought him up in three years, we wouldn’t pick up on the narrative of Jerry.”
That said, Helford is not ready to officially draw a line through Jerry (at least not the way he has with Jackie’s son Andy). “Dan said he only had three children, but is he so angry at Jerry, for something we learn about later, that he denies him as a son?” Helford muses. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”