15 Most Memorable Episodes Of “Roseanne”
From October 1988 to May 1997, Roseanne became one of the most popular sitcoms on TV through nine seasons and 222 episodes. Like all sitcoms, it had some seasons and episodes which were much more memorable to fans and resonated with them even years later. Now that the revival series has been canceled, there are rumors that ABC is looking to create another spin-off. For those of you who loved the original series, take a look back at the 15 most memorable episodes of Roseanne:
15. Fights and Stuff – S8, E25
One of the hallmarks of Roseanne‘s greatness was how incredibly real the show was. Unlike any other sitcom and TV families before, the Conner’s were undeniably relatable to middle-class working Americans who were simply trying to just make ends meet while keeping their family together. Although comedy was at the forefront of many episodes, some hit fans hard because of other emotions, and that is what makes season eight’s “Fights and Stuff” so memorable. After Dan’s heart attack, a worried Roseanne tracked his every move and everything he ate, so when she caught him cheating on his diet, the pair had one of their biggest fights ever. The explosive and vicious interaction between the beloved couple was raw and intense and so emotionally real it left audiences breathless.
14. Death and Stuff – S1, E21
Season one of Roseanne took viewers on a wild ride of humor, sadness, anger and at times complete surprise. The 21st episode “Death and Stuff” is one that fans remember because it was very surprising from start to finish, and so outrageous that is very hard to forget! In the episode, the Conners are going about their weekend activities when a door-to-door salesman stops by and then drops dead in the middle of their kitchen. Unfortunately for the family, the coroner is busy and the family is forced to continue living their lives while a corpse grows cold at their kitchen table.
13. The Dark Ages – S5, E3
Season five marked a milestone for Roseanne as the series celebrated its 100th episode with “The Dark Ages.” For many, the episode symbolized everything Roseanne was about and what made it stand out from so many other family sitcoms, which is what makes it one of the most memorable episodes out of the entire series. In “The Dark Ages,” Dan’s failing bike shop causes the Conners to be unable to pay their power bill and, as a result, their electricity is cut off. Amid the stress of Dan’s income (or lack thereof) familial issues hit an all-time high as Dan continued to disown Becky following her elopement with Mark and at the same time Roseanne discovered that Darlene and David had spent the night together and doesn’t know how to react since Darlene insisted nothing happened between them. With the Conner house in the dark, the episode took the opportunity to shine a light on the unraveling of their family, and with Dan eventually reconciling with Becky and Mark, it proved that when things are bad, not having your family on your side is the worst thing of all.
12. Brain-Dead Poets Society – S2, E10
Season two’s “Brain-Dead Poets Society” is a standout one which might be in part because it was written by none other than Joss Whedon who went on to become one of the most respected screenwriters, directors, and television series creators in the business. The impact of the episode resulted in it being regarded as one of the most moving episodes of not only Roseanne but TV family sitcoms in general. After Darlene wins a poem contest for her class, she is invited to recite it in front of the entire school but refuses to do so. What follows is a clash of wills as Roseanne and Dan fight over whether they should force their daughter to participate and Roseanne and Darlene fight over Roseanne forcing Darlene to read her poem. The kitchen argument hit home for parents all over America who had constantly battled the line of forcing their children to face their fears or to allow those fears to let them back down. The episode also prompted huge character development for the character of Darlene who had been greatly left behind in favor of her older sister Becky who was constantly battling personal issues and social embarrassments. Of course, Darlene’s poignant poem also resonated with viewers as she shed the cynical and sarcastic layer that defined her character to reveal her inner insecurities about being a teenager that even surprised her parents.
11. The Driver’s Seat – S6, E11
The season six episode “The Driver’s Seat” is another one of those Roseanne episodes that are remembered so well, not because of an iconic line, but because it was unsettling and uncomfortable. In the episode, DJ steals and wrecks the family car which causes Roseanne to become infuriated and hit her son. By season six, Roseanne had admittedly lost some of the charm, which had made it so much better than other family sitcoms TV, but “The Driver’s Seat” pulled viewers right back in as it took on the challenging topic of child-abuse and disciplinary parenting. After immediately regretting her actions, Roseanne apologizes to DJ and tells him about being beaten by her own father when she was a kid. The episode was heartbreaking and difficult, but that is what makes it memorable.
10. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home – S5, E16
Over the years, Roseanne explored just how difficult family relationships can be between parents and their children, and season five’s “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” extended that to Roseanne and Jackie and their tense relationship with their father. After their father dies, the two women react drastically differently as Jackie falls into deep grief while Roseanne becomes incredibly angry and decides to meet with her father’s longtime mistress. The episode took on the complicated feelings that death brings and revealed the brutal abuse that both Roseanne and Jackie suffered at the hands of their father, further explaining their differing personalities and how they handle certain situations. Both Roseanne Barr and Laurie Metcalf gave such incredible and memorable performances in the episode that they both ended up winning Emmys for it. “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” was certainly not one of the happiest Roseanne episodes, but its jarring scenes, emotions, and performances are what make it stand out.
9. Guilt By Disassociation – S2, E3
“Guilt By Disassociation” is one of the heaviest episodes of the series, as it shines a light on the difficulties of finding work and supporting a family through Roseanne’s character. After she left her job at the Wellman factory, Roseanne had to find a new job and fast, luckily she is referred by a friend for an office job, which is a cause for celebration from her family. Unfortunately, Roseanne quickly loses the job after it is discovered she has very little computer knowledge, and as her family sets up a party for her, she has to figure out how to let them know she let them down. The episode was again so memorable because of how relatable the emotions were. So many viewers at the time had been through or were going through the same thing, and the episode left a mark on those who watched it.
8. Scenes From a Barbecue – S3, E24
Some of the best and funniest Roseanne episodes were the ones with guest stars and that includes season three’s “Scene from a Barbecue.” With it being Mother’s Day, the Conner family hosted a barbecue and the episode marked the first appearance from Oscar-winning Shelly Winters as Roseanne’s Nana Mary. The episode is beloved because it incorporated the very best of classic Roseanne humor while very accurately portraying the challenges of mother-daughter relationships and dreaded family get-togethers. “Scenes From a Barbecue” is also one of the best episodes because it was one of many co-written by none other than Chuck Lorre who would go on to be the mind behind some of TV’s most successful comedies including The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Mom.
7. Inherit the Wind – S2, E1
The premiere episode of season two is one long remembered by audiences namely because it proved why the series connected so much with its viewers. It had already been established that the Conners were the most average family on TV, but it still commented on some major issues, and while those episodes were often great, it was when the Conners went through experiences just like any other American family that it really resonated with fans. In the episode, Roseanne is trying to bring money in by working as a telephone solicitor and then has to try to console her daughter Becky after Becky accidentally farted while giving a speech to the entire student council. “Inherit the Wind” is one of the best examples of why Roseanne was so groundbreaking — not because it shocked viewers or swept them up into a fantasy land, but because it represented a family just like theirs, with the same sometimes seemingly trivial issues that at the time are the most important things in the world.
6. Boo! – S2, E7
Throughout all of the seasons, Roseanne became known for its Halloween-themed episodes which were often the highlight of already spectacular seasons, and it all started with season two’s “Boo!” The extremely entertaining episode saw the Conner family set up an extravagant haunted house as Dan and Roseanne competed for who is the scariest. Although many of Roseanne’s most memorable episodes were because of the issues dealt with or the extraordinary performances, “Boo!” is one of the most memorable because it was hilarious and light-hearted and an episode that fans wanted to watch again and again.
5. Lies My Father Told Me – S6, E21
Through nine seasons, all of the stars of Roseanne had their own standout episodes and while John Goodman is a fantastic actor in everything he does, there is one episode which stunned even his biggest fans because of his performance. Season six’s “Lies My Father Told Me” gave audiences an always well-received Dan-centric episode which left them just as emotional as the character. In the episode, Dan’s mother is committed to a mental institution, and as he struggles to deal with the news, he drunkenly confronts his own father, Ed, because Ed had always let Dan believe his mother’s issues were because of Ed’s absence in their lives. Instead, Ed finally reveals to Dan just how far back his mother’s mental health issues go, revealing a new truth to Dan about his family and beloved mother he had never known or understood. As Dan came to terms with the fact his mother had deep-rooted mental health issues, and his father was not the monster that he believed, John Goodman delivered what is considered his best performance of the entire series.
4. Trick or Treat – S3, E7
Way before it was at the forefront of social awareness and in the media like it is today, Roseanne was aptly dealing with gender inequality, especially in the season three episode “Trick or Treat.” In the episode, Dan is uncomfortable with his son’s desire to be a witch for Halloween. Meanwhile, Roseanne is dressed up as a very convincing man in her Lumberjack costume. The episode details the subversive ideals of gender roles and acceptance in a surprisingly easy-going manner as Roseanne is able to infiltrate the male psyche when other men don’t realize she is a woman who is simply dressed up. It also subtly asserts the importance of acceptance, which was absolutely groundbreaking on TV at the time, as Dan begins the episode by being upset and offended by DJ wanting to be a witch, and inadvertently revealing his homophobia, only for him to change his views by the end of the episode. In the scene where Dan and Roseanne, still dressed as a lumberjack embrace, he proclaims “That beard tickles!” using the show’s classic humor to promote acceptance and understanding.
3. Life and Stuff – S1, E1
For a series that became so successful, popular and acclaimed, a most memorable episode list cannot go by without mentioning the very episode that started it all: “Life and Stuff.” The pilot episode is arguably the most important for any series for it is a good indicator of who is likely to tune in again, and unsurprisingly “Life and Stuff” instantly had audiences hooked. The episode introduced viewers to a family shockingly like their own, a family that was far from perfect with parents who were simply just trying to get by, pay the bills and keep their kids out of as much trouble as possible, but sometimes failing along the way.
2. Crime and Punishment/ War and Peace – S5, E13&14
While fans loved to laugh and cry along with the Conner family, there were some episodes that affected them almost a little too much. The two-part season five episodes ‘Crime and Punishment” and “War and Peace” took on one of Roseanne‘s most sensitive and difficult issues: domestic violence. In “Crime and Punishment” Roseanne discovers that her sister Jackie was being abused and beaten by her boyfriend Fisher. After Dan finds out, he goes and beats up Fisher and ends up getting arrested. Both “Crime and Punishment” and “War and Peace” tactfully dealt with the intricacies of real-life situations like this because Jackie considered staying with Fisher and DJ questions his father over why it isn’t okay for Fisher to hit Jackie but it is okay for Dan to hit Fisher. Of course, the emotionally devastating performance from Metcalf which lingered with fans well after the episodes ended earned her a well deserved Emmy.
1. A Stash From the Past – S6, E4
Although there are a lot of Roseanne episodes to sift through, and fans will feel differently about many of them, one that has always reigned as one of the best and the most memorable has been season six’s “A Stash From the Past.” In the episode, Roseanne finds marijuana in David’s room and immediately punishes him, only to later be told by Dan that is actually their 20-year-old stash. After dealing with building responsibilities in stresses from work and as parents, Roseanne, Dan and Jackie decide to smoke the stash in the bathroom and let off some steam. While the episode was funny and light-hearted as the three took a step back from reality, it was also praised for its realism and individual focus of each character that then came together in the bigger sense. Now, it is perhaps the most memorable Roseanne episode of all time but in 2009 was also ranked number 33 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time, and even Roseanne Barr admits it is in her top 12 favorite episodes from the show.