Sara Gilbert's contribution to the show was considered so important to Roseanne that the show's producers juggled storylines and taping schedules to allow her to study at Yale University while remaining part of the cast, shooting remote segments of Darlene at a soundstage in New York.
At the very end of Sarah Chalke's first episode after replacing Alicia Goranson in the role of Becky, the family is seen watching an episode of Bewitched (1964). They are discussing how the producers of the show must' have been stupid to think that no one would notice that they replaced the original Darren (Dick York) with another actor (Dick Sargent). Becky (now played by Sarah Chalke, who relates to replacing a character) mentions that she likes the second Darren better.
Alicia Goranson's request to wear her hair shorter as Becky was originally turned down by the producers. Goranson took her case to Roseanne, who solved the issue by taking up a pair of scissors and hacking Goranson's hair short then and there.
Early during the first season, Roseanne frequently butted heads with the show's creator Matt Williams. Williams worked as the executive producer for the show's first thirteen episodes, but quit when Roseanne vehemently refused to say to her on-screen husband, "Well, you're my equal in bed, but that's it." Roseanne felt it was a line her character would never say.
Allegedly, in the early years there was a naked picture of George Clooney, only covering his privates with "Groucho"-style goggles, on the set fridge. This photo was supposedly taken by John Goodman or Roseanne when the three went out drinking one night, then it mysteriously disappeared from the set one day.
Roseanne's brother and sister are both gay, which is why she pushed for introducing gay characters into the show. This led to a major fallout with producer Matt Williams, who disliked making Nancy's character a lesbian. Roseanne responded: "My show portrays various slices of life, and homosexuals are a reality."
Sarah Chalke took over the role of Becky for the final time in the eighth season. She showed up in the episode "We're Going to Disney World!" When Becky enters her first scene, Roseanne says, "Aren't you glad that you're here this week?"
In season 5 is a shirt shared by the entire cast and is seen in several episodes and sometimes in the same episode by more than one cast member,including Roseanne,Jackie,Darlene,D.J.and Dan.The shirt is white with a giant chicken on it.
During the last four seasons of the show, recurring guest stars Johnny Galecki (David) and Glenn Quinn (Mark) actually appear in more episodes than their on-screen girlfriends/wives Sara Gilbert (Darlene) and Sarah Chalke/Lecy Goranson (Becky).
In the fall of 2008 Barr said, on what the Conners would be up to now, "I've always said now that if they were on TV, DJ would have been killed in Iraq and [the Conners] would have lost their house." When asked for more details on where the rest of the Conners - Jackie, Becky, Darlene, David, and Mark - would be, Barr said "Your question is intellectual property that may be developed later, so I don't want to get into that."
In Alicia Goranson's first episode after her absence, Roseanne and Dan were in D.J.s old room which they were fixing up for the new baby, when Becky shows up at the door with a drop cloth. Roseanne asks "Where the hell have you been?" A little later, Darlene and D.J. are in the laundry room when Becky walks in and Darlene asks "Where the hell have you been?", prompting Becky to question, "Why does everyone keep asking that"?
The lyrics for the show's theme song, during the ninth season were, "If what doesn't kill us is making us stronger, were gonna last longer than the greatest wall in China, or that rabbit with the drum. If there's one thing that I learned, while waiting for my turn, it's that in each life some rain falls, but you also get some sun. And we'll make out better than okay, hear what I say? Yeah, any day."
In an early 1992 episode Johnny Galecki played Mark's younger brother named Kevin. It was later in the same season that his character's name changed to David. In everyone comes to jackie's. During an argument with Dan over David and Darleen living together in Chicago, Roseanne states that David isn't even his real name, Darlene just made that up. Which may explain why he was Kevin in the earlier seasons and David in the latter.
All the exterior shots going to and coming from commercial breaks are shots of various city streets and buildings in Evansville, IN. This is where Matt Williams, the executive producer, was born and raised as well as attended college at the University of Evansville. He graduated from F.J. Reitz high school in Evansville.
Although Alicia Goranson returned in the eight season to play Becky, Sarah Chalke, her replacement, still played Becky in some episodes that season. When Goranson left the show again at the end of the season, Chalke took on the role of Becky full time again.
Roseanne Barr is the only character of the series to appear in every episode. Although, she did only appear as herself in the tag of one episode. Laurie Metcalf and Michael Fishman were absent for about half a dozen episodes across the show, and John Goodman was absent for a dozen episodes during season 9.
Roseanne consistently ranked in the Nielsen top 20 shows listing for eight of its nine seasons. It reached its pinnacle in its second season becoming the most watched television show in the United States.
When the show first began, the Executive Producer was Jeff Harris. Hence, probably not so coincidentally, Roseanne and Jackie's maiden name is "Harris." Producer Janet Leahy's name also inspired Mark and David's last name: "Healy".
A few actors had more than one role in the series. Actor Dann Florek played Becky's Principal (Principal Hiller) in S3 EP9 and Darlene's doctor (Dr. Rudmen) in S9 E18-19. Actor Michael Des Barres played one of Darlene's doctors (Dr. Phillips) in S9 E19 and Leon's boyfriend (Steven/Jerry) in season three. Also actor Rob Fuller has a few parts; as do a couple others including Ahmet Zappa.
Valerie Harper fought with Lorimar producers over creative directions of Valerie the TV show and got fired; she was replaced by Sandy Duncan shortly thereafter. Similarly, Roseanne fought with Roseanne producer Matt Williams about the direction of her show, just a year later. The difference being Matt Williams got let go, not Roseanne. As a joke, during the whole kerfuffle, Roseanne changed the name on her door to Sandy Duncan.
In one of the commentaries for the DVD collection, Roseanne states that, "I never keep writers for more than two seasons. By then you've gotten the very best out of them." Ironically, among these writers were Joss Whedon, (who went on to create "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", "Firefly" and many feature films) and, Chuck Lorre: "Mike & Molly", "Two and a half Men", "Dharma and Greg", "The Big Bang Theory", and "Mom". Lorre is the second only creator/producer to have three or more shows in production simultaneously, following Norman Lear during the 1970's. He also was responsible for Two and a Half Men.
Estelle Parsons and Shelley Winters were friends, not enemies like on the show. In fact, long before they played Mother and Daughter on Roseanne Shelly Winters and Estelle Parsons wanted to do Waiting for Godot together, but Beckett wouldn't let them.
Natalie West (Crystal) was originally supposed to be Roseanne's main sidekick, but everyone saw the amazing chemistry Laurie Metcalfe had with Roseanne, so Jackie pretty immediately became the main sidekick and Crystal's role was reduced
Roseanne admitted later it was scary the way Tom Arnold had conned his way into her life and manuevered her into letting him become so powerful on her show, basically taking over things and becoming the new star.
The Disney company, which had just bought out ABC at this point, forced Roseanne to do an episode where the Connors went to Disney World; as part of company wide product placement for the parent company.
Crystal, played by Natalie West, was originally intended to be Roseanne's main sidekick, until producers saw how great the chemistry was between Roseanne Barr and Laurie Metcalf, who played Jackie, Roseanne's sister. Crystal was then relegated to the supporting cast. She appeared in the opening credits with the rest of the Conner family for the first few seasons, until being dropped from the opening and then the show altogether in season 8.
During an interview with Carroll O'Connor, Roseanne said that she based her character on a female version of Archie Bunker. Coincidentally, Estelle Parsons (who plays Roseanne's mother Beverly), had a recurring role on the 9th season of All In The Family.
Joss Whedon was a writer on Roseanne. Allyson Hannigan also made an appearance on Roseanne, on the Like a New Job episode. The two of them would later team up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; he as creator and executive producer; she as one of the stars, Willow. Joss would also use another Roseanne star, Glenn Quinn, for his Buffy spinoff Angel. Similarly Chuck Lorre was a writer on Roseanne, and he would team up with Johnny Galecki on their big hit The Big Bang Theory after Roseanne wrapped.
There was a cartoon version called "Little Rosie" which aired Saturday mornings on ABC. Just as "Roseanne" was about her, Roseanne, her sister, Jackie, and her husband Dan; the cartoon version also had a Roseanne (or Rosie), a sister (Tess in this version) and a boyfriend (Buddy in this version).
Matt Roth and Brian Kerwin would both star as Jackie/Laurie Metcalf's boyfriend's on Roseanne. Later, Matt Roth, Brian Kerwin and Laurie Metcalf would all star on a Desperate Housewives episode together entitled "Bang".
Lee Garlington also played two different characters throughout Roseanne. As part of the couple coming to look at the washer and dryer while the dead salesman was at the Connor table and later as Karen, Darlene's new older friend who owned the bookstore.
There's two Davids on this show. DJ, which is short for David Jacob, who is Roseanne's third child, played by Michael Fishman, and there's David Healy, who is Darlene's boyfriend and eventual husband, played by Johnny Galecki.
On Roseanne Laurie Metcalfe plays Jackie Harris, Roseanne's sister. Brian Kerwin plays Gary, a man she gets involved with and almost marries. The two break up, and then Jackie gets involved with another man named Fisher, played by Matt Roth, who becomes abusive to her. The three actors, Metcalfe, Kerwin and Roth, would all star on Desperate Housewives together ten years later, their characters would be locked in a similar triangle. Laurie would star as Carolyn Bigsby, who in the episode "Bang" goes on a murderous rampage because she learns that her husband, Harvey Bigsby, a grocery store manager, had an affair. She proceeds to hold his grocery store hostage until he comes out of his manager's office and sacrifices himself. Matt Roth plays Art Shepherd, a random grocery store customer who is being held hostage by Metcalfe, until he throws a grocery item at her head, knocking the gun out of her hand and enabling another customer to kill her. Coincidentally, Roth and Metcalfe were married when they filmed this (they were also involved when they were on Roseanne together).
Laurie Metcalfe, Matt Roth and Brian Kerwin all appeared on Roseanne together, as Jackie and her boyfriends Fisher and Gary, respectively. Later they would all appear on Desperate Housewives, Laurie Metcalfe playing Carolyn Bigsbey, Brian Kerwin playing her husband Harvey Bigsbey, and Matt Roth playing Art Shephed, a random Wisteria Lane neighbor who helps stop Carolyn when she goes on a gun shooting rampage in the episode Bang.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Although Jackie's relationship with Fisher ends violently (Fisher is physically abusive to Jackie and when Dan and Roseanne find out,Dan beats up Fisher and is arrested) the actors who play Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) and Fisher (Matt Roth) started dating in 1993 after Roth's run on the show was over, married in 2005 and were together until 2014.
When Johnny Galecki (David) was introduced to the Conners he was introduced as Kevin then later he was introduced as David. In a later episode, Roseanne comments that Darlene forced the name change, due to her domineering nature in their relationship.
A lot of the actors are now on the show The Big Bang Theory. Laurie Metcalf (who plays Jackie) appears on The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon's mother. Johnny Galecki (who plays David) appears on The Big Bang Theory as Leonard. Sara Gilbert (who plays Darlene) plays Leslie Winkle on The Big Bang Theory. The funny thing is, in Roseanne, David (Johnny Galecki) & Darlene (Sara Gilbert) are a couple who eventually get married. In The Big Bang Theory, Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert) & Leonard (Johnny Galecki) have a fling at one point.