The Conners family is getting just a bit smaller.
TV Line previously reported that actor Michael Fishman, who plays DJ on “The Conners”, won’t be back when season 5 returns on Sept. 21.
The sitcom star opened up about his departure from the “Roseanne” spinoff series, reflecting on how his role of DJ has “profoundly impacted” his life.
“It has been my honour to play DJ Conner,” Fishman said in a statement to People. “It’s every actor’s dream to be a series regular, especially on a groundbreaking show, where we tackle significant topics. The opportunity to do comedy and drama alongside iconic castmates, while reaching fans in meaningful ways has profoundly impacted my life. I am proud of the work I did as part of ‘Roseanne’ and ‘The Conners’. Especially the privilege of playing a military veteran, interracial spouse, and the father of a biracial child, portrayed by the amazing Jayden Rey.
“While I was told I would not be returning for season 5, Lanford was a valuable place to grow up, learn, and develop,” he continued. “I was incredibly lucky to return home and demonstrate my expansion. As I venture into the world to build the future, I send tremendous love and success to everyone involved in production.”
Executive producer Bruce Helford has since told TVLine of Fishman’s departure: “He’s visiting [Geena], who right now is stationed overseas.
“She was involved in the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and she is still overseas on assignment, so he is going to be going over and spending time with his wife… It does get addressed in the first few episodes.”
Although there are currently no plans to bring the character back, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s gone for good.
“We love him,” Helford said. “He’s part of the family. There’s certainly no one saying he will never be on the show [again]. It’s just a matter of whether storylines come up that are built for that.”
Jayden Rey, who plays DJ’s daughter Mary on the show will remain a series regular.
Fishman appeared in 36 of the 71 episodes of “The Conners” so far, though he had taken on an increased role behind the scenes, including directing five episodes.
Lynne Robinson, who played DJ’s wife Geena, departed after the first season to star in “The Unicorn”.
Fishman first played DJ in the second episode of “Roseanne” in its original run, replacing Sal Barone, who played the character in the pilot.
John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, Jay R. Ferguson and Katey Sagal will all be returning for “The Conners” season 5.