'Roseanne' Sort of Borrowed Its Hated Series Finale From Another Famous Sitcom

In the 1990s., there were few shows on television as popular as Roseanne. The show was praised for its portrayal of working-class America and its witty banter. It gained notoriety in its very first season and remained popular until the very end. In 2002, the show was listed as one of the 50 greatest of all time by TV Guide. There was one issue with the series, though. Fans hated the way it ended. Believe it or not, the largely hated series finale was sort of borrowed from another famous show.

The series finale of Roseanne completely negated part of the series

The series finale, which millions of viewers watched, is among the most hated of all time. In the final scene, Roseanne narrates as her family disappears, and she is shown sitting in a lonely and relatively empty basement. She explains that the entirety of season 9 was her attempt to come to terms with the death of her husband, Dan Conner. Dan never recovered from his heart attack, and the family had never won the lottery. The narration further explained that she spent much of the show rewriting the bad things in her family’s life.

Viewers were forced to accept that Darlene was dating Mark and Becky was dating David, among other odd reversals. Basically, viewers had to come to terms with the idea that much of the Conner’s life was a figment of Roseanne’s imagination.  Vulture notes that the entirety of season 9 was messy and off-brand, so the finale shouldn’t have been all that surprising.

The series finale of Newhart turned the entire series into one long dream

While fans largely hated Roseanne’s finale, the show that it semi-borrowed the premise from had more success. Newhart ended in 1990, just as Roseanne was becoming popular. In the show, Bob Newhart portrayed Dick Loudon, a writer who leaves the hustle and bustle of New York City to run a small inn in a picturesque community in Vermont. Dick and his wife, Joanna, must contend with the ins and outs of running a business while dealing with an ever-evolving cast of wild townspeople. 

The show ran for eight seasons before the finale rendered the entire premise the result of a dream. In the show’s final scene, Newhart’s character wakes up in a bed next to a completely different wife. He tells her of the wild dream he had about running an inn in Vermont. The final scene suggests that Dick Loudon and his wife never existed. When he wakes up in bed, Newhart is Dr. Bob Hartley, his character from The Bob Newhart Show.

Newhart wasn’t exactly original with their finale, either, though

The Newhart finale feels remarkably similar to the Roseanne finale, but the premise that was used in the two shows was far from original. In fact, the Newhart finale was created to mock a storyline from Dallas. According to Ultimate Classic Rock¸ Newhart’s wife, after learning they were nearing the end of the series, suggested they use a Dallas season finale premise to end NewhartDallas explained away an entire season as a dream so they could bring back a character.

St. Elsewhere used a similar premise to end its six-season run in 1988. The show’s final episode revealed Tommy Westphall made up all six seasons of the show. Since the show’s finale, fans have argued that various shows took place in the mind of Tommy, based on their connection to St. Elsewhere.  

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