Warning: Spoilers for The Conners season 2, episode 4
The Conners finally resolved Darlene’s love triangle with David and Ben, and in the process may have said a final goodbye to a beloved long-time character. When Roseanne returned for its revival season in 2018, fans learned that childhood sweethearts Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and David (Johnny Galecki) had gone on to have two kids together, the precocious tween Mark (Ames McNamara) and the rebellious teenager Harris (Emma Kenney). It was also revealed that Darlene and David were estranged, leaving Darlene to raise the kids on her own.
In season 1 of The Conners, Galecki returned for a storyline that saw David struggling with his responsibilities as a parent while carrying on a relationship with the quirky Blue (Juliette Lewis). Meanwhile, Darlene found herself in a new relationship with Ben (Jay R. Ferguson), her boss at the Lanford tabloid "Lock 'Em Up." However, when Darlene learned that David and Blue had broken up, she immediately began seeing David, keeping the relationship a secret from Ben. Season 2 of The Conners began with Darlene still juggling the two men in her life, a situation she felt compelled to confess to Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), leading to some hilarious advice from her all-too-experienced aunt.
The love triangle was of course a ticking time bomb for Darlene, and in the season’s fourth episode “Landford, Lanford” that bomb explodes, as David and Ben finally become aware of what has been going on, leading to a pair of unexpected confrontations and breakups. By episode’s end, Darlene’s dilemma is at last resolved, and David finally says goodbye to Darlene – likely for the last time. After a limited commitment to seasons 1 and 2, it indeed now seems that Galecki has exited The Conners for good (though nothing has been made official on that front).
Of course, David’s involvement in The Conners has been sporadic across the course of two seasons, with the love triangle angle serving as a convenient way to keep him involved with Galecki only on board as an occasional guest star. The fact of Galecki’s limited involvement always created the sense that Darlene and David’s new relationship was doomed, and it was only a matter of time before Darlene chose Ben. That episode 4 sees Darlene breaking up with both David and Ben after the two men’s awkward first meeting (Darlene texts both after getting a flat on the highway, as though subconsciously wanting them to find out about each other and end her misery) puts a bit of a twist on things, but Ben presumably will remain on the show as he and Darlene continue to work together (things are bound to be tense at the "Lock 'Em Up" offices).
After “Lanford, Lanford,” it definitely feels that David’s arc has been wrapped up. The episode even unleashes the traditional touching tribute moment, awkwardly inserting a clip of a young Gilbert and Galecki from the original Roseanne, and letting Darlene shed a few tears along with viewers. For David, things wrap up in a satisfying way, as he finally asserts himself with Darlene after being a doormat for about the last 25 years (the clip sees Darlene being a jerk to David and him succumbing to her overwhelming personality, showing the origins of the sad, obsequious pattern he’s been stuck in for his entire adolescent and adult life).
Of course, it’s always possible that Galecki could sign on for another guest stint in the future, as David continues trying to be a parent to Mark and Harris, but as long as the former Big Bang Theory star’s price remains sky high, his presence on The Conners will never be more than occasional. It’s probably best for the show to cut ties with David entirely and let Darlene move on with her life, freeing up more time for storylines involving the largely neglected Harris and Mark. It was certainly good to see Galecki back as David, but his value to the show was largely nostalgic and he added little to the new mix. If David is indeed gone as it seems he is, he received a fine and fitting send-off.