Roseanne Alum Michael Fishman Leaving The Conners After 4 Seasons

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Michael Fishman is embarking on a new chapter.

PEOPLE can confirm that Fishman, 40, will not be returning for The Conners after four seasons. The story arc for his character D.J. will be addressed in the upcoming fifth season, and the door will remain open for the actor to return some day if he chooses.

“It has been my honor to play D.J. Conner,” Fishman shared with PEOPLE in a statement. “It’s every actors 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 Bi-racial child, portrayed by the amazing Jayden Rey.

Fishman continued, “I pride myself on professionalism, building lifelong connections and meaningful friends through production. Demonstrating my skills through the first few years of The Conners culminating in the opportunity to Direct ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Election vs. The Pandemic.’ That successful collaboration earned me four more opportunities as a Director last season. I achieved a dream with lifelong friends, propelling me toward another aspect of my career that comes with endless possibilities.”

Eric McCandless via Getty

“While I wholeheartedly will miss Friday night tapings in front of our loyal audiences, alongside our amazing cast and crew, I am excited for the opportunities coming in the next chapter of my career,” Fishman added. “I have a number of projects I am pitching as a writer, and am negotiating my next directing opportunities. Although I no longer have the privilege to portray D.J., my desire, passion, and skill of bringing characters to life as an actor continues. I appreciate all those who support and have supported my work.

The actor ended on a wistful note: “While I was told I would not be returning for season 5, Lanford was a valuable place to grow up, learn and develop. 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.”

TVLine first reported the news of Fishman’s departure on Monday.

Fishman originally played D.J. Conner on Roseanne during its nine-season run from 1988 to 1997. He then reprised the role on The Conners in 2018 after Roseanne — which had a 10th season air that same year — was canceled amid a Twitter controversy over racist remarks by star Roseanne Barr.

“I think the general thing when you come back to a character after such a long period, which is what people are experiencing now as we do these remakes, there’s this nostalgic kind of stepping through the time warp feeling that is very surreal, especially when you get a very similar set or the exact set as in our case,” he told Movieweb in 2021. “And you walk into it and this place you left 20 years ago is brought back to life and your stepping in it and everything is right back and you’re in these same relationships again. I think that’s such a unique experience.”

Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty

Fishman had only appeared in 36 of the spin-off’s 71 episodes as he took a more active role behind the scenes directing the show. He starred alongside John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, Maya Lynne Robinson, Jayden Rey and Jay R. Ferguson. (Rey will remain as a series regular on the show, despite initial reports.)

The Conners‘ fourth season concluded in May. Teasing what’s next for the series, executive producer Bruce Helford told Entertainment Tonight “there’s just a lot of things coming” next season.

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The Conners returns Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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