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The Joke That Got the Last Episode of "The Conners" Pulled From TV

Viewers were upset by some dialogue that seemed to reference a recent tragedy.

The episode of The Conners that premiered on Dec. 7 will never be aired in the same way again. After receiving complaints about a joke in the episode, ABC announced it would be pulled from on-demand and streaming (including on Hulu) and that the offensive dialogue would be edited out of future showings. As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the producers of The Conners apologized for the joke, which some audience members took to be making light of a recent, real-life tragedy. Read on to find out what happened.

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The joke was in this season's Christmas episode.

Jane Curtin and Katey Sagal on "The Connors"
ABC/Eric McCandless

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Conners episode "The Dog Days of Christmas" features Dan Conner (John Goodman) meeting his mother-in-law, Doris (Jane Curtin), for the first time. She drives to his family's home in Illinois from Wisconsin.

At one point, Dan asks her about her poor vision while driving at night, saying, "What about pedestrians and bicycle-riders? Did you feel any 'bump-bumps' on the way over?" Doris responds, "I could run over a marching band and not feel a thing in that RV."

Some interpreted the exchange as being about a deadly attack.

A memorial with flowers and candles for victims of the Waukesha Parade Attack photographed in November 2021
Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

In November 2021, a man named Darrell Brooks drove an SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring over 60 others. The victims included members of a high school marching band.

In November of this year, Brooks was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on 76 charges related to the attack, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, as reported by CNN.

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The dialogue will be removed from the episode.

John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, and Jane Curtin on "The Connors"
ABC/Eric McCandless

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the joke will be pulled from the episode for future airings.

"On behalf of the entire team at The Conners, we're deeply sorry and extend our sincere apologies to those who are still reliving the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy," reads a statement from producers. "We would never consciously make light of such an event and are mortified that it was perceived that way. We have pulled the episode in its current form and will ensure this dialogue is removed from future airings. Our hearts are with the victims and their families."

A spokesperson for ABC had previously told WISN, "The show in no way intended to reference the tragedy and deeply regrets any dialogue that could be misinterpreted, and our hearts are with the Waukesha Christmas parade victims and their families."

Waukesha residents spoke out online.

John Goodman and Katey Sagal on "The Connors"
ABC/Eric McCandless

The Waukesha Freeman reported that some of those close to the tragedy spoke out about the episode of The Conners.

"They talked about a 'bump-bump' going over a parade and hitting a marching band. That 'bump-bump' was my son and his friends in the marching band. How sickening is this episode?" Dan Tiegs says in a TikTok video. The TikTok also includes photos of Tiegs' son in the hospital and recovering from multiple injuries.

Aaron Sparks, whose eight-year-old son died after the attack, tweeted, "I dont buy it for one second. You dont put 'Wisconsin' and 'running over a marching band' in the script together by accident. This was by design by the @ABCNetwork and now they are cover their [expletive]. Disgusting."

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there were discussions about the episode in the Waukesha Strong Community Facebook group. "I was shocked and appalled when I heard it on the show. I cannot believe that The Conners used that as a joke," wrote a user named Ray West. "I can't imagine what the writers were thinking."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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