“I’m proud of the work I did”

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Michael Fishman arrives at the world premiere of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on October 29 at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. In attendance were MackenzieFoy, Morgan Freeman, Misty Copeland, Jayden Fowora Knight, Jack Whitehall and Lil Buck, as well as filmmakers Lasse Hallstrom (director), Joe Johnston (director) and Mark Gordon (producer). October 29, 2018.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Michael Fishman begins a new chapter.

People can confirm that Fishman, 40, will not be returning The Connors after four seasons. His character’s DJ backstory will be discussed in the upcoming fifth season, and the door remains open for the actor to return someday if he chooses.

“It was an honor to play DJ Conner,” Fishman shared with PEOPLE in a statement. “It’s every actor’s dream to be a series regular, especially on a groundbreaking show where we’re dealing with important issues. The opportunity to do comedy and drama alongside iconic colleagues while reaching out to fans in meaningful ways has profoundly impacted my life. I’m proud for the work I did as part of Roseanne and The Conners, especially the privilege of playing a military veteran, an interracial husband, and the father of an interracial child, portrayed by the amazing Jayden Rey.

Fishman continued, “I pride myself on professionalism, making lifelong connections and important friends through production. Demonstrating my skills in the early years of The Conners culminating in the opportunity to direct ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Election vs. The Pandemic”. This successful partnership earned me four more opportunities as a director this past season. I achieved a dream with lifelong friends, propelling me into another facet of my career that comes with endless possibilities.”

SARA GILBERT, MICHAEL FISHMAN, LAURIE METCALF, The Conners

SARA GILBERT, MICHAEL FISHMAN, LAURIE METCALF, The Conners

Eric McCandless via Getty

“While I will wholeheartedly miss taping Friday night in front of our loyal audience, along with our amazing cast and crew, I am excited for the opportunities ahead in the next chapter of my career,” Fishman added. “I have a number of projects I’m doing as a writer and I’m negotiating my next directing opportunities. Although I no longer have the privilege of playing DJ, my desire, passion and skill to bring characters to life as an actor continues. I appreciate everyone who they support and have supported my work.

The actor ended on a sad note: “While I was told I wouldn’t be returning for Season 5, Lanford was a valuable place for me to grow, learn and develop. I was incredibly lucky to come home and show my expansion. venturing out into the world to build the future, I send huge love and success to everyone involved in the production.”

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

RELATED: Law & Order: SVU Star Kelli Giddish is exiting the series after 12 seasons

Fishman originally played DJ Conner Roseanne during its nine-season run from 1988 to 1997. He then reprized the role on The Connors in 2018 after Roseanne — which aired a 10th season that same year — was canceled amid a Controversy on Twitter for racist comments star Roseanne Barr.

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

JOHN GOODMAN, MICHAEL FISHMAN, The Conners

JOHN GOODMAN, MICHAEL FISHMAN, The Conners

Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty

Fishman had only appeared in 36 of the spin-off’s 71 episodes, as he took a more active behind-the-scenes role directing the show. She 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 a series regular on the show, despite initial reports.)

The ConnorsThe fourth season concluded in May. Teasing what’s next for the series, executive producer Bruce Helford said Entertainment Tonight “Lots of things coming” next season.

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The Connors returns September 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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