This TV season’s Will & Grace revival recaptured most of the magic that made the NBC sitcom’s original run so successful — with the notable exception of Shelley Morrison, the actress who played Rosario, Karen’s put-upon housekeeper. Because of real-life circumstances, the creators of the show had to figure out how to address her absence.
Though the now-81-year-old actress did reprise the role briefly in the election-themed reunion video the cast filmed in 2016 — her first on-screen appearance in over a decade — co-creator Max Mutchnick told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer she wouldn’t be returning for the ninth season.
“Shelley has decided to retire,” he said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “It was with a heavy heart that she gave us that information and that we received it, but it is the way that it goes. It is a choice that she has made. We really wanted Shelley to be a part of this series, so we find ourselves having to figure that out moving forward. It was not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that she made.”
Max also ruled out the possibility of Rosario still existing in an offscreen capacity, much like Karen’s ex-husband Stan.
“We’re not going to be doing that,” Max said. “The audience has come to know and love her — as we do — and we’re dealing with her as a character and we’re writing to it very specifically.”
Indeed, they opted to have Rosario die in the world of Will & Grace, as we learned in the Nov. 2 episode. “The character felt too much a part of the fabric of the show to just dismiss it with a line or two or an explanation,” co-creator David Kohan told Variety after that episode aired. “It felt like it merited more of a loving farewell.”
Farewell, Rosario! Karen is just gonna have to clean up after herself from now on.