Dallas (first series)
Dallas TV series Logo
Opening screenshot for the CBS-TV series "Dallas", 1978-91.
Main starring cast:
Barbara Bel Geddes
(Seasons 1-9 & 9-13)

Jim Davis
(Seasons 1-4)
Patrick Duffy
(Seasons 1-8 & 19-14)
Linda Gray
(Seasons 2-12)
Larry Hagman
Steve Kanaly
(Seasons 2-12)</br>Victoria Principal(Seasons 1-10)
Charlene Tilton(Seasons 1-8, 12 & 13)
Ken Kercheval(Seasons 3-142)
Susan Howard(Seasons 5-10)
Created by:
Executive Producer(s):
Leonard Katzman (season 1–8)
James H. Brown (season 9)
David Paulsen (season 10–11)>br>Howard Lakin (season 12)
Cliff Fenneman (season 13–14)
Running time:
47-50 minutes
CBS-TV / United States (USA)
Followed by:

Dallas tv show

Dallas is a prime-time drama/soap opera, which aired from April 2, 1978-until May 3, 1991 on CBS. The series revolves around a wealthy and feuding Texan family, the Ewings, who own the independent oil company Ewing Oil and the cattle-ranching land of Southfork. The series originally focused on the marriage of Bobby Ewing and Pamela Barnes, whose families were sworn enemies. As the series progressed, oil tycoon J.R. Ewing grew to be the show's main character; his schemes and dirty business became the show's trademark. When the show ended in May 1991, J.R. was the only character to have appeared in every episode.

The show was famous for its cliffhangers, including the Who shot J.R.? mystery. The 1980 episode Who Done It remains the second highest rated prime-time telecast ever.[2] The show also featured a "Dream Season", in which the entirety of the ninth season was revealed to have been a dream of Pam Ewing. After 14 seasons, the series finale "Conundrum" aired in 1991.

The show had a relatively ensemble cast. Larry Hagman stars as greedy, scheming oil tycoon J.R. Ewing, stage/screen actress Barbara Bel Geddes as family matriarch Miss Ellie and movie Western actor Jim Davis as Ewing patriarch Jock, his last role before his death in 1981. The series won four Emmy Awards, including a 1980 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series win for Bel Geddes.


The show focused primarily on J.R. Ewing, the ruthless tyrannical oil tycoon and son of Miss Ellie Ewing, and Jock Ewing, the patriarch of the family. His younger brother Bobby Ewing is also a prominent character, but he is portrayed as a much kinder, moralistic person.

The Ewings, specifically J.R., are at odds with the Barnes family, due to an ancient feud between Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes. Digger's daughter (actually, she isn't his daughter, but he raised her), Pamela Barnes Ewing, marries Bobby, much to the dismay of J.R.. Digger Barnes' son, Cliff Barnes, who also has an affair with J.R.'s wife, Sue Ellen Ewing. The marriage between Sue Ellen and J.R. is constantly rocky, and both of them have many affairs.

Another important character is Ray Krebbs, the illegitimate son of Jock Ewing. Ray Krebbs is a foreman on the ranch, and doesn't realize Jock is his father until later on in his career, which upsets Miss Ellie Ewing. Ray also had a brief fling with Lucy Ewing, the troublemaking teenage daughter of Jock Ewing's second son Gary Ewing. He marries Donna Culver Krebbs, and they have a child, Margaret Krebbs, named after his mother, and adopt a deaf boy, Tony Krebbs. He also eventually marries a woman named Jenna Wade in 1988, who is pregnant with his half-brother Bobby Ewing's child, Lucas.

Original premiseEdit

Dallas debuted on April 2, 1978, as a five-part miniseries on the CBS network. Producers initially had no plans for expansion; however, due to the show's popularity, it was subsequently turned into a regular series and broadcast for 13 full seasons, from September 23, 1978, to May 3, 1991. The first five episodes, originally considered a miniseries, are now referred to as season one—making fourteen seasons in total.

The show is known for its portrayal of wealth, sex, intrigue, and power struggles. Throughout the series, the main premise is the longtime rivalry between the Ewings and the Barneses which came to head when the Barnes daughter, Pamela (Victoria Principal) eloped with a Ewing son, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) in the first episode.


The Southfork Ranch, home of the Ewing family

The back story was that, in the 1930s, wildcatter John Ross "Jock" Ewing, Sr. (Jim Davis) had allegedly cheated his one-time partner, Willard "Digger" Barnes (David Wayne and later Keenan Wynn), out of his share of their company Ewing Oil, and married Digger's only love, Eleanor "Miss Ellie" Southworth (Barbara Bel Geddes). Ellie's family were—in contrast to Jock—ranchers, with great love for the land and the cattle. Following the marriage of Ellie and Jock, the Southworth family ranch, Southfork, became the Ewings' home, where Jock and Miss Ellie raised three sons: J. R. (Larry Hagman), Gary (Ted Shackelford) and Bobby.

J.R., the eldest Ewing son, unscrupulous and unhappily married to a former Miss Texas, Sue Ellen Shepard (Linda Gray), was frequently at odds with his youngest brother, Bobby, who had the morals and integrity that J.R. lacked. Middle son Gary was Ellie's favorite as he displayed Southworth traits; however, Gary had been in conflict with both Jock and J.R. since childhood and was dismissed as a weak link. While still young, Gary had married waitress Valene Clements (guest star Joan Van Ark), who produced the first heir, the petite and saucy Lucy (Charlene Tilton). Years prior to the series beginning, J.R. had driven Gary and Valene off Southfork, leaving Lucy to be raised by her grandparents.

During the first episodes of the series, the teenaged Lucy (Jock Ewing's granddaughter) is seen sleeping with ranch foreman Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly). Later, in season four, Ray would be revealed as Lucy's uncle, an illegitimate Ewing son through an extramarital affair that Jock Ewing had during World War II. Unhappy with his small, one-dimensional role, Kanaly had considered leaving the show; to add depth to the Ray character, Hagman suggested that the writers create a plot wherein Ray becomes half-brother to J.R., Gary, and Bobby, noting his resemblance to Davis. The episodes where Ray and his niece Lucy had a fling is, as Kanaly told Dinah Shore in an appearance on her show, "prayerfully forgotten, I hope".

Ray had previously engaged in a short fling with Pamela Barnes, the daughter of Digger Barnes (although it was later revealed that Pam was not Digger's biological daughter). However, Pam fell deeply in love with Bobby, and the pilot episode begins with the two of them arriving at Southfork Ranch as newlyweds, shocking the entire family. J.R., who loathed the Barnes family, was not happy with Pam's living at Southfork, and constantly tried to undermine her marriage to Bobby. Meanwhile, Pam's brother Cliff (Ken Kercheval), who had inherited Digger's hatred towards the Ewings, shared J.R.'s objections to the marriage, and continued his father's quest to get revenge.

Most of the seasons ended with ratings-grabbing cliffhangers,[1] the most notable being the season three finale "A House Divided", which launched the landmark "Who shot J.R.?" storyline and was ranked #69 on TV Guide's list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".[2] Other season finale cliffhangers include the finding of an unidentified floating female corpse in the Southfork swimming pool (season four); a blazing house fire (season six); and Bobby's death (season eight) and subsequent return (season nine).


Main article:' List of "Dallas" seasons & episodes (original series)


Season Episodes Originally aired Nielsen ratings
First aired Last aired Rank[20] Viewers

(in ratings points)

1 5 April 2, 1978 April 30, 1978 44th N/A
2 24 September 23, 1978 March 30, 1979 15th 16.8
3 25 September 21, 1979 March 21, 1980 6th 19.1
4 23 November 7, 1980 May 1, 1981 1st 27.6
5 26 October 9, 1981 April 9, 1982 1st 23.2
6 28 October 1, 1982 May 6, 1983 2nd 20.5
7 30 September 30, 1983 May 18, 1984 1st 21.5
8 30 September 28, 1984 May 17, 1985 2nd 20.97
9 31 September 27, 1985 May 16, 1986 6th 18.8
10 29 September 26, 1986 May 15, 1987 11th 18.6
11 30 September 25, 1987 May 13, 1988 21st 15.2
12 26 October 28, 1988 May 19, 1989 29th 13.9
13 27 September 22, 1989 May 11, 1990 43rd N/A
14 23 November 2, 1990 May 3, 1991 61st N/A

Dallas originally aired on Saturday nights when it debuted as a regular series. Within a month, the show was moved to Sunday nights, where it would stay until halfway through the season, when it took a Friday-night slot. Dallas remained on Fridays until the show ended in 1991, alternating between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. airings.

The "Who Done It" episode of Dallas that revealed who shot J. R.?, the famous 1980 cliffhanger, received the highest domestic ratings at that point with over 90 million American viewers (representing more than 53% of the U.S. households and 76% of the U.S. television audience for November 21, 1980) tuning in for the answer, initially surpassing the ratings record of the final episode of The Fugitive, broadcast in August 1967, but the record of Dallas would be broken only by the last episode of M*A*S*H in 1983, falling into the second internationally most watched U.S. television episode, with nearly 360 million viewers in over 57 countries worldwide (by the year 1980) tuning in to see who shot J.R.[3]

Although the soap's audience had consistently declined since the "Who Done It" episode of 1980, the series finale of Dallas, Conundrum garnered 33 million viewers and a 22 household rating from 9-11pm on May 3, 1991, making its way into the country's 14th most watched television series finale. Its competition, Manhunter (on NBC), only drew a 9.8 rating.


Date/Title/Network/Household rating/Share/Viewers

Broadcast historyEdit


  • April 2—30, 1978: Sundays, 10:00 PM (ET/PT)/9:00 PM (CT/MT)
  • September 23 – October 14, 1978: Saturdays, 10:00/9:00 PM
  • October 15, 1978 – January 14, 1979: Sundays, 10:00/9:00 PM
  • January 26, 1979 – November 27, 1981: Fridays, 10:00/9:00 PM
  • December 4, 1981 – March 16, 1990: Fridays, 9:00/8:00 PM
  • March 30 – December 21, 1990: Fridays, 10:00/9:00 PM
  • January 4 – May 3, 1991: Fridays, 9:00/8:00 PM


Beginning in fall 1984, Dallas was packaged for off-network syndication by Lorimar to local stations; among the stations to purchase the program initially was the Dallas-Fort Worth KDAF Channel 33 which later became the FOX affiliate until 1994. Only the first 222 episodes (seasons 1 through 9) were part of the syndication package. However, Dallas did not achieve the same type of rating success in local markets as it did during its CBS primetime run.

During the 1990s, the show aired briefly on TNT (from September 1992 to August 1993, again the first nine seasons only), followed by a run on TNN beginning in the fall of 1997 (the first network to air all 357 episodes of the original series, but the episodes were heavily edited for time), and from 2003 to 2008 the entire run aired on SoapNet. On January 1, 2011, CMT aired the show for one day, and prior to the premiere of the 2012 sequel, select episodes were shown on CMT and its website.


See: "Dallas" series cliffhangers Edit

Dallas is notable for its cliffhangers. Throughout the series' run, nearly every season ended with some sort of cliffhanging ending designed to drive ratings up for the season premiere later in the year.

See alsoEdit


  1. Meisler, Andy (May 7, 1995). "TELEVISION; When J. R. Was Shot The Cliffhanger Was Born". The New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  2. "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time". TV Guide: pp. 34–49. June 15, 2009. 
  3. William Leith. "Patrick Duffy, Bobby Ewing in Dallas, talks to William Leith". the Guardian. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 

External linksEdit

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