Knots Landing ran for 13 seasons, more than any other primetime soap opera from the 1980s. In addition to great acting and storytelling, the CBS series excelled at cliffhangers that left viewers eagerly anticipating the next season.
Knots Landing: A Look Back
Here’s a look back at the Top Six Knots Landing Season Finales. While Knots’ Season 5 is arguably the most memorable, we’re presenting them in sequential order. Do you agree with our choices? Sound off in the comments section!
1. Episode title: Squeezeplay. Airdate: March 26, 1981
The Fairgate clan was at the center of the show’s sophomore season finale. A horrified Abby (Donna Mills) discovered that her ex-husband, Jeff (Barry Jenner), had taken her children, Olivia (Tonya Crowe) and Brian (Bobby Jacoby). Meanwhile, Sid (Don Murray) and Salmaggio (Len Birman) went over a cliff after realizing the car’s breaks had been tampered with by criminals who sold Knots Landing Motors stolen parts. When Season 3 began, viewers were confident Sid would live as Murray was featured in the opening credits. Alas, Sid died on the operating table leaving Karen (Michele Lee) a widow.
2. Willing Victims. Airdate: March 10, 1983
The theme of Season 4’s finale was heavy drama. Gary (Ted Shackelford) languished in jail, blaming himself for the murder of Ciji (Lisa Hartman). Val (Joan Van Ark) and Abby sat in silence as the sun was literally setting. Karen panicked upon learning that daughter Diana (Claudia Lonow) had run off with Chip (Michael Sabatino), who was Ciji’s real killer. Season 4 was the finale one for regulars Kenny (James Houghton), Ginger (Kim Lankford), and Richard (John Pleshette).
3. Negotiations. Airdate: March 28, 1984
This episode is the gold standard of primetime soap opera cliffhangers. Mac (Kevin Dobson) had manipulated his family and friends in order to bring down crime group Wolfbridge, but it was Karen who paid the price, taking a bullet meant for Gary. A pregnant Val and Gary were reunited briefly as he rescued her from Mac’s jeep that was allegedly rigged with a bomb. Alas, Gary literally dumped poor Val (again!) in order to try to rescue Abby, who had been forced back into a limo by Mark St. Claire (Joseph Chapman). Abby always did travel in style — even when kidnapped!
4. The Long and Winding Road. Airdate: May 12, 1985
This episode was ranked No. 1 in the ratings and it’s easy to see why. After spending months being told that her twins had died, Val, who believed they were alive, saw them in the flesh. Karen, Mac, Gary, and Ben (Doug Sheehan) tracked the twins down to the residence of Harry (Joe Regalbuto) and Sheila (Robin Ginsburg) Fisher, who adopted the twins illegally. Abby also got the 411 and brought Val to the Fisher home. It took the Fishers a little time to do the right thing and hand over Val’s babies to her.
5. The Perfect Crime. Airdate: May 12, 1988
Poor Val. Jill Bennett (Teri Austin) had had enough of Val and her neediness towards Gary, the man with whom she was obsessed. Jill, wearing a wig and donning pink plastic gloves, drove from San Francisco back to Southern California and broke into Val’s house, forcing her to swallow a bottle of pills, hoping Val would die so that she and Gary could live in peace. Fortunately, Val survived (yay!). And Jill discovered karma was a real bitch! After faking her own kidnapping in an effort to frame Gary, poor Jill choked to death on her own vomit.
6. Just like Old Times Part I and II. Airdate: May 13, 1993
Knots Landing wrapped up its run beautifully, especially in the show’s final moments. Gary and Val (back from the dead) were reunited. They were about to join Karen and Mac for dinner with their kids when a new couple moved into the cul-de-sac. But they weren’t the only ones coming onto Seaview Circle. Abby was back, too, upon hearing that Claudia (Kathleen Noone) put her house on the market. Val wisely gripped Gary’s arm, keeping him close. “Karen, hello! It’s like old times, isn’t it?” Abby cheerfully said. Karen marveled at how things had changed and how they hadn’t. She looked to her right and then, directly into the camera with a knowing look on her face.