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Original Recipe: A Look Back At The Top Five Dallas Season Finales


One of the greatest TV series ever, Dallas, created by David Jacobs, told the tale of the Ewings and Barnes clans set against the backdrop of the oil and cattle industries in Texas. The breakout star of the series was, of course, Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing, a man driven to acquire wealth and power, while hoping to please his father, Jock (Jim Davis), along the way.

A Look Back At Dallas Finales

Originally, Dallas told mostly self-contained stories, but then switched to a serial format and tantalized viewers with a cliffhanger at the end of each season, whetting appetites for the next season premiere! Entertainment Hub looks back on the five most memorable Dallas cliffhangers in sequential order. Read on to relive unforgettable moments of drama and intrigue.

1. A House Divided AKA Who Shot J.R.? Airdate: March 21, 1980
The third season cliffhanger is one of TV’s most memorable ones as it featured someone pumping two bullets into J.R. (Larry Hagman). The list of suspects had more names than a Dallas telephone book. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Cliff (Ken Kercheval), banker Vaughn Leland (Dennis Patrick), lawyer Alan Beam (Randolph Powell), and J.R.’s spurned mistress Kristen (Mary Crosby) were among the many suspects. Viewers had to wait into the fall before finding out that it was Kristen who shot J.R. but her claim that she was pregnant with his child kept J.R. from pressing charges.

2. Ewing Gate AKA Who’s in the Pool? Airdate: May 1, 1981
Three women, in particular, had crossed J.R. So, it wasn’t surprising to see one of them turn up dead in the Ewing pool. Cliff discovered the body in the finale. The identity of the submerged victim wasn’t exactly a big mystery as Cliff’s reaction didn’t indicate the corpse was either his sister Pam or his ex-lover, Sue Ellen. So, for the second year in a row, the answer was — Kristen! J.R. was questioned but not charged in her death, which was ruled accidental.

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3. Ewing Inferno AKA The Fire at Southfork! Airdate: May 6, 1983
Ray (Steve Kanaly) attacked J.R. because he was indirectly responsible for his nephew Mickey (Timothy Patrick Murphy) being in a horrific car wreck. The two men had a knockdown fray that caused a fire on Southfork. J.R.’s instinct was to race upstairs to save a sleeping Sue Ellen and John Ross (Omri Katz). All hope seemed lost when J.R. succumbed to the fumes. Fortunately, Bobby (who else?) showed up in the following season opener to rescue everyone!

4. Swan Song AKA Bobby Dies. Airdate: May 17, 1985
Pam (Victoria Principal) and Bobby conquered all their obstacles and reunited much to the delight of everyone. Well, not everyone. Katherine (Morgan Brittany), obsessed with Bobby, tried to run Pam over with her car. Bobby pushed her out of the way and took the brunt instead. On his deathbed, Pam, Jenna (Priscilla Presley), and Bobby’s family were by his side. He lamented all that wasted time they could have been together…but did he mean Jenna or Pam? True Dallas fans know the answer to that question!

5. Blast from the Past AKA “Good morning!” Airdate: My 1, 1986
The season following Bobby’s death was filled with highs and lows. Pam became J.R.’s business partner at Ewing Oil. J.R. and cousin Jack (Dack Rambo) battled international villain Angelica Nero (Barbara Carrera). J.R. arranged for the police to arrest Angelica, but she got the last laugh by planting bombs that took out Sue Ellen and Jamie (Jennilee Harrison). Pam married Mark (John Beck)…or did she? The morning after her wedding, Pam woke up, walked to the shower expecting to see her groom — instead, Bobby was standing there, alive and well! “Good morning,” he cheerfully said. The next season, viewers learned that Pam had dreamed the entire past season and more — including Bobby’s death and all the events of the past season including Sue Ellen and Jamie’s “deaths.” Which was your favorite Dallas cliffhanger? Sound off in the comments section below!

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