The Dallas Decoder Guide to That Darned Barnes Family

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Revelations, TNT

Pamela redux

The Barneses are back: In “Revelations,” the first-season finale of TNT’s “Dallas,” we learned Rebecca Sutter Ewing is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Cliff’s daughter. Need a refresher on the rest of the Barneses? Here’s a look at who’s who, how they’re related to each other and the Ewings and some of their family traditions, including their penchant for interesting headgear and shooting people. Also listed: the actors who portrayed the characters on the two “Dallas” series.

The Elders

Dallas, David Wayne, Digger Barnes, Keenan Wynn

Double Diggers

• WILLARD “DIGGER” BARNES: Boozy wildcatter who claimed Jock Ewing cheated him out of his share of Ewing Oil and stole his girl, Miss Ellie. Liked hats. Remembered for two deathbed confessions: 1. He shot and killed wife Rebecca’s lover, Hutch McKinney; 2. McKinney was Pam’s real dad. Played by David Wayne and Keenan Wynn.

Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Barnes Wentworth

Runaway Rebecca

• REBECCA BARNES WENTWORTH: Digger’s wife and Cliff and Pam’s mama. After lover Hutch McKinney’s murder, ran away, became a secretary and married her boss, Houston tycoon Herbert Wentworth. Was believed dead for many years until Pam found her. Died (for real this time) from injuries sustained in a plane crash while waging corporate warfare against the Ewings. Favorite candy: black licoricePlayed by Priscilla Pointer and Victoria Principal (in a flashback).

Cliff’s Corner

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval


• CLIFF BARNES: Digger and Rebecca’s son. Inherited mama’s money and daddy’s genetic disorder, hatred for Ewings. Unfortunate tendencies to pursue women involved with archenemy J.R., marry blondes to snag a piece of Ewing Oil. Frequent career-changer: lawyer-turned-politician-turned-bureaucrat-turned-prosecutor-turned-oilman-turned-evil mastermind. Regularly accused of murder and shooting Ewings, but known to have killed only one man: mobster Johnny Dancer. Sharp dresser. Favorite food: Chinese. Favorite activity: revenge. Played by Ken Kercheval.

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas

Steal her away

• AFTON COOPER: Sexy southern songbird who dreamed of a better life. Seduced J.R., then fell for Cliff. In-law to the Ewings: brother Mitch married and divorced Lucy, then married and divorced her again. After longing for someone to steal her away, Afton finally left town on her own carrying Cliff’s child, whom she named Pamela Rebecca. Married and divorced alcoholic gambler/con artist Harrison Van Buren III. Despite questionable taste in men, probably the smartest character among this bunch. Played by Audrey Landers.

Dallas, Jenna Pangburn, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT

Daddy’s girl

• PAMELA REBECCA BARNES: Cliff and Afton’s daughter. Like Aunt Katherine, broke up a relationship with forged correspondence (an e-mail). Like Aunt Pam, married a Ewing (Christopher). Like Granddaddy Digger and Daddy Cliff, shot and killed a man (ex-lover/fake brother/hat wearer Tommy Sutter). Pregnant with Ewing spawn. Played by Julie Gonzalo. Previously played by Jenna Pangburn.

Dallas, Faran Tahir, Frank Ashkani, TNT

Daddy’s boy

• FRANK ASHKANI: Real name: Raheed Durani. Cliff’s right hand/driver/designated disposer of dead bodies. Not a fan of Tommy Sutter. According to J.R.’s private eye Bum, Cliff plucked Frank off the streets of Islamabad 30 years ago and paid for his fancy education, nice wardrobe and – presumably – frequent trips to the barber. Sometimes referred to as “Smiling Frank.” Doesn’t actually smile. Played by Faran Tahir.

Pam’s Portion

Dallas, Margaret Michaels, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal


• PAMELA BARNES EWING: Daughter of Rebecca Barnes Wentworth and lover Hutch McKinney; raised by Digger and Aunt Maggie Monahan. Super heroine. Suffered bouts of mental instability and at least one 31-hour nightmare. Occasional wearer of hats. Bad driver. Like her mama, abandoned her own family. Probably dead, but hopefully not. Played by Victoria Principal, Margaret Michaels and at least one heavily bandaged extra.

Bobby, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT


• BOBBY EWING: Golden son. Fell in love with Pam and thought she was so nice, married her twice. Usually a supportive spouse, but not always. Not a fan of brother-in-law Cliff in the beginning, but eventually became his pal and made him a partner in Ewing Oil. The lingering warmth will probably fade when Bobby discovers Cliff is once again plotting against the Ewings. Additional potential complicating factor: new wife/gun fetishist Ann may or may not have had a one-night stand with Cliff in 1987. Played by Patrick Duffy.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Joshua Harris, TNT


• CHRISTOPHER EWING: Golden son’s golden son. Adopted, making marriage to cousin Rebecca Barnes only slightly less icky than it might be otherwise. May not have Barnes blood coursing through his veins, but inherited the family’s gun habit: as a boy, Christopher shot at John Ross. Dream meal: eggs and toast. Played by Jesse Metcalfe. Previously played by Eric Farlow and Joshua Harris.

The Wentworth Wing

Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

She’s all hat

• KATHERINE WENTWORTH: Herbert and Rebecca Wentworth’s daughter. Television journalist/Christopher’s babysitter/ultimate diva. Hated Cliff. Not a big Pam fan, either: wanted Bobby for herself, so Katherine broke up his first marriage to Pam with a forged letter. Later shot him. Known for visiting sick relatives in hospital and making threatening comments/trying to kill them while they sleep. Most amazing hat collection ever. Disliked tomato juice. Played by Morgan Brittany.

Monahan Members

Dallas, James Canning, Maggie Monahan, Philip Levien, Sarah Cunningham

The lost ones

• AUNT MAGGIE MONAHAN and COUSIN JIMMY MONAHAN: Maggie was Digger’s long-suffering sister who helped raise Cliff and Pam. Rocked hats with the best of them. Her son: Jimmy, the Chuck Cunningham/Judy Winslow of “Dallas.” After two appearances in 1978, never seen nor mentioned again. Aunt Maggie was played by Sarah Cunningham; Cousin Jimmy was played by James Canning and Philip Levien.

What do you remember about the Barneses? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”


  1. I may get flamed for saying this but now that I’m done with season 6 I’m about finished liking Pam. Maybe she can’t help her instability and berserk moments, but the Dallas writers made her a flip-flopping, selfish user (poor Mark Graison), I cringe whenever she comes onscreen. The ultimate line that made me feel this way was a conversation she had with Katherine about her divorce in the first bit of season 7 –(paraphrasing!)

    “If I go back to Bobby that means he’ll have to give up Southfork, Ewing Oil, and maybe move out of Dallas… ” I think my jaw dropped.
    Forget about Bobby’s life, and home, and mother, family, friends and business both with Ewing oil and the Ranch. Like Sue Ellen, everything was about her and her feelings only. (Yes I think Sue Ellen is a very selfish, foolish woman too, but she has to deal directly with J.R so she gets big double chocolate brownie points.)

    And then they had J.R threaten Pam if she stays married to Bobby to make her seem like the innocent one but for me it was far too late. So now that Pam’s angry at J.R interfering, she decides she wants to go back to Bobby? Puhleeze.

    Season 10 can’t come fast enough. (Though I don’t think I’ll really watch 9) I don’t wish her character dead, but If she does come back to the new Dallas I hope Ann kicks her to the curb…better yet, I hope Bobby kicks her to the curb and doesn’t hurt Ann. But we know Ann can hold her own! :p

    Okay, Pam rant over! Whew!

    My favorite from your great list (Aside from Bobby, who is not a Barnes) is Afton Cooper and I hope she returns to the new show! She became such a great voice of reason, though how she could stand Cliff Barnes is a mystery to me. And now that we know Rebecca is Afton’s daughter, she’ll have to reappear on Dallas!

    • Yes, the writing for the Pam character is a little erratic. She definitely has her moments. I can remember my mom getting really frustrated with her character when our family watched the show in the ’80s. Just curious: What do you think of Mark Graison? I rather like his character.

      In other news: You must watch Season 9. Or at least the first few episodes. I know it gets knocked a lot, but it’s one of my favorite seasons. The episodes that deal with the immediate aftermath of Bobby’s death are amazing.

      Thanks for commenting!


      • When Mark Graison first came on the scene I was like, oh boy, another Alex Ward, but so far he’s turned out to be very nice, respectful, and mature about the whole turn of events. He’s very honest with Pam, but yet he does consider Bobby’s feelings, simply for the fact that he’s a man probably cut from the same cloth (They seem alike sometimes) and he is able to put himself in Bobby’s shoes despite that he loves Pam. If he has to be Bobby’s replacement, then I think he’s really good for her.

        I will watch a few episodes of Season 9. And in the interim watch Duffy’s movie ‘Vamping’ again, something he made during that time! LOL.

        It just makes me wonder what other way they could have brought Bobby back on the show without it having been a dream. Though a ‘dream’ when you think about it was a pretty unique way to deal with it. There’s probably not many things to do, except maybe say that Bobby faked his own death like Dusty, but then that would mean he abandoned his family and that’s something he wouldn’t do. Or cook up some big conspiracy where Bobby was forced into the Witness protection program for a year, but I doubt there was anything to suggest why that may have happened. lol. You could always blame one of J.R’s schemes that occurred ‘off camera!’

      • I’ve often pondered what might have been a better way to bring back Bobby. I believe they filmed a scenario where Bobby explains to J.R. he sprang back to life on the way to the morgue but allowed the family to believe he was still dead while he spent a year undergoing physical therapy. Not sure that would have been any more plausible than the dream, but at least it would have preserved some of the Season 9 storylines, many of which I liked very much.

      • I agree about watching the first few episodes. Not only for the Bobby aftermath, but also for the Sue Ellen hitting rock bottom arc. There was not a lot of stories I liked this season. Many were sweet/boring, roll your eyes and skip, or some bad acting. There were some good ones tho…. Sue Ellen / JR storyline was good.

        I also found the Pam character difficult in the season you refer to. I actually did not watch the series in order (I was too young when it started) the first time. So, I am not one of those avid Pam fans. I thought she was kind of frustrating the way she flip flopped. Yes, Sue Ellen FF too but that was all part of the utter dysfunction of the JR/Sue Ellen juicy crazy relationship. Pam was married to the golden brother.

        Favorite Barnes… What a crazy bunch. Cliff is alwAys fun to watch. He is now fully corrupted. I cannot wait til the EWINGs find out what he has done. Bobby will have a fit. It will be fun to see how mad he is going to be. JR, of course, will get a sick pleasure out of it ‘cuz it will start a war…. And he will have carte blanche to go for Cliff and his $$.

      • I love Cliff too. Even when his character’s writing is uneven, Ken Kercheval is always fascinating to watch. What a fantastic actor!

        Thanks for commenting Helen. I appreciate it.

        Chris B.

    • Oh Gaga if u only knew how spot on your comments are! Keep watching and my hope id msybe some time YOU will have a cameo on the show!

      • LOL. Thank you. I have a habit of overanalyzing and really getting involved in characters of shows I like. I’ll keep chugging through it despite Pamela’s waffling. I don’t think I would fit in the Dallas world! You know I didn’t even realize my name is like ‘Lady Gaga’ the ‘G’ actually stands for my first name – Ginger.

      • Ginger! Like the other character made famous by Tina Louise, a.k.a. Julie Grey!

        Also: There’s no such thing as overanalyzing “Dallas,” as I can attest. (Ha ha)


      • That’s true about analysis. I can remember the hours on end with my friend talking about LOST. It’s fun. LOL. Wow, I totally forgot that poor Julie Grey was Ginger. 😀

      • I also spent countless hours pondering the mysteries of “Lost.” Talk about a show that needed a decoder!


  2. What about Jamie Ewing Barnes? I really liked her, and she was just as much a Barnes as Bobby =) I’ve always thought she (and Jack, btw) was sadly under-used…
    And I guess Michelle Stevens would be a Barnes as well – after all: hadn’t it been for her marriage to Cliff, he would never have ended up with Ewing Oil.

    Really nice article! I would love to see more of the kind! Covering the Ewings, or J.Rs scorn women, or even Sue Ellen’s lovers. Speaking of which – she really deserves to be given a love-life in the TNT series. What about Bum? Kidding ofc 😉 I really love Ian McShane though; so, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Don Lockwood – if Cidre could come up with some nice way to bring him back, that would be pretty cool.

    • Thanks for your kind words and suggestions. I updated Cliff’s character sketch to include references to Jamie and Michelle. I’ll eventually them into links that will take readers to my critiques of the episodes where Cliff married each character (but it’ll be awhile before I get to either of those episodes!).

      Sue Ellen and Bum? Oh my! That pairing never occurred to me. The idea of bringing back Ian McShane is intriguing.

      Thanks for commenting! I appreciate it.

      Chris B.

  3. I love the chemistry between JR and SE. Love it. They are so much fun to watch…so I am rooting for more time with them onscreen together.

    Lol…I read a review of Dallas from some TV critic. It was a pretty typical review except for one comment. The gist was: ‘by conventional wisdom, two hot young sexy actors in a torrid love scene is what sells and what viewers want. How is it that I was more fascinated by a septuagenarian and an octogenarian flirting over breakfast? LH and LG sparkle when on screen.’

    I laughed when I read that, especially when I realized the reviewer was not a fan of the old Dallas.

  4. I REALLY ENJOYED IT! “at least one 31-hour nightmare” HAHAHA YOU RULE!

  5. Wow, a hidden storyline with Bobby springing to life on the way to the morgue and pretending to be dead the whole season 9…that’s so intriguing! But still makes little sense why he would put his family through all that pain of loss. As for the new Dallas, I too am loving the ‘old people’ relationships more than the young ones. And I’m not from the original Dallas time period (also too young to watch it). Right now I am in utter love with Clayton Farlow and enjoy seeing his growing and sweet relationship with Miss Ellie.

    I love when Clayton kindly told off Sue Ellen about how she didn’t understand his feelings for her when she was at Southern Cross. Sue Ellen is a bubble head. Seriously, her most oft used lines are – “Oh, everything is just FINE” when it obviously isn’t and she has this look on her face like she swallowed a lemon. And then she always says, “I just don’t understand…” To nearly everything everybody tells her!
    I’m so glad they kept handsome Howard Keel on the show. The show needed a strong, mature voice of wisdom like Jock once was. I do like him better than Jock. (Hides!)

    I haven’t gotten to the other Barnes and Ewing family members yet in the series, but I will. And that’s a great idea suggested – character profiles of the families and groups!

  6. Anonymous says:

    this was an over the top AMAZING read!!!! you are the best! thank you for this!

  7. I was sad that Howard Keel/Clayton Farlow died the night b4 the 1st reunion special. That would have been rather poignant to have Dusty’s daddy there!

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