Knots Landing Scene of the Day: ‘You Don’t Have Any Courage’

No guts, no Gary

No guts, no Gary

In “Knots Landing’s” second-season episode “The Loudest Word,” Bobby and Gary (Patrick Duffy, Ted Shackelford) sit next to each other in the hospital waiting room while Val undergoes surgery.

BOBBY: That was some phone call you made to Mama.

GARY: Yeah, I know. Sorry about that.

BOBBY: Are you better now?

GARY: Well, I’m not crazy, if that’s what you mean.

BOBBY: No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, are you better? Have you pulled yourself together? Do you know what you’re up against? Are you ready for that?

GARY: Don’t preach at me, Bobby!

BOBBY: Well, are you better or aren’t you?

GARY: I don’t know!

BOBBY: Well, you don’t have much time to find out. [Rises] If you’re gonna sit and wait that thing out, you’d better damn well be able to handle the outcome, no matter what the outcome is.

GARY: I don’t know. How can I? Would you know?

BOBBY: You’re damn right I would. I’d grit my teeth, I’d clinch my fist and rail at the injustice. But I’d be able to handle whatever came through that door. Because I couldn’t stand to live with myself if I broke down when the woman I love needed me to stand up.

GARY: Fine. You tell me how not to break, and I won’t break.

BOBBY: I’ll tell you how not to break. The same way I told Valene how not to die. Don’t. You just don’t.

GARY: I can’t handle the worst.

BOBBY: The worst is she dies, Gary. You understand that, don’t you? [Gary is silent.] Dying is the worst thing that can happen to Val. [Walks to Gary, grabs his shirt collar, forces him to his feet] Now, tell me that you know that death is the worst possibility. [Gary is still silent.] You’d rather that girl in there die than survive with a colostomy? [Releases Gary, steps away] You know, I can remember Daddy and Mama sparring with words. I was just a kid when you left, but I can still remember them talking about you. And Daddy would say that you didn’t have the Ewing guts. And Mama would say, “Well, thank goodness for that.” Because she thought you had Southworth gallantry – and that was a much better thing to have. Mama thought guts were low-grade courage, and gallantry was courage with grace. [Walks toward Gary] But she sent me here because she couldn’t stand to come herself. She probably heard it in your voice on the phone. You don’t have any kind of courage at all. And she just couldn’t bear to come here and see that for herself.

Gary walks away.


  1. WOW. I can just imagine this scene and the intensity. Oh if only Pam was a fly on the wall when Bobby said this – she may not have upped and abandoned her family when she was down and out. Because as you clearly made it known in your critiques, Bobby is a hero and he would show that SouthFork Gallantry no matter what.

    • Good point! I never connected Bobby’s words here and Pam’s crisis after her accident until you just pointed it out. Let’s build a time machine, go back to 1987 and show Pam this episode of “Knots Landing”!

  2. missiea5 says:

    I just saw this episode. It is such a great performance! It is interesting that Gary is the one who shows issues with his abilities to deal with his wife’s appearance. It is easy to know from the beginning that Bobby wouldn’t but Jock- who is often depicted to be more like JR- was so supportive of Ellie after her mastectomy. I wonder if they ever thought of having Bobby point out Jock’s unconditional love/support for their mother to his brother?

    • Great thinking! That never occurred to me. What I’d give to be a fly on the wall in the old “Dallas” and “Knots Landing” writers’ rooms!


  1. […] delivering his dialogue with breathless intensity, and he does it beautifully when Bobby gives his tough-love pep talk to […]

  2. […] both love Southfork and both look great in swim trunks. Bobby has been known to give Gary a verbal kick in the rear when he needs it, but when Bobby “died,” Gary went to pieces. Thank goodness that was just a […]

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