The Dal-List: ‘Dallas’s’ 35 Greatest Moments (So Far)

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, Victoria Principal

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“Dallas” debuted 35 years ago today. To commemorate its anniversary, here’s my list of the franchise’s 35 greatest moments.

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Gripping grin

35. J.R. meets his match. “Dallas’s” first episode ends with Pam turning the tables on J.R. (Larry Hagman) after he tries to make it look like she was cheating on Bobby with Ray. “Looks like I underestimated the new Mrs. Ewing,” J.R. declares as he watches his baby brother and sister-in-law drive away. “I surely won’t do that again.” Hagman then smiles, ever so slightly. It lets us know J.R. has finally found a worthy adversary – and he couldn’t be happier about it.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT, Venomous Creatures

Here we go again

34. Rivalry redux. When the truth comes out that Rebecca Sutter Ewing is actually Pamela Rebecca Barnes, J.R. pops into her office for a tête-à-tête. She turns out to be as ballsy as her namesake aunt, telling J.R.: “I must have done something right to deserve a visit from you.” J.R., for his part, shows he hasn’t lost his step. “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse,” he tells her with a sly grin. “I’m 1 for 1 on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being 2 for 2.” Fabulous.

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Full Circle, Ken Kercheval, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

All is forgiven

33. The “licorice scene.” Cliff (Ken Kercheval) invites estranged mom Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) to his apartment. Nervous small talk gives way to anger, as Cliff tells Rebecca how much her abandonment hurt him. She begins to leave, but Cliff stops her. “Mama,” he says, his voice cracking. “You didn’t take any licorice, and I remembered you liked it.” The music swells, mother and son embrace and we’re reminded why Cliff is the original “Dallas’s” most human character.

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Trial and Error

True confessions

32. Ann testifies. After shooting ex-husband Harris, Ann (Brenda Strong) goes on trial. In stirring testimony, she recalls how he and his mother Judith tormented her, but Ann also concedes her own failings – including how her pill addiction led to daughter Emma’s abduction. “God had punished me by taking my baby,” Ann says through tears. Before this scene, I wondered how we could forgive Ann for her crime. Afterward, I wondered how we couldn’t.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Howard Keel, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Miss Ellie Farlow, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Sting

Adios, Ray

31. Ray rides into the sunset. After Ray (Steve Kanaly) returns to Southfork and helps the Ewings win a range war, they bid him adieu as John Parker’s piano music plays in the background. Ray’s final moments with Ellie, Clayton, Bobby and even J.R. are touching, but the most moving part comes when he looks around and declares, “There’s a part of me that’s never going to leave here.” When major characters depart “Dallas,” the show usually screws it up. Not this time.

Close Encounters, Dallas, Deborah Shelton, Linda Gray, Mandy Winger, Sue Ellen Ewing

Get smart

30. Sue Ellen meets Mandy. At the Ewing Rodeo, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) runs into Mandy (Deborah Shelton), J.R.’s latest mistress, and offers her some advice: Get away while you can. It’s our first glimpse of a newly sober, newly wise Sue Ellen, but Mandy refuses to listen and turns to leave. That’s when Sue Ellen delivers a zinger: “Isn’t it strange how the mistress always thinks she’s smarter than the wife? If she’s so smart, why is she the mistress?” She’s got you there, darlin’.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Pam Ewing, Reunion Part 2, Victoria Principal

Sale of the century

29. “Sold!” After Bobby marries Pam, a drunken Digger barrels onto Southfork and recounts everything Jock “took” from him – including Pam, for whom Digger demands $10,000. “She was a Barnes and now she’s a Ewing, just like the oil wells,” he says. Bobby and Pam watch in horror as Jock (Jim Davis) tosses a $100 bill at Digger, who scoops it up. “Sold!” he declares as he leaves. Harsh? Yes, but after this scene, there was no doubt which family Pam belonged with.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, End of the Road Part 2, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper

Pomp and circumstance

28. The royal wedding. The marriage of Lucy and Mitch (Charlene Tilton, Leigh McCloskey) was doomed from the start, but man, aren’t their nuptials fun? The two-part episode gives us lots of “Dallas” firsts, including the first Southfork wedding, the first time someone gets dunked in the pool (Lucy pushes Mitch) and the first appearance of Afton, who sleeps with J.R. during the reception – in his own marital bed! No wonder Sue Ellen still holds a grudge.

Dallas, Quality of Mercy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Have mercy

27. Who killed Mickey Trotter? When the plug is pulled on his comatose cousin Mickey, Ray blocks the door to his hospital room so the doctors can’t enter and revive him. It’s the beginning of a medical mystery that yields riveting performances from Kanaly, Tilton and Kate Reid as Lil, Mickey’s mom. Only at Ray’s murder trial do we learn the truth: He did disconnect Mickey’s life support, but only because Lil didn’t have the strength to do the mercy killing herself.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Survival

Stop! Or Mom will shoot

26. Ellie grabs her gun. The Ewings are awaiting word on J.R. and Bobby after their plane crashed in Cato Swamp. Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) answers the door to find a snoopy reporter. “Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet,” she says, then tells the newshound: “Anybody on my land, without invitation, is a trespasser. So unless I see your tail heading out of here … I’m going to blow it off.” It’s classic “Dallas”: Modern Texans defending old traditions like land and family.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Farlow, Pam Ewing, Winds of Change, Victoria Principal

Queens’ speeches

25. Pam’s surprise. After Bobby’s “death,” Ellie eulogizes him at the Oil Baron’s Ball, followed by Pam (Victoria Principal), who stuns everyone by announcing she won’t sell her shares of Ewing Oil to Westar as planned. J.R. is overjoyed, assuming this means Pam will sell them to him. She sets him straight: “I’m not selling at all. From now on, it’s going to be you and me. I’ll see you at the office, partner.” It’s one of many great moments from the unjustly maligned “dream season.”

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Requiem

Southfork soothsayer

24. Mama sees all. In 1983, when Sue Ellen tried to justify J.R.’s latest quest for power, Ellie delivered a spot-on prophesy: “Think ahead, Sue Ellen. Think 25 or 30 years ahead. I won’t be here then. And the fight won’t be between J.R. and Bobby. It’ll be between John Ross and Christopher. … Your loyalty to your husband is a wonderful thing. But you’re a mother too. And where will this all end?” Impressive, huh? Too bad no one ever thought to ask her where Pam is.

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Revelations, TNT

Bra-vo!

23. Sting! When Harris tries to blackmail Sue Ellen into aiding his dirty dealings, Ann begs him to stop. Harris confirms his crimes and suggests he’ll ease up on Sue Ellen – if Ann sleeps with him. Slowly, Ann unbuttons her blouse … and reveals a hidden mic. “Extortion, blackmail and a confession to money laundering, all recorded,” she says triumphantly. Ann then slugs Harris and hints she’ll shoot him if he doesn’t leave the Ewings alone. She wasn’t kidding, was she?

Adoption, Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Susan Howard,

Armor on

22. Pow! Donna (Susan Howard) is none too happy when Ray begins an affair with barfly Bonnie. Fed up with his philandering, she dons her fur coat, heads to the saloon and offers Bonnie $15,000 to leave Texas. Bonnie agrees, so Donna cuts the offer by a third. “Now that we know what you are, let’s haggle over your fee,” she says. Bonnie tosses a drink in Donna’s face – and then Donna belts her. Who knew “Dallas’s” classiest leading lady possessed such a mean right hook?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Road Back, Steve Kanaly

Open flames

21. Bobby to the rescue. “Dallas’s” sixth season ends with J.R., Sue Ellen, John Ross and Ray trapped inside Southfork as flames sweep through the house. We knew they’d survive; we just didn’t know how. The seventh-season premiere supplies our answer: In “Dallas’s” most thrilling opening, quick-thinking Bobby comes home, soaks himself in the pool and dashes into the house, where he rescues everyone. We should’ve known: Bobby always saves the day.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tangled Web

Face of fear

20. Sue Ellen’s discovery. Sue Ellen doesn’t want to believe it when Holly Harwood tells her she’s sleeping with J.R., but she agrees to come by the vixen’s house, where Holly says Sue Ellen will find J.R. in her bed. The audience watches as the fur-clad Sue Ellen arrives at Holly’s, slowly crosses the driveway (click clack go the heels), turns the front door knob and finally reaches the bedroom, where her worst fears are confirmed. It’s a brilliant, devastating sequence.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Brother Can You Spare a Child?, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Farlow

Making peace

19. Cliff asks for forgiveness. After Dandy Dandridge accuses Cliff of trying to cheat him out of their big gas strike, Cliff begins to see his daddy’s feud with Jock in a new light. Summoning Ellie to a Dallas park, Cliff extends a long-overdue olive branch. “Digger was wrong, and I was wrong. If it’s not too late. I’d like to make peace. I’d like to ask you to forgive me,” he says. It’s my favorite performance from Kercheval and a consequential moment in “Dallas” history.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Wheeler Dealer

Honor thy daddy

18. Molotov cocktails. “Dallas’s” best cocktail scene: Ellie worries Sue Ellen didn’t get enough to eat at dinner. J.R. waves around a liquor bottle and declares his wife “gets all the nourishment she needs from this.” He then declares Pam is “cracking up” and calls her daddy “a saddle tramp and a thief” and her mama “a whore.” That’s when Bobby (Patrick Duffy) punches J.R., forcing a furious Jock to separate them. Don’t you wish your family gatherings were this much fun?

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Mastectomy Part 2, Miss Ellie Ewing

Great performances

17. Ellie gets cancer. Ellie gets breast cancer in the 1979 “Mastectomy” two-parter, which won Bel Geddes an Emmy. It’s a brave performance from the actress, who had been treated for the disease in real life. Davis is equally moving as Jock struggles to comfort his wife. In one scene, he tells her it “doesn’t matter” that she’s lost a breast. “Because I’m not young anymore?” she snaps. “Don’t you think I care the way I look?” Rarely has “Dallas” felt so real.

Dallas, Family Ewing

Bye, Bobby

16. Bobby’s funeral. After Bobby “dies” saving Pam, the Ewings bury him in a lush Southfork pasture, near the treehouse that Jock built for him as a boy. All of Bobby’s loved ones are there, including Pam, whose Jackie Kennedy-esque pillbox hat reinforces the idea that “Dallas’s” version of Camelot is ending. As the gathering disperses, J.R. movingly tells Bobby he wishes he’d taken the time to let him know how much he loved him. It’s one of the few times we see J.R. cry.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Paternity Suit, Tyler Banks

Welcome to fatherhood

15. J.R. becomes a daddy. When the Ewings learn the results of the paternity test that proves J.R., not Cliff, fathered John Ross, J.R. enters the Southfork nursery, picks up his son, holds him close and kisses him. According to “Dallas” historian Barbara A. Curran, CBS received 10,000 positive letters in response to J.R.’s embrace of his son. Later, David Jacobs, the show’s creator, called it “Dallas’s” best scene: “Just a private moment between J.R. and 100 million people.”

Dale Midkiff, Dallas, Dallas: The Early Years, Jock Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, Molly Hagan

When they were young

14. In the beginning. “Dallas: The Early Years,” Jacobs’ 1986 prequel movie, ends at a 1951 Southfork barbecue, where Jock and Ellie (Dale Midkiff, Molly Hagan) embrace as a teenaged J.R. spars with bratty Cliff. Moments later, Cliff drags kid sister Pammy away from her new playmate: Little Bobby. Jerrold Immel’s theme swells, the camera pulls back for a bird’s eye view of the ranch and then the familiar shots from “Dallas’s” famous titles sweep across the screen. Perfect.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Waterloo at Southfork

Mad mama

13. Mama vs. the cartel. When J.R.’s latest plot backfires and the cartel takes advantage of him, Ellie comes to junior’s defense. She summons the group to the Ewing Oil offices, where she blasts them, one by one. “I don’t apologize for what my son did,” Ellie says. “It’s a family matter. We may be wrong and we may be right, but we’re Ewings. We stick together – and that’s what makes us unbeatable.” Foolish oil barons. Shouldn’t they know better than to mess with mama?

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Long Goodbye, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Prey, meet hawk

12. A classic clash. During Bobby and Pam’s separation, J.R. tells her if she doesn’t go through with the divorce, he’ll destroy Bobby, Cliff and everyone else she cares about. “You’ve known me long enough to know I don’t make idle threats,” J.R. says as he circles her. The chilling moment tells us much about their rivalry. Cliff might have been J.R.’s most persistent enemy and Jeremy Wendell might have been the most powerful, but no one threatened J.R. quite like Pam.

Blast from the Past, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy,

Good morning indeed

11. Bobby’s back! (Or is he?). CBS announced Duffy would return to “Dallas” a few weeks before the 1985-86 season finale aired, but no one knew how he’d come back or who he’d play. In the episode’s last scene, Pam awakens and finds Bobby – or someone who looks an awful lot like him – lathering up in her shower. No matter how you feel about the notorious “dream” twist, you have to admit: It was nice to have Duffy back on the show – and in his birthday suit no less!

Changing of the Guard, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Leonor Varela, Marta del Sol, TNT, Veronica Martinez

Welcome back

10. J.R. returns. TNT’s first episode ends with John Ross visiting J.R. in the nursing home. The younger man is dejected because Uncle Bobby just sold Southfork to conservationist Marta del Sol. But wait, what’s this? J.R. is sipping champagne with Marta! It turns out the two are in cahoots. “Bobby may not be stupid, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter,” J.R. tells his son as he doffs his Stetson and flashes his grin. For me, this is the moment I knew “Dallas” was truly back.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, New Beginnings, Sue Ellen Ewing

Two of a kind

9. J.R. and Sue Ellen reminisce. After putting John Ross to bed, J.R. and Sue Ellen retreat to their room, where they recall their courtship in warm, nostalgic terms. For a couple that is usually at war with each other, this scene is about the characters taking off their armor – symbolized by Sue Ellen’s dressing gown and J.R.’s removal of his coat and tie – and showing each other they still care. You can’t understand their love story until you’ve seen this moment.

Bobby Ewing, Check and Mate, Dallas, Larry Hagman, J.R. Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Lose some, win some

8. Bobby beats J.R. After a yearlong contest for control of Ewing Oil, Harv Smithfield declares J.R. the winner. But wait, what’s this? Here comes Thornton McLeish with news that Bobby’s Canadian fields have come in, making Bobby the victor. The twist concluded one of “Dallas’s” greatest storylines, an arc that touched all the characters and made “Tundra Torque” part of every “Dallas” diehard’s vocabulary. We never like to see J.R. get beat, but when Bobby does it, we let it slide.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ellie Saves the Day, Miss Ellie Ewing

To the rescue

7. Ellie saves Southfork. J.R. secretly mortgages Southfork to finance a risky deal, only to have it blow up in his face. With the loans due, the Ewings scramble to pay the banks but come up empty. After a stroll around the ranch, Ellie gathers everyone and announces she’ll raise the cash by allowing Ewing Oil to drill on the land. It’s an early example of an enduring “Dallas” theme: Sometimes you have to set aside your principles to protect your family.

Dallas, Fall of the House of Ewing, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Omri Katz

Don’t forget it, boy

6. J.R. schools John Ross. J.R. is giving John Ross one last look around Ewing Oil when Wendell, the new owner, orders them off the premises. “Take this eyesore with you,” he says as he reaches for Jock’s portrait. J.R. is incensed: “Touch that painting and I’ll kill where you stand!” J.R. takes the picture off the wall, holds it aloft and – with trumpets blaring in the background – declares: “John Ross, this is Ewing Oil.” I dare you to watch this scene without getting chills.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Executive Wife, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Word

5. Jock schools Bobby. Bobby, furious that Jock has yanked millions of dollars out of Ewing Oil without telling him, interrupts Daddy’s lunch at the Cattlemen’s Club. “You gave me the power to run that company, and damn it, I intend to run it,” Bobby fumes. “Let me tell you something, boy,” Jock huffs. “If I did give you power, you got nothing. Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!” Six words that sum up the Ewing creed – and “Dallas” itself.

Dallas, Family Business, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

The man

4. The man comes around. The TNT episode “Family Business” ends on a thrilling note: With Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” playing in the background, Rebecca shoots Tommy, while back at the ranch, seriously ill Bobby collapses. The most poignant moment of all comes before the montage, when J.R. glances at Ellie’s picture, takes a shot of bourbon and signs the Southfork deed, returning ownership to Bobby. In that instant, our hero grows. So does “Dallas.”

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Farewell, J.R.

3. J.R.’s funeral. “Dallas” bids farewell to J.R. with a moving, instant-classic episode featuring Emmy-worthy performances from Gray and Duffy. Who’ll ever forget Sue Ellen getting drunk in J.R.’s bedroom the night before his burial, or her heartbreaking eulogy? What about the poignant final scene, when Bobby spots J.R.’s hat and tearfully declares, “I love you brother.” This is the moment the TNT series rose to the occasion – and then surpassed it.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Swan Song, Victoria Principal

Saving the day, again

2. “Swan Song.” Leonard Katzman’s masterpiece. Donna reveals her pregnancy to Ray. J.R. threatens to send Sue Ellen back in the sanitarium. Pam nobly tells Bobby to go back to Jenna, but he chooses Pam instead. It culminates with the dramatic driveway sequence in which Katherine runs over Bobby, followed by his deathbed farewell, the most moving scene in “Dallas” history. It’s all so beautifully done, it’s almost enough to make you regret it turned out be a dream.

Dallas, House Divided, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Top gun

1. “Who Shot J.R.?” “Dallas’s” most famous storyline is also its greatest extended moment, and not just because it sparked a worldwide phenomenon. Nothing better demonstrates the show’s ability to create multi-dimensional characters who fascinate audiences and make us care. Despite his dastardliness, after J.R. was shot, we couldn’t help but feel sympathetic toward him as he struggled to regain his ability to walk and cope with his exile from Ewing Oil. Likewise, once Kristin was identified as his assailant – in a broadcast watched by 83 million people – how could you not feel sorry for her, especially after J.R. vowed to “handle” her his “own way”? Will “Dallas” ever top this moment? Who knows? I just hope the people who make the show never stop trying.

Now it’s your turn. Share your choices for “Dallas’s” greatest moments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Comments

  1. cstephandoerr says:

    What a great list. It truly serves to remind us just how great this series was and is. Reading it, I had many “Ah, yes, that was amazing, too” moments. The one thing I miss is Sue Ellen drinking with the bag lady/ in the drunk tank. I would be willing to let the scene from The Early Years go instead…

    • Sue Ellen’s scene with the bag lady was on my initial list, but as I kept whittling it down, it eventually fell off. It’s a great moment, though. I also love the scene a few episodes later when she sees the therapist played by Bibi Besche. It’s a great moment because it feels so real.

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it!

      CB

  2. This is a fantastic list with a good mix of moments from the early and later days of the original series, as well as the new series. I can’t argue that any of these moments shouldn’t be here, although if I were to add one, it would be J.R. strikes oil in southeast Asia, which I know you’ve already written about extensively. It’s an exciting moment, the energy of which was effectively recaptured by the new series in its opening moment when John Ross and Elena strike oil.

    • Yes, I love J.R.’s big strike too. I wanted to include it on this list but as you indicated, I’ve written about it a lot already. Perhaps it’ll find its way on my 40th anniversary list.

  3. I agree with most of your choices Chris, but I would also include the 1983 Oil Baron’s Ball episode which ends with a mass brawl between the menfolk – and in a “blink and you miss it” moment when Pam and Jenna briefly look daggers at each other!
    Also the following episode when the same pair compete in a Ride The Mechanical Bull contest – Jenna cleverly lets Pam win the contest but gets the reward of falling into Bobby’s arms!

    • Yes! Those are both great scenes. I especially love the mechanical bull contest. I’ll have to consider that if I do a follow-up list.

      Thanks for sharing your choices!

      Chris

  4. Brandon Gene Childers says:

    My personal favorite moment ever, is is Season 3 when Ray, Jock, JR, an Bobby go dove hunting.

    Jock, Ray and Bobby get into a fight with some locals. JR takes his watch off and just sits there scared to death. A guy gets thrown on the table and JR hits him over the head with a beer mug. Then acts like it was a team effort later. It was hilarious.

    • Ha ha. I love that scene too, Brandon. “The Dove Hunt” is a great episode. It feels like an old-school western.

      Thanks for sharing your favorite moment!

      CB

  5. Thanks for doing this. I’m sure you know when you make a list like this, people will disagree 🙂 Bobby in the shower is much higher than number 11, in my opinion. That episode is probably one of the most shocking hours of television I’ve ever seen. My jaw hasn’t dropped since 1986, I tell you!

    • Hey Sunny! Oh, yes, I know folks will have different ideas. I hope the list sparks a healthy debate. As far as the shower scene: I agree it’s a shocking moment, but for me, it doesn’t quite rise to the level of “greatness” that my other scenes did. I do love it, though, and I’m glad Patrick Duffy returned to the show.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      CB

  6. #19: I remember that scene between Miss Ellie and Cliff. My question is why is Cliff so bitter now? This is why it’s hard for me to understand Cliff’s character in the new Dallas.

    • I know what you mean, Donna. Initially, I had that scene much closer to No. 1, but frankly its impact seems a little diminished now that Cliff has turned so evil. I still love the scene, though. Ken Kercheval delivers a really lovely performance and it’s great to see him act alongside Barbara Bel Geddes.

    • Dan in WI says:

      I’ve always liked Cliff because he (and Ray) are the two characters I can most closely identify with. So this is something I too need to know. What changed him? Give me a good explanation and I might even buy it. But sitting here in the dark is killing me.

  7. Jaime Ewing says:

    Great list! A few other fav’s of mine –
    That Oil Barron’s Ball when the 5 Dallas women (Pam, Sue-Ellen, Jenna, Katherine, and Afton) have a cat fight in the ladies room. That’s a classic!
    Another – J.R. confronting Cliff in his office the night Vaughn Leland calls in the loan on Gold Canyon 340, and Cliff learns J.R. was his financial backer. J.R.’s funniest line “Tomorrow, the janitor will come by and sweep you out with the rest of the trash”. Lol, classic!

    • Ooh, those are good ones. I considered the Oil Baron’s Ball scene but I completely overlooked the one with Vaughn. I’ll have to keep that one in mind for the 40th anniversary.

  8. I’d probably put Bobby in the shower @ number 1. That’s just so unbelievably shocking. Only the Newhart series finale comes close to being that shocking. And, as you pointed out in an earlier post, the scene of J.R. getting shot wasn’t as shocking as it could’ve been, because it had been advertised in advance.

    I might then put J.R.’s funeral @ number 2. As great as that final moment of Bobby dying in the hospital is, it’s slightly marred by the fact that Donna Reed is there as Miss Ellie, instead of Barbara Bel Geddes, and J.R.’s death feels more impactful specifically because Larry Hagman had really died.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, J.R.! I always appreciate hearing from you.

      Two quick points from me: With this list, I wanted to look beyond shock value to all-around “greatness.” With “Who Shot J.R.?,” you’re correct that shooting scene itself didn’t have that much shock value (CBS gave it away in the promos!), but the whole storyline, from the beginning of “A House Divided” through the end of “Who Done It?” is fantastic. I was counting that as a single extended moment.

      With “Swan Song,” I absolutely agree about the death scene, but I was counting the whole episode as another “extended” moment. I think that episode is pretty perfect, although it would be even better if someone to CGI Barbara Bel Geddes into it. But you’re right that its overall impact is diminished a bit by the fact that Bobby didn’t really die.

      CB

  9. Anonymous says:

    How bout the final scene with JR and Val(on the front porch of Southfork?)! When JR threatens Val and her reaction. Chilling

    • I love that scene, and not just the part with Larry Hagman. Joan Van Ark’s exchange with David Ackroyd is fabulous too. Even the scenery is fantastic. Southfork looks gorgeous. It was definitely on my original list but fell off as I whittled things down. (Gary and Val’s wedding scene at the end of “Return Engagements” was on the list too, by the way. I’m always moved when Jock shows up at the last minute to see his son get married.)

  10. A couple of my favorite scenes, that aren’t on this list: Season 2 finale, Sue Ellen is unconscious in the hospital, and J.R. and Bobby go in to see her, and J.R. breaks down crying.

    Then there’s a scene in season 7, where J.R. had been blackmailing Edgard Randolph, took get some info on foreign oil wells. Randolph feels guilty, and tries to kill himself, but survives. Donna and Ray confront J.R., because Randolph asked them some questions about J.R. earlier, so they suspect his suicide attempt was connect to J.R., and late @ night J.R. sneaks into Randolph’s hospital room, with some flowers (or course) and tells him that even if Randolph had killed himself J.R. would still expose his secret (they never said it outright, but it was implied that he’d molested a child when he was younger), just to ruin his reputation, and warned him to never talk about him to anyone again or “You’ll wish you had died”.

    • Love the J.R./Bobby/Sue Ellen scene in the Season 2 finale. I considered including that one too.

      The Season 7 scene I don’t remember that well, but it sounds cool! I need to go watch it.

      Thanks J.R.

      • This exemplifies what I loved about J.R. Ewing. There was the caring human side, and the cold-hearted bastard side, I loved seeing each side in action.

        Another one I’d add is the Season 8 scene where young John Ross and J.R. sit down in the kitchen for a glass of milk, while John Ross tries to explain to his father why he’s ready to quite school and come to work @ Ewing Oil, and J.R. had to explain why John Ross needed to stay in school to get an education, so that when he is old enough to join Ewing Oil, he’d really be ready for it.

      • J.R., that’s one of my favorite scenes too. It’s one of several great moments from the “dream season.” I’m really looking forward to critiquing those episodes.

    • Wendy DeLucca says:

      I absolutely LOVE the hospital scene with JR and Bobby by Sue Ellen’s side! I would add that in too! Wish things had worked out differently for Sue Ellen and JR after the hospital, though! So many people don’t understand why there are so many JR-Sue Ellen fans out there when their relationship was so abusive–this short scene helps explain it! (Along with the one listed as #9).

      • Yes, that scene was great because it was unexpected. It was the first time on the show that we’d seen J.R.’s softer side, especially directed at Sue Ellen. I also like the fact that Bobby was there with him, for this private moment. J.R. was willing to be vulnerable, and let his guard down, in front of his baby brother. So I think scene also showed the closeness that existed between J.R. and Bobby, as well as J.R. and Sue Ellen.

      • Ooh, J.R. That’s a great point about J.R. and Bobby. Thanks!

      • That’s a wonderful scene too, Wendy. Thank you.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t understand the Sue Ellen – JR appeal when he belittled her so much.

      • I think that’s part of the appeal, actually.

  11. Jaime Ewing says:

    Just thought of a few more:
    How about the episode when the family is held hostage by Luther Frick and Sue-Ellen has to wear her Miss Texas swimsuit & sash and sing People.
    Another favorite – after Sue-Ellen shoots J.R. when Nicholas Pierce went over the balconey, and J.R. is in the hospital, Lucy finds out where J.R. had hidden John Ross and brings him to Sue-Ellen at the hospital, as J.R. watch’s her hand him over to her from his hospital window, and they all look up at him to wave, and Lucy gives him this smirk and a very F.U. wave before they all drive off. Love that moment for Lucy!

    • Yeah, I felt bad I didn’t include more Lucy on this list. At some point, I want to compile a list of her witticisms. Next to J.R., she had the sharpest tongue in the family.

    • Brandon Gene Childers says:

      I love the episodes when the entire Family is held hostage. I just love when the Ewing work together

      • Are you referring to the hostage episode from the original series? I like that one too. I didn’t like it much when I was younger, but I’ve really come to appreciate it now.

      • Brandon Gene Childers says:

        Both of them, and the episode when Bobby was “Kidnapped”

  12. Dan in WI says:

    It’s a good list. One can quibble on the order based on personal taste but I can’t argue with anything on there. Of course I have two I’d also add:

    Episode 186 Sentences: JR Goes to Pam
    JR has a couple problems. Jenna has gone to prison for the murder of Naldo Marchetta and Bobby is genuinely unhappy. But if if Jenna had been acquitted it’s becoming more and more apparent he loves another anyway. Meanwhile Pam has been using her share of the Wentworth Industries (or is that Barnes Global…) fortune to prop up Cliff in his fight against JR. It seems Pam is holding a bit of grudge over JR sending her on that wild good chase for Mark Graison. So what does JR do? Why not kill two birds with one stone? He shows up at Pam’s house and confesses many of his recent misdeeds. As he puts it he does it so Pam believes what he’s about to tell her. First he clears the air about Charlie’s parentage. Bobby had just revealed a false birth certificate showing him as the father in order to keep custody of Charlie. Pam needed to know that so it would help with what JR was about to ask: Go back to Bobby. At its core this was all ulterior motive. If Pam and Bobby get back together Pam will probably slack off on her JR vendetta. Still a part of me believes JR was at least a little concerned about Bobby’s happiness. Either way they way he fakes sincerity in this scene is just classic.

    Episode 321 Judgment Day: Bobby Channels Jock
    This episode has a couple good scenes. There is the one where Bobby pleads with Cliff to rule on the side of truth in the Ewing/Westar tanker collision. His plea was impassioned and invokes the name of Pam. But the scene I really love:
    Ewing Oil is in trouble over said tanker collision. It looks certain they are going to be found at fault and as an independent oil company there is no way it can survive the fines if found liable. So the vultures are circling. Carter McKay goes to Bobby and makes a low ball offer (as good as he makes it sound) for the company. A dejected Bobby is in a position where he has to consider it. A few days later after the written proposal was submitted Carter returns for his answer. Bobby grants that it would be better if he sold outright instead of “letting the vultures pick it [the company] clean.” That sets up this classic exchange:
    Bobby: Do you know who founded this company McKay?
    Carter: Sure. Jock Ewing was a legend.
    Bobby: You’re right. And do you know what he’d be doing if he were standing here right now?
    Carter: Well I imagine he wouldn’t be playing games.
    Bobby: No. He’d be escorting you out of this building. Headfirst through this very window, and I’m just embarrassed I didn’t do the same thing when you first brought me this stinking deal.
    Carter: You’re a fool Bobby. I’ll buy Ewing Oil from the justice department for 50 cents on the dollar.
    Bobby: I’d rather deal with that than sell out to you. [long icy stare] Besides, I have one last card to play.
    Carter: You’re just whistling in the dark.
    Bobby [ripping up the proposal]: But I like the tune.

    That is good stuff.

    • YES! These are awesome scenes, Dan. Especially the second one. I love Patrick Duffy’s performance in that one. Overall, “Judgment Day” is one of the better episodes from the final scenes.

      Damn, now I want to redo my list!

      • Dan in WI says:

        Chris you’re absolutely right Patrick plays the Judgement Day scene perfectly. The previous set up scene is played just as well. He plays the defeat so perfectly you understand exactly why he is listening to an offer you know full well he normally would reject out of hand. That first scene performance makes he second payoff scene performance even better.
        But credit George Kennedy as well. It takes two to tango in a scene like this. In many ways Kennedy was William Shatner before there was a Shatner, especially when it comes to playing angry. But for all his faults, when Kennedy is playing the collected and calculating business man he nails it. In this scene he makes Duffy’s performance possibile by serving up the lines just the way they are needed.

      • Yes, yes, yes. Spot-on analysis, Dan. I also love Duffy’s performance in the scene with Ken Kercheval. The line about there being “family ties” between the Ewings and Barneses is powerful stuff. (I also love Cliff’s response, which is something along the lines of, “What does that make J.R.? My evil twin?”)

  13. Brandon Gene Childers says:

    What about the moment when Harris went down for everything that happened in season two, and will never recover. Oh wait I am getting ahead of myself. Anybody else want or think that is going to happen

  14. Brandon Gene Childers says:

    What season and episode was number 19,

  15. barbara fan says:

    Love some (but not all) of your choices and not surprisingly all mine would feature BBG in a top 10
    Nothing from TNTs version especially anything with Ann would make my top 1000 scenes . It just doesn’t capture my heart or make me care about it at all. – I had high hopes but they haven’t been fulfilled in the slightest which is sad
    keep up your great work tho, BF xx

    • Thanks BF. At some point I’m going to do an-all BBG list. I think I could easily come up with 20 moments from her that I love.

      I appreciate your feedback. Thanks for writing in.

      CB

  16. PamelaPrincipal says:

    Great list Chris! Like Barbara fan I personally wouldn’t have selected anything from the TNT reboot. There are just too many classic original Dallas scenes left to include. I’m biased for Pam, but I think her breakup scene with Bobby at Thanksgiving Square was so moving and well performed by both Principal and Duffy. You really felt sad and upset at the same time that Dallas’ biggest love story is really over and all because of that letter. When Pam walks away and cries with Bobby looking on in the back, your heart just breaks for the both of them. This is one of Dallas’ best closing scenes and freeze captured. I think this scene lasted a good 7-8 minutes too!

    Also love the scene with SueEllen wandering about Southfork with her booze thinking she’ll be taking over Southfork one day. Pam then catches her twirling around inside, and they have an unpleasant exchange with SueEllen declaring the first thing she’ll do when she takes over is throw Pam out. Ms. Ellie overhears from upstairs and says “no one is taking over not as long as I’m alive”. Ellie then walks downstairs with a big smile on her face. Pam gives SueEllen a smirk and poor SueEllen is just humiliated. This is one of those rare scenes with all 3 leading ladies, and they all played off each other perfectly. Classic Dallas!

    Oh and I love all the catty scenes between Pam and Jenna, as played by both Morgan Fairchild and Priscilla Presley. Someone mentioned the showdown scene in the ladies room at the Oil Baron’s Ball, including SueEllen, Afton and Katherine. Again another classic and rare Dallas scenes with all the Dallas beauties in one room. I can watch this scene over and over and just get so excited! The only minor complaint I would have about this scene is the exclusion of Lucy. She was at the ball too! Give the poor girl some more screen time and have her add her smart mouth to all the catty exchanges. This would make it more even out with Lucy walking in with Jenna and SueEllen. Like SueEllen, Lucy would also be torn who side she should be on. Oh well a small missed opportunity for the Lucy character. But I still love it!

    PamelaPrincipal

    • Thanks so much, PamelaPrincipal. The Thanksgiving Square scene is terrific. When I update the list, I suspect that’ll rank pretty high. The scene with Sue Ellen playing “lady of the manor” and the Oil Baron’s Ball showdown among the divas are great too.

      Thanks again for commenting!

      CB

  17. My add ons (not in order)

    1. Lucy tells Mickey about her rape and abortion before they make love for the first time.

    2. Miss Ellie at the stable with Blazer, Jock’s horse.

    3. Pam’s suicide attempt.

    4. Rebecca goes to Pam and admits she is her mother.

    5. Lucy and Kit break up because he is gay.

    6. Pam’s first miscarriage and Jock asking her to stay at Southfork.

    7. Miss Ellie and Lucy talk about cancer and Lucy’s fears of getting it like her grandmother.

    8. Sue Ellen reveals to JR that she owns Valentine Lingerie and did it all to get Mandy out of JR’s life. HM also to when Mandy later returned and Sue Ellen referred to her as a disposable piece of tissue.

    9. Cliff’s grief after Rebecca’s death because she was on the plane for a business trip he was supposed to go on. “It should have been ME!” Loved also Afton comforting him in those scenes.

    10. Cliff and Afton sleep together the first time and Afton tells him that he is a better lover than JR.

    I could go on forever but these definitely top my list~ Jenny

    • Good list, Jenny. I’m glad you mentioned No. 1, a scene that I’m eager to watch again. I loved Charlene Tilton and Timothy Patrick Murphy together. Regarding No. 10: Surely Afton was fibbing!

  18. Wendy DElucca says:

    Great list! I would replace or add just a few:

    From the Dream Season:
    1. Sue-Ellen in the “drunk tank”–so sad a scene–and so well-done!

    2. Sue-Ellen’s dream during the Dream Season is another of my faves–it is a culmination of her inner turmoil from all the times she wanted to leave JR through the years but he either stopped her or she feared he would take away John Ross.

    From DVD season 10:
    1. In ” High Noon for Calhoun” after BD Calhoun has kidnapped John Ross, the family watches a ransom video in their California hotel suite. After a year (?) of JR sleeping with Mandy, Sue Ellen and he share a poignant moment, she begging him to find their son. They embrace as they share the one feeling that is strongest for them both–their love for their son.

  19. #33 needed to be WAY higher than 33.

    Re #19.. It’s a shame Barbara isn’t still around for any number of reasons, but would have loved to have seen that kind of personal appeal to current events on the show.

    Re #16.. That’s the one episode I missed on the original run after I started watching about six months before JR was shot originally. Bobby’s funeral I never saw until many years later when SOAPNet was doing reruns.

    #13 is a Top 10 for me.

    The entire list is an epic fail, because Pam’s explosion is not Top 5.

  20. Oh, and one scene I like, which I believe comes from the miniseries, when Jock is out having a smoke, and JR comes out, during the scene, Jock calls JR a jackass.

  21. Hmmm. I like the list…but there are some scenes that stand out that are not on here. Sue Ellen firing Mandy; Sue Ellen blackmailing the governor; Sue Ellen’s mirror scene in the Dream Season and the one in the Drunk Tank; The Thanksgiving Square scene where Bobby and Pam just rip the viewers’ hearts out; Miss Ellie’s discussion with Donna in Acceptance when she finally admits Jock is dead; Miss Ellie letting the cartel have it when they try to take advantage of JR’s screw up; Bobby and Sue Ellen’s scene when she tells him she thinks Cliff is her baby’s father.

    • If I were making this list today, I’d probably include Thanksgiving Square and one of Sue Ellen’s dream season breakdowns. Maybe the scene in the alley with the bag lady?

  22. Margaret Krebbs says:

    I like the scene in the mini S1 when Lucy swings her young, fresh laughing face surrounded by those bouncy blond curls down from the hayloft, and the viewer understands Ray, a full grown man, has been fooling around with this teenage minx! That was my first inkling this show was gonna be very interesting…

  23. From the TNT series, I’d include the revelation of Cliff as Rebecca’s father, which, had it taken place during the CBS run, I think would have been the third most famous moment of the series, behind JR getting shot and Bobby popping up in the shower.

    Also, the moment in which Ann shot Harris was extraordinary. I sat there in absolute shock!

    And while I wouldn’t put it on the top 35 list, it was very clever when the motorcyclist who Roy was chasing turned out not to be Drew.

    • I like your suggestion about Cliff being Rebecca’s father, and I remember the revelation about Roy and Drew being a pretty cool twist too. I was never a big fan of Ann shooting Harris, although I do remember being really shocked by it.

      Thanks! I’ll be updating this list at some point. Maybe for the 40th anniversary?

  24. Sue Ellen pops the balloon after Cally and J.R.s wedding.
    Miss Ellie comes to terms with Jocks death in the SF kitchen.
    John Ross tells Sue Ellen: ” I am not my father!”
    Pamela gets shocking information from the pilot, that J.R. set up the whole Carribean trip, she hit him and cries – freeze frame – next episode fabulous confrontation with J.R. in his office.
    Clash of Lucy & Cally vs. April & Michelle in a single bar.
    Sue Ellen siding with Kimberly Cryder to triumph over J.R. when he was trying to take over Weststar.

Trackbacks

  1. […] since the debut of TNT’s sequel series, it’s come to occupy a prominent spot in “Dallas” lore. The conversation begins with Sue Ellen drawing a parallel between Rebecca’s death and J.R. […]

  2. […] I listed “Dallas’s” 35 greatest moments in the spring, I ranked this scene at No. 20. I now wonder if I should have moved it a little […]

  3. […] tell me about one of my other favorite “Dallas” scenes, which is the one where Ann reveals she’s secretly recorded Harris’s […]

  4. […] scene in “The Long Goodbye” draws upon all of this subtext, resulting in one of the all-time great “Dallas” moments. It begins when J.R. turns up unexpectedly on Pam’s doorstep and asks to speak to her. She […]

  5. […] Hooray! How is she going to celebrate her return to Southfork? Well, for starters, she’s going to tell off J.R.’s latest tramp, Mandy, and then she’s going to head over to the barn for a little […]

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