#DallasChat Daily: What’s ‘Dallas’s’ Worst Storyline?

Bobby Ewing, Cally Harper Ewing, Cathy Podewell, Dack Rambo, Dallas, Jack Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Larry Hagman, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Even great television shows occasionally deliver dud storylines, and “Dallas” is no exception. The groaners include J.R. and Jack’s involvement in the Dimitri Marinos masquerade; the ham-fisted handling of Victoria Principal’s departure from the original series; J.R.’s misadventures in Haleyville, Arkansas; and the eye-rolling revelation that Judith Ryland is a madam.

Your #DallasChat Daily question: What’s “Dallas’s” worst storyline, and why do you hate it?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.


  1. Jennifer Irons says:

    For me it is a tie between the entire dream season when Patrick Duffy was off the show because those stories(Pam going missing in a jungle, Angelica Nero) were so un-Dallas like and Pam’s fiery car crash. I really hated the way VP/Pam was written out like that.

  2. stephenwphillips says:

    It’s a toss-up between Haleyville and the insane asylum – if for no other reason because those stories seemed to have gone – on – for – ev – er.

    Plus, like most of the other plot lines in the later seasons, these stories showed a side of J.R. that most fans simply don’t like – J.R. losing to an outside enemy. I think fans don’t mind it when J.R. takes one on the chin from Bobby, Sue Ellen, or even Cliff Barnes. But, when he loses to the NEWings of the 90’s, it turns that Bourbon and Branch a little too sour.

  3. sunnycd says:

    Though it gave us Cally Harper, who was a good character once she was given Southfork shampoo, the Haleyville storyline was the worst. I didn’t think I’d be able to get through it when I watched season 12 again; I did, but Japhet and Boaz are two names I’m never going to be able to forget.

    Dumbest mini-storyline/runner-up: Sue Ellen hires Lucy as a consultant on the JR movie so she can help pick out the actor to play Mitch. They could use the catering guy for all the time Mitch would need to be in the movie!

  4. Dan in WI says:

    Ratings dropped off in later years and yes storylines like JR’s imprisonment then forced labor in Haleyville and the insane asylum are a big part of the reason.
    Are we really to believe there are part of the south so backward that due process and jury trials don’t exist? I understand the attempt to put JR in a fish out of water scenario but that storyline asked one to suspend a bit more disbelief than I personally found possible.
    The asylum was obviously another fish out of water attempt even though the first one didn’t go so well. What trapped JR there was at least believable. But I think this story made JR a bit too sympathetic to still be JR.
    Those later years had subplots that were just plain silly as well. The murder of Atticus Ward and Mallory/Ewing storylines for Ellie and Clayton were just plain ludicrous. It was plain they just plain ran out of things to do with those two.
    Then yes there is the Marinos storyline. Okay there is no Bobby. The show isn’t the same without him but he wanted out. What are you going to do? The reason we all take that season being declared a dream on the chin is because we wanted Bobby back. (As a fan of Cliff though I was sorry to see the good Cliff who actually loved his wife Jamie wiped out. And that Krebs adopting a special needs child was a real bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.) But I find it speaks volumes that not only was Patrick talked into coming back but Philip Capice walked the plank after that season. But getting back to the main Marinos storyline, I thought it started off okay. It was a mystery that really grabbed my attention for awhile. But the more details that were revealed the sillier it got. Then the only thing missing from the resolution was Benny Hill music and that is where they lost me.
    That said all of the above is some pretty low hanging fruit. I’m going to go with something I found off from the show’s prime: Peter Richards. Before the season 7 CBS critiques were suspended for TNT season three Chris was doing a great job of commenting on the problems with this storyline and the casting of Atkins was the biggest problem. It just makes me cringe.

  5. 1 The Hayleyville storyline is number one no my list. All of it was absurd. And that sheriff coming to JR’s office like he had no fear of JR could do to him and that town.

    2. James Beaumont. No only did JR not ask for a DNA test but it ruined JR and John Ross’s relationshjp.

    3. JR being on the losing end and everyone and anyone getting the best of him. That was awful.

    4. As much as I loved Susan Lucci and Barbara Eden, both their storylines were dumb.

  6. Clayton and Miss. Ellies ‘Murder she wrote’ escapades in season 13

    Sue-Ellen’s movie revenge- expensive and ineffectual

    I never believed in Ray and Jenna together, it felt like the writers didn’t know what to do with them

    Aprils death – not required and left the show without a leading lady in it’s last year

    • Dan in WI says:

      In fairness there weren’t a lot of good options for April. Sheree was pregnant and would soon begin to show. They either had to write that in (and did Bobby really need another child) or write her out.

  7. The entire second half of the “dream” season and the entire last 2 seasons of the original Dallas.
    Of the shows glory years ( 1979 to 1985 ) I found Katherine Wentworth’s repeated attempts to kill Bobby, never quite succeeding but on the other hand always let free to make another attempt ( she even gets away with her attempt to kill Pam after the car crash ) comparable with Road Runner and Wily Coyote or Sideshow Bob And Bart Simpson – but at least they are actual cartoons!

  8. Kelley Tyler says:

    I agree with Jennifer! Point of interest: Out of all the comments made so far, best I can tell none relates directly to TNT’s version of Dallas. That fact alone should send TNT a loud message. TNT is going after the “young” audience, but they shouldn’t discount the “older” fans of the original Dallas!!

    • Eventhough the storyline was awful, I liked JR and Jack’s relationship. Jack was not always threatning and being violent.

  9. The saddest thang was Brother J.R. aka as Larry Hagman died. I wish he was here to jointly manouevre with John Ross & laugh that he & Cliff Barnes will be co grandpas of John Ross Ewing the IVth (ironic wouldn’t u say C.B.?)

  10. Michelle says:

    JR & Vanessa. As bad as they could be for each other I believe Sue Ellen was his soulmate so him telling Vanessa she was ‘the only woman he ever loved’ made me wanna vomit.
    Anything involving Mandy Winger..
    The Peter Richards storyline
    And not necessarily a bad storyline (except for how long it took anyone to really notice)
    And though I haven’t seen much as we don’t get season 3 in the UK yet I have to say watching my girl fall so far off the wagon was heart breaking.

  11. Rosanne says:

    The Peter Richards/Sue Ellen romance was just silly!

  12. The season without Bobby Ewing. He was the show’s moral center and it wasn’t the same without Patrick Duffy.

  13. Carmen and the entire history of Carmen living on Southfork is the worst storyline.

    I understand that there were some uninteresting storylines with Clayton Farlow. Clayton is a nice guy and that does not make for exciting entertainment.

  14. In terms of current storylines, the Judith Ryland one is the absolute worst. I leave the room when she is on the screen. While Judith Light is a fine actress, she is horribly miscast. She is not believable as Harris’ mom (Sister, yes. Wife, absolutely. Mom, no way.). And her overacting borders on pure camp. One example forver burned into my brain was that awful scene at the Mexican cocaine rodeo. Completely cringe-worthy. She, and the entire Ryland clan, are painful to watch. They’re not well-written characters; they’re cartoons. And cartoon “villains” at that. They are certainly not “Dallas” material. They cannot be written out of the show fast enough.

  15. Brandon childers says:

    To tell you the truth I would have much rather Miss Ellie and Clayton be killed off then missing the entire last season

  16. Carmen, Elena, and Drew in the TNT series. Carmen the rude disrespectful maid would work on The Jeffersons but not on Dallas. And as for Elena, she still has not apologized or defended her hateful actions of sending her mother to give John Ross his engagement ring (why would any mother agree to do it anyway?) and Drew coming to Dallas as if the Ewings did him harm after he caused Rebecca her unborn babies.
    And lastly, Elena believing anything Cliff has to say and not just going to Bobby to see if its true. Love the actress who plays Elena but I wish they had given her a better character and storyline.

  17. In no particular order:
    1) The whole Angelica Nero/Marinos shipping story.
    2) Pam searching for Emarald Mines.
    3) Ray & Jenna’s relationship/marraige/move to Europe
    4) Sue-Ellen’s “Movie”.
    5) Killing off Bobby.
    6) Pam’s disappearance & abandonment of Bobby & Christopher.
    7) Barbara Eden’s Arc
    8) Killing April/Susan Lucci-Jory Arc
    9) Miss Ellie & Clayton’s Murder She Wrote Arc
    10) Cliff and Liz Adams/Johnny Dancer Arc
    11) Vanessa & James Beaumont
    12) Killing Jamie Ewing – twice!
    13) Dream season severing ties with Knots Landing
    14) Leslie ann Down as Stephanie Rodgers Arc
    15) Christopher Atkins casting of Peter. Story might have worked with another actor.

    • Love all your choices. I would add:

      1. The Hayleyvill sotryline. That was absurd.

      2. Lucy being taken in by Casey Denault. ( I would assume that Jock, JR, and Bobby would have warned her about con men when she was growing up.)

  18. Entire Dream Season. I own all the seasons except the Dream Season (DVD season 9) and I have no intention of watching/buying it. It sounds awful and from what everyone on here says, it IS awful. This Dimitri Marinos thing you speak sounds ridiculous!!

    • That’s a shame, you’re missing out. I’d sell 13 and 14, and then get season 9.

      The dream season was not nearly as bad as most complain. I actually liked John Beck (Mark Graison) as well, if not better than Patrick Duffy, Sacrilege perhaps? Priscilla Presley’s performance is unbelievably over looked as she slowly slips into a nervous breakdown over Bobby’s death. One of the best acting performances ever on the show. The tragedy of Season 9 is they brought Bobby back at all, and threw away the truly best guy for Pam, John Beck. (I was glad to have Bobby back though for season 10, but I did miss John Beck)

      Steve Kanaly and Susan Howard also offer their BEST performances of the show in the after math of losing Donna’s Down Syndrome baby in season 9. Sue Ellen’s drunk binge also ranks high for Linda Gray’s best performance, if not slightly over the top.

      The whole Marinos shipping angle is pretty bad, but nowhere on the same level as Haleyville or the moronic Peter Richards (Christopher Atkins) Mrs. Robinson story line, what despicable pandering that was, with the half-naked Atkins showing his miserable acting chops throughout. Dreadful! I fast forward through that every time.

      • Dan in WI says:

        You are right in saying the dream season does have it’s highlights. But for me Marinos is the net negative that makes the season bad. Maybe (or maybe not) Marinos isn’t as bad as Haleyville or Peter Richards but it was the main storyline for over half the season and for that reason it drags down the entire season.

  19. Probably the worst storyline even though it was in one episode was the last episode of Dallas which shows a drunken depressed JR being visited by angel/devil (Joel Grey). It was nice to see all the past Dallas cast members return but the ending of the episode was horrible. To left viewers in the air (until 5 years later) as to what happened to JR was downright shame for viewers as well.
    Another bad storyline is the dream season. When watching that particular season, you could tell something wasn’t right. It just didn’t have the sparkle it use to have before Bobby’s death.

  20. Pam’s search for Mark Graison, such a waste they should have started to work on Pam and Booby’s reconciliation at that time. Every story line from Seasons 9 – 14, when PD left it was not worth watching Season 9 was a waste. Some of Season 10’s storylines were good but the Jenna pregnant and Parmalee was bad. The Seasons 11-14 because VP/Pam was gone.

    • I thought Pam had a good storyline during the dream season, at least at the beginning. I loved seeing her take Bobby’s place at Ewing Oil. Victoria Principal and Larry Hagman were such fun to watch together! Didn’t care for the emerald mine storyline, though.

  21. Personally I liked the Steve Forrest character, both times! He did a good job capturing that rugged spirit of jock. Yeah it was over the top, but I did like it.

    #1) Without a doubt, the worst in my opinion was the dreadful Donna Reed as Miss Ellie, I know some in hindsight have softened on her, perhaps her untimely demise and poor treatment by the producers and even other actors from what I have read, has softened what they remember? but, her performance I’m sorry to say was as wooden as a baseball bat.

    I never once felt right about the new cloths, and glitzier jewelry, I liked the simple but strong Barbara’s Ellie, and I’d rather they killed her off than suffer through Reed’s horrific performance. The chemistry was also dreadful with other actors, you can really see it after repeated viewings. Ugh I can watch it anymore, I skip her all together.

    #2) The Peter Richards story: So stupid. I do agree with another here, a different, a little “older” looking actor perhaps could have worked. Oh was Atkins terrible!

    #3) Almost all of Lucy’s stories after Jock died were lame in my opinion, I thought they gave her bad story lines. In the Mini series, she was down right evil, and much more interesting. They turned her into a door-mat in my opinion after that. She had to endure one user after another: Alan Beam, The rapist Roger, and that idiot from the hot biscuit, and then the Casey con man thing.

    Of course the one good story line they had with Lucy after the mini series was Mickey Trotter, and they killed him off, though they got their money’s worth with Ray pulling the plug and all.

    I didn’t like Ray and Donna together. OH YEAH, the crazy stranded motorist who who went fatal attraction and stabbed Ray, that was dumb too:)

    Sheree J. Wilson was the only thing worth watching other than Patrick and Larry at the end. I really liked her character, I hated they Killed her off. The final season is nearly unwatchable. The 2 movies that came after were far better than the last season was.

    • Yeah, “Dallas” had no shortage of dud storylines, as you point out. And “wooden as a baseball bat” made me laugh. Thanks for the comment.

    • I wanted to correct what I said above, I meant to say I never liked Ray and Jenna together. I did like Ray and Donna. I always felt that Bobby and Jenna had a very good chemistry, perhaps even better than Pam? Watch them again before the dream season. Ironically, in hindsight, I thought Mark Graison and Pam had better chemistry too. Yeah I have way too much time on my hands!

  22. Mitchell W. says:

    The sheriff in Haleyville that arrests JR looks so much like LBJ it,s frightening.Looked him up he never played LBJ which is a shame.

  23. I believe the Angelica Nero storyline in seaon 9 was by far the worst of all. It was totally far fetched, over the top and out of keeping with Dallas which up to then had been fairly firmly rooted in reality. It was obviously a vain attempt to compete with Dynasty. And for what is worth, I loved the storyline in Haleyville which was very funny and thought Cally was an excellent character. The second worst story I believe was Jenna;s muder trial in season 8 which was also very far fetched, Bobby could easily have rescued her from Marchetta etc. and he could never have kept her in Italy – and it dragged on far too long.

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