#DallasChat Daily: Who Stayed Too Long or Left Too Soon?

April Stevens Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Holly Harwood, Jenna Wade, Jeremy Wendell, Kristin Shepard, Lucy Ewing, Lois Chiles, Mary Crosby, Mickey Trotter, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Ray Krebbs, Sheree J. Wilson, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard, Timothy Patrick Murphy, William Smithers

Let’s face it: “Dallas” didn’t always know when to say goodbye. Some characters hung around long after their storyline possibilities were exhausted, while other favorites still had lots of untapped potential when they were written out.

Consider the group pictured here: Lucy, Ray, Donna, Jenna, Kristin, Jeremy, Mickey, Holly and April. (I’ll let you decide which character belongs in which category.) This is just a sampling; you’re welcome to name other characters too.

Your #DallasChat Daily questions: Which “Dallas” characters stayed too long? Which characters left too soon?

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


  1. I wish Digger & Julie Grey stayed in longer. Lots to explore with both characters but never had the chance of knowing them more. I felt Lucy overstayed imo. I wish Jock stayed longer, but as Jim Davis died it was better than recasting his character. The end of Pam’s character did her no justice and neither the fans.

    • I agree about Digger, and I’m so glad you mentioned Julie Grey. I feel she gets overlooked by a lot of fans, but she always fascinated me.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Great suggestion re; Digger and Julie Grey. I love Tina Louise and always felt since she was an original Dallas character that she should have been in the main cast (opening credits, etc.). There was so much left to explore with her relationship with J.R. and (potentially) Sue-Ellen. Imagine if she had stayed long enough to eventually team up with Sue-Ellen against J,R.! But since Sue-Ellen was barely fleshed out as a main character at that point in the show, that opportunity never came to pass.

    As far as Digger, I would have liked him to stay, but only as played by David Wayne. He was perfect in the role. That scene in the two-part 1st (full) season opening episode “Reunion” where Digger drunkenly drives to Southfork and demands money from Jock for Pamela is one of the most memorable scenes in Dallas history. Wayne was fantastic in that scene. I never was able to warm to Keenan Wynn’s portrayal of Digger when he replaced Wayne, so I guess I was ok with him leaving when he did.

    I don’t think Lucy over-stayed. She was a great character. I just think the writers didn’t know what to do with her. Lucy was a great foil for J.R.. I wish instead of making her nice after a while that she could have stayed nasty and teamed up with J.R. to help him black-mail business partners. She could have been a real vixen, similar to the attitude she had in episode 1 when she said to Pam on the staircase “Lady, you don’t stand a chance”.

    The one character I do think stayed too long was Priscilla Presley’s Jenna. Once Bobby returned from the dead and broke up with her, she should have left then. Breaking up Ray and Donna so that Ray could hook up with Jenna was ludicris (sp?) and one of the worst ideas Dallas ever produced. It was not believeable for a minute and I hated how it changed the relationship between Bobby and Ray.

    Also, although they were spread out seasons apart, I would have liked for Kiristin to stick around long enough to plot with Katherine against Pam and Sue-Ellen for Bobby and J.R.’s affections. Although that may have been an unbelieveable plot twist – 2 sisters going up against each other for their respective sister’s husbands, it would have ben juicy fun.

    I could also make a case for April staying too long. She was fun as Jack’s x-wife in the beginning, but the character was completely watered down once they decided to have her go after Bobby and eventually marry him, only to then kill her off. At that point in the series, Bobby should have married Kay Lloyd. they had so much more chemistry than he ever had with April.

    Cally and James should have ended up (and left the series) together as well.

    Great topic!

    • “I wish instead of making her nice after a while that she could have stayed nasty and teamed up with J.R. to help him black-mail business partners.”

      YES! I have made that same suggestion here and on the Dallas forums several times. The biggest mistake they made was changing Lucy from the vixen she was in the first season into some kind of “good girl.” She should have been J.R.’s protege. Remember, according to show history, he was the one who went and took her from Val as a baby and brought her back to Southfork in the first place. So obviously he gave a darn about how she was raised, so he should have tried to guide her to be a “real Ewing” (which, in J.R.’s mind, means being willing to do whatever you have to do to whomever you have to in order to gain money and power). I could totally imagine scenarios where he uses her to seduce rivals and then blackmail them, stuff like that, and eventually her playing some kind of official role at Ewing Oil, teaming up with him against Bobby. They should have written her as if she hated her parents, especially Gary, thinking that he was weak, and therefor wanting to be more like her ruthless uncle J.R. There was lots of potential there.

      But Dallas was primarily a “man’s show,” overall I don’t think they had the best handle on female characters, especially not making any strong enough to rival the men.

  3. sunnycd says:

    Too long: Leslie Stewart (take your cassettes and hit the road), Serena, the residents of Haleyville, Charlie Wade.

    Too short: Kit Mainwaring, Tommy McKay, Jerry Kenderson, Veronica Martinez, Frank Ashkani, Jeanne O’Brien, Lee Ann de la Vega, Jack Ewing, Wes Parmalee, the blonde woman with the tomato juice.

  4. Dan in WI says:

    Overstayed: Lucy. There was no real reason to ever bring her back in the first place. It’s no secret I’m no fan of hers but she certainly added nothing in that second stint.
    Jenna: They really didn’t know what to do with her when she and Bobby were through.
    Clayton/Miss Ellie: It pains me to put these two on this list but those last two storylines were painful.

    Left to Soon: Sue Ellen. She was a mainstay. While her last storyline was weak I’d like to think that is a character that could have been refreshed without too much trouble. Competant writers should have been able to handle it.
    Harry McSween: While there was nothing wrong with Ratagan, he just wasn’t Harry McSween. Yes I realize this was health related and there was nothing they could do about it. What can I say? I put him here really as a nod to the rich list of supporting recurring characters this show had over the years.
    Sherriff Washburn: Here’s an example of a recurring character that just seemed to disappear. Yes I realize sherriffs don’t serve forever (always) but still…
    Dusty Farlow: Actually he probably left at just the right times. But he should have returned one more time. I would have loved to see what would have happened between the strong businesswoman Sue Ellen and Dusty. It’s a shame those two characters never met.
    Afton: She was the love of Cliff’s life and I wish they would have found a way to make it work.

    Left at Just the Right Time: This list is much longer the overstayed list and that is a good thing. It is sad to see something or someone hang on too long. I’d always prefer to be left wanting more than to get sick of something.
    Ray: He’s one of the two characters I most closely identify with so naturally I’m going to miss him. That said they may well have run out of things to do with him too. See Jenna. Then again Southfork in general seemed to be a much less prominent character in the last seasons and that doesn’t seem right. Surely if Southfork remained a main character then something could have been done with Ray as well.
    Holly Harwood: I’d like to think a revenge on JR storyline could have been done and done right the following season. That said her name was invoked more than once after she moved on and it is possible she’s the third most influential character post-departure (after Jock and Pam) of the show. She is held up as the poster child for Bobby’s anti-JR’s sloppy seconds policy for years.
    Donna: Loved the character and missed her terribly. But I’m not sure what stories were left to tell.
    Mandy Winger: My favorite JR flame but (stop me if I said this before) the probably ran out of stories here and let her go at the right time.

  5. Definitely Digger played by David Wayne 🙂 The reunion episode where he crashes into the wall is hilarious! Then Pam is sold for 100 dollars – so funny! You feel for her. I agree with Jerry Kenderson, I liked him as well.

  6. Apparently, Charlene Tilton’s mentor was Larry so I think they had great chemistry and lines with one another. I just felt she was a bit of a waste of a character and producers ran out of storylines for her which makes me think she stayed too long. Maybe she would have been happier over in KL. She was fun in the mini series though.

  7. Why Jenna and Charlie stayed at SF after Bobby died, I dont know. They had no family as such in the ranch! So yes I agree that Jenna stayed too long from that pov.

  8. Jeremy Wendel was 1 evil mother fu**er! I loved that character. Check out how manipulative he is as a disgraced Starfleet Captain who becomes 2nd in command of a planetoid based on the Roman Empire & world domination in the original “Star TRek” against Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Starship Enterprise. Its a mindblowing performance!

  9. Brandon Childers says:

    I picked two sisters. April left to soon and Michelle stayed to long.

  10. Jenna should have left in 1986 when Pam and Bobby reunited.
    Donna and Ray should both have stayed until the end.
    Sue Ellen also should have stayed on the show.
    Kristin could have had another couple of years on the show.
    As much as I loved Lucy, her return achieved nothing

  11. Lucy should have been written out at the end of the 5 episode pilot series or preferably recast with a better actress.
    April should never have joined the cast in the first place.
    Jenna and Wendell were great characters for a few years but they both overstayed as Jenna had nothing to do after giving birth to Lucas ( and the departure of her great rival for Bobby’s love, Pam ) and Wendell was written out in a very unconvincing way in S11 to make way for a far less effective villain , Carter Mckay. (who himself should only have been good for about one season).

    On the other hand Kristen was written out too early – I suppose they needed her to help boost the fledgling Knots Landing?
    Holly Harwood and Mandy Winger I felt still had some more potential in their characters.
    Wes Parmalee should have stayed for a bit longer to truly get his comeuppance.

    • Viewers wrote the network asking for Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) to return to Dallas. It was the writers who wasted the opportunity, and most will agree that Dallas went downhill in the later years.

      Personally, I think Lucy should be a semi-regular on Dallas TNT instead of the gratuitous, micro-scene cameos. Donna and Katherine would also be great returning original character additions for the new show.

      Jenna and Charlie were boring. Tracey McKay was a non-event. Ridiculous to bring her back in a recast.

      Cynthia Cidre wins hands down for the one who stayed too long. Ms. Cidre can take the Ramos familia and vamos. Buh-bye!

      • I think I agree with everything you said. While the Ramoses are packing their belongings, they can leave with the Ryland clan. I hate them, especially Judith Ryland. That character is a caricature and an embarrassment to the Dallas canon. I cringe every time she appears on screen. She’s awful. And trying to sell Emma to the viewers as a vixen / diva is laughable.

        Dallas needs a worthy villain. Bring back Katherine Wentworth. She has an axe to grind with both Bobby and Cliff. Written well, that could be something worth watching.

      • Thanks, William. I agree: The new “Dallas” should’ve brought Katherine back long ago.

  12. I liked Lucy in the miniseries better. She was a female JR and I liked that. The writers ruined it by writing her differently.

  13. Two characters left to soon: Gary and Valene. Ok, they had their own show, but I would have liked them in Dallas as important parts. The rivalry between Valene and Sue Ellen se en on the new show is just perfect, it could have been a way to storyline the character…
    And I agree with most comments here, but the Ramoses are not this bad. Ok, Elena is boring, but on the 1st season she was not this way, Drew is boring, but he matched so well with Emma…, and Carmen could be great if she had a better storyline. And the Rylands are just wonderful ! I don’t like Emma because John Ross and Pamela are a perfect couple, but she could be great trying to plot with Drew (yes, they matched I said !), Harris is an interesting character too, and finally JUDITH is one of the great cast additions for the new show. Light should be add to the opening credits. And her character is so… despicable ! It’s good to have a character you love to hate, because you love her !

    • I prefer John Ross and Pamela as well. I stopped having any use for Elena after she sent her mother to give John Ross his engagement ring. Also her self rightousness got tiresome.

      • That’s it ! Her character became interesting in season 3’s beginning when she wanted revenge with Nicolas…

    • Elena was a great character in the first season. She was wasted in the 2nd season, but I think that’s because they had to write around her schedule of filming the Fast and Furious movie, so they couldn’t use her as much. They definitely had potential in the idea of having her become a villain in season 3 but, so far, they’ve blown that. It’s like they don’t want to really commit to making her evil, so they’re half-assing it, which is stupid (all the sudden she doesn’t want to show Pamela the tape of John Ross cheating because she feels too bad for her?!?). I would still try to find some way to use her, like it or not she’s the most well-known actress of the younger cast, thanks to the FF movies, so having her on the show can only help, as long as they use her right.

  14. Stayed too long – Mark Graison,. Jenna Wade ,Jeremy Wendell and April Stevens
    Left too soon – Digger Barnes, Donna Krebbs, Mickey Trotter, Pam Ewing and Dusty Farlow

  15. Maryann says:

    No did not like him though the actor who played him was great. He was bad guy that was one dimensional and JR and Cliff as enemies was enough, Wendell run was good but it was too long. JR was the bad one of Dallas and one bad apple is enough.

  16. There were a few characters and/or actors I would like to have seen more of on “Dallas”. The following is an incomplete list –

    Jock Ewing (Jim Davis) – Loved the way he stepped in and broke up fights between JR and Bobby. I also liked the interaction between him and Ray, particularly after it was determined Ray was his biological son. It was sad and unfortunate when Jim Davis passed on so early in the series.

    Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal) – Once Pam left the show, it was clear the end was near. The character of Pam, as well as actress Victoria Principal, brought ‘something’ to the show that is difficult to identify, but easy to spot.

    Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) – I never understood having Ray and Jenna getting married to one another. It was unfortunate to see Ray go, as he was last ‘real’ man on the show.

    Mandy Winger (Deborah Shelton) – It would have been fascinating to see how Mandy would have functioned as Mrs. JR Ewing and what kind of reception she would have received from various family members at Southfork.

    Mark Grayson (John Beck) – Call me terrible, but I thought Mark and Pam would have made a great couple – even with Bobby alive and kicking! Mark had a maturity that Bobby seemed to lack.

    Matt Cantrell (Marc Singer) – Only made an appearance in the 1985-86 “Dream Season” – and what a ‘dream’ he was! Pam should have been the happiest Ewing of them all with all of these hunky men chasing after her!

    Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers) – It would have been great to see her paired up with someone other than Cliff Barnes – she deserved much better than that loser.

    Tommy McKay (J. Eddie Peck) – Tommy had an edge, an energy and youth that would have added something to the show in its later years if the writers had given him better storylines. Perhaps him and Lucy could have gotten together.

    And here are a few characters and/or actors I could have seen a lot less of, or could have tolerated under different circumstances –

    Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) – Cliff forever blamed the Ewing family for his misfortunes, but I felt his wounds were largely self-inflicted. He complains and whines far too much. I own the entire original series on DVD, and it is no accident I skip a great number of scenes which involve him.

    Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley) – I don’t feel Priscilla Presley was the right choice for the role of Jenna. Initially, the character was portrayed by Morgan Fairchild, who did a great job of portraying the spoiled heiress-gone-broke. Imagine a scenario with Bobby torn between Pam – portrayed by Victoria Principal – and Jenna – portrayed by Morgan Fairchild. Imagine the fireworks! Imagine the ratings!!

    Cally Harper Ewing (Cathy Podewell) – Loved Cally Harper, couldn’t stomach the idea of her falling into bed with a man more than double her age – JR Ewing. Really?!? This was a plotline – rather than a character – I could have done without.

    Michelle Stevens (Kimberley Foster) – JR referred to her as “a money-hungry little tramp” – and he hit the nail right on the head. She should have been put on the bus right then and there!

    And there you have it! Let me know if you this was right on or way off!


    • Hi Greg,

      I agree with a lot of what you wrote. I, too, often wondered what life would have been like for Mandy if she had married J.R. I also like the thought of pairing Tommy and Lucy. Intriguing!

      Thanks for your comments.


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