#DallasChat Daily: What Was J.R.’s Worst Act?

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Kristin Shepard, Larry Hagman, Mary Crosby, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

We all loved J.R. Ewing, even though he wasn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy. During the course of the original “Dallas,” he lied, cheated and stabbed the backs of friend and foe alike. But what was his worst act of all?

Was it putting Sue Ellen in the sanitarium? Having an affair with Kristin? Driving Cliff to attempt suicide? Mortgaging Southfork without Jock and Miss Ellie’s knowledge? Forcing Holly and Laurel to have sex with him? Selling oil to Cuba? Trying to blow up the Middle East? Leading Pam on a wild goose chase to find the missing Mark? Bringing Lisa to Dallas to try to take Christopher away from Bobby? Taking that doomed hunting trip to Haleyville, Arkansas?

Your #DallasChat Daily question: What’s the worst thing J.R. ever did?

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


  1. I think his worst act was trying to blow up the Middle East. That lead to people being murdered, putting the whole family in danger, having the U.S. Government take away Ewing Oil, John Ross III being kidnapped, etc.

    After that, I would say his worst act was mortgaging SouthFork without Jock and Ellie’s knowledge.

  2. I think J.R.’s worst act, but J.R.’s best act too, was to plan his own murder in order to accuse Cliff Barnes. It is really ingenious, and even his death is a plot! But it is his worst act, because death penalty is legal in Texas… So what if Cliff had to be executed?

    • Dan in WI says:

      The question is actually is there a death penalty in Mexico where JR dies? In this case Texas’ death penalty is immaterial.

  3. Dan in WI says:

    This might be the toughest of the questiosn because in 13 full seasons of CBS the body of work is so huge. It is also tougher because in some cases we are comparing Granny Smith apples to Macintosh apples and in other cases we are comparing apples to cutting edge Blu Ray players.
    If one takes loss of human life as the worst thing one can do we still have things that are tough to compare. JR had a hand in the near suicide of Cliff Barnes as well as the sucessful suicides of Walt Drisoll and Seth Stone (and am I forgetting some others?). How does that compare to the innocents that surely died when BD Calhoun bombed those mid-east oil wells at JR’s request?
    So I guess I’m saying the deaths on JR’s hands are his worst sins and I’ll let you decide if one of those are worse than the others.

    • Agreed Dan that loss of human life is the worst however there’s a difference beteen suicide and murder. J.R. may have created situations where his actions caused others to commit suicide, but he didn’t murder them. Walt and Seth killed themselves. The B.D. Calhoun situation on the other hand was the direct result of J.R. hiring a mercenary with the intent to blow up oil fields and kill whoever got in the way. It’s akin to hiring a murderer. Not to mention all of the danger it put everyone else’s lives in and the damage it caused to the company. That’s why I think that particular story arc was J.R.’s worst deed ever.

  4. Framing Peter Richards, with drugs, was a crappy thing to do, too. God, how I detested Harry McSween.

  5. Cliff’s suicide attempt and/or blowing up the oil fields in the middle east.

  6. I’d say not cheating on Sue Ellen enough in order to create illegitimate heirs. Whether they were from Sue Ellen or another gal, J.R. should have had more kids so that he’d be have greater power in old age against Brother Bobby, & Cliff Barnes in old age.

    • Wouldn’t matter anyway…Cynthia Cidre would have probably just ignored them in the new Dallas like she has James, J.R.’s son with Cally, Bobby’s son Lucas, Ray’s daughter Margaret, and James son Jimmy. Not to mention Gary’s children Bobby, Betsey, and Molly…although they are in a different universe altogether.

  7. Michelle says:

    The Kristen affair
    Doing Afton in Sue Ellen’s bed
    Arranging for Sue Ellen to catch him with Kimberley, it was bad enough that he sacrificed his marriage for the business when (in Sue Ellen’s case at least) they had been happy at that time but to that to her again after what happened with Holly was really cruel.

  8. Marilyn Hadey says:


  9. I guess the B.D. Calhoun thing was the most sinister because people did die. He even tried to back out didn’t he. I think the other suicides or attempted suicides weren’t directly blamable even if he was part of the cause.

    All the forced sex scenes were kind of rough too.

    All that said most of his other dirty deeds I was cheering him on. He was just so fun to watch be evil.

  10. Garnet McGee says:

    I didn’t watch past season 7 so can’t comment on later acts. If the creators of the show made it clear that he raped Sue Ellen and Holly I would say his worst act was rape. The show left it unclear. It was awful when he hit his wife but the show glossed over that moment of physical violence. His worst act was probably committing Sue Ellen. He showed no compassion and understanding towards her when she was at her lowest point. While it was a good idea to get her away from alcohol so she would not harm her unborn child he treated her with such contempt. He was disgusted by her because she slept with his worst enemy yet he cheated on her daily. John Ross has never shown the level of contempt to a woman that JR showed towards Sue Ellen.

  11. I don’t count JR’s bad acts that indirectly incited other folks to do bad things, such as double-crossing someone and then they hurting themselves or others based on suicide or misunderstandings. I don’t even count the BD Calhoun situation as that bad. JR paid money to BD Calhoun, but JR did not kill anyone, nor did he directly instruct BD to kill people. He just instructed BD to blow up stuff, presumably without people getting hurt. To me, the worse act JR did that was him acting alone with no intervening or superceding causes or acts, was forging his own Dad’s will, creating a codicil. That is the worse. Had his character kept going down that road of direct harm and evil, the show and the character would not have been as good. They really need to blur the lines of his dastardly deeds for his character to stay interesting. JR was JR not because of his evil actions alone. He needed dumb or weak people around him to both do the actual bad deed or to give him an out so as to not be solely bad all by himself. What made JR grow and sustain after season 1 was that in every case of JR being bad, he had some small level of justification or humanity in his actions, coupled with a dumb ass assist from someone else. LOL

  12. a lot but, Mortgaging Southfork without his Jock and Miss Ellie’s knowledge, Driving Cliff to attempt suicide, Trying to blow up the Middle East, Leading Pam on a wild goose chase to find the missing Mark & Bringing Lisa to Dallas to try to take Christopher away from Bobby

  13. the last 2 which led to the best pool fights of the show imo 🙂

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