The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 13 Most Harrowing Kidnappings

Ann Ewing, Boxed In, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

Your turn, Annie

The Ewings discover Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) have been kidnapped in “Boxed In,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode. Fortunately, our favorite TV family has plenty of experience dealing with this kind of thing. Here’s a look at the 13 most harrowing kidnappings from the original series.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Lucy Ewing, Willie Gust

Far out!

13. Lucy (1978). When the Ewings refused to let Valene come to Lucy’s birthday party, Lucy ran away from Southfork and hitched a ride with Willie Gust (Greg Evigan) — and who can blame her? Willie had the tightest jeans, the most feathery hair and the grooviest custom van in Texas, right down to the wall-to-wall fake-fur carpeting. Too bad Willie was also a lunatic who ended up taking Lucy (Charlene Tilton) on a cross-Texas crime spree. Bobby rescued her, of course, but we never found out what happened to Willie. Was he really as psychotic as he seemed? Or were those jeans merely cutting off the circulation to his brain?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing

J.R. Duncan

12. John Ross (1979). Hey, remember when Sue Ellen nipped a little too much from her “special bottle” of Scope, escaped from the sanitarium, wrecked her car and gave birth to John Ross? And remember how Priscilla Duncan (Sheila Larken) quietly snatched the baby from the hospital? And then remember how happy we all were when Pam figured out what happened and reunited J.R. and Sue Ellen with their son? Well, hindsight being what it is, am I the only one who now thinks John Ross might have been better off with Ms. Duncan? Sure, she was nuts, but think of all the daddy issues the kid would’ve avoided.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Who shut up J.R.?

11. J.R. Ex-mobster Joseph Lombardi wanted answers when his son Nick Pearce plunged to his death after tussling with J.R. (Larry Hagman) on a high-rise balcony, so Lombardi sent his goons after our hero. They bound and gagged J.R. and brought him to a cheap motel, where Lombardi grilled him about the night Nick died. J.R. insisted it was all an accident — and fortunately Sue Ellen confirmed his account, prompting Lombardi to release him. It was cool to see Hagman act opposite the great Joseph Campanella, and we have to give Lombardi props for stand up to ol’ J.R. But would I want to see him kidnapped again? Fahgettaboudit.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Cuff him if you can

10. Bobby. “Dallas” has given us a lot of credibility-stretching storylines over the years (cough, cough Haleyville), but you know what I’ll never believe? I’ll never believe that Bobby James Ewing (Patrick Duffy) — that strapping, hunk of Grade A Texas beefcake — could be outmuscled by the clowns who kidnapped him during the middle of the show’s second season. For goodness sakes, Bobby is the kind of guy who can take on a barroom full of drunk cowboys and walk away without a scratch. The only thing more ridiculous than seeing him abducted is seeing the Ewings turn to Cliff Barnes to rescue him!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Darlin’ detained

9. Sue Ellen. Oh, for the love of Pete. Sue Ellen, what have you gone and done now? Did you really allow that creep B.D. Calhoun to slip you a mickey so he could photograph himself with you and send the pictures to J.R.? Didn’t you learn not to trust strange men during Pam’s dream the previous season? Actually, even though Sue Ellen should have known better, this subplot marked the beginning of a turning point in her marriage: Once J.R. vanquished Calhoun, he felt so bad about what happened to his family, he finally kicked that Winger tramp to the curb. Hmmm. On second thought, maybe Sue Ellen knew what she was doing all along.

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Welcome to the jungle

8. Pam. When an old back injury flared up during “Dallas’s” ninth season, Victoria Principal took a break from the show, leaving the writers scrambling to explain her absence. Their solution? Have Pam kidnapped by jungle mercenaries, of course! The subplot proves surprisingly effective, especially when we see Cliff’s determination to rescue his sister. (Their reunion after the bad guys release her is one of many great scenes between Principal and Ken Kercheval.) Looking back, I can’t help but wonder: Why couldn’t “Dallas” come up with a good storyline to explain Principal’s absence when she left the show for good two years later?

Dallas, Daniel Pilon, Jenna Wade, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley

Take her. Please.

7. Jenna. When Jenna (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley) fled Dallas on the day she was supposed to marry Bobby, she left behind a note that explained she had fallen in love with someone else and was running away. Except that wasn’t true: Jenna’s ex Renaldo Marchetta (Daniel Pilon) had kidnapped her and forced her to pen the letter to throw the Ewings off their trail. When this storyline aired during the winter and spring of 1985, I spent weeks on the edge of my seat, anxious to see how it would turn out. Little did I know things would end on such a tragic note, when Dreadful Jenna™ returned to Southfork. Oh, the humanity!

B.D. Calhoun, Dallas, Hunter von Leer, John Ross Ewing, Omri Katz

Captive audience

6. John Ross (1986). Here we go again. After B.D. Calhoun (Hunter von Leer) kidnapped and released Sue Ellen, he set his sights on John Ross (Omri Katz), J.R. and Sue Ellen’s son. Calhoun snatched the kid from a hotel pool in Los Angeles, where J.R. and Bobby sent their wives and boys to protect them from the threat Calhoun posed. The crazed mercenary forced little John Ross to make a hostage tape, which turned Sue Ellen into a blubbering mess when she watched it. Fear not, honey: The Ewing brothers eventually rescued John Ross, who would grow up to star alongside Emma Ryland in a much different kind of video.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Gagged, reeling

5. Lucy (1982). Well, what do you know? Lucy’s been kidnapped yet again. This time, the culprit is Roger Larson, the photographer who helped turn her into Texas’s tiniest top model. Unlike most of the other kidnappings on this list, Roger didn’t abduct Lucy for ransom or revenge — he was obsessed with her. He kept the Ewing heiress locked in a room plastered with the pictures he took of her. (Do stalkers do this in real life, or only on TV?) Bobby and Pam eventually rescued Lucy, but not before Pam told off Roger in one of Principal’s best scenes. Gee, like Sue Ellen, maybe Lucy should’ve gotten kidnapped more often too.

Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing, Valene Ewing

Feet first

4. Lucy (Early 1960s). Lucy’s first kidnapping is an integral part of “Dallas” lore. It’s mentioned in the first episode, when Lucy recalls how J.R.’s “old boys” snatched her from Valene’s arms when she was a baby and brought her to Southfork to be raised by Jock and Miss Ellie. We finally saw the kidnapping in a “Knots Landing” flashback, where we learned the ugly mess probably could’ve been prevented: No, I’m not referring to the fact that Lillimae refused to let Val (Joan Van Ark) into her shack when J.R.’s henchmen were chasing her. I’m talking about the fact Val was barefoot when she was trying to outrun them. Good grief, Val. Buy some shoes.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tyler Banks

Carry on

3. John Ross (1981). When Sue Ellen and John Ross went to live at the Southern Cross, J.R. was determined to get his boy back. He saw an opportunity when Sue Ellen took the child with her to Kristin’s funeral in New Mexico. Mother and son were gliding through a Love Field terminal when two of J.R.’s thugs approached. While one man distracted Sue Ellen, the other snatched the child. Suddenly, Dusty Farlow and a trio of Southern Cross cowboys swarmed the dude holding John Ross. “Give us the boy,” Dusty demanded — and of course the guy did. This might have been “Dallas’s” briefest abduction, but wasn’t it exciting!

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Trunk show

2. Miss Ellie. Look everybody, Donna’s here! What’s wrong, Donna? You seem upset. What’s that, you say? Jessica called Dusty and told him Clayton’s wedding to Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) is off? And then Jessica knocked you out with the phone? And then she stole your car? And then she took Mama?! Geez, Donna, couldn’t you have given us that last bit of information first? No matter. Between Susan Howard’s pained delivery and Richard Lewis Warren’s tension-building score, the scene where the Ewings discover Mama has been abducted by loony tune Jessica is positively thrilling — even if Donna did bury the lede.

April Ewing, Dallas, Sheree J. Wilson

Grand theft auto

1. April. Every abduction on this list ends happily for the victim — except this one. The original “Dallas” kicked off its final season with the kidnapping of April (Sheree J. Wilson) during her Parisian honeymoon with Bobby. The storyline was a little complicated — the culprit was Hillary Taylor (Susan Lucci), a mystery woman who took April so she could assume her identity and make a big speech at an OPEC conference — and yet it was also a dramatic thrill ride. Fans expected Bobby to get his bride back by the time all was said and done — and so imagine our surprise when she was gunned down at the conference. It was a hell of a way to start the original show’s last season, telegraphing to the audience that this would be the year anything could happen on “Dallas” — and damn near did.

Which kidnapping did you find most harrowing on “Dallas”? Share your thoughts below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Household Safety

Bobby Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy, TNT, Where There's Smoke

Here they go again

No one should be surprised to see Southfork go up in flames in “Where There’s Smoke,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode. The Ewings aren’t exactly the poster family for exercising care and caution around the house, are they? Here’s a look at the everyday, common sense practices they routinely ignore.

B.D. Calhoun, Dallas, Hunter von Leer, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Don’t hit the snooze button

Lock your doors. It sounds so simple, and yet the Ewings never seem to grasp the importance of this one. When B.D. Calhoun (Hunter von Leer) tried to kill J.R., did he swarm Southfork with his band of gun-toting mercenaries-for-hire? Nope. Calhoun simply walked into the house in the middle of the night, climbed the stairs, slipped into J.R.’s room and left a ticking time bomb on the nightstand. Several years later, when Vicente Cano decided to hold the Ewings hostage in their living room, he too waltzed in through the front door. Sheesh! Look, Southfork doesn’t have that many entrances. Is it that hard to remember to lock them?

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Looks right at home

Avoid fires. We can all agree open flames inside a home are almost never a good idea, right? So could someone please explain why J.R. (Larry Hagman) had all those candles burning at Southfork on the night Ray showed up to confront him over Mickey Trotter’s accident? I mean, it’s not like J.R. was trying to set a romantic mood for Sue Ellen, who was passed out drunk upstairs. Anyhow, J.R. and Ray got into a huge fistfight, the candles went crashing to the floor and before you knew it, the house was ablaze. Everyone escaped unharmed, although poor John Ross was so traumatized, he emerged from the tragedy looking like a different kid.

Alexis Smith, Dallas, Jessica Montfort, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Nuts for breakfast

Know your houseguests. Is there a polite way to ask potential guests if they have a history of mental health issues? If so, please pass this tip along to the Ewings, who are constantly offering room and board to people who belong in an insane asylum, not the spare bedroom at Southfork. Over the years, the Ewings’ overnight guests have included Jessica Montfort (Alexis Smith), who ended up kidnapping Miss Ellie and stuffing her in the trunk of her car; sex-crazed drug dealer Tommy McKay, who practically tried to rape April Stevens in John Ross’s bed; and that dreadful Cousin Jamie, who wasn’t crazy but drove everyone else bonkers.

Dallas, Donna Culver Krebbs, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

Oh, Donna

Don’t provoke the animals. Oh, look. Here’s dear, pregnant Pam, who gets in accidents the way other people catch colds. Pam can’t find her husband Bobby, so she’s decided to ride her horse out to the barn to look for him. Pam, given your condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: Pam fell off the horse. Oh, no. What’s happening now? Is our buddy Ray (Steve Kanaly) trying to introduce his pregnant wife Donna (Susan Howard) to one of the Southfork bulls? Ray, given your wife’s condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: The bull got spooked and tried to charge Donna, who’s been knocked out cold. Sigh.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly


Be a good neighbor. When you have a dispute with a neighbor, do you try to resolve it by talking things out? If so, you’re nothing like the Ewings, whose preferred approach to conflict resolution is to start blowing stuff up. Just ask Carter McKay. After he bought the ranch next to Southfork and got into a spat with the Ewings over water rights, they responded by stuffing McKay’s dam full of dynamite and blasting it to smithereens. This led to a war between the McKays and the Ewings — no, seriously, both families hired their own armies — which is surely a violation of the Braddock homeowners’ association bylaws.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Sue Ellen Ewing, Steve Kanaly

Not now, Lucy

Beware of heights. Elevated spaces can be dangerous. We all know this, right? So why can’t the Ewings and their friends steer clear of them? Klutzy Pam fell from the hayloft — and suffered a miscarriage, no less. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Clayton each tumbled down the stairs — although not at the same time, thank goodness. And when a couple of renegade oil barons began chasing secretary Julie Grey, she went to the roof of her building because … well, why not? Then there’s poor Kristin, who figured the Southfork balcony was the perfect place to try to blackmail the man she once pumped full of lead. We all know how well that turned out.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Joshua Harris

Killer fashions

Protect the kids. Do you see the tragedy that’s about to unfold in this picture? I’m not referring to the fact that little Christopher (Joshua Harris) is pulling Bobby’s gun out of the bedroom closet so he can play with it. Ewings love guns; that’s just a fact of life and nothing will ever change it. No, I’m talking about that L.A. Gear shoebox. Does this mean Pam wore L.A. Gears, the gaudiest sneakers known to man? You don’t suppose they were neon pink high-tops, do you? Look, I don’t care if it was the ’80s; how could Pam subject her family to those ugly shoes? For goodness sake, Pam, think of the children!

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy

Way to make a splash

Don’t go near the water. You know what swimming pools are for? Swimming. They’re not the place to settle scores with Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) and they’re not the place to work out Ewing Oil business disputes. Of course, just try telling this to the Ewings, who are constantly shoving their enemies — and each other — into the Southfork pool. Everyone gets dunked — fully clothed and against their will — at one point or another. Or at least that’s what used to happen on “Dallas.” This might be the one area of household safety where the Ewings have learned their lesson, which is kind of a shame. I mean, where’s the fun in that?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

What have they done now?

Get some insurance. Maybe the reason the Ewings aren’t more careful around the house is because they’ve got the best insurance policy ever: Bobby (Patrick Duffy). No matter what mishaps befall these people, they know good ol’ Bob will save the day. Southfork catches fire? Bobby will come along in the nick of time to make sure everyone gets out alive. Range war with McKay? Bobby will go Chuck Norris on his ass and single-handedly disarm his militia. That termite Cliff starts a pool fight? Well, Bobby won’t break up the scuffle, but he’ll make damn sure Barnes gets the beating he deserves. Bobby, this is why we love you. Never leave us, OK?

What have the Ewings taught you about household safety? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”