The Dal-List: Jock Ewing’s 15 Greatest Moments

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

We still miss you, Daddy

Last month, Dallas Decoder critiqued “The Search,” the episode where “Dallas” bids farewell to the great Jim Davis. Here’s a look at 15 memorable moments featuring the actor and his mighty character, Jock Ewing.

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, John Ewing III Part 2,

Naming rights

15. Naming John Ross. The Ewings are in a waiting room at Dallas Memorial Hospital, where Sue Ellen has gone into labor. A nurse enters and tells J.R. his wife has given birth to a son, prompting a beaming Jock to declare, “John Ross Ewing III!” Did it ever occur to the Ewing patriarch that J.R. and Sue Ellen might want to choose their child’s name themselves? Do you think it would’ve mattered to him if they did? (“John Ewing III, Part 2”)

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Lucy Ewing, Prodigal Mother

Grandaddy knows best

14. Advising Lucy. The Ewings didn’t always want to hear Jock’s opinion, but usually he was right. Example: When Lucy (Charlene Tilton) was brooding after a spat with Mitch, Jock told her, “He’s a nice enough boy [but] you can do a lot better.” Lucy ignored Jock’s advice – she and Mitch got hitched – but she probably should’ve heeded Granddaddy’s wisdom. After all, the marriage lasted just 12 episodes. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing,  Julie Grey, Julie's Return

Friends with no benefits

13. Leaving Julie. After Jock suffered a heart attack, the Ewings began treating him like an invalid, causing him to turn to flirty ex-secretary Julie (Tina Louise) for comfort. It looked like their relationship might become a full-fledged affair – but Jock knew his limits. “I appreciate your friendship,” he told Julie, adding that things couldn’t go further because it would “hurt Miss Ellie too much.” Smart man. (“Julie’s Return”)

Barbecue, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Family man

12. Comforting Pam. During her first few weeks as a Ewing, poor Pam (Victoria Principal) was bullied, blackmailed, offered a bribe and held hostage. By the time J.R. caused her miscarriage, Bobby and his bride were ready to get the hell off Southfork – until Jock persuaded them to stay. “I want to keep my family together,” he told Pam as he sat at her bedside. It was our first glimpse of the tough Texan’s tender side. (“Barbecue”)

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

Best. Screencap. Ever.

11. “Buying” Pam. Jock was chilling on the Southfork patio when drunk Digger roared into the driveway, demanding $10,000 for Pam. “Ten thousand! There’s a hundred,” Jock huffed as he tossed a C-note at his ex-partner, who eagerly scooped it up and pronounced his daughter “sold.” If Pam felt insulted, she shouldn’t have. When a Ewing is willing to negotiate your purchase price, you know they truly care. (“Reunion, Part 2”)

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1

You were thinking it too, Mama

10. Scolding Sue Ellen. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has just arrived at Dallas Memorial, where the Ewings are keeping vigil after J.R.’s shooting. Surely Jock will comfort his frantic daughter-in-law, right? Um, no. He accuses Sue Ellen of “gallivanting” while her husband is dying, prompting Kristin to defend Big Sis. “Sue Ellen was sick,” she says. Snaps Jock: “Sick? You mean drunk!” Harsh, but not untrue. (“No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1”)

Dallas, Dove Hunt, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Stare master

9. Confronting Owens. On a hunting trip, the Ewing men were ambushed by Tom Owens (Richard J. Wilkie), a farmer who claimed Jock ruined him decades earlier. Owens cocked his gun and aimed it at his wounded enemy, who didn’t blink. “If you’re gonna do it, do it!” Jock shouted, moments before the defeated Owens lowered the weapon and declared, “I’m not a killer.” You’re also no match for Jock Ewing, mister. (“The Dove Hunt”)

Dallas, David Wayne, Digger Barnes, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Frenemies forever

8. Destroying Digger. When Bobby and Pam announced her pregnancy at the Ewing Barbecue, Jock and Digger (David Wayne) shook hands and called a truce – which lasted all of three minutes. Digger broke the peace by criticizing Jock’s parenting skills, which prompted the Ewing patriarch to deliver a devastating takedown of his ex-partner (“He’s been a loser every day of his life.”) Yeah, it was cruel, but remember: Digger started it. (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Silent Killer

Guts and glory

7. Joshing J.R. Jock spent a lot of time chewing out J.R. (Larry Hagman), but they had nice moments too. During one cocktail hour, when J.R. joked baby John Ross was becoming a “little fatty,” Jock playfully patted his eldest son’s belly and said, “Just like his daddy.” It was a reminder: Not only was Jock the only Ewing capable of reigning in J.R. – he was also the only one who could get away with razzing him. (“The Silent Killer”)

Daddy Dearest, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Ghost writer

6. Inspiring J.R. Virtually every “Dallas” episode after Jim Davis’s death seems to depict one Ewing or another taking inspiration from Jock’s memory. In one instance, J.R. stands in front of his daddy’s portrait and reads one of his old letters, which offers classic bits of wisdom like, “Never let the bastards get you down.” This is what makes Jock so cool: He doesn’t need to be alive to keep his family in line. (“Daddy Dearest”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Survival

Call waiting

5. Dispatching Ray. Another glimpse of Jock’s softer side: When the Ewing plane went down in Louisiana swampland with J.R. and Bobby aboard, the Ewing patriarch sent ranch foreman Ray (Steve Kanaly) to find his sons. The family kept vigil at Southfork until Ray finally called with good news: J.R. and Bobby were alive. “Bring them home,” Jock said. Davis’s eyes were wet when he delivered the line. So were ours. (“Survival”)

Dallas, Fourth Son, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Daddy issues

4. Accepting Ray. In another beautiful performance from Davis, Jock tells Ray he just found out he’s his daddy. The humble cowboy offers to keep this a secret to spare Jock grief from his family, but instead Jock summons everyone to the living room and proudly announces Ray is his son. This was a hard truth for some to accept (cough, cough J.R.), but it demonstrates how Jock never took the easy way out. (“The Fourth Son”)

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Jock Ewing, Jim Davis, Return Engagements, Ted Shackelford

Hug it out, fellas

3. Celebrating Gary and Val. When Jock learned Gary and Val (Ted Shackelford, Joan Van Ark) were getting remarried, he declined to attend; there was too much bad blood between father and son. But moments before the ceremony began, in walked Jock. “I believe I have a son getting married here today,” he said. “I’d like to attend … if I’m welcome.” Awww. You’re always welcome, big guy. (“Return Engagements”)

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

Power tip

2. Teaching Bobby. When Bobby (Patrick Duffy) felt Jock was undermining his authority at Ewing Oil, he loudly reminded his daddy that Jock “gave” him the power to run the company. In one of the all-time great “Dallas” scenes, Jock set his “boy” straight: “Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!” With those 10 words, Jock established the creed that would define the Ewings for generations to come. (“Executive Wife”)

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

Jock the rock

1. Loving Ellie. Few things move me more than the way Jock stood by Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) when she had her mastectomy. While Ellie struggled to deal with the loss of her breast, Jock never left her side, offering her the support and comfort she needed. Jock may have been a rich oil baron and a stern father, but above all, he was a devoted husband and Ellie’s best friend. The way he loved her made us love him. Ellie never stopped missing him. Neither have we. (“Mastectomy, Part 2”)

What do you consider Jock Ewing’s greatest moments? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Dallas Styles: Jock’s Bathrobe

‘Ellie Saves the Day’

Is it a coincidence Jim Davis wears a bathrobe during some of Jock’s most vulnerable moments on “Dallas?”

In “Survival,” Jock is clad in a beige terrycloth robe when he overhears Miss Ellie’s confrontation with a Dallas Press reporter and learns the plane carrying J.R. and Bobby has crashed. The usually rock-like Jock crumbles upon hearing the news. “Damn it, Ellie,” he says with wet eyes. “Both of them. Why?”

In “Ellie Saves the Day,” Jock is wearing a different robe – this one appears to be dark blue with white dots – when he learns J.R.’s risky Asian oil deal has brought the Ewing empire to the brink of collapse. It’s a moment of reckoning for Jock. At one point, he buries his face in his giant hand and tells Bobby, “I trained J.R. and taught him everything he knows. Gave him the fever for big business. But I never taught him when to stop.”

The bathrobes are crucial props in both scenes. Davis cuts such an imposing figure, it’s hard to forget he was almost 70 when “Dallas” began. The robes help the actor humanize his character, reminding us Jock is in his twilight, even if he doesn’t look or act like it.

Appropriately, the bathrobe also helps Ellie – and “Dallas” viewers – come to terms with Jock’s loss. In the fifth-season episode “Acceptance,” Ellie finally stops denying Jock’s death and walks into his closet, where she tenderly touches his clothes. Hanging among them: that blue-and-white-dotted robe, reminding us once again that Jock really was mortal.

Dallas Styles: Miss Ellie’s Pearls

Don’t mess with Mama

The second-season episode “Survival” features one of my all-time favorite “Dallas” moments: the scene where Miss Ellie points a shotgun at a snoopy newspaper reporter and orders him off Southfork.

The confrontation demonstrates how the Ewings, a thoroughly modern family, cling to old values like defending their land. The shotgun, a symbol of the American frontier, is a crucial prop in the scene – but so are the pearls around Ellie’s neck.

Until characters like Peg Bundy and Roseanne Connor smashed the stereotype in the 1980s, pearls were one of television’s most enduring symbols of motherhood. Donna Reed and Barbara Billingsley wore them while doing housework and mediating domestic disputes in 1950s sitcoms, and Barbara Bel Geddes continued the tradition when “Dallas” began in 1978.

Miss Ellie wears pearls a lot during the show’s second season, when “Dallas” is establishing her character as the show’s wise matriarch. The white beads help reinforce the pearls of wisdom Ellie is forever dispensing to her family.

But the necklace is never more important than it is in “Survival,” when Ellie answers the front door at Southfork to find a reporter seeking comment about the crash of the Ewings’ plane with J.R. and Bobby aboard. Ellie doesn’t take kindly to this intrusion, ordering Ray to fetch the shotgun from the hall closet.

Without the necklace, Ellie is just a little woman holding a gun. Add the pearls and she becomes wife, mother and fierce protector of her family.

Ellie doesn’t wear her pearls as often in “Dallas’s” later years (although Reed sports them when she plays Ellie during the show’s eighth season) and we never see the character wield a shotgun after this episode.

That’s OK, because at that point, we know not to mess with Miss Ellie.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Ray, Get Me the Shotgun. …’

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

Beat the press

In “Survival,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie and Ray (Barbara Bel Geddes, Steve Kanaly) are chatting in the Southfork foyer when someone knocks on the door. Ellie opens it and finds Dallas Press reporter Ken Jackson (Andy Jarrell) on the stoop.

JACKSON: Mrs. Ewing?

ELLIE: Who are you?

JACKSON: Ken Jackson. I’m with the Press. I called earlier.

RAY: You’re trespassing, mister.

ELLIE: I’ll take care of this, Ray. How did you get in here? [Walks toward Jackson, who backs up onto the front porch] How did you get onto the ranch, Mr. Jackson?

JACKSON: Well I did an article on the place a couple years back, and I remembered an arroyo that led into the feedlot.

ELLIE: We’ll have to take care of that. [Continues walking toward him] Now, exactly what do you want with me, Mr. Jackson?

JACKSON: Well, uh, you know, maybe a statement. You know, just a few words.

ELLIE: You hear a rumor that a plane is down, my two boys missing. And with no respect for human feeling, or private grief, you come circling around here like a vulture. Do you know what we do to vultures out here, Mr. Jackson? [Continues staring at him] Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet.

RAY: Yes, ma’am. [Puts on his hat and enters the house]

JACKSON: Now, Mrs. Ewing, I’m just – I’m just doing my job.

ELLIE: Then find a better job! Or a better way of doing this one. [Ray steps onto the porch, cocks the shotgun and hands it to Ellie.] Now Mr. Jackson, anybody on my land, without invitation, is a trespasser. So unless I see your tail heading out of here right now – and fast – I’m going to blow it off. [Points the gun at him]

JACKSON: Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. [Turns and runs]

ELLIE: Now get out! Get out!

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 14 – ‘Survival’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Survival

Crash of the titans

Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy appear three times in “Survival:” twice in the first act, when J.R. and Bobby board the Ewings’ private plane and when the aircraft begins its descent into Louisiana swampland, and again in the final scene, when the brothers return to Southfork, battered and bruised.

It’s a testament to the strength of “Dallas’s” ensemble that the show’s biggest stars aren’t missed that much. “Survival” seems designed to showcase “Dallas’s” other cast members, and they make the most of it – particularly Barbara Bel Geddes and Jim Davis, who do some of their finest work in this episode.

In one of my all-time favorite “Dallas” scenes, a tense Miss Ellie is talking with Ray in the Southfork foyer when someone knocks on the door. She opens it to find a snoopy newspaper reporter seeking a quote about the crash.

“Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet,” Ellie says. Holding the gun, she tells the reporter, “Anybody on my land, without invitation, is a trespasser. So unless I see your tail heading out of here right now – and fast – I’m going to blow it off.”

I love the sight of Ellie, wearing pearls, wielding a shotgun and forcing a stranger off her property. The words and images are quintessential “Dallas:” modern people defending old values like land and family.

(TNT’s “Dallas” revival appears to pay homage to this scene in promos for its first episode, when elegant Brenda Strong, playing Southfork’s new lady of the manor, is shown cocking a shotgun.)

In another great “Survival” scene, Jock stands on the darkened Southfork patio and orders Ray to join the search party for J.R. and Bobby. “No matter how it turns out, dead or alive, bring my boys home,” Jock says.

Davis delivers the line with characteristic solemnity, but he pauses briefly before and after the “dead or alive” part, as if Jock has to muster the courage to utter the words. It’s a nice, gravity-adding touch.

Davis also does a nice job at the end of the episode, when Jock receives Ray’s call and learns J.R. and Bobby are alive. With quivering lips and wet eyes, he tells the ranch foreman to “bring them home.”

If you’re able to watch Davis here and not get choked up yourself, you’re a tougher “Dallas” fan than me.

Grade: A


Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Survival

Call waiting


Season 2, Episode 9

Airdate: November 12, 1978

Audience: 15.6 million homes, ranking 18th in the weekly ratings

Writers: D.C. Fontana and Richard Fontana

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: The Ewings’ plane crashes with J.R. and Bobby aboard. The family spends a tense night at Southfork awaiting word of their fate. Ray brings the brothers home, bruised but otherwise OK.

Cast: Barbra Babcock (Liz Craig), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Andy Jarrell (Ken Jackson), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), John Zaremba (Dr. Harlan Danvers)

“Survival” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.