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Original Main Cast
John Ross "J.R." Ewing Jr.
Played By: Larry HagmanCharming, friendly, and completely amoral. The eldest son of Jock and Ellie, J.R. inherited all of his father's ambition, business acumen, and ruthlessness but none of his honor and compassion. Originally just the antagonist to his brother Bobby, J.R. became the breakout character and eventual Villain Protagonist (one of the first ever on TV). He has strange ways of showing it, but he does genuinely love his family, and always thinks his actions are in every Ewing's best interest.
"You wouldn't be trying to blackmail ol' J.R., would you?"
- Affably Evil: He'll completely destroy your life and that of everyone you love, but he'll do it with a smile, a friendly joke, and while handing you a drink.
- Amicable Exes: It takes decades, but by the revival season he is this with Sue Ellen. It's very apparent that while they both moved on they still love each other very much.
- Anti-Hero: Occasionally, in his nicer moments. Still, it's Type IV or V at best.
- Asshole Victim: The "Who Shot J.R.?" arc got most of its drama from the fact that pretty much everyone had motive to see him dead.
- Anyone Can Die: At the end of the seventh episode in the revival series' second season, when two shots fatally wound him (offscreen). This was due to the death of J.R.'s actor Larry Hagman, who was able to last through two episodes after Hagman's death through previously unused stock footage. The remaining plot of the second season will revolve around the question left in the cliffhanger of the original show's third season.
- Breakout Character: Originally, the show's main characters were supposed to be Bobby and Pam. But let's face it: J.R. is just plain magnificent.
- Cain and Abel: J.R.'s near-antagonistic relationship with his brother defines many of the seasons, and has them repeatedly butting heads as they vie for control of Ewing Oil after Jock's death, and Southfork after Miss Ellie decides to give up the ownership rights.
- The Casanova: An infamous womanizer. It places considerable strain on his marriage.
- The Chess Master: Has an uncanny ability to read people and situations, which he uses to his advantage in he cutthroat oil industry.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Isn't afraid to use bribery, blackmail, or other... creative means to get a leg up over his rivals.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While he may compete with Bobby a lot, he shows plenty of shades of this in the new series. When John Ross wants to exploit Bobby's arrest for the shooting of Harris Ryland so they can gain greater control of Ewing Energies, J.R. is extremely angry and tells John Ross that when a Ewing is in trouble, they help each other out.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be an amoral businessman, a cheat and a loathsome cad, but J.R. will stop at nothing to protect his family, and he has plenty of humanizing moments throughout the series that show him sympathizing with or forgiving people that work for him.
- Made of Iron: He's been shot on at least three different occasions without lasting ill effect and he has proven to be able to take a punch from strong men like Clayton Farlow or Ray Krebbs, although in the seventh episode of the revival series' second season, two bullets actually do kill J.R., due to his actor Larry Hagman's death.J.R. Ewing: Bullets don't seem to have much of an effect on me, darlin'.
- Merchant Prince: Becomes effective head of Ewing Oil after Jock dies.
- Pet the Dog:
- Every once in a blue moon, especially if his son is involved.
- Both times a member of the family died, J.R. grieved hardest.
- Really Gets Around: J.R.'s infidelity is a major part of his character and the hot-cold relationship with Sue Ellen. Among the affairs that are known, he's slept with most (if not all) of the secretaries who've worked for him, multiple businesswomen, a singer, his lawyer's daughter and more.
- Sound-Only Death: Happens in "The Furious and Fast", in the middle of calling John Ross and telling him that he's proud of him.
- Southern-Fried Genius: A Texan born and bred, and one of the sharpest and most devious schemers in the oil business.
- Thanatos Gambit: The finale of the 2nd season of the 2012 series reveals that JR knew he was Secretly Dying of cancer, so he set up one of these to frame Cliff Barnes for murder.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Arguably did this during the "dream season" but as it was a dream it didn't last.
- The Unfavorite: Jock preferred Bobby and Miss Ellie preferred Gary.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: A lot of the motivation behind J.R.'s "win at any cost" attitude and uber-competitiveness with Bobby is that he feels Jock preferred Bobby to him, which Jock flat-out admits to.
- Xanatos Gambit: Very fond of letting his enemies think they've won...and using that to catch them off guard.J.R. Ewing:Never be fooled when I'm down...because when I am, there's only one way to go.... And that's up!
Robert James "Bobby" Ewing
Played By: Patrick DuffyThe youngest son of Jock and Ellie Ewing. Whereas J.R. inherited most of Jock's less positive qualities, Bobby inherited his good ones - honor, loyalty and love of family. Bobby tries very hard to do the right thing, but he has the same streak of ambition and need to prove his dominance that J.R. does which occasionally leads him to dark places. Still, he remains a good man, and while he loves his brother (a love which is returned - J.R.'s genuine affection for Bobby is one of his few Pet the Dog moments) he is unwilling to turn a blind eye to his evil deeds like his parents, and thus he often remains the only thing standing in J.R.'s way from complete unchecked power over all things Ewing. The yin and yang of J.R. and Bobby and their alternate views of the future of the family and the company is arguably the central premise of the show.
"Be good to each other... be a family. I love you so much."
- '80s Hair: Patrick Duffy was once introduced on a game show as "The talking hair from Dallas".
- Badass Grandpa: In his 60's by the time of the revival series, he's still very capable in a fight.
- Beware the Nice Ones: If pushed too far.
- Happily Married:
- To Pam (at first).
- As the revival begins, he is happily remarried to new character Ann.
- Hidden Depths: He is a genuinely nice guy and far more moral than J.R. but several times his inner ruthless streak comes through and he's a very savvy businessman when he puts his mind to it.
- Mr. Fanservice: Got a lot of shirtless scenes.
- Retcon: The show goes back and forth on whether his given name is actually 'Bobby' or whether it is 'Robert' and 'Bobby' is simply a (universally used) nickname. The revival seems to be running with 'Robert'.
Clifford "Cliff" Barnes
Played By: Ken KerchevalThe eldest child of Digger Barnes, Jock's best friend and business partner turned bitter rival, Cliff began as a scrappy idealistic underdog determined to avenge his father and take down the Ewings. His bitter fights with J.R. almost always ended in Cliff's defeat and embarassment, which only drove him to fight the Ewings even more ruthlessly. Cliff eventually succeeded in besting J.R., taking over Ewing Oil (which Cliff always believed should rightfully be his family's anyway) and having more money than the Ewings ever did - at the cost of the only woman who loved him, their daughter, and most of his family. Though greedy and self-centered, Cliff was never really evil in the way J.R. was and a lot of his antics were more comical than anything else.
"I've been beaten before, but I have never lost. Understand the difference?"
- Arch-Enemy: To J.R and to a lesser extent the whole Ewing clan.
- Fallen Hero: He began the series as an idealistic up-and-coming crusader and champion against injustice and big bad corporations exploiting the little guy. He ended the series as a corrupt, greedy billionaire who was capable of almost anything in his quest to defeat his enemies. In the revival series, he skulks around in rich seclusion dressed in black watching people via strategically placed cameras and working on sinister behind the scenes plans. Though while definitely no hero he never exactly becomes an outright villain either, and he's generally seen as friendly and helpful to everyone who's not J.R. or on J.R.'s side. He and Bobby were good friends by the series' end.
- Not So Different: Again to J.R.—several characters (including his own sister) called him out on his own love of power.
- Not So Harmless: While Cliff did eventually beat J.R. in the original series, he has definitely taken a level in evil and ruthlessness in the revival. He's now willing to use his daughter in plot against the Ewings, cover up murder, and instruct his foster son to commit suicide to make up for betraying Cliff's plans.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Chinese food. At first it was just an onscreen thing - empty cartons would be strewn around the apartment - but as the series went on characters drew attention to it. Christopher brought Rebecca Chinese food in the episode that revealed her identity as Cliff's daughter, possibly foreshadowing
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: His basic reasoning for wanting to take down the Ewings is that Jock screwed over and ruined his father (he basically did) and that they're corrupt (they basically are) but over time Cliff has turned to extremely cut-throat Ewing-esque methods in order to take them down. There's no mistaking that Cliff is the good guy and J.R. the bad in the first seasons, but it gets murkier as time goes on.
Pamela "Pam" Barnes Ewing
Played By: Victoria PrincipalCliff's younger sister and Bobby's first wife. The marriage of a Ewing to a Barnes set off the series, as the two struggled to retain their Romeo and Juliet-esque love in the face of their feuding families. Pam was initially envisioned as the lead of the series with her struggle to exist in both families, but focus shifted sharply towards J.R. by the second and third seasons, relegating Pam to smaller stories involving romantic drama with Bobby and trying to keep the peace between her two families. Still, Pam remained one of the stronger, more independent women of Dallas until her departure.
"Power and money and wealth... they don't mean that much to me. I want a nice, ordinary life with my husband."
- Babies Make Everything Better: Well, maybe not everything better, but the arrival of Christopher did stave off a nervous breakdown.
- Butt-Monkey: Judging by her brother and father it's a family trait.
- Cain and Abel: She and Katherine eventually become this.
- Happily Married: She was happily married to Bobby (at first).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Pam; when last seen on the show, Pam (played by a different actress than Principal) revealed that she was dying and that only her brother Cliff was made aware of her still being alive (though she purposely did not tell him that she had only a year left to live). This was never followed up on in the original series and since Principal will not return to the new series, her fate remains unknown. Patrick Duffy considers Pam dead, which apparently led to an awkward moment when the writers of the new series pointed out that "technically" she was still alive since we never saw her death on camera and that we only had her doctor's word that she was dying. But baring a recast or Principal changing her mind and wanting to come back, the show will probably consider her dead. To paraphrase a quote from executive producer Cynthia Cidre in one interview: "It sort of seemed like she maybe died, so we're just going to say she died." It's worth noting that onscreen there's been no explicit mention of Pam being dead, just that she's "gone." In "J.R.'s Masterpiece" (the J.R. funeral episode) it's revealed that J.R. had been to Abu Dhabi pursuing a lead on Pam's whereabouts, for reasons yet to be revealed, and as of "Legacies", Pamela died of cancer in Abu Dhabi shortly she left the show and Cliff paid the plastic surgeon and a nurse to make it appear that she was still alive so he could control Pam's shares in Barnes Global.
Sue Ellen Ewing
Sue Ellen Ewing
Played By: Linda GrayOriginally something of an afterthought for the JR character, Sue Ellen had little to do in the early episodes, though it wasn't long before their madly dysfunctional relationship became a focus of the series. She spent a lot of screen time agonizing over JR's affairs, vindictively having her own, plotting with or against JR, divorcing or remarrying JR, and generally feeling miserable enough to drink herself into oblivion. After a decade or so of this cycle, she got sober and left JR (and the show) for good, though she did return for the reunion movies and the revival series. So to this day, Sue Ellen continues her legacy as one of the more interesting and impactful female characters on early American television.
"Ah, love. That wonderful word. Of all the dumb things we do in its name."
- Cain and Abel: She and her sister Kristin certainly had this kind of relationship.
- Lady Drunk: Notoriously so — her alcoholism was a big part of her character.
- Mama Bear: Averted for the first few months of John Ross's life when Sue Ellen was so withdrawn she refused to even hold her baby. Played straight later when fighting with JR for custody. She still is in the revival, to the point of bribery. It eventually costs her the govenorship. She can be a successful Mama Bear, though, as she's willing to fight Elena for her stake of Ewing Energies because Elena broke up with John Ross, and Sue Ellen succeeds.
- Masochism Tango: Counting the revival series, it's about 35 years of tangoing with JR.
- Mrs. Robinson: Has an affair with 20 year old Peter Richards when she's in her early 40's.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Especially in the early seasons. She was cold and withdrawn around most people, usually showing her soft side around her son John Ross and occasionally her friends.
John Ross "Jock" Ewing
Played By: Jim DavisThe patriarch of the Ewing family, father of J.R., Gary, and Bobby Ewing.
"Let me tell you something, boy. If I did give you power then you've got nothin'. Real power is something you TAKE."
- Badass Grandpa: Despite being a senior citizen at the time the original series starts, he can more than hold his own in a bar fight, and rarely (if ever) backs down from a threat.
- Cattle Baron: He's more of an oilman but he's one of these too and he certainly both looks and acts like one.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Very gruff, very proud and nearly as ruthless in business as J.R. but also a genuinely loving family man who treats his employees fairly.
- Merchant Prince: He was an oil baron who was teaching his sons to wield wealth as a form of power the way he did. He was most successful with J.R.
Eleanor "Miss Ellie" Southworth Ewing
Played By: Barbara Bel Geddes (1978–84, 1985–90, pictured); Donna Reed (1984–85)The matriarch of the Ewing family, mother of J.R., Gary, and Bobby Ewing.
"We may be right and we may be wrong, but we're Ewings. We stick together, and that's what makes us UNBEATABLE!"
- Happily Married: First to Jock, later to Clayton.
- My Beloved Smother: She takes it a little too personally when her very grown sons want to move out.
Played By: Charlene TiltonThe daughter of Gary and Valene Ewing, she was mostly Raised by Grandparents.
"I HATE THIS FAMILY!!!"
- Parental Abandonment: For most of her childhood both her parents were out of her life.
- Raised by Grandparents: Her father, Gary, was the protagonist of Knots Landing. She never followed him to California, and disappeared from that show altogether. After Dallas' "Dream Season" resulted in the two storylines splitting, she was never mentioned there.
Played By: Howard Keel
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted; he takes over Jock's role but his personality is more like an older version of Bobby.
Played By: Audrey Landers
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted; at first she comes across as pretty ditzy, partly because she's Book Dumb compared to her doctor brother. She's actually pretty savvy and tries to act as voice of reason in Cliff's feud with the Ewings. She also figured out what kind of person Katherine was a good year before everyone else did.
Cally Harper Ewing
Calpurnia "Cally" Harper Ewing
Played By: Cathy PodewellJ.R.'s second wife.
- Brainless Beauty: For the most part, though more down to youth and naivite than actual lack of smarts - she had a cunning streak.
- The Bus Came Back: Returned for J.R.'s funeral in 2013.
Played By: Deborah SheltonOne of J.R.'s mistresses.
Important Recurring Characters
Garrison Arthur "Gary" Ewing
Played By: Ted ShacklefordGary was the second son of oil baron Jock Ewing and his wife Miss Ellie Ewing. He was often considered the black sheep of the family, as he would become an alcoholic, and was never treated as an equal by his father and elder brother J.R. However, Gary was loved by his mother and younger brother Bobby. As Jock was not with Miss Ellie during her pregnancy with Gary, she tended to view him as more hers than Jock's and he became her favorite son, while the relationship between Jock and Gary was always distant. Gary was married (three times) to Valene Ewing, and the couple's on-off relationship lead much of his story arc in the Dallas spin-off series, Knots Landing.
- The Alcoholic: Usually recovering.
- The Bus Came Back: Returned to Dallas in 2013 for J.R.'s funeral.
- Jerkass: He could be a real asshole when drunk.
Played By: Joan Van ArkValene is a sweet, naive woman, originally from a poor Tennessee family. Her storyline in the first season of Dallas focuses on the rebuilding of her former marriage to estranged ex-husband Gary. When Valene arrives in Texas to find her daughter, Lucy Ewing, she is brought back into the drama of the Ewing family. Upon arrival, she is reunited with Gary with whom she slowly falls back in love. Once Dallas became a hit, series creator David Jacobs proceeded to launch the spin-off series Knots Landing, which would feature Valene and Gary prominently.
- The Bus Came Back: Returned to Dallas in 2013, around the time of JR'S funeral.
- Fanservice with a Smile: Was working as a waitress when Gary first met her.
- Fish out of Water: The upscale Ewings, especially J.R, dislike the idea of a "poor, trashy girl" from Tennessee like Val raising Lucy.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: One of the sweetest characters in both series, if at times tragically naive.
Played By: Mary CrosbySue Ellen Ewing's scheming sister, who later has an affair with Sue Ellen's husband, J.R.
Played By: Morgan BrittanyThe half-sister of Cliff and Pamela Barnes.
- Cain and Abel: She and Pamela eventually become this.
Played By: Christopher AtkinsJR III's camp counselor and eventually Sue Ellen's illicit lover.
- Butt-Monkey: JR turns him into this once he learns about the affair.
- Frame-Up: When JR discovers the affair between Peter and Sue Ellen, he has a cop plant drugs in Peter's car and promptly arrests him and locks him up in jail.
- Likes Older Women: Has an affair with Sue Ellen, who's in her forties, while he is only twenty.
- Mr. Fanservice: In addition to being boyishly handsome, he's also frequently seen in speedos, crop-tops, and short shorts.
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: Is seen quite frequently only wearing a tiny pair of speedos. Justified in that he works at a camp with a pool.
- Who's Your Daddy?: It's left unclear if Sue Ellen's miscarried child is his or JR's.
Sylvia "Sly" Lovegren
Played By: Deborah RennardJ.R.'s secretary.
- Easily Forgiven:
- When Sly is coerced by Cliff into giving up information, on threat of letting her brother rot in prison, J.R. instantly forgives her, says she should have come to him first, and enlists her help to get back at Barnes.
- Occurs again in the original series finale, "Conundrum", when he briefly fires her after she was coerced by James to send J.R. to a sanitarium. Once he finds out what James did, he hires her back immediately.
- Morality Pet: For J.R. - he even forgives her for working for Cliff Barnes!
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In J.R. Returns, once she discovers that J.R. faked his own death to get control of WestStar. Though J.R. claims that he fired her, it's likely that she quit due to frustration at his antics.
2012 Revival New Characters
John Ross Ewing III
John Ross Ewing III
Played By: Josh HendersonJ.R. and Sue Ellen's son.
- Betty and Veronica: Male version. He is the Veronica to Elena, while Christopher is the Betty, although interestingly they actually have traits of both, with John Ross being very devoted to her while Christopher treats her badly at times.
- Berserk Button: Don't ever, ever, ever dare say he's like his father (at least, in a negative way).Sue Ellen: Once a cheater, always a cheater. I should have learned that lesson the first time around.
John Ross: You don’t know what you’re talking about, Mama. Yeah, yeah, Candace was in my office and the crazy bitch was all over me. And I turned her down!
Sue Ellen: BULLSHIT! I know what I saw!
John Ross: You don’t know, because you’re drunk! I am telling you the truth!
Sue Ellen: Even drunk, I know the sound of a lie, and you are an expert at it, just like your father.
John Ross: I AM NOT MY FATHER!!! Are you so hell-bent on punishing J.R. for his sins that you’re willing to destroy the relationship with your only son? Damn it, I need you Mom, and you sided with them. I’m your son. You remember that? Or are you too damn addled to remember who I am? [reaches for the bottle, holds it up] Why are you doing this to yourself again, huh?
Sue Ellen: [sobbing] Don’t you get it? You did this to me. You and your father.
John Ross: No, Mama. You did this to yourself. You’re so busy seeing the ghost of J.R. in me that you cannot stop to take a hard look in the damn mirror. You want me to take responsibility for my actions? Then you take responsibility for yours. [walks away, leaves the house, slams the door behind him]
- Really Gets Around: He's hooked up with at least five women in the first season and a half of the show.
- Sex for Solace: After J.R.'s death with Emma.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Pamela Rebecca.
- Timeshifted Actor: John Ross often appeared in the original series as a child (played by different actors, of course).
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Though J.R. makes sure to express his pride in him, when it becomes clear he's following in his dad's footstepts. It's even J.R.'s last words: "Just remember—I'm proud of you. You're my son...from tip to tail."
Played By: Jesse MetcalfeBobby's adopted son.
Played By: Jordana BrewsterDaughter of one of the Southfork housekeepers, Christopher's ex-fiancee, dating John Ross at the start of the new series.
- Spicy Latina: A subversion - she is a Latina and very beautiful but she's not sultry in the least.
Ann Ryland Ewing
Played By: Brenda StrongBobby's third wife and matriarch of Southfork by the time of the revival series.
- Action Mom: More than once, her first reaction to a disturbance on the ranch has been to grab a gun and investigate. A conversation with a ranch security guard makes it clear she isn't afraid to shoot.
- Domestic Abuse: Her marriage to Harris Ryland turned into a nightmare. It's mentioned that she works with abused women nowadays.
- Trigger Happy: Ann just loves to threaten to shoot people—especially J.R. In the second season, she actually follows through...
Rebecca Sutter (Spoilers)
Pamela Rebecca Barnes Sutter Ewing
Played By: Julie GonzaloChristopher's wife.
- Becoming the Mask: She was originally just in the relationship with Christopher to help Tommy steal from him but has actually grown to love him, especially after she's pregnant.
- Despair Event Horizon: She spends close to a month being despondent and depressed after the oil rig explosion that results in the death of her unborn children. It takes a lot of help from John Ross to get her back to normal.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: Her loyalties repeatedly shift between several parties, including Christopher/Tommy/Cliff in the first season, then transitioning to a fully-fledged good character after her father's actions result in her unborn twins dying during the explosion on the oil rig.
- The Reveal: She's Cliff Barnes's daughter, which is heavily hinted throughout the first-season and revealed in the first-season finale. This may also be a case of The Unreveal, as Pamela's true parentage was a large part of the Canon Discontinuity film J.R. Returns, which was produced and aired more than 15 years prior.
- Walking Spoiler: The Reveal at the end of the first season has her being named as Cliff Barnes' daughter. From the second season onward, the plot makes no attempt to hide that she's his daughter, relegating this to Late-Arrival Spoiler territory.
Marta Del Sol
Marta Del Sol/Veronica Martinez
Played By: Leonor VarelaA wealthy businesswoman in talks to buy Southfork.
- The Chessmaster: She appears to be pulling the strings of several players in the plots around Southfork.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: She's impersonating the real Marta Del Sol.
- Character Death: Thrown out of a hotel window.
- Slipping a Mickey: She puts something in John Ross's drink, perhaps to secure him sleeping with her so she can blackmail him.
Played By: Mitch PileggiAnn's ex-husband and nemesis.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- He genuinely adores his daughter Emma.
- He knows that at one point he did legitimately love Ann and still harbors some resentment towards his mother for the marriage going to hell. It's probable that without his mother's influence, Ryland would have been a much more decent guy.
- Freudian Excuse: Has the mother of all excuses in Judith.
Played By: Judith LightHarris's mother.
Played By: Kevin PageA private detective in long time service to J.R.
- Mercy Kill: At the end of the second season, it's revealed that he shot and killed J.R. on the latter's orders, due to J.R. having inoperable cancer and only having weeks to live.
- Old Retainer: Bum used to work for J.R. doing private work, and gets back into action due to the latter's machinations while trying to seize Southfork from Bobby.