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Series / Dynasty (1981)

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"They don't write female characters like they used to."
Roger (while watching one of Dynasty's many Cat Fights), American Dad!

Imagine Dallas, but in Denver, replace Larry Hagman with Joan Collins, and throw in a few catfights and lots and lots of shoulder pads.

Once Dallas took off, Richard and Esther Shapiro created this series about oil families living in Colorado, which Aaron Spelling produced. It initially focused on Krystle Grant Jennings being just married to oil magnate Blake Carrington, and her tempestuous relationship with Blake's children from his first marriage. The next season, his ex-wife Alexis shows up and the fun really starts.

Just as Charmed would later top Buffy in terms of Fantasy Kitchen Sink, this show topped Dallas in terms of every Soap Opera trope the writers could think of (with one extremely notable exception).

The show had a spinoff, The Colbys, but it only lasted a couple of seasons. Dynasty unfortunately didn't last much longer either.

For many years, it was one of the few shows from Spelling Television that was not distributed by Worldvision Enterprises or its successor Paramount Domestic Television prior to 2006. The series was originally put into off-network syndication by Metromedia in 1985, then 20th Century Fox took over as distributor in 1986 upon acquiring Metromedia's television assets. Fox continued to distribute the program even after Paramount gained its underlying rights in 1999, and was the original distributor of the season 1 DVD release. The distribution rights to the series, along with other Spelling programs previous distributed by Fox or Warner Bros. (the latter included The Colbys), reverted to CBS in 2006 after they gained ownership of the Paramount Television library. The reunion miniseries broadcast in 1991 was never included in Fox's rights to the series, and thus it was once distributed by Worldvision, and later Paramount.

The entire series has been released on DVD.

A reboot series with a new cast premiered on October 2017.

No relation to the KISS album of the same name.

Tropes shown on Dynasty and The Colbys:

  • Aborted Arc: Many of which have led to What Happened to the Mouse? moments for the show.
    • Nick Toscanni (James Farentino)'s ultimate fate was left ambiguous when he left Blake for dead at the end of season 2. He left town, though nothing was stated about what actually happened to him.
    • Daniel Reece (Rock Hudson)'s story arc, including the revelation of being Sammy Jo's father, was cut short because of Hudson's declining health.
    • Joel (George Hamilton) and Rita (Linda Evans, who also played Krystle) left the show in a way that almost guaranteed their returns. Namely, Joel had kidnapped Krystle and believed that her lookalike Rita was her, and having fallen in love with Krystle, he believed that Rita was her and wanted to leave for South America with "Krystle", though Sammy Jo had switched the women at the last second. With Rita's knowledge of Joel's feelings toward Krystle, she attacked Joel while he was driving, and they went over an embankment. A search party is employed to find them, in which they recover the crashed car, though both were missing. They didn't return, and the storyline was promptly forgotten.
      • Apparently, the idea for the conclusion of this storyline was to bring them back for two episodes, but this was scrapped.
    • Caress, Alexis' sister was Put on a Bus in order to dig up secrets on Ben Carrington, but she never returned to the series nor the miniseries, thus rendering that potential storyline moot.
  • And Starring: Bo Hopkins as Matthew Blaisdel.
  • Anyone Can Die: As typical for a soap opera. Of the people who were in the main credits (even as special guest stars) at one point or another: Joseph Anders, Cecil Colby, Walter Lankershim, Mark Jennings, Peter De Vilbis, Lady Ashley Mitchell, Daniel Reece, Sean Rowan, and the entire Blaisdel family (Claudia, Matthew, and Lindsey). Subverted with Fallon and Steven, who turned up alive. It's also unclear if Dex survived the conclusion of season 9.
  • Artistic License Geography: In reality, Moldavia (the country where the terrorist attack takes place) was part of the USSR and definitely not a monarchy.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Fallon, late in season 5 (after having been declared dead and buried earlier on in the season). It turned out that it was another woman with a strong physical resemblance to her who got killed in the Cliffhanger car crash at the end of season 4; Fallon herself was inflicted with amnesia.
    • Also: Steven, who was thought to have been killed in an oil rig explosion.
  • Beta Bitch: Sammy Jo could be considered this to Alexis. Alexis has always knocked down Sammy Jo for her "immature" scheming, which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight, considering that the actress who portrayed Sammy Jo, Heather Locklear, would go on to play another iconic Alpha Bitch, Amanda Woodward, on Melrose Place.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Possibly a Trope Codifier.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: A season of Dynasty ended with a terrorist attack on a wedding... long story... and everyone apparently all dead. The first episode of the next season was one of the highest rated episodes in that show's history. The resolution was that a couple special guest stars from the previous season were killed off.
  • Bury Your Gays: Ted Dinard and Luke Fuller. Subverted with Steven, who is revealed to be alive after being presumed dead in an oil rig explosion.
  • But Not Too Gay / But Not Too Bi: Steven's relationships with women are a lot more explicit than his relationships with men, as was standard for 80s television. Jack Coleman is quoted as saying of his character's relationship with Luke, "It was very much The Donna Reed Show in terms of four feet on the floor, nobody actually ever touching."
  • Cast Full of Rich People: It's about a family of oil barons and their associates in Colorado.
  • Cat Fight: What this show is best known for nowadays. The show's writers obviously had huge fun thinking up new venues for hissing, spitting, slapping fights between Joan Collins and (usually Linda Evans, but sometimes whichever other actress was being featured at the time, such as Diahann Carroll or Stephanie Beacham) at least once a season.
  • Child by Rape: Subverted; Kirby's pregnancy with Adam's child ends in a stillborn birth.
  • Cliffhanger: Once a Season. The show ended on one, as well, which left the fates of Adam, Alexis, Dex, Blake, Fallon, and Krystina in the balance.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Sammy Jo appeared sporadically during her first four seasons on the show (season 2-5), often going back and forth from Denver and New York, before she got off the bus permanently in season 6, remaining on the show until the end.
  • Death Is Cheap: Pulled on Fallon and Steven because their "deaths" were never permanent, even though they would be instantly fatal if the show went with a more realistic approach (e.g. plane crash and gas explosion, respectively). And don't forget the entire wedding party at the "Moldavian Massacre".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season didn't have Alexis.
  • Evil Brit: Alexis - played of course by actual Brit Joan Collins, whose cut-glass accent certainly enhances the character's Evil Is Sexy vibe.
  • Fish out of Water: Krystle, upon arriving to the Carrington household. Not helped by how Blake is quite the Workaholic.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In late season two, Alexis and Blake mention their eldest son Adam during a fight, who was kidnapped as an infant and never returned. At the start of the following season, Adam shows up and becomes one of the show's most notable villains.
    • In the season four episode "Birthday", Alexis mentions being pregnant four times. At the time, it was known that she had three children (Adam, Fallon, and Steven). When Krystle notes the discrepancy, Alexis claims she had a miscarriage. Eleven episodes later, in season five's "Amanda", this is revealed to not be true when Amanda shows up and reveals that she is Alexis' daughter.
  • Gambit Pileup: Well if half the cast is trying to manipulate things, this is inevitable.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: The outfits were the piece de resistance as far as the 1980s go. Not to mention ridiculously expensive. But these days, a lot of them are subject to heavy Fashion Dissonance.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Alexis is probably the show's most notable character, but doesn't appear until the start of season two.
  • Karma Houdini: Adam was never arrested after raping Kirby; in fact, Kirby almost married him even after that happened.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Kirby fell pregnant after being raped by Adam in the middle of the third season but didn't lose the baby until the middle of the fourth season, well over a year after the rape had occurred in real time. This was due in part to the fourth season (and Kirby's pregnancy) picking up right where the third season left off, despite the five month gap in between episodes.
  • Love Dodecahedron: It seems like the dating pool of the Carrington family is limited to people their relatives have already been with. See Tangled Family Tree below for some examples.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Dominique eventually told Tom Carrington that she was his daughter.
  • Manipulative Bastard: More than a few, including Adam, who was almost a Karma Houdini as well.
  • Midseason Replacement: Premiered in the middle of the 1980-1981 television season.
  • Mrs. Robinson: For much of the series' run, the fortyish/fiftyish Alexis was romantically paired with the noticeably younger (and hunky) "Dex" Dexter.
  • No Bisexuals: Depending on what season and how it was written, Steven may or may not have had some genuine attraction to Claudia and Sammy Jo. Not that it ever lasted. By the reunion mini-series he had settled down permanently with Bart Fallmont, a love interest from a previous season. During that time, bisexuality is never mentioned as a possibility.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Amanda's second actress, Karen Cellini, was American and didn't attempt to have an English accent for the role, unlike the original actress Catherine Oxenberg.
  • The Nth Doctor: Steven, due to Magic Plastic Surgery after the explosion on the oil rig.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fallon, after British Emma Samms took over the role from Pamela Sue Martin.
  • Overly Long Name: Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Fallon is very, VERY displeased to see her dad has remarried.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: A staple of the show.
  • Pimped-Out Dress/Costume Porn: Dynasty was the leading example of this trope during its glory days, with all its female characters being encased in glorious, often over-the-top outfits and gowns by Nolan Miller. Joan Collins' shoulder pads became iconic.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Blake, who doesn't accept Steven's sexuality until the miniseries. Even Alexis accepts it quicker than he does.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: Dynasty started out as a 3-hour TV movie. Additionally, an episode in season 5 introduces, and focuses, heavily on Jeff's family in California. This sets up the premise to The Colbys
  • Pretty in Mink: Dynasty could well be in the top ten shows of all time in terms of furs. If combined with The Colbys it likely tops them all.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Aside from the Carrington family, the show frequently upgraded major characters for any given season, only for them to be Put on a Bus or Killed Off for Real at the conclusion of their story arcs.
  • Put on a Bus: Most of the actors who are credited for a single season on the show as a regular often receive this treatment. Amongst the main cast, here are some examples:
    • Claudia was moved to a mental hospital in early season 3 after being accused of kidnapping Fallon and Jeff's baby son (though in reality, it was a baby doll) and dropped the "baby" off the roof of an apartment building. She returned once later in the season, before rejoining the cast from season 4 until her death at the end of season 6.
    • Fallon disappeared after a car crash at the end of season 4. She was presumed dead in a plane crash in the following season, though later turned up alive later in season 5, with a different actress. She then appeared for the first couple episodes of season 6 before moving to the show's spin-off The Colbys for two seasons, before permanently returning in season 8.
    • Steven left Colorado at the end of season 2. He moved to an oil rig, which blew up in an explosion, leaving him presumably dead. He was later discovered alive, with a different face after surgery. His intended Put on a Bus moment in season 7 was averted, and he stayed until the end of the following season, where he left Denver. He returned for the miniseries.
    • Amanda was Put on a Bus to England in the middle of season 7 "to think", when the actress was let go from her contract. She never returned nor was she mentioned again.
    • Kirby Anders, ex-wife of Jeff and ex-fiancee of Adam, left for Paris after Alexis blackmailed her when Kirby attempted to shoot her, the end of season 4, the same episode Pamela Sue Martin (the original Fallon) left the show. She returned for the mini-series seven years later.
    • Jeff left for The Colbys in early season 6. He returned in season 8, after that show's cancellation, and stayed on permanently.
    • Krystle started to lose her mind at the end of season 8, as a result of a brain tumor. In season 9, she only appeared in six episodes before receiving neurosurgery and being placed in a Convenient Coma in a Swiss hospital for the remainder of the show. She returned for the mini-series in 1991.
    • Dominique left town at the end of season 7, to re-establish her music career in Europe.
  • Rich Bitch: A Trope Codifier. Alexis is one of the most notorious in TV history, but actually about half the cast is like this.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Again, about half the cast.
  • Serial Spouse: Alexis has been married four times, the longest marriage being with Blake at seven years.
  • Sexy Secretary: Krystle was this to Blake, before marrying him.
  • Shoulders of Doom: All the shoulder pads.
  • Smug Snake: Alexis can be irritatingly patronizing to her enemies, especially Krystle and Dominique.
  • Soap Opera: One of the trope codifiers.
  • Something Else Also Rises: The opening credits are spectacular in this sense, with all the men being represented by skyscrapers, oil gushers, a fountain, and foaming champagne bottles.
  • Surprise Incest: Fallon Carrington and Adam Carrington, who shared a kiss and dated only to discover afterwards that they're long-lost siblings.
  • Straight Gay: Steven. In particular demonstrated by his penchant for getting into fights with some of the other guys on the show, especially his brother Adam. He possessed no stereotypically gay attributes, which was fairly notable for a show that aired during The '80s. Also, several other gay characters (often Steven's exes and his eventual partner Bart Fallmont) can qualify under this trope because they too lack stereotypical mannerisms.
  • Sweater Girl: About as common as the furs on that show.
  • Tangled Family Tree: To a degree, the Carringtons while tying in the Colbys and some of the Carrington family staff. The series begins with Blake's marriage to Krystle, thus making her the stepmother of Steven and Fallon. Simple enough, right? Then...
    • ...we meet Blake's first wife Alexis (the mother of Steven and Fallon) and learn later down the line of two other Carrington children Adam and Amanda (the former being kidnapped as an infant while Blake wasn't aware of the latter's existence for 20 years).
    • Steven was married to Krystle's niece Sammy Jo, thus making him Krystle's nephew-in-law. Sammy Jo had Steven's son Danny, who subsequently is both Krystle's great-nephew and step-grandson.
    • Fallon was married to Jeff multiple times (and has two kids by him), and was later briefly married to Jeff's cousin/ half-brother Miles, thus making her in addition to Jeff's ex-wife, his cousin-in-law and sister-in-law (this would make Miles not only the first cousin-once-removed of Fallon and Jeff's kids but also briefly their stepfather).
    • Jeff was also briefly married to Kirby Anders (the daughter of the Carrington family majordomo Joseph Anders, thus making him Anders' son-in-law).
      • Kirby herself almost married Adam, which would've made her an in-law of the Carrington family. She later rekindles her relationship with him in the 1991 miniseries.
    • Alexis would ultimately marry four times; initially married to Blake for seven years, Alexis married Jeff's uncle Cecil on his deathbed in season 3 thus making her briefly Jeff's aunt-by-marriage. She was also married (and divorced) Dex Dexter and Sean Rowan, the latter of whom was Anders' son and Kirby's brother, thus making Alexis their daughter-in-law and sister-in-law, respectively.
    • Amanda also had a short marriage to Prince Michael of Moldavia, while Alexis had an affair with his father King Galen.
    • Given the show's liberal use of Love Dodecahedron, major characters frequently dated people who already had relationships with other family members. Some examples include Mark Jennings being married (and divorced) to Krystle and later having affairs with Alexis and Fallon (the latter being Krystle's stepdaughter); both Steven and Adam being (at different points) married to Claudia, thus making each other brothers-in-law; and both Sammy Jo and Leslie having short-lived relationships with Clay Fallmont (who might've been Leslie's half-brother if it's true that Leslie's father Ben Carrington was also his father). Also Steven dated Clay's brother Bart.
    • Plus, we learn of Blake's half-sister Dominique and brother Ben, Dominique's daughter Jackie, Alexis' sister Caress, Ben's daughter/Blake's niece niece Leslie...and this doesn't even get into the spin-off The Colbys or the reboot.
      • For those who don't know: Sable Colby is, in addition to being Jeff's maternal aunt, Alexis' first cousin. Thus already making Jeff and Alexis first cousins-once-removed before Alexis even entered Dynasty. Accounting Alexis' brief marriage to Sable's brother-in-law Cecil, this would also make her Sable's sister-in-law (sort of). Sable's children Monica and Miles are not the biological kids of her husband Jason. However, if Jason is considered their legal father, this still makes them Jeff's half-siblings if only legally.
    • Did we mention Adam's son by a surrogate who intended to give the baby to him and his wife Dana before deciding not to?
  • Wham Episode: Several, but the most famous is Alexis' dramatic courtroom introduction at the end of Season 1. Not to mention the the Moldavian Massacre in the season 5 finale.
    • Fallon being abducted by a FLYING SAUCER in the desert in the final episode of The Colbys has to be a close second.
  • Wham Line: In the episode 40 "The Siblings", Alexis delivers this to both Fallon and Adam:
    Alexis Colby I'm so happy that you two finally met. Well, what do you think of your good-looking brother? (music swells dramatically)
    Fallon Carrington (shocked) Brother?
    Adam Carrington (shocked) What?
    Alexis Colby Didn't you know that Fallon was your sister?
  • Worst Wedding Ever: The infamous "Moldavian Massacre" cliffhanger where terrorists stormed Amanda and Prince Michael's wedding and shot the party up. In spite of its implied name, only two people died: Steven's boyfriend Luke via Heroic Sacrifice to save Claudia and Jeff's girlfriend Ashley.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Alexis and Blake's marriage is commonly described as having lasted seven years, though that's inconsistent. In season 9, it's revealed that Alexis was still around when Fallon was eight years old though logically, if one were to follow that timeline, she should've been younger.

Alternative Title(s): Dynasty