Forty-one years ago today, the popular television show “Dallas” premiered on CBS, running for fourteen seasons. A prime time soap and Shakespearean western, “Dallas” focused on the oil-wealthy Ewing family. Much of the drama revolved around their dueling with the Barnes family, and a marriage between members of the opposing houses.
“Dallas” is most recognized with one of the most memorable “cliffhangers” in television history. In the show’s third season finale, one of the lead characters, the vicious and conniving J.R. Ewing (played by two-time Emmy nominee Larry Hagman), is shot in his office and left for dead. The assailant’s unknown identity created a media frenzy, having everyone in 1980 asking, “Who shot J.R.?” The cliffhanger may be a staple in today’s television storyboarding, but before “Dallas,” not too many shows exercised that offering.
Since “Dallas,” there have been some fantastically heart-pounding moments that leave the world in absolute awe.
From “Not Penny’s Boat” on ABC’s “Lost” to “I, Ross, take thee Rachel” on NBC’s “Friends,” and even more recently with “Eeny Meeny Mino Moe” on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” there has been plenty to discuss at the watercooler.
Cliffhangers can elevate a show to new heights, as demonstrated with “She saved the world a lot” from WB’s (now the CW) “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” When executed well, it can provide a worthy propeller for upcoming seasons, simultaneously loving and hating the series.
Pulling you into a moment, and then taking it all away with a fade to black. Your interest has peaked, but then you have to wait, for months, even times over a year, for the answers to your dying questions.
So now, we move it to YOU, the readers, to share your favorite television cliffhanger! What has left your jaws on the floor, and praying to the TV Gods for more?