The CBS-TV series Dallas was notable for providing cliffhangers at the conclusion of each season on the network. Throughout the series' run, nearly every season ended with some sort of cliffhanging ending designed to drive ratings up for the season premiere later in the year.
Pilot Season/Season One cliffhanger: Although this really was not a cliffhanger, the end of the fifth episode of the original Dallas miniseries saw J.R. go up to the loft of the barn to talk to Pam, who had gone up there to find her cousin Jimmy, after Digger had fallen off the wagon at the Ewing barbecue. J.R., intoxicated, tries to convince her to tell Bobby not to leave the ranch. However, she does not want to be bothered, and, in trying to escape J.R., she falls from the loft, landing square on her stomach. Pam, who is pregnant, miscarries her unborn child. Later, Sue Ellen questions J.R. as to whether it was really an accident or did he mean for Pam to fall on purpose. J.R. says, "I did not." When Sue Ellen asks J.R. if he cares that Pam lost the baby, J.R. does not answer her, leaving it up to the viewer to decide.
Season Two cliffhanger: Sue Ellen's drinking problem has landed her in a sanitarium, where she is pregnant with a child she believes is Cliff Barnes'. She escapes from the sanitarium, gets drunk, and then gets into a severe car accident, putting her life and the baby's life in danger. The doctors deliver the baby, named John Ross Ewing III, but he is very small on delivery and is not out of the woods yet; nor is Sue Ellen, who, as the episode ends, is clinging to life. A very distraught J.R. is watching his wife at the end of the episode in tears, saying that she's "just gotta live."
Season Three cliffhanger: J.R. has made so many people in Texas hate him with a passion, from men he's screwed over in business, to women he's screwed over in relationships, to family members he's angered, to a businesswoman whose husband committed suicide. After all this, somebody waits outside J.R.'s Ewing Oil office late at night, and when J.R. hears a noise, asks who it is and walks to the door, somebody shoots him twice in the abdomen. The cliffhanger to this episode leads to the now infamous "Who shot J. R.?" debates and speculation, and also speculation as to whether J.R. would actually survive the shooting or be killed off.
Season Four cliffhanger: While heading to a late-night business meeting with Bobby, Cliff finds a woman's body floating in the Southfork pool. He jumps into the pool to see who it is, and when he looks back up, J.R. is standing on the balcony over the pool. Believing J.R. is responsible, Cliff says to his rival, "She's dead. You bastard."
Season Five cliffhanger: Earlier in the season, Cliff had J.R. facing a financial mess, when J.R.'s plan to blackmail the Farlows into handing over John Ross, by stockpiling 5 million barrels of the Farlows' crude oil, backfired on J.R., when the market price of crude oil started to fall and fall. In order to stockpile the Farlows' crude oil, J.R. had taken out a $200,000,000 loan and used $50,000,000 worth of Ewing Oil assets as collateral. Cliff, along with Jordan Lee, Andy Bradley and Wade Luce, then worked with Vaughn Leland in order to buy into the notes owed by J.R., and they planned to foreclose. With Cliff seemingly putting one over on J.R., Miss Ellie bailed Ewing Oil out of this mess by agreeing a deal with Clayton that Clayton would pay the price that he would have paid at the time that the oil was stockpiled. By the season's end, J.R. and Cliff's situations had turned sharply in the opposite direction, as Sue Ellen, with whom Cliff had had an off-and-on relationship, decided to return to J.R., planning to marry him again. In addition, J.R. had set a trap for Cliff by making sure that a fake geological report would convince Cliff to invest millions of dollars in buying property on supposedly oil rich land which was actually bone dry. Cliff was then fired by his mother from running Wentworth Tool & Die, due to Cliff's embezzlement of company funds. Cliff attempts suicide with an overdose of pills, and a guilt-ridden Sue Ellen rushes to his bedside as Cliff lies in a coma. J.R. tries to convince Sue Ellen that it was not anybody's fault but Cliff's for what happened, but Sue Ellen disagrees and says she does not know if she can remarry J.R. if Cliff dies. Cliff's life hangs in the balance as the season ends.
Season Six cliffhanger: A drunk Sue Ellen and Ray Krebbs' cousin Mickey Trotter are involved in an accident, in a car belonging to J.R., just outside Southfork. Sue Ellen emerges with nothing worse than bruises, but Mickey is paralyzed from the neck down and in a coma. Ray finds out that the driver of the other car was Walt Driscoll, J.R.'s rival. He also learns that Driscoll deliberately caused the accident, thinking that J.R. was driving, as a means of revenge for being put in jail by J.R. earlier in the year. An angered Ray comes to Southfork late at night demanding answers from J.R., who was not expecting to see him. J.R. asks him what is going on and Ray says he's going to kill J.R. for what happened. J.R. throws a candle holder at Ray, which misses him and knocks over another candle holder with lit candles in it. As the two brawl, the candles ignite a fire and the smoke starts to creep into both John Ross and Sue Ellen's bedrooms as they sleep. J.R. notices the fire and tries to break free of Ray, finally knocking him out with a telephone, and runs upstairs to try to save his wife and son. Ray recovers and runs after J.R. but is consumed by smoke and falls. J.R. is hit with a falling beam as he gets upstairs and both men are unconscious as Southfork burns.
Season Seven cliffhanger: Reminiscent of the season three cliffhanger, a mysterious figure enters the Ewing Oil building late one night. Proceeding to J.R.'s office, the figure produces a gun and fires three shots into the back of J.R.'s chair in which somebody is sitting. As the victim falls out of the chair and to the ground, we see it is Bobby Ewing that has been shot.
Season Eight cliffhanger: Bobby, who has been divorced from Pam for over a year and is now engaged to Jenna Wade, decides that he wants to remarry his ex-wife instead, and Pam agrees. The next morning, as Bobby is leaving Pam's house, someone drives a car at high speed toward Pam. Bobby shoves her out of the way just before she is hit but cannot get out of the way of the car in time to save himself. We see that it is Katherine who was driving the car, and that she was also killed when her car crashed after running over Bobby. Bobby is rushed to the hospital, where he later dies. Pam, Jenna, J.R., Miss Ellie, Clayton, Ray and Donna were the people present at the time of Bobby's death.
Season Nine cliffhanger: Evil businesswoman Angelica Nero intends to kill J.R. and his cousin Jack for double crossing her, but J.R. has her apprehended by the police. Unfortunately, Angelica has already had a bomb attached to Jack's car, which explodes with Jamie inside. After hearing this on the phone, J.R. runs out of his office to go to Jack's apartment. As he leaves the office, Sue Ellen arrives in the other elevator looking for him. As soon as she enters J.R.'s office, another bomb left by Angelica goes off, and the entire floor that houses Ewing Oil explodes, showering debris onto the street below. The scene then shifts to Pam in bed, the day after her marriage to Mark Graison. Pam wakes up to hear the shower running. Assuming it's Mark, she opens the shower door, only to find Bobby Ewing, alive and well. (In the Season Ten premiere, Bobby's death and all of Season Nine would be revealed as a dream that Pam was having).
Season Ten cliffhanger: The Ewings suffer a devastating loss as Ewing Oil is closed down by the US Justice Department as punishment for J.R.'s shady dealings which caused an international incident. Pam, on her way home to Bobby from the doctor's office after finding out she can finally conceive a baby, crashes into a fuel tanker, which then explodes.
Season Eleven cliffhanger: J.R., and Sue Ellen's new boyfriend, Nicholas Pearce, fight in J.R.'s penthouse hotel suite. As the fight turns very ugly and ends up with both of them on the balcony, Pearce falls over the balcony and to his death. Shocked by what she has just seen, Sue Ellen then picks up a gun from the floor and shoots J.R. three times. She then picks up the phone and tells the police she would like to report a double murder.
Season Twelve cliffhanger: Sue Ellen prepares to leave Dallas for good, but before she does she has one last surprise for her ex-husband J.R. Sue Ellen has made a biographical motion picture about her marriage to him (with actors portraying them and the other Ewings) and previews the film to J.R. who is shocked by what he has just seen. Sue Ellen tells J.R. that she is leaving Dallas, but if he ever crosses her again in the future – or even if she wakes up on the wrong side of bed one morning – she will release the film and J.R. will be made "the laughing stock of Texas" and ruined forever. She then leaves Dallas, triumphant at last.
Season Thirteen cliffhanger: After deliberately committing himself into a sanitarium in order to persuade a patient (Clayton's sister, Jessica) to sign over her voting majority in WestStar Oil, J.R.'s plan backfires when Cally Harper, his latest scorned woman, and his illegitimate son James Beaumont coerce him into signing a property waiver before they will allow him to be released. Once he does, James tears up J.R.'s release papers anyway leaving him trapped in the sanitarium with no means of escape.
Season Fourteen cliffhanger: After finally losing Ewing Oil to Cliff Barnes, control of Southfork to Bobby, and being abandoned by his wife and children, a drunk and despondent J.R. begins walking around the ranch alone with a loaded gun wishing he had never been born. A gunshot is later fired in J.R.'s bedroom as Bobby returns to Southfork, and he rushes up to J.R.'s room and gasps, saying "Oh, my God!" as the series ends.