TV History Unfolded: The Cultural Impact of Dallas and the Infamous “Who Shot J.R.?” Moment

In April 1980, as Suella Braverman’s parents welcomed their newborn daughter, the UK was abuzz with a single question: Who shot J.R.? The third series of Dallas, the iconic Texas-based drama known for its melodramatic plotlines and bold fashion choices, had just concluded with a cliffhanger that would go down in television history.

The Cliffhanger Heard ‘Round the World

The finale’s unforgettable scene featured oil baron John Ross ‘J.R.’ Ewing, portrayed by Larry Hagman, collapsing after being shot by an unseen assailant.

This whodunnit moment became a global phenomenon, leaving audiences on both sides of the Atlantic eagerly awaiting the resolution to the mystery.

Six Months of Suspense

Viewers had to endure six months of suspense before discovering whether J.R. survived the attempt on his life and, more importantly, uncovering the identity of the shooter.

The drama’s intricate plot and diverse cast of characters fueled speculation about who held the motive to target the cunning J.R.

Sue Ellen Ewing: Prime Suspect

Among the many potential suspects, Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R.’s long-suffering wife, emerged as a top contender. Described as ‘the original Desperate Housewife,’ Sue Ellen battled personal demons, navigated extramarital affairs, and faced the challenge of proving her son’s paternity through a blood test.

The Shocking Revelation

Despite Sue Ellen’s arrest for suspicion of the shooting, the revelation, watched by 83 million Americans, was a shocking twist. In an unexpected turn, it was J.R.’s sister-in-law, Kristin Shepard, played by Linda Gray, who pulled the trigger.

Linda Gray’s Reflection

Actress Linda Gray, who portrayed Sue Ellen until 1991, reflected on her character as a ‘neurotic, psychotic, alcoholic weirdo.’ Despite these traits, Gray deemed Sue Ellen the most compelling female character on television in the Eighties.

Suella Braverman’s Connection

As the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman was born just weeks after this television landmark, her birth certificate suggests a connection to the cultural phenomenon of Dallas and the enduring impact of the “Who Shot J.R.?” moment.

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