It premiered in 1978 and ended with a bang in 1991, but the 1980s is where Dallas sealed its place in American TV history. The primetime soap opera was filled with the sort of big-budget twists and turns and drama its daytime counterparts could only dream about.

Noted for ending every season (and indeed, the series) with a cliffhanger, Dallas had fans spending their summers wondering “who shot J.R.?” “Who is the body floating in the pool? And “Patrick Duffy will be starring as…?”

With guest stars galore, including a turn by Barbara Eden as one of J.R.’s old girlfriends (Jeannie and master, together again!), the trials and tribulations and murder and mayhem surrounding the Ewing family had Americans glued to their sets. The magic of the series wasn’t just appreciated stateside. Dallas was one of the first to be distributed globally and eventually translated into 67 languages in more than 90 countries. Supposedly it was also shown by the communist government of Nicolae Ceauşescu ‘s Romania to convince people that capitalism was corrupt and decadent. Didn’t work.

If that isn’t proof enough of the series’ influence, even academia has accepted the position Dallas deserves in the annals of American pop culture – J.R.’s hat is on display in the Smithsonian.

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