The first “Dallas” episode was broadcast on Sunday, April 2, 1978, as a start of a “miniseries”, but it did not turn out to be mini at all; “Dallas” reached 357 episodes in over 13 years.

It told the family saga of the Ewing family of eight members, who got rich from the oil business of their father Jock. The focus was on “J.R.” Ewing Junior, the family company’s CEO, whose character was created in such a way as to make the audience both love and hate him.

The end of Dallas’ second season became a major moment in television history. The part, called “A House Divided”, was broadcast on Friday, March 21, 1980, the very day on which the President proclaimed the US boycott of the Moscow Olympics. It turned so that turmoil around the fictitious TV story would outdo a real-world news in the interest of the general public.

In the end of that season’s finale, we found J. R late at his office. It was quite dark inside. The phone rang, but no one was there, just two clicks, followed by the sound of a dial tone. J.R. was restless in his office for about a minute.

Then it was all black, with threatening footstep sounds heard in the rising pitch of the background music and when J.R. turned in the direction of the sound, two gun shots were fired and he crumbled on the floor. What was left to see was J.R. face close up, grasping maybe for his last breath and then the series ended.

This gap in the main story created a new and additional kind of curiosity in the audience in the period  between the airing of the two seasons’ shows. This new trick made “Dallas” the best of CBS hit shows. T-shirts and other souvenirs with “Who shot J. R.?” inscription flooded the marketplace.

“People” magazine announced that J. R. bumper stickers outnumbered those of the Carter and Reagan presidential campaigns taken together. “Time” found the best wording of the question “Whodunit?”.

The answer came only in the fourth episode of the third season, titled appropriately – “Who Done It?”. The audience amount almost reached the total voter turnout for the 1980 presidential election. Thus “Dallas” redefied the meaning and effect of TV “cliff-hanger”.

Today, that Dallas episode ranks amongst the three highest rated television events in history, where Friday, November 21, 1980 will forever stay as the day, when 350 million people around the world found out “who shot J. R.”