John Ross Ewing, Jr., more commonly known as J.R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, was a central, nefarious figure on the hit CBS television series Dallas (1978–1991). J.R. was a covetous, egocentric, and amoral oil baron, who was constantly plotting subterfuges to plunder his foes and their Texas-sized wallets.
The concept was a blend of "Bonanza" with a rich, western patriarch and his three dissimilar sons, and "Romeo and Juliet" with two star-crossed lovers whose families are sworn enemies. The thrust of the series was initially the feuding families, with J.R. just a supporting character. However, his popularity grew and the producers acknowledged he became the "break-out character". Two highly rated 1980 episodes became pop culture zeniths. In "A House Divided" and "Who Done It?", the audience witnessed J.R. being shot by an unknown assailant. After the cliffhanger was broadcast in March, the audience had to wait until the October conclusion. The summer of 1980 was all abuzz with a new national obsession known as "Who shot J.R.?". Riding the crest of his newfound popularity, Larry Hagman threatened to leave the series unless his contractual demands were met. CBS leaked rumors of recasting, but the actor eventually prevailed.
J.R. Ewing is considered one of television's most popular characters.