On This Day: ‘Dallas’ Spin-Off ‘Knots Landing’ Airs Series Finale in 1993

by Suzanne Halliburton

Knots Landing, like Dallas and Dynasty, knew how to milk the drama out of every last heart-racing moment.

And on May 13, 1993, Knots Landing ended its 14-year run with a flourish. There was a bomb on a plane, corporate gamesmanship and a key character coming back from the presumed dead. Another major character returned for some revenge. This was a prime-time soap at its most soapy.

With all the juicy plot twists, of course this was a show that was spawned in the 1970s and thrived in 1980s excess. Knots Landing was a spinoff of Dallas. But unlike Dallas, and its tales about the Texas oil and ranch business, this series tracked Gary Ewing and the goings-on of his upper-middle-class California cul-de-sac.

By Series End, Knots Landing Was Third-Longest Running Show in TV History

When Knots Landing went off the air in 1993, it was the third longest-running drama in TV history, behind only Gunsmoke and Bonanza. The show never was as popular as its big brother, Dallas. Knots Landing enjoyed one top 10 season and that was when it ranked ninth in 1984-85. It always was a Thursday night must-see.

Michele Lee, who played Karen MacKenzie, was on all 344 glorious episodes. She said of the show: “People ask me `What do you feel?’ And I begin by saying something about leaving the show. I act if as the show still exists, I’m just leaving it. It’s very hard to accept it’s over.

“We tapped into the hearts of all people,” Lee said. “You’d be surprised at the different demographics who watched our show. Even if it wasn’t their exact dream, we represented some part of the American dream for our viewers. That is one of the reasons why they watched.”

Nicollette Sheridan, who was in final half of Knots Landing, portraying beautiful, but devious Paige Matheson, signed off the show this way:

“It’s been a kick in the ass,” Matheson said at the series finale cast party. “We’re outta here.”

So how did the show end? Gary and his wife, Valene, got back together. Everyone thought Val had died in a car explosion. She’d just been kidnapped. Karen and Mac made up as a couple and were about to host Val and Gary for a barbecue. And then Abby shows up. She heard there was a home on the market. Donna Mills played Abby to delicious perfection. She was one of the best TV characters in the 1980s, right up there with Sue Ellen Ewing (Dallas) and Alexis Carrington (Dynasty). Mills left the show after 1989, but returned for a two-part finale in 1993.

The show wrapped with Abby saying “Karen, hello. It’s like old times, isn’t it?”

And 28 years later, you think everything is all the same in Knotts Landing.