Dynasty was an American primetime television soap opera that aired on ABC from 1981 to 1989. The series revolved around the Carringtons, a wealthy oil family living in Denver, Colorado. Dynasty epitomized the Reagan years' ideals of wealth and excess. An unsuccessful spin-off came in 1985; a miniseries, Dynasty: The Reunion, aired in 1991.
As the series opened, tycoon Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) was about to marry Krystle Jennings (Linda Evans), a younger woman whom he met when she took a job as a secretary at his company, the monolithic Denver-Carrington.
Krystle was young, beautiful and vulnerable, described by the show's creator Esther Shapiro as "an American Aphrodite". She found a hostile reception in the Carrington household - the staff patronised her, Blake's daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) resented her, and her husband was too preoccupied with his work. Krystle's only ally in the Carrington house was her stepson, the sexually ambivalent Steven (Al Corley).
At the conclusion of the show's first season, as Blake Carrington stood trial for the murder of his gay son's lover, Ted Dinard, the script called for the return of Blake's former wife, the sultry, elegant Alexis Carrington. With the role uncast, a model was used in the season finale.
In the first episode of the second season, titled Enter Alexis, the mysterious stranger removed her Dior sunglasses to reveal English actress Joan Collins who chewed her way through the scripts, and confirmed Alexis Carrington as one of the greatest TV characters of all time.
With Alexis settled as Krystle's implacable nemesis, mother and stepdaughter Fallon settled their differences - a bond which riled the already ruffled Alexis even further.
In the seasons which followed, Alexis caused Krystle's miscarriage, tried to ruin her marriage by finding and bringing to Denver her former (and current, thanks to a legal hiccup) husband Mark Jennings and provoking a handful of trademark catfights, beginning with one in the Carrington estate's art studio, another in the lily pond, a third in a mud pool in a park and a fourth (in Dynasty: The Reunion) in a fashion studio.
The most memorable aspects of the series, outside the high camp scrips from writer/creators Richard and Esther Shapiro and writers Robert and Eileen Mason Pollock, were a stream of infamous cliffhanger storylines including a fire in the hotel La Mirage, an Alexis/Krystle showdown which ended in an inferno in Steven's cabin, and the show's most famous - the so-called "wedding massacre" when Blake's daughter Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg) married Prince Michael of Moldavia (Michael Praed) on the eve of a military revolution in his country.
The major characters in the show included:
- Blake Carrington (John Forsythe): The son of Tom and Fallon Carrington (later erroneously referred to in one episode as Ellen) who became the self-made CEO of Denver-Carrington. The husband of Alexis Morell Carrington (with whom he fathered Adam, Fallon, Steven and Amanda), and Krystle Jennings (with whom he fathered Krystina).
- Krystle Grant Jennings Carrington (Linda Evans): The wife of Blake Carrington, former wife of tennis pro Samuel Mark Jennings (known as Mark) and the one-time lover of Matthew Blaisdel (Bo Hopkins) a married geologist who worked for Denver-Carrington.
- Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan (Joan Collins): Former socialite turned businesswoman, married to - in order - Blake Carrington, Cecil Colby, Dex Dexter and Sean Rowan. She famously held a torch for Blake, though she later fell deeply in love with Dex Dexter. Her marriage to Colby was ordered on his deathbed, and intended to enable her to ruin Blake after Colby was gone, while her wedding to Rowan was on a whim. Mother, with Blake, to Adam, Fallon, Steven and Amanda Carrington. Alexis was romantically attached to a number of men, including Carrington architect and estate manager Roger Grimes, tennis pro Mark Jennings, oilman Rashid Ahmed, King Galen of Moldavia, and shipping tycoon Zach Powers.
- Fallon Carrington Colby (Pamela Sue Martin, then Emma Samms): The daughter of Blake and Alexis Carrington, the wife of Jeff Colby and the mother, with Jeff, of Blake Carrington Colby (known as LB) and Lauren Constance Colby. As a young woman, she was famously indiscreet and enjoyed affairs with chauffer Michael Culhane, playboy Peter de Vilbis, tennis pro Mark Jennings, doctor Nick Toscanni, and Colby heir, Miles Colby, whom she married briefly. See also The Colbys
- Steven Carrington (Al Corley, then Jack Coleman): The sexually confused son of Blake and Alexis Carrington who, despite his conviction that he was homosexual, married - at times, happily - Sammy Jo Dean and Claudia Blaisdel. With Sammy Jo, he fathered Steven Daniel Carrington (known as Danny). At different times, the lover of Ted Dinard, Chris Deegan, Luke Fuller and Bart Fallmont. At the conclusion of Dynasty: The Reunion he was in a relationship with Bart.
- Adam Carrington (Gordon Thomson): Kidnapped at birth and raised as Michael Torrance, in Billings, Montana, Adam Carrington did not return to the Carrington home until he was an adult. Married to Claudia Blaisdel and Dana Waring, he was a ruthless schemer - plotting to enhance his position in the dynasty.
- Amanda Carrington (Catherine Oxenberg, then briefly Karen Cellini): Raised in London as Amanda Bedford, by Alexis' cousin Rosalind Morell, and hidden from her father Blake out of spite by Alexis who discovered she was pregnant after she separated from her husband. Married to Prince Michael of Moldavia, and sometime lover of Dex Dexter, Clay Fallmont and chauffeur Michael Culhane.
- Claudia Barrows Blaisdel Carrington (Pamela Bellwood): The emotionally fragile wife of Matthew Blaisdel, and a close friend of Krystle. After her affair with Steven Carrington was revealed during the Dinard murder trial, her husband Matthew took their daughter Lindsay and left Denver, pushing Claudia into a succession of breakdowns, interrupted only by marriages to Steven, and later Adam, Carrington. Died in a fire at La Mirage at the conclusion of season five.
- Jeff Colby (John James): The nephew and protege of Cecil Colby. Born (supposedly) to Philip and Francesca Colby, he was raised by Cecil because his father died before coming into his inheritance, and Cecil pressured the penniless Francesca to surrender Jeff, for his own good. Married (and later re-married) to Fallon Carrington and briefly to Kirby Anders. The father of Blake Carrington Colby (known as LB) and Lauren Constance Colby. At different times, the lover of Nicole Simpson, Lady Ashley Mitchell and Sammy Jo Reece. See also The Colbys
- Sammy Jo Dean Carrington, aka Sammy Jo Reece (Heather Locklear): Greedy, trouble-making niece of Krystle Carrington, wife of Steven Carrington and Clay Fallmont, mother of Steven Daniel 'Danny' Carrington. Sometime lover of Josh Harris and Jeff Colby. The show's secondary villainess/troublemaker for much of the show's run. Locklear split her time between Dynasty and another Spelling-produced series, TJ Hooker.
- Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll), aka Millie Cox: Successful and wealthy chanteuse, illegitimate daughter of Tom Carrington and Laura Matthews. Carroll joined the cast in season 4 as a foil for Joan Collins. When the character was originally written, the producers had not decided how to use her, so several introductory lines were filmed (to confound the risk of a media leak) including revealing that Dominique was Kirby Anders' mother, and also that she was Cecil Colby's ex-wife.
- Farnsworth 'Dex' Dexter (Michael Nader): Alexis's much-younger third husband. Carried on a brief affair with her daughter Amanda. Following the inevitable dissolution of his marriage to Alexis, involved with Leslie Carrington and Sable Colby.
- Kirby Anders Colby (Kathleen Beller): Daughter of Joseph Anders, the Carrington butler. Second wife of Jeff, raped by Adam.
- Clay Fallmont (Ted McGinley): Illegitimate son of Ben Carrington and Emily Fallmont. Brief affairs with Amanda, Sammi Jo and Leslie (later revealed to be his sister in one of the show's ickier subplots).
- Leslie Saunders Carrington (Terri Garber): Daughter of Ben Carrington and Melissa Saunders. Lover of Clay, Michael Culhane, Dex and Sean Rowan.
- Prince Michael of Moldavia (Michael Praed): Heir to fictional kingdom of Moldavia. His wedding to Amanda at the conclusion of season 4 was interrupted by machine-gun-wielding rebels in what was widely described as the series's most over-the-top stunt.
- Ben Carrington (Christopher Cazenove): Vengeful brother of Blake.
- Cassandra 'Caress' Morrell (Kate O'Mara): Vengeful sister of Alexis.