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10 Key Characters of The TV Show Yellowstone

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Yellowstone is a flagship TV series created by Paramount+, written by and directed by Taylor Sheridan; the series stars the Golden Globe winner Kevin Costner made famous in starring roles such as Field of Dreams (1989) and Dancers with Wolves (1990).

The TV show focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Dutton family trying to maintain control of their ranch, which the Duttons have controlled since 1883. The show has various themes, such as nature conservation, big business and changing life in America.

Yellowstone’s true heart is its unique characters, which make up the Dutton family. John III Dutton, head of the Dutton family, Bethany “Beth” Dutton, Kasey Dutton, Rip Wheeler, Monica Long-Dutton and Jamie Dutton make up the heart of the Yellowstone family.

There are also the enemies and allies who help to bring drama to the show and unique aspects that impact the cultural life of America and the world, such as Native American rights represented by Tribal chairman Thomas Rainwater and an eco-environmentalist character, Summer Higgins.

What Taylor Sheridan has created is a new modern-day Dallas TV show with diverse characters that represent America in a fun, entertaining and relevant way, still keeping the show enjoyable for viewers.

grass field under blue sky of Yellowstone
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1 John III Dutton, Played by Kevin Costner

The character John Dutton is the 7th generation owner of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch and is the heart and soul of the Dutton family and is living a life of regret and hardship due to fighting to maintain control of the ranch, which she has done terrible things such as branding his son Kasey Dutton.

One of the defining story arcs throughout the show is John Dutton’s trying to find redemption for the mistakes he has made and the time he has lost with his children by preparing Kasey to succeed him as the leader of the Yellowstone Ranch and making up for the time he has left with his grandson Tate Dutton.

John Dutton’s activities in Yellowstone include his love interest Summer Higgins, an environmentalist and activist. John is also currently the governor of Montana, facing impeachment from his eldest son Jamie Dutton.

brown bison Yellowstone
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2 Jamie Dutton, Played By Wes Bentley

Jamie Dutton is the eldest adopted son of Evelyn Dutton and John III Dutton; the growing rift between Jamie and John Dutton stems from Jamie being sent to Harvard Law School which started growing rift between father and son due to the lifestyle and ethics not being compatible with John’s view of life and the lifestyle of an honest rancher.

Jamie Dutton committed the murder of a journalist in season two of Yellowstone. In season 4, he murdered his biological father, Garrett Randall; he also tricked his sister Bethany Dutton into having a hysterectomy and abortion while she was a teenager.

The operation performed on Bethany has left her unable to have children and to carry on the Dutton family legacy, which is part one of the underpinning arc of the Yellowstone of who or how the ranch will be inherited with only two of John III Dutton’s children having kids of their own.

body of water and smoke Yellowstone
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3 Bethany (Beth) Dutton, Played By Jessica Kelly Siobhán Reilly

Bethany Dutton has three overall goals and story arcs throughout the Yellowstone series, such as the on-again and off-again romance with another lead character of Yellowstone Rip Wheeler, whom she married in season 4; there is also a rivalry with her eldest brother Jamie Dutton.

The sibling rivalry is caused by Jamie tricking Beth Dutton into having a hysterectomy which prevents her from having a family.

One of the joys of this character is their relationship with her father, John Dutton, which has the closest relationship between all the Dutton children and their father, partly due to John loving his daughter’s free spirit and being quoted as being “envious of her freedom”.

One of the great lines of Bethany Dutton is, “God is the land and heaven, and hell is happening at the same time one man and having the best day of their life, there is another next to him having the worst day other their life”.

Beth Dutton has a history of alcohol and substance abuse and has had many relations with men and women. She is a top businesswoman and uses her abilities to try and maintain the independence of the Dutton Ranch, which is under multiple threats from property developers.

In flashback scenes, we learn how Beth lost her mother at a young age in a horse-riding accident, and due to this experience, she has a love-and-hate relationship with the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

She fears losing her father, with him being the only man she loves in her life, and has a connection only with him and her husband, Rip Wheeler; she also doubts Kasey Dutton’s ability to hold onto the family ranch when John dies.

gray concrete pathway on green grass Yellowstone
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4 Rip Wheeler, Played By Cole Hauser

Rip Wheeler is the primary love interest of Bethany Dutton and is the muscle and enforcer of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch; he is a killer that has become a fan favourite due to his quiet charisma and force of personality.

Rip Wheeler is also the hitman of the Dutton family, and he regularly takes the families’ enemies to the train station, which is a euphemism for executing people.

Rip is concerned about the ranch’s future and not confident with Kasey Dutton’s abilities to take over the family after the patriarch, John Dutton, dies.

This leads to conflict between both men and how the family and the ranch should be run in the future.

man on white horse next to dog on grassy field Yellowstone
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5 Kasey Dutton, Played By Luke Grimes

Kasey Dutton is the youngest child and successor to the Yellowstone Dutton family ranch. He is the only biological surviving son of John and Evelyn Dutton due to the fallout between John III Dutton and the eldest adopted son of Jamie Dutton.

Kasey Dutton is a veteran, having been a soldier in the Afghanistan and Iraq war; he has PTSD and is trying to live a life without violence.

Still, it is part of his nature to be a man of action and violence, just like his father, John. He is married to Monica Long, a Native American woman and mother of his child Tate Dutton.

His story arc is battling the legacy of the Yellowstone Ranch and finding who he is as a man. He is currently the livestock Commissioner of Montana and is groomed reluctantly to succeed his father.

At the start of the Yellowstone series, Kasey and his father, John, try to repair their relationship due to John’s disagreement with his son about marrying Monica Long, whom he impregnated at 16 and married.

They were estranged for ten years at the start of the series due to John wanting the marriage not to happen and Monica to have an abortion.

bunsen peak clouds cold country Yellowstone
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6 Monica Long-Dutton, Played By Kelsey Asbille

Monica Long Dutton, the wife of Casey Dutton and the mother of Tate Dutton, is a Native American woman that exposes viewers to the hard life, alcoholism and poverty in Native American communities on reservations.

One of the themes found throughout shows produced by Taylor Sheridan is his inclusion of the Native American population into his TV shows.

Monica Long is also a professor and teaches classes on the reservation. In season 4, she suffered a miscarriage of her son John iV Dutton due to a car accident. At the start of the show, she has a minimal relationship with the members of the Dutton family.

Over the course of the series, John Dutton tries to repair the relationship between himself and his son’s wife, Monica Long, to prepare Kasey and his family to take control over Yellowstone, which is in the Yellowstone universe, the largest ranch in the United States.

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7 Tribal Chairman Thomas Rainwater, Gil Birmingham

Chairman Thomas Rainwater was one of the main protagonists and enemies of the Dutton family in the first two seasons of Yellowstone, taking on a more supporting role in the following seasons due to new storylines.

In the first season of Yellowstone, chairman Rainwater orchestrated a plan to steal the Dutton’s cattle, leading to a shootout between the Dutton control livestock agents and the Native Americans on the Montana reservation.

During the shootout, Monica Long’s brother Robert Long was killed by Kasey Dutton in retaliation for the murder of Lee Dutton, the middle son of John Dutton, who died in season one of Yellowstone.

Due to the changes in the storyline, Yellowstone went from John Dutton being an enemy of the reservation towards a more neutral stance. Thomas Rainwater’s goal was reclaiming the land that the US government stole, including Yellowstone, the Dutton settled in 1883.

hot springs in wyoming yellowstone park Yellowstone
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8 Summer Higgins Played By Piper Perabo

The Character Summer Higgins was introduced to the Yellowstone series in season 4 due to her being arrested for attacking Casey Dutton during a peaceful protest which led to her becoming a love interest of John Dutton during seasons 4 and 5.

Summer Higgins is a vegan and environmentalist fighting to protect the rights of animals and prevent the construction of an airport in the state of Montana, which is also threatening the continuing existence of Yellowstone due to tourism threatening the rancher’s way of life.

This is due to increased tourism and people moving from different parts of the United States to escape cities.

Summer Higgins brings a culture clash between rural and inner-city American life due to the nature of people from different cultures and walks of life moving throughout the USA, sometimes called transplants.

trees under starry night Yellowstone
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9 Lloyd Pierce, Played By Forrie J. Smith

Lloyd Pierce is a long-standing friend and father figure of Rip Wheeler; he is also one of the branded men of the Yellowstone Ranch, making him not just a cowboy but also a hitman for the family in the first season of the Yellowstone we see Lloyd killing people who see too much of the what the Dutton’s do.

Also, Lloyd is responsible for the ranch hands being the third in command of the day-to-day running of the Yellowstone Ranch due to old age and Rip Wheeler being groomed to succeed him as John Dutton’s right-hand man.

creek flowing through mountainous valley on sunny day Yellowstone
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10 Sarah Atwood Played By Dawn Olivieri

Sarah Atwood is the primary love interest of Jamie Dutton in season five of Yellowstone; she is currently plotting with Jamie to murder Jamie’s adopted father, John Dutton, so that Jamie can inherit his share of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, which would also pave the way for the tourist development around Yellowstone.

Sarah Atwood, at the behest of Jamie Dutton, is also planning to murder as of the mid-season cliffhanger season 5 episode 8 the murder of Bethany Dutton due to Beth threatening to make sure Jamie never sees his son, also called Jamie II Dutton, again.

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