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15 Yellowstone Frequently Asked Questions Answered

15 Yellowstone Frequently Asked Questions Answered

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The Paramount Network original Yellowstone (2018- ) is a drama series showcasing the issues of modern-day ranching in Montana.

The Yellowstone prequel series, 1883 (2021-2022), tells the origin story of the Dutton family who’s in the center of the Yellowstone universe.

Regardless of where you currently are in the series, you must have some burning questions about the characters, plot, or filming locations. And so, we have decided to answer the most common fan questions about Yellowstone and 1883.

A word of warning, this article contains spoilers from all seasons of the show.

Is the Dutton Ranch Real?

The Dutton ranch on Yellowstone ranch is a real working cattle ranch in Montana called Chief Joseph Ranch. It also doubles as a guest ranch with two luxurious cabins to rent when filming is not ongoing.

Yellowstone fans can actually stay at Dutton ranch. Moreover, guests even get to tour the Yellowstone filming locations, such as the main house, barns, corrals, arena, and the surrounding woods.

Dutton Ranch on the Yellowstone TV show

A key difference between the fictional Dutton ranch and its real-life counterpart is size. While the Chief Joseph Ranch was originally a 2,500-acre property, today it is only 150 acres. Whereas, the iconic Dutton ranch is the largest contiguous ranch in Montana, similar in size to Rhode Island.

Who Owns the Chief Joseph Ranch Today?

The original Chief Joseph Ranch was founded by settlers in 1880. Since its establishment, it’s had various owners, including glass tycoon William S. Ford and federal judge Howard Clark Hollister.

Shane Libel and his family own the Chief Joseph Ranch today. They keep various animals on the premises, including horses and cattle, produce hay and receive guests during the summer.

Interestingly, the Chief Joseph Ranch wasn’t originally on the list of filming locations available to producers. Yellowstone location manager Mark Jarrett came across the property by accident and contacted the owners through a “cold call”.

Dutton family house on Yellowstone

After a series of negotiations, the Libels agreed to lease the ranch to the filmmakers for five seasons of Yellowstone.

As expected, the deal ended up being mutually beneficial as the show attracted more paying guests to the Chief Joseph Ranch.

Not to mention, having a hit TV series filmed at the property has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the Libels. “The most surreal thing in the world is when you’re sitting in your own living room, watching a show that’s filmed in your house.” – Shane Libel

Also read: 35 Best Yellowstone Quotes From the Dutton Family

Are the Duttons Based on a True Story?

The Dutton family and the Yellowstone TV show are not based on a true story. The show is fully fictional and the brainchild of Taylor Sheridan and John Linson.

With that being said, the show does tackle many real-world issues which is why it’s so lifelike. Through Yellowstone‘s plot and characters, Taylor Sheridan calls out oppression, poverty, injustice, corruption, resource mismanagement, and other current issues in the state of Montana.

Does John Dutton Die?

Due to his power, wealth, and the sheer size of the land he owns, there are many stakeholders who want to take down John Dutton in Yellowstone. However, John is not one to go down without a fight and will protect the family ranch at all costs.

John Dutton doesn’t die in Yellowstone. In the finale of Season 3, he was shot by a squad hired to kill him but is rescued by Rip Wheeler. After a two-month coma, John is released from the hospital and makes a full recovery.

Although he came close to death on several occasions, none of those have weakened his resolution to keep his ranch intact. The reason behind his stubborn refusal to sell a single acre is a promise he made years ago to his dying father.

Also read: 35 Best John Dutton Quotes

Who Ordered the Hit on John Dutton?

In Season 3, Episode 10, “The World is Purple”, John, Beth, and Kayce Dutton are attacked one by one for reasons unknown at first.

Upon recovering from his injuries, John Dutton sets out to find and take down the person responsible for the attacks.

Jamie’s biological father Garrett Randall ordered the hit on John Dutton and his family. He conspired with his former cellmate Terrel Riggins who sent out armed assassins to ambush the Duttons.

Although John manages to track down Riggins, he hasn’t actually found out who was truly behind the attacks yet. However, chances are that he eventually will, which could be one of the storylines of the upcoming Season 5.

Knowing his past, Randall committing another murderous crime is not surprising. He already hinted at his intentions in Season 3, when he told Jamie the “Yellowstone empire” can only be taken by force. He wanted to see his son take over the ranch and punish the Duttons for taking Jamie away from him.

Who is James Dutton to John Dutton?

James Dutton in 1883, the Yellowstone prequal series

James Dutton is John Dutton’s great-great-grandfather and the first generation of Dutton ranchers. He is one of the lead characters of the Yellowstone prequel 1883, portrayed by country singer Tim McGraw.

Originally from Tennessee, James Dutton was a captain in the Confederate States Army. He fought in the Civil War and was wounded and captured in the Battle of Antietam. For the following three years, he was held captive at a Union camp for prisoners of war.

Once released, James Dutton traveled with his family to Fort Worth in Texas, where they joined a wagon train taking European immigrants to Oregon.

Eventually, the Dutton family ended up settling in Montana, where they laid down the foundations of the Yellowstone ranch.

Who Is John Dutton’s Favorite Child?

John Dutton originally had four children, Lee, Beth, Kayce, and Jamie. Unfortunately, Lee dies in the show’s opening episode while trying to recapture cattle from their enemies.

Until his sudden death, Lee has always been John Dutton’s favorite child. Being the eldest, he was the heir to John’s cattle business and was very close with his father.

For all his life, John has been raising Lee to one day take over the running of the ranch. However, as we learnt in the first episode, he’s only taught him how to “work it”.

After Lee’s passing at the age of 38, John began teaching Kayce how to run the ranch. Although he claims to love him and Beth equally, Kayce might have taken Lee’s place as John’s favorite.

Why Is Rip So Loyal to John Dutton?

Rip Wheeler and John Dutton on Yellowstone

Rip is John Dutton’s right-hand man on the Yellowstone ranch. He is in charge of keeping the ranch hands in line and carrying out John’s orders without question.

Rip’s loyalty to John is blatantly obvious, but where does it come from?

Rip is so loyal to John Dutton because he has given him a second chance at life. John took Rip in as a young boy who’s just killed his father in an act of self-defense.

When Rip smashed his father’s head in with a frying pan, the man has already killed his mother and brother. John was told to hand the boy over to the authorities, but instead, he raised him up on the ranch like his own son.

Also read: 30 Best Rip Wheeler Quotes

Does Lloyd Die in Yellowstone?

Ever since Walker’s return to the ranch at the end of Season 3, he and Lloyd have been fighting over Laramie’s affections. Laramie is Mia’s barrel racer friend who has become a regular visitor at the ranch since Mia got together with Jimmy.

Lloyd Pierce from Yellowstone

Although he gets beaten up badly by Walker and Rip, Lloyd doesn’t die in Yellowstone. He has learnt where his place is and decides to lie low until the scandal passes.

Because Lloyd’s constant conflict with Walker disturbed the peace in the bunkhouse more than once, Rip ordered the pair to “fight it out” in Season 4 Episode 6 “I Want to Be Him”.

After a brutal fistfight in the round pen, both men were barely hanging on. John wanted to teach Lloyd a lesson by giving him one final blow, but Rip stopped him saying the others would hate him for it.

And so, Rip took John’s place and broke his best friend’s hand to protect him from himself.

Is Jamie Dutton Adopted?

Jamie Dutton on Yellowstone

Jamie Dutton is a lawyer, politician, and son of the iconic John Dutton, or so we thought. His nemesis in life is his own sister Beth Dutton, who terrorizes him at every opportunity.

In Yellowstone Season 3, we find out that Jamie Dutton is adopted. John and Evelyn Dutton took him in when he was orphaned at the age of 3 months.

Jamie might be an annoying character, but he has a tragic past. His father Garrett Randall beat his mother Phyllis to death, leaving him with no parents and no family. For reasons yet to be revealed, John took Jamie under his wing and raised him as his own.

While the twist was a shock to Yellowstone fans, it explains why John has never been able to truly love Jamie. Even though he grew up as part of the family, Jamie is not a Dutton and, therefore, will never be worthy of John’s approval.

What Did Jamie do to Beth?

Beth’s fierce hatred for Jamie is obvious from early on in the series. So, it’s understandable why many fans wonder what he’s done to Beth to deserve this treatment on earth.

Jamie is the reason why Beth can’t have biological children. Without her being aware, he took Beth to an abortion clinic where sterilization is a compulsory part of the process.

As a teenager, Beth got pregnant with Rip’s baby and asked Jamie to help her out. Thinking it’s the only way to keep what happened from their father, Jamie took Beth to a clinic at the Reservation.

We don’t know why Jamie didn’t inform Beth about the consequences of her procedure. However, one thing is certain: she will never be able to forgive Jamie for taking the chance for a family away from her.

Why Did Kayce Get Branded on Yellowstone?

Rip Wheeler, Kayce Dutton, and John Dutton in Yellowstone

Those who vow to serve on the ranch for life must get the Yellowstone brand. Once branded, they aren’t just a ranch hand anymore, but a part of the Yellowstone extended family.

While the brand gives them protection, it also means they must stay on the ranch forever or die.

John branded Kayce on Yellowstone for leaving the ranch to live with his young pregnant wife. It was both an act of desperation and a punishment for Kayce for leaving the family behind.

John might’ve branded Kayce for the wrong reasons, however, it worked like magic. Kayce does eventually return to the family ranch with his wife and son. He even becomes the leader of operations on the Yellowstone, replacing Rip as John’s right-hand man.

Also read: 10 Facts & FAQs About Luke Grimes, Kayce Dutton in Yellowstone

Should I Watch 1883 or Yellowstone First?

A common dilemma among those interested in Yellowstone is whether to watch the parent or its prequel series first. While it makes sense for Yellowstone viewers to watch 1883, it also works the other way around.

It doesn’t matter whether you watch 1883 or Yellowstone first. Both work brilliantly as standalone series for those who enjoy Western-type shows. However, once you’ve seen one, you’ll definitely want to see the other.

1883 Dutton family characters
1883 Dutton family

As someone who has watched Yellowstone first, I can certainly see the value of learning what kind of people the Duttons were before they became rich and powerful.

At the same time, 1883 features elements of the Wild West and pieces of American history, which is why it’s also a great independent series.

Also read: What Does the Yellowstone Logo Mean?

How Can I Watch Season 1 of Yellowstone?

You can watch Season 1 of Yellowstone for free on the streaming service Peacock. With the platform’s free subscription tier, you won’t need to give any credit card details to start streaming.

If you live in the United States, Peacock is the best place to watch the Yellowstone series. It has all four seasons of the show and also offers a 7-day free trial with no strings attached.

You can also watch Yellowstone for free using fuboTV‘s 7-day free trial. According to Rolling Stone, you’ll need to enter your fuboTV account credentials to be able to watch the show on Paramount Network.

Where Can I Watch the Yellowstone Prequel 1883?

1883 is a period drama that premiered on December 19, 2021. It sets the scene for Yellowstone by exploring how the Dutton family made their way across the Great Plains to escape poverty and become the largest land owners in Montana.

You can watch the Yellowstone prequel 1883 exclusively on Paramount Network’s streaming service Paramount+. The platform offers a 7-day free trial and has a monthly subscription charge of just $4.99.

If you’re a Yellowstone fan, 1883 is a definite must-watch. Starring country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and multi-award-winning actor Sam Elliott, the series is one you don’t want to miss.


Friday 2nd of December 2022

love this show started watching when i came home from the hospital with overdose of chemo and helped take my mind off what was happening to me. love all the actors and the writer taylor sheridan, have watched all the episodes on all the holidays it gave me something to look forward to. good luck to all which i don't think you need. i have always loved horses, but afraid of them, but watching them on the show such an easy task for the cowboys?

Jerry Taylor

Monday 5th of September 2022

What happened to the helicopter?

Bill Cord

Sunday 19th of June 2022

Actually, James Dutton is John Dutton's GGGF. James Dutton was 42 in 1883. That means his son John, who was born in the 1870s would be the GGF. His son would have been born in the late 1890s or early 1900s.

Grandfather John-A born in 1900 would have sired a son in the 1920s or early 1930s. That would have been the current John Dutton's father.

The 1883 James Dutton would have had to father a son around age 65 with a new wife since the Faith Hill character could not have a child at 65.

Henrietta Szathmary

Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Hi Bill, Thanks for your comment, we will update the article with the correct information!