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Ranking Characters Of Yellowstone By Loyalty

The Yellowstone Dutton ranch is a kingdom nestled against the western Rockies, and like any kingdom, there are a lot of people working to keep things running. With so many necessary contributors both within and outside the castle walls, the big question that often comes up is how loyal you are to the kingdom. What are you willing to do to keep its walls strong and its people — especially its reigning monarchs — safe?

In "Yellowstone," John Dutton is the current king, with his family serving as royalty and generals, although they don't share their father's views completely. The Dutton ranch is also kept running by its ranch hands, whose loyalty is often tested. And there are those outside the family, related by law or politics but each with their own support of and feelings about the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

In a series where a ranch family at times operates like a crime family and where death and betrayal seem to lurk around every corner, few things are worth as much as loyal, sturdy men and women. While some allegiances have formed, like the brief truce between John Dutton and Dan Jenkins and the more prolonged truce with the local tribe, there is no loyalty here — they are merely joining up against a common enemy. So who are the most loyal and disloyal to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch?

13. Jamie Dutton

Of all the main characters, and certainly of all the Duttons, Jamie's loyalty is the toughest to place. At the moment, he's at the bottom of the list; beyond him are only outsiders, and frankly, he currently is an outsider. Having joined up with his biological father to take on the family that raised him and steal their ranch, Jamie is currently public enemy No. 2, No. 1 already having been eliminated by a rattlesnake in the Season 4 opener.

The difficulty with naming Jamie as the least loyal stems from the fact that for much of the time leading up to the opening of the series, Jamie was the most loyal Dutton. Kayce had all but disowned his family, and Beth was pursuing financial superstardom in Salt Lake City. Jamie had done everything for John and the ranch, even becoming a lawyer to protect it for generations to come. Even the horrible thing he did — getting Beth an abortion at a place that rendered women infertile — was a disgustingly misguided attempt to protect the ranch. 

Jamie was always loyal to the ranch before "Yellowstone" began, which makes his betrayal even more painful. How much he can turn on the family who raised him as one of their own remains to be seen, but what he's shown so far is that he feels the Dutton name has been a lie and that he was always treated as glorified help. Even his career came from the Duttons.

12. Governor Lynelle Perry

Governor Lynelle Perry is the closest thing John has to a girlfriend, though the infrequency of their dalliances makes it more of a booty call or perhaps a business/pleasure arrangement. At the start, she's dedicated to the preservation of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch and John's influence. Though one has to wonder how much of that was due to her loyalty to the ranch and John versus a desire to keep his outsized power voting for her to stay in the governor's seat. When Jamie runs for public office, she begins to show how she wants the Dutton power and reveals she doesn't necessarily care about the ranch.

As time has gone on, she's shown herself to be a politician first. Obviously, she has a responsibility to balance the interests of all her constituents, and while John owns the largest portion of the state, he is still just the paterfamilias of one family. As she sees John weakening and the status of his heirs as questionable, she begins to open herself to other offers. It will be interesting to see what happens if she ever gets to the point where she has to choose the Dutton Ranch or her job. Bets are she'll choose the governor's seal.

11. Sheriff Haskell

Sheriff Haskell had apparently long been loyal to the king Duttons, so much so that when he starts coming against the ranch in Season 1, John asks who's bought him out. The Dutton patriarch points out that Haskell somehow has a membership to the exclusive club owned by John's rival, Dan Jenkins. This harassment keeps up until John finally brings Haskell back after giving him an ultimatum to choose sides.

Since then, Haskell has shown himself to be loyal to the Duttons, though it's an uneasy truce. He supports them when they come under attack, ready to share his manpower and weaponry to help them (including at the end of Season 2 when he helps Kayce and John raid the militia that has kidnapped Kayce's son). He also joins Kayce in the pursuit of the men who shot his father without question.

Those are technically the responsibilities of a sheriff, yet given all the corruption shown in "Yellowstone," one can't help but feel that Haskell gets extra incentives to fall on the side of the Duttons. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see if Haskell can be bought out again as he was by Jenkins.

10. Monica Dutton

Monica is one of the few Duttons who is a Dutton in name only. When "Yellowstone" opens, she and Kayce are living on her reservation and have limited contact with John and the rest of the family. Tate, her and Kayce's son, hardly knows his grandfather, though how much of this is due to Kayce or her is debatable. What isn't debatable is the fact that she loves Kayce, even though she goes through a brief period of estrangement from him. After Kayce and Tate show a desire to return to the Dutton ranch, she agrees. But she never seems to feel truly at home on the ranch, and the horrible things that have happened to her and her son since coming back into the Dutton fold won't inspire great loyalty anytime soon.

Monica does seem to be loyal to Kayce, even if all the tragedy led her to return to living on the reservation with Tate. And Beth Dutton has given her reason to love her husband's family, if only tenuously. At one point, Beth also suggests Monica get her family out before they get destroyed like the ranch tends to do to its dwellers. There's also that epic scene when Beth avenges her by humiliating the racist shop owner who tried to frame the Native American woman. Again, Monica does seem to truly love her husband, despite all his failings. Her loyalty to the Yellowstone Dutton ranch, however, isn't as clear.

9. The Ranch hands

This slide is a collective look at all the workers of the Yellowstone ranch, with the exception of the branded elites Rip, Jimmy, and Lloyd. As mostly non-branded workers, they can technically leave (though when they go on a quest for vengeance against the trampling of Colby and Teeter, they all become official members of the ranch). Colby and Teeter not only seem to be loyal to the ranch, but their romance is also an amazing addition to the series. Elsewhere, Ryan has somewhat moved on and can't really be considered on par with the other hands. 

Then there's Walker, who was branded but left the ranch because he thought it was evil, only to be dragged back when he's found playing guitar in a bar. By Season 4, Walker seems to have accepted his place as a bunkhouse lifer and has a live-in girlfriend, though she was formerly with his senior bunkhouse member Lloyd. He can be seen joining the other hands in fighting and killing the militia members who attack the ranch in the Season 4 premiere, but his loyalty is still questionable. 

As mentioned previously, Colby and Teeter seem to now be permanent members, and their loyalty was tested when they were almost killed for being workers of the Dutton Ranch but returned to the fold. How far these people are willing to go for John and the Dutton Ranch, though, remains to be seen.

8. Jimmy Hurdstrom

Jimmy is absolutely loyal. Ish. Does it count if you have no other choice? The hapless Hurdstrom is first shanghaied onto the ranch as a favor John gives to a longtime acquaintance. He doggedly pursues the ranch life, in part because he was going nowhere except to prison or the cemetery before joining the Yellowstone Ranch. He certainly doesn't have the cowboy toughness of the rest of the bunkhouse, though he can apparently take a beating like no other.

Jimmy also went behind John's and Rip's backs in continuing to pursue his rodeo dreams, even though they both told him doing so would lead to his eviction from the ranch. When John intimates that Jimmy is finally being let go, the boy begs him not to. While not ideal, it's the only home he has. John, however, actually sends Jimmy on the road with horse trainer Travis Wheatley (played by showrunner Taylor Sheridan) to help build up the ranch's reputation with some all-star rodeo horses and riders. Jimmy agrees to do so against the protests of his girlfriend, who seems to want him to be his own man.

Jimmy is loyal, but he's also, well, dumb. You really have to wonder how much of his loyalty comes from the fact that he has nothing else, especially since his girlfriend appears to want him to leave the Yellowstone.

7. Tate Dutton

Of all the characters, maybe the most innocent who has paid the most for the Yellowstone Ranch is Tate, Kayce and Monica's young son. Tate starts off "Yellowstone" wanting to know his grandfather on his dad's side better. The early scenes of Tate are some of the most heartwarming of the whole series, like when John asks if he can ride a horse and Tate says, "Course I do. I'm Indian." Then there's the scene where Rip becomes "babysitter" for a minute, teaching Tate how to handle horses.

Of course, Tate gets kidnapped by militiamen in Season 2 at the behest of Dutton rivals the Beck brothers, and when recovered, he's obviously been tortured. Still, the boy does find redemption at camp with the Dutton ranchers and truly loves his life there. Then the militiamen return in Season 4, and Tate, not even a teenager, shoots and kills a man to protect his mom and — by extension — protect the ranch. This has obviously hit him hard, as seen in Season 4 episodes where he's trying to get over the burden while back on the reservation. (This is similar to how he took hard to the cowboy life to get over his kidnapping in Season 3.) He truly loves his father, his grandfather, and the cowboy life, but a lot can change when puberty hits, especially after so much trauma.

6. Ryan

As one of the few repeat players on "Yellowstone" without a last name, Ryan is one character who you might not recognize at first mention. He's a ranch hand, and he's not necessarily a notable one at that. Yet Ryan is there throughout the series. In fact, he's appeared in every episode but two. When Kayce became the head livestock agent, Ryan was there to become one of his top men.

That's right, Ryan's loyalty to the ranch includes not only ranch work but also dodging and lobbing bullets alongside family badass Kayce Dutton. Given how life-threatening being an enforcer for the Duttons has proven to be, this is a true act of loyalty above and beyond most of the other ranch hands. (Dutton assistants don't fare well. In fact, every assistant to Kayce's sister Beth has been killed by rivals.) Hopefully, his longtime support for the Yellowstone Ranch and its reigning family will lead to some more screen time and, as one person points out, maybe even a love interest. I mean, loyalty should be rewarded.

5. Kayce Dutton

If this was a list of who's the coolest person on "Yellowstone," Kayce Dutton would be at the top. With his conflicted-soul good looks, his dark past, and his desire to do the "right thing" even if it means doing bad things, Kayce is certainly the dreamboat of the show. It helps that he's also a legendary horse-breaker, a position steeped in American western romanticism. But Kayce's internal conflicts run deep. He was forcefully branded by his father, ran from his family, became a Navy SEAL, and when "Yellowstone" opened, he was living with Monica on the reservation with the least amount of contact with his family possible.

As the threats to the Dutton Ranch mount, though, Kayce begins to take on his protector role for the family he had rejected. He also realizes that this kingdom may be the only chance to leave a great legacy to his son. Kayce quickly becomes John's most loyal son, to the chagrin of officially adopted Jamie and somewhat to the chagrin of unofficially adopted Rip. He doesn't want to be a politician but becomes head of the livestock enforcement agency at the request of his father (and the cajoling of dad's special lady friend Governor Perry).

After the attack on his family, Season 4 opens with Kayce jumping into pursuit in one of the most amazing action sequences on television. When John returns from the hospital, Kayce can be seen protecting the ranch in a ghillie suit. Arguably to the detriment of his amazing wife and even more amazing son, Kayce is now more loyal than ever to the Dutton ranch.

4. Lloyd Pierce

To open with a comparison to a show that's a near 180 from "Yellowstone," the character of Newmie on "Baywatch" was David Hasselhoff's stalwart leftenant and lent the show credibility because he was played by an actual lifelong L.A. county lifeguard; Lloyd Pierce does that for "Yellowstone." 

Played by Forrie J. Smith, a real-life cowboy, Lloyd is the heart and soul of the bunkhouse. Notably, he stands up for Jimmy by showing his brand to quiet all the hands harassing the new kid. Lloyd is a lifer and does anything and everything he can for the ranch, including running to the main house to make sure Monica and Tate are safe from the attackers at the beginning of Season 4. 

Still, Lloyd encourages Jimmy to keep doing rodeo despite the fact that John and Rip don't approve of it. Plus, Season 4 has seen a big change — Lloyd fights Walker for taking his girlfriend (despite the fact she's at least half his age), causing Rip (who had asked Lloyd to be his best man) to beat up his old friend. When John reminds Rip what Lloyd means to the ranch, Rip says that's why Lloyd is still walking. So maybe Lloyd's loyalty will get tested — as the series points out, "buckle bunnies" like Lloyd's former flame have been said to drive a man crazy. Still, his life has been dedicated to the Yellowstone ranch, and if that's not loyalty, we don't know what is.

3. Beth Dutton

There are few characters in television harder to pin down than Beth Dutton. At times she's an uncaring ice queen; at other times, she's the most loving and empathetic character on screen. Sometimes she's a drunken mess; other times, she's the sharpest in the room. Beth opens the series coming home from her high-flying job in the world of Salt Lake City finance. She claims she hates the place, is not a fan of horses, and would sell it all in a second. Contrary to what she says, though, Beth is the most loyal Dutton. The surface explanation is that she loves her father. The reason under the surface is that she has a kinship to this place and its people few can understand, and she's the only Dutton child as shrewd as her father.

Beth leaves a cosmopolitan life to protect her family ranch. She uses her high-level position as a way to protect her family's land, which eventually causes her to lose her job. Then there's Rip, as Yellowstone as it gets, her truest soulmate and the living embodiment of her deep-seated love for the ranch. Beth has survived assassination attempts twice, and they have only steeled her resolve to defend the Yellowstone Ranch. Whether she ever believed her claims that she would sell the ranch if she was in charge, Beth has been and certainly is now its most loyal heir.

2. Rip Wheeler

Rip is arguably the best character in Yellowstone. As loveable as a teddy bear and as savage as an actual bear, Rip pretty much is the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. He runs the bunkhouse and does whatever is needed to keep the ranch going, whether that be "taking somebody to the train station" (the euphemism for killing somebody who knows too much) or redirecting a river using explosives. He will kill for John Dutton, and as shown when he acts as the cannon fodder decoy for the rescue of Tate, he will die for John Dutton. Rip is the most loyal person in John Dutton's life, and his only indiscretion —his affair with Beth — eventually leads him to be the man who marries and helps calm the madness that has long defined Beth Dutton.

His loyalty is literally unquestionable. When John says that Kayce has to run the ranch and that means he needs to have authority over Rip, Rip lets Kayce beat him in a fight despite the fact that he beat Kayce previously. He takes on a whole biker gang basically by himself for the ranch; it's hinted at that he's killed countless people for the ranch; he is willing to take down his best friend, Lloyd, for the ranch; there has not been a single thing anybody has thrown at Rip that he couldn't handle in the name of the ranch.

1. John Dutton

Some people might be confused because many of these characters were mentioned for their loyalty to John Dutton, so how can John be the most loyal? The fact is, this list, and "Yellowstone" in general, isn't about John; it's about the Yellowstone Ranch. The Yellowstone Ranch is greater than any one person — it's the heritage of all those who came before. Obviously, Paramount will be exploring this even more in the new series "1883," and this past is even tied in during the Season 4 premiere. But it's clear that for John Dutton, the job of keeping the ranch together is a thankless responsibility he undertakes in part because he can't be the person who loses everything his ancestors fought for.

In real life, the lands around Yellowstone have mostly become tourist havens and high-end mountain communities, as is often mentioned in "Yellowstone." This obviously changes the vision for the land held by the founders who fought for it (or, per the Native American point of view, stole it). Either way, John does not see himself as an owner of the land; he is just a custodian, preserving what he was given for the generations coming after him. Therefore, he accepts a lot more hardships than most men despite the fact that he could sell even just a portion of the ranch to live like a king on a beach. For this reason, John is the person most loyal to the Dutton ranch. He can make the choice to cash out and live a stress-free life of wealth but says no. Such respect for one's heritage is part of what draws us all to "Yellowstone."