We're firmly in a hiatus of Dutton family drama—the fifth season of Yellowstone is still slated to return for its final episodes this fall (though that schedule could change with the ongoing industry strikes)—but that doesn't mean our minds aren't on Montana's most watched family. The series will see its CBS debut this weekend, introducing lots of new fans to the famous ranch, and its equally famous family.
Combined with the characters from the prequels, 1883 and the 1923 (which is confirmed to return for a second season) there are a lot of Duttons to keep track of, so T&C has put together a guide to make understanding all of those complicated familial connections easier. Scroll on for everything we know (so far) about the lineage of Yellowstone’s first family. Spoilers ahead!
The patriarch of 1883, James (Tim McGraw) was a farmer from Tennessee. Haunted by his experiences in the Civil War, where he served in the Confederate army during the Battle of Antietam and was later held as a prisoner of war, James chose to strike out for a new life out west with his family in 1883. Along with his wife, Margaret, their children, Elsa and John, James’s sister Claire, and Claire’s daughter Mary Abel, James set out with a wagon train from Fort Worth, Texas, but the journey was dogged by tragedy. Following the death of Elsa on the trail, John and his remaining family decided to settle in Montana, on what would one day become the famous Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.
The confident and uncompromising wife of James, Margaret (Faith Hill) was the Dutton family matriarch in 1883. A strong leader and fiercely protective of her family, she set out with James and their family on the trail westward, only to settle on a homestead in Montana after the death of their daughter Elsa.
Spirited Elsa (Isabel May) was the eldest child of James and Margaret Dutton and served as the narrator of 1883. Passionate and willful, Elsa was a skilled horseback rider and cowgirl, much to her mother’s chagrin. At the age of seventeen, she set out on a wagon train with her family in search of a new start in the west. Along the trail, she fell in love with a cowboy, Ennis, and the two planned to marry before Ennis was shot by a group of bandits. Later, Elsa became entangled with Sam, a Comanche warrior who saved her life on the trail. Though she and Sam acknowledged that she was his wife, he felt he could not leave his lands and people, and Elsa agreed to return to him after her family had completed their journey and found a homestead. However, not long after, Elsa was shot by an arrow during a retaliatory attack on the wagon train and ultimately died of her wounds. In her honor, James settled their remaining family on the spot in Montana where Elsa took her last breath.
A Comanche warrior who the Duttons met along the wagon trail in 1883, Sam professed to have taken his name from the man who killed his wife. He later began a romance with Elsa Dutton, and the two married without official ceremony. Feeling he belonged to the land and could not leave it, Sam remained behind as Elsa traveled on with her family, with the promise that she would return to him.
John Dutton Sr.
The son of James and Margaret Dutton, John was only a child when his family founded their homestead in Montana—the land that would ultimately become the Yellowstone Dutton ranch. As an adult, he worked with his uncle, Jacob Dutton, on the family land and had a family of his own; his wife Emma and son Jack. John was ultimately killed in an ambush by the family's enemies.
The wife of John Dutton Sr. and the mother of Jack Dutton. After the death of her beloved husband, John, Emma died by suicide.
Carrying on his family’s heritage, Jack worked with his father, John Dutton Sr. and great-uncle, Jacob Dutton on the family’s Montana ranch. (Note: As Jack is sometimes a nickname for John, it's possible that Jack is John Dutton Jr. but that has not been confirmed onscreen.) He went on to marry Elizabeth, the well-mannered daughter of another local rancher. At the moment, Jack remains one of the prime candidates to be the grandfather of Yellowstone's John Dutton, but as yet, that also has not been confirmed.
The wife of Jack, Elizabeth was East Coast educated before returning to Montana to marry her sweetheart. Some fans have speculated that she could be the mother of John Dutton II, but Michelle Randolph, who plays the character, has admitted that even she doesn't know if Elizabeth is Yellowstone John's grandmother. "We all go back and forth on what we think is going to happen, but [show creator Taylor Sheridan] likes to keep us on our toes. So we’re just as confused as everyone else," she told THR.
The second son of James and Margaret Dutton, Spencer was born some time after the family settled in Montana. Spencer also served in WWI and, like his father, remained haunted by his experiences on the battlefield. Rather than returning to the family's ranch after the war, he became a big game hunter in Africa. It was there he met his wife, Alexandra, before deciding to return to America. Spencer is also a candidate for being the grandfather of Yellowstone's John Dutton, but even Brandon Sklenar, who plays the character, is still in the dark about whether that will turn out to be the case. "I honestly do not know," Sklenar told THR. "From day one, we’ve all said, 'No, it’s this person! No, it’s me. It’s Jack.' But I don’t know. It could go either way."
Free spirited Alexandra was in Africa to celebrate her impending marriage to the son of the Earl of Sussex before she fell into the arms of Spencer Dutton. Though their courtship was far from typical for a British aristocrat (rogue leopards, sinking tugboats, and hungry sharks tend to do that) the couple nonetheless married while on the way to America to rejoin Spencer's family in Montana. Though they were forcibly separated after Spencer killed her former fiancee in a duel, the show has hinted that she could be pregnant, fueling speculation that Alex could be the future grandmother of John Dutton III.
Claire nee Dutton
James Dutton’s stern sister was less than enthused about joining James and his family on their excursion out west, but joined them under protest, along with her teenage daughter Mary Abel, after she was left widowed and without options by the death of her husband Henry. Claire didn’t make it far along the trail, though. After a gang of ne’er-do-wells retaliated to Claire’s scorn by shooting several members of the wagon train, including Mary Abel, Claire died by suicide beside her daughter’s grave.
The husband of Claire—sister of James Dutton. He died sometime shortly before the events of 1883, leading his wife and daughter, Mary Abel, to travel with the Duttons.
The only one of Claire and Henry’s seven children to survive until 1883, Mary Abel was briefly on the trail to Oregon with her uncle James Dutton and his family. Not far outside of Fort Worth, Texas, their group was harassed by a local gang and in the midst of the altercation, Mary Abel was shot dead.
The brother of James Dutton, Jacob (Harrison Ford) became the family patriarch in his brother’s stead in the early 1900s. Married to Cara, he worked the Dutton homestead alongside his nephew, John Sr. and great-nephew Jack.
The wife of Jacob Dutton, Cara (Helen Mirren) was the matriarch of the Dutton family in 1923. An immigrant herself, Cara faced off with fellow ranchers and shepherds while standing in her wounded husband's stead on the livestock commission, and acted as the head of the family during troubled times.
John Dutton II
The second John in the family, he would go on to become the father of John Dutton III, and grandfather to Lee, Jamie, Beth, and Kayce Dutton. As yet, it has not been made clear on screen exactly who his parents were, though we do know that he was a direct descendant of 1883's James and Margaret Dutton.
John Dutton III
No one in the Dutton family takes their obligation to the land more seriously than John (Kevin Costner), owner of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch—the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. A wealthy, powerful, uncompromising man, John lives by his own moral code, sometimes skirting the law, and sometimes outright flouting it to achieve his ends—a prospect made all the trickier when he becomes governor of Montana. John has a complicated relationship with his children, the now-deceased Lee, Jamie, Beth, and Kacey, but dotes on his grandson, Tate.
Perhaps the great love of John Dutton’s life, his wife Evelyn (Gretchen Mol) died in a horseback riding accident when her children were young. Both Beth and Kayce were with her at the time of her accident, and each carried their own trauma around the event, with Beth in particular feeling at fault for her mother’s death.
The world of Yellowstone could have been much different if not for the death of John and Evelyn’s eldest son, Lee. As the first born, it was Lee who John had planned to leave the ranch to, but in a skirmish over stolen cattle, Lee was killed, kicking off a complicated issue of inheritance for his remaining siblings.
The black sheep of the Dutton family, Jamie struggles with both resentment and respect for his father, John. Having spent much of his life desperately searching for approval, lawyer Jamie has intermittently sided with and betrayed his family’s goals, and maintains a deeply adversarial relationship with his sister, Beth. As an adult, he accidentally discovers that he is not a biological member of the Dutton family, having been adopted by John and Evelyn when his biological father was imprisoned for murdering Jamie’s mother when Jamie was an infant.
The mother of Jamie’s son, Christina met Jamie while working on his campaign for state attorney general. Later she joins up with Jamie’s biological father, Garrett Randall, to encourage Jamie to work against the Duttons.
Jamie and Christina’s son
Some time after Christina ended her relationship with Jamie, she gave birth to a baby boy. During the show's fifth season, it's revealed that the boy was named after his father, though it's not clear whether his name is James or Jamie.
The only daughter of John Dutton, Beth has a reputation for being relentless and cutthroat—both in business and her personal life. Nonetheless, Beth does have a secret softer side, one that’s only revealed in her unwavering dedication to her father, and her decades-long love for her husband, Rip. Beth is the family’s corporate shark, going head-to-head with business interests that threaten the Dutton land, though she herself feels no special connection to the ranch. She has particular hatred for Jamie and has vowed to ruin any semblance of happiness in his life.
John Dutton’s longtime righthand man, Rip came to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch as a wayward teenager. On the run after killing the man who had murdered his family, Rip was taken under John’s wing and became fiercely dedicated to him, taking on even the most unsavory and secretive jobs. Perhaps the only competition with John for Rip’s loyalty is his devotion to Beth. Though they fell in love as teenagers, it took decades before they shared a real relationship, battling through their mutual demons and ultimately getting married.
The youngest of the Dutton siblings, former Navy SEAL Kayce inherited his family’s fiery temperament. He has a contentious relationship with his father, John, though they share a love of ranching and the land. They were estranged for many years, in part because of Kayce’s relationship with his wife, Monica, and his decision not to let his son Tate get close to the rest of the family. Though he has returned to the Dutton fold, Kayce has remained uneasy in his position working for his father in various capacities, governmental and otherwise.
Independent and justice-minded Monica is never one to back down from what she thinks is right, even if it means going against the grain. Raised on the Broken Rock Reservation, Monica has served as a teacher both on the reservation and at the state university. She is often distrustful of the Dutton family, whom she views as a potentially dangerous influence on her and Kayce’s son, Tate. In season five of the show, she lost her unborn son in a car accident on the way to the hospital to give birth.
The son of Kayce and Monica, enthusiastic Tate has less hesitation about his Dutton relatives than his parents do. Though he’s experienced trauma due to his connection with the family, having once been kidnapped because of them, he nonetheless seems to love the ranch, and especially horses. He gets along well with his grandfather, John, who views Tate as the ranch’s future.
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