10 ‘Yellowstone’ characters, ranked by likability

The Yellowstone cast posed in a field with a pickup
Image via Peacock/Paramount Pictures

It’s time to don your best pair of work boots and slip into your tightest Wranglers and flannel because we’re taking you to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, and it’s all dirt, grit, and romance. Paramount’s Yellowstone is a love letter of sorts — sprinkled with notes of loyalty, power dynamics, and an eternal fight for dominion.

The ranch has seen everything from untimely deaths to moments of marital bliss and just about everything in between. It’s a gripping drama, a sultry romance, and it pairs best with a bourbon — neat.

To carry a story as delicate and intricate as that of Yellowstone, the cast has got to be talented and ready for anything. Their characters are thrown into life-or-death situations, walk around with targets on their backs, and have to have pretty thick skin not just to survive but to thrive.

Of course, not everyone in Yellowstone is well-liked, some quite honestly deserve a trip to the train station, and others just get under our skin. When it comes to characters, the good far outweighs the bad, and when it doesn’t — well, the trash gets taken out one way or another. So this list might read more like a grouping of characters we love and a couple we could live without, but here are 10 Yellowstone characters that certainly make the show what it is: a fantastic watch.

Jamie Dutton

Every best character ranked list has the least favorite, and as far as main characters are concerned — the general consensus for most fans is Jamie Dutton. How he became a part of the Dutton family is a tragic story, and there’s a part of you that has a soft spot for him for that reason alone. However, we all have paths to walk, and his journey hasn’t made it easy to root for him.

When viewers found out about the decision he made for Beth, a battle line was drawn, but there are other decisions he’s made that just don’t paint the good guy picture.

From betrayal to an unwillingness to play ball, Jamie has soiled his name within the family, and with the explosive finale of season 4, he also made a life-altering choice. He chose the Dutton family ahead of his own desires, and while that decision in itself is still very layered, some might call it a step, or a tip-toe, in the right direction.

Monica Dutton

Monica Dutton is a polarizing character, with some fans respecting her as a character and others loathing her. There’s not a large gray area where she’s concerned, and there are several reasons for the vast array of feelings towards Monica. 

Some say she’s dull as a character, and while she’s had a lot of trauma and turmoil during Yellowstone, viewers still say she falls flat. Others say she’s one of the few characters in the series with a “moral compass.” 

In a chat with Den of Geek, actor Rob Kirkland mentioned the hate for Monica and said that everything Taylor Sheridan does is part of the “long game.”

“Nothing is by accident with what Taylor’s doing with his show. There’s a long game – Taylor already knows how the series is going to end, and he’s putting things together. So people might hate certain characters, but I like Monica. I like the conflict that [she] creates. Isn’t that what that good storytelling is? Empathy and conflict.”

You might not love her, but she does play an essential role in the series, and we’ve yet to see what season 5 has in store for her. 

Lloyd Pierce

Lloyd Pierce, one of the most renowned and veteran ranch hands at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, is a character that fans enjoy. He’s got a grasp on what it means to wear the Yellowstone brand, fight for the family and the ranch, and to teach new hires how to ensure that life on the farm is smooth.

In the latest season, fans saw a different side of Lloyd, one that was threatened — an emotion we weren’t used to seeing in the cowboy. It was odd to watch, but it all worked together to prove a point: even the toughest people can have their hearts broken.

Heartbreak or not — and trust us, a few moments last season were heartbreaking for fans of Lloyd — he managed to regain his composure and put the ranch first. Realizing how lucky he is to be part of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, he manages to turn it all around.

We’re hoping season five brings brighter days to the beloved ranch hand.

Teeter

Teeter is a heck of a woman, and that’s putting it lightly. She came to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch to make a name for herself, to get to work, and to build bonds. She didn’t come to mess around or be thought less of because of the drama of others.

What exactly do we mean by that? Fans saw a fire in Teeter when the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch almost axed her because of relationship woes in the bunkhouse; Teeter didn’t have a hand in it and wasn’t going to take the fall for the bad behavior of others.

Her character is strong, she speaks up (even when she’s hard to understand) for what’s right, and she represents the hope and fun that’s had on the ranch. It’s not all hard work. Sometimes they get to kick back and enjoy life under the stars. Teeter is a reminder to slow down and find joy in life.

Jimmy Hurdstram

Jimmy is another ranch hand that fans can’t get enough of, even when making decisions that aren’t the brightest. When he came to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, Jimmy needed a hand up, and the road to redemption hasn’t been easy, but it’s certainly been worth it.

He has earned respect and lost it, gained friendship and romance, and become an integral part of the family. Jimmy also had to be sent away to learn important lessons. His character is proof that sometimes, to love someone, you’ve got to let them experience the hard things and work through them.

While Jimmy is a series regular for season 5, we last saw him saying goodbye to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. We certainly hope he’ll be back soon, but even if we just get peeks into his life on the 6666 Ranch in Texas, we’ll be lucky for it. Jimmy brings a sense of wide-eyed optimism to the series, something it needs.

Mo

Mo, played by Mo Brings Plenty, is Chief Thomas Rainwater’s right-hand man. Their relationship is reminiscent of Rip Wheeler and John Dutton, a bond that goes beyond what words describe. 

Mo brings a breath of fresh air to the series, seeing things from more than just his side, knowing that a place exists to compromise, and acknowledging when it’s time to fight for what’s yours. 

He’s told Chief Rainwater that decision-making isn’t his forte; he’ll leave that to him instead. He often gifts nuggets of wisdom in conversation, enough to make you think hard before making a decision and doing so with the kindness and understanding you need when hard choices must be made.

Mo is the kind of friend we’d all be lucky to have, and his presence in Yellowstone is a treat for all of us. 

Rip Wheeler

Rip Wheeler is danger, romance, and devotion all rolled into one. He’s John Dutton’s go-to guy, Beth Dutton’s husband — the love of her life — and the ranch hand everyone looks up to.

His impact on the series is something that you have to watch to embrace fully, and it’s worth it. Rip first stepped onto the ranch as an angry and broken adolescent. He grew up in the fields, working with the animals and mending the broken pieces of himself.

He found a family with the Duttons, gained love and peace, and saw where he could spend his forever. His wisdom, compassion, aggression, fight, and the way he’ll give his life for those he’s vowed to protect all work together to make him a stand-out character. Rip steals the scene every single time — and we certainly don’t mind looking at him while he does.

As we head into season 5, Rip has more to lose than ever before. A newly married man will step up for the woman he loves, and we hope the storyline takes it easy on them. Rip and Beth deserve a little bit of happily ever after before the next turmoil strikes.

Beth Dutton

Here’s the thing. You might not anticipate Beth being so high on the list, but one of her most likable traits is that she doesn’t care if you like her or not. Is that a little bit ironic? Sure, but she’s not afraid to stir up some trouble if it’s going to help her protect her family — the people who make her who she is.

Beth might be easier to dislike if the world was all flowers and rainbows, but she represents a woman who has struggled with depths of despair and still managed to hold softness in her heart. A lot of that vulnerability is reserved for her beau, Rip Wheeler, and those she loves the most. That love also means she’ll fight for them the hardest. And Beth is always ready for battle.

With some of the most iconic one-liners on the show, Beth has garnered a fan base that’s as dedicated as she is snarky, and there’s nothing Beth does better than to season a conversation with sarcasm, sass, and a bit of vulgarity to top it off.

Of course, Beth has overcome a lot in her life, which helped to shape the woman she’s become; from the heart-wrenching moments to the powerful, there’s a lot to love about Beth — including her rugged edges.

Chief Thomas Rainwater

Chief Thomas Rainwater is the John Dutton of his circumstance, the man in charge who must make the tough calls. Rainwater’s go-to man, Mo, helps guide him in wisdom, but Rainwater has taken to the role of leader.

Not discovering who he was until he reached adulthood, Rainwater is the leader of the Broken Rock Indian Reservation, and he’s someone who was initially a foe to John. While the two have different ideas on several fundamental things, they share similar views on many issues. They have land, families, and loved ones to protect — and they’re learning that working together is far better than working against one another.

Rainwater brings peace to the chaos and reminds us that we can still find brotherhood in those we disagree with. His character signifies a tension between forgiveness and the drive to never forget.

John Dutton

Patriarch John Dutton, what would the series be without him? Fans thought they might find out several times along the ride, but as we gear up for season 5 — he’s still here, ready to ride into another sunrise.

Dutton is rough around the edges; he’s a proud man who knows he has a lot to lose. In fact, if something goes wrong, he could lose it all. The land is important to him, but that can sometimes allow him to lose sight of what’s important to those around him.

At the end of the day, he supports his family and the ranch hands who have taken the ultimate oath to protect the Dutton name with everything they’ve got. John signifies strength, a quiet storm always brewing, and a soft-spoken love. For all his toughness, he’s got a passion and a light inside him that comes out at just the right moments, reminding us all that even our most stubborn people need compassion and kindness.

Stubborn, brave, and not always right — John is why Yellowstone exists, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for him in season 5.

Kayce Dutton

Kayce Dutton is a knight in shining armor, or rather, a knight in wranglers and a button-up. With his steadfast devotion to the Dutton family, the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, and his wife and child — he’s the swoon-worthy character every suitable drama needs.

Kayce is tough; he’s rough around the edges in all the right ways, but soft-hearted and genuine in the same breath. He’s loyal, devoted, and he carries a lot on his shoulders while managing to find a balance with it all. When John Dutton lost Lee, Kayce knew things would change. While there’s another Dutton, Jamie, it’s not news to anyone that he wasn’t going to step up.

Kayce’s impact on the series is of the utmost importance — he’s the glue that holds the family together and often the decision-maker who sees things from both sides without giving in to too much emotion. He’s quick thinking, quick to act, and someone who wears the brand knowing what an honor that is. Yes — he’s a Dutton with or without the brand, but he feels that connection on a deeper level. He’s the kind of guy you root for, the one you hope gets the happily ever after, and with his spiritual quest in season 4, that will be a more challenging path than he hoped for. However, if anyone can face the darkness, it’s Kayce.

You can watch the first seasons of Yellowstone on Peacock now, with season 5 kicking off on Nov. 13.