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The most surprising moments in ‘Yellowstone’ so far

'Yellowstone' is full of shocking moments.

John Dutton Yellowstone
Photo via Paramount

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Yellowstone’s fifth season

Paramount’s Yellowstone was rated the number one non-football show in 2021-2022 for a good reason; the series is unstoppable. With clever characters, an intense storyline, and writing that viewers don’t get to experience in the television realm often. It’s like a can of Pringles — once you watch the first episode, you can’t stop.

As with any good series or film, some of the puzzle pieces have edges that clearly align with others; viewers have to know the path they’re preparing to walk down. Stories have to make sense to keep viewers interested, but Yellowstone also manages to leave us guessing. The guessing is part of the excitement of being a fan of a multi-faceted series.

One of the most fantastic things about Yellowstone is that the surprises keep coming, from trucks driving over motorcycles to paternity revelations and romance that makes us all hope for our very own ranch hand, Yellowstone is the gift that just keeps on giving, and there are plenty of celebrations left to come.

With a family as honored, feared, and respected as the Duttons, viewers know that there are more surprises left in store, but we’ve already experienced several moments that left us clutching our pearls. With an exciting fifth season on the horizon, one where the stakes have never been higher, we’re looking back at some of the most incredible moments from the series so far.

That Barry Corbin cameo

Barry Corbin isn’t just a seasoned actor; he’s a real-life cowboy and a talented one at that. Corbin received the high honor of becoming a member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2009.

So when we saw Corbin’s appearance on Yellowstone, we were thrilled to see a face we were so familiar with. The moment might not be surprising in the way you’d expect, but it was certainly a surprise to see him offering Jimmy advice from the 6666 Ranch in Texas. Fans know that Jimmy was sent there after disobeying John Dutton’s rules one too many times, and he had lessons he needed to learn.

Corbin had a few scenes with Jimmy, and he shines as a cowboy with wisdom up his sleeve, ready to share. We’re not sure how much time Jimmy will be spending in Texas in the future, but we’re crossing our fingers that there will be more of Corbin in the future.

A snake surprise

The snake surprise is one of the moments in Yellowstone that fans can’t stop talking about. Rip discovered that the smooth-talking Roarke was responsible for the attack on Colby and Teeter, and he knew there was a hefty price to pay. Roarke was doing the thing he loves most — fishing in a river — when Rip happened upon him.

At first, the scene was unassuming enough; Rip walked down towards the water with a cooler in his hand and began shaking it up as he asked Roarke if he’d left it behind. As a guy with a shady past, Roarke wasn’t naive to the fact that something was going on. He turned around and attempted to stop Rip from getting closer, but it was too late. Rip gave the cooler one last shake before opening it towards Roarke’s face.

What lunged out next shocked us all; a snake bites Roarke before slithering away, and Roarke begins whimpering in pain as he attempts to get away from Rip. Meeting his timely fate, Roarke would go on to die from his injuries, and Rip lived to see another day where he did exactly what he was brought on to do — protect his family.

A wedding on the ranch

Rip and Beth have had a connection since the first episode, so the idea of a wedding might not seem surprising, but everything that led up to their nuptials and the ceremony itself shocked us all. The way that it happened was a layered event, beginning with Beth kid… er, adult-napping a priest to officiate their big day.

Rip asked Lloyd to be his best man, Carter was in attendance, and John walked his daughter towards the love of her life, the man he had long considered a son. The Dutton family is layered, as we’ve said before, but this bond, this one, is one that bridges a gap.

The gap could have swallowed them whole, all of them. Beth and Rip were broken, and they still deal with struggles personally and as a couple, but their love saves them. In saving them, it helped protect those around them. The Duttons have experienced a lot of loss as a whole; if something happened to Beth or Rip, the same way they function would be turned upside down.

Rip and Beth are a pair, they always have been, and while their journey will still have twists and turns, ups and downs, it’s a love story that stands not just the test of time but struggle, circumstance, and life-altering pain.

Removing the brand

We’ve heard how important the brand is to Yellowstone since the very first episode of the series. The brand is what separates those who need a second chance from those who don’t understand the value of it. The Y that’s scarred into the chests of those who wear it sets them apart from those who do not, those without the mental or physical fortitude to commit so fully to something.

The brand is monumental and an oath, not just to the Duttons, but to belong to something bigger than yourself. Those who are branded are supposed to vow never to bring harm to the Duttons, and when it happens, the punishment is severe.

Fans saw first-hand just what happens when you wrong the Duttons when Wade Morrow was part of the brutal attack on Colby and Teeter. When we saw Teeter and the marks all over her face, we wanted to hug her. She’s fierce, loyal, and fiery, so to see her injured was something that was very intense. It was also something that Rip and the ranch hands wouldn’t tolerate.

So Morrow was found and tied to a tree, and the ranch hands were taken to his location to get even. When Walker was asked to finally prove his loyalty to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, the moment couldn’t have been more intense. Wade’s brand was ripped from his chest, and we’re sure the message was heard loud and clear. You can’t cross the Duttons and expect peace.

Teeter finally gets her man

Teeter has harbored a crush on Colby for as long as she’s been at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Their banter was often one-sided, with her unique brand of humor trying to flirt with the man she found powerful, sexy, exciting and fun.

Colby didn’t return her affection for quite some time, but it was clear that his interest was growing. Something was brewing between the two of them, and it all came to a tipping point in what should have been a beautiful afternoon for the pair. What happened instead was a brutal attack, and we saw them with pain and fear in their eyes, unlike anything they’d ever experienced.

After they realize they’re both unscathed (mostly) and can take a deep breath, the two share a sweet kiss, and Teeter asks Colby if that was “so bad.” He smiles and looks down at her as he tells her it wasn’t, and he kisses her again. We laughed, cried, and cheered when Teeter finally got her man.

A bull in the bar

For sheer shock value alone, the moment in Yellowstone where Rip let a full-grown bull go wild in a bar just about takes the number one spot. There’s not much to explain about a moment this exciting because it says it all on its own. As fans are aware by now, you don’t mess with Rip Wheeler, and you don’t mess with Yellowstone.

A round of cowboy poker is what started the “bull in a bar” situation, and as you watch the ranch hands talk about the scene, you can tell how incredibly intense and hilarious it was, then and now.

Understanding Jamie and Beth’s feud

Of course, one of the most surprising moments in Yellowstone history is when fans found out that Jamie didn’t just take Beth to get an abortion as a pregnant teenager, he also signed her up for a procedure that ended in sterilization.

When Beth found out she was with child at such a young age, she didn’t want to disappoint her father, so she enlisted Jamie’s help. Knowing that the Dutton name carried a lot of weight, he knew he had to take his sister somewhere that they wouldn’t be recognized.

Going to a clinic for indigenous women, Jamie was told that a procedure would take place that would prevent Beth from having children in the future, and he agreed on Beth’s behalf, giving her consent without her knowledge. He didn’t tell Beth about that part of the deal, so she went in without knowing that her life would be changed forever. At least, in a way she didn’t expect.

Beth knew what she was asking Jamie to do; that much is something we are all aware of. She didn’t realize that it would take that opportunity away from her as she grew into adulthood. What makes it all so shocking is the way the love they shared as they were growing up turned into such a deep hatred and lack of trust. Of course, the reason behind it makes a lot of sense, but it’s still a sensitive subject for everyone involved. Their relationship seems to be in a place where redemption isn’t a quality they’ll ever touch, and rightfully so.

While their continued feud leads to genuinely shocking moments, what would be more surprising is if they ever find peace in their relationship again. We wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.

John Dutton becomes Governor of Montana

Perhaps the most shocking moment from season five was when John Dutton was sworn in as Governor of Montana. While fans knew this was a moment that would likely take place, we couldn’t have anticipated seeing what it would do to our favorite television cowboy. Yes, he knew that becoming governor was a decision he had to make, but it was not the one he wished for.

A young John Dutton didn’t have dreams of playing the political game, and he wasn’t paving a path to the governor’s office since he was a teenager; he only signed up for this “job” because it was the only way to be in a position to save his family. It was the best way to keep Jamie Dutton out of office, and with the deep disdain and distrust that exists between them, it was truly his only option.

John wears the title of Governor of Montana well, but that doesn’t mean it comes without a heavy weight on his shoulders. While he’s sticking to his cowboy roots, he’s also walking around with less light in his eyes than we’ve ever seen, knowing that any wrong move now means more than it would have before.

So the idea of John becoming governor wasn’t a shock, per say, but everything that’s happened after most certainly was. We’re not saying John is a weak character now, he’s not falling apart by any means; but he is a changed character.

Jamie tells Beth his big secret

As previews for season five would highlight, “all will be revealed” was a logline for the series. Everyone knows that the Duttons are great at keeping secrets, but that doesn’t mean that the secrets were willing to be kept. This season saw Jamie himself spill a secret to Beth, and it was a doozy.

While Jamie made the decision for Beth to allow her to experience a sterlization procedure, he has a son of his own; and you can imagine why it was hard for her to hear the news. Her reaction was deemed to have finally been a moment that went too far by some viewers, while others saw the pain behind her extreme response. While Jamie having a son of his own is something viewers found out in season four, the big reveal to Beth is definitely one of the most shocking moments in the series as a whole.

Kayce and Monica suffer a devastating loss

In season four, Kayce Dutton went on a vision quest and he saw several things that brought him pain, one he described as “the end of us.” No one understood the depth of what those words meant as they fell from Kayce’s mouth, and to be honest, we’ve still not been made aware of exactly what he saw, but we do know one thing: it comes down to him having to make an important decision.

Something terrible happened in the first episode of season five that Kayce had no control over, and that was the loss of his child. Monica felt that something was wrong at home while Kayce was out on a job; he told her he’d have an ambulance meet her on the road because she said she could no longer wait at home. Monica and Tate got into the car together and drove towards Billings, but a tragic accident soon took place.

Viewers saw the aftermath before a scene where John Dutton got the news that he had to rush to Billings himself. It was then that we saw him find out that his grandson had passed away, and that the child had been named after him: John Dutton IV. Fans had a feeling that something tragic was headed their way, but we didn’t imagine that it would mean losing their baby.

Kayce, Monica, and Tate are all working through the loss in their own ways, and it’s shaping them for now and for who they’ll be in the future. Letting a piece of their hearts rest in heaven, they’ll always be missing an important piece, and they’ll continue to honor him throughout their lives.

That Beth Dutton bar brawl

Seeing Beth Dutton get into a brawl isn’t something viewers are unfamiliar with; in fact, season five has seen her get into a couple of them. The shocking thing about this scene is the way it all unfolded and what happened after.

When Beth finds out that Lloyd’s big birthday celebration is a simple game night at the bunkhouse, she says enough is enough and encourages the cowboys and ranch hands to head to the bar for drinks instead. She’s putting them on her tab and everyone seems eager to join her. Rip doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but we all know that Beth makes her own decisions.

Needless to say, they find themselves at the bar and a woman happens upon Rip and begins flirting with him. He tries to kindly shrug her off, but she’s not taking no for an answer. What happens next is a confrontation between Beth and the woman who tells Rip she’s going to walk over to talk to his wife herself. We don’t see exactly what she says to her, but we realize that it was inappropriate the minute we see Beth hit her over the head with a beer bottle.

From there, she knees her in the face and we see the flirtatious woman hit the ground, but Beth still hasn’t had enough, in fact; she decks her once more as she’s waiting to be taken in by law enforcement. Ultimately, Jamie helps to talk the woman out of pressing charges against Beth, and with good reason. The words she spoke to Beth were vulgar at best, and many agreed that a bottle over the head was kind of Beth after all was said and done.

As the exciting fifth season of Yellowstone gears up for its midseason finale, fans are looking forward to our favorite television family’s future and seeing what happens when the smoke clears.

About the author

Ashley Marie

Ashley Marie is a staff writer, beat leader, Disney fanatic, and Yellowstone expert. When she's not filling her friends in on all the entertainment news they can handle, she's drinking her go-to Starbucks order — a caramel macchiato, thank you — and wishing she was at Disney World or spending time at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. With a focus on positivity and kindness in journalism, Ashley has been writing for a decade and hopes to keep bringing you articles for decades to come.