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1923 Characters Ranked By Toughness

The second "Yellowstone" spin-off "1923" brings the story of the Dutton family into the 20th century after they established their name in the mountains of Montana in "1883." Starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Aminah Nieves, Timothy Dalton, and Jerome Flynn, the series chronicles the family's fight to hold on to their ranch when a neighboring sheepherder teams with a powerful tycoon in an effort to take it by force.

In the world of "1923," where modern life is slowly taking over from the Wild West, it takes more than just a plot of land to stake a living. With enemies around every corner and a legal system that fails to deliver justice, it also takes plenty of guts. On the Yellowstone ranch and beyond, there's no shortage of heroes and villains who could earn the title of toughest around. Whether it's the indomitable Jacob Dutton (Ford) who battles his rivals on the range, or the spirited Native American young woman Teonna enduring the brutality of a Catholic boarding school, the strongest souls in "1923" are the ones who can live through anything thrown their way.

With a roster of hardened cowboys, wild adventurers, and vicious thugs in "1923," you might think you know who we've crowned the heartiest one of them all, but our top pick may just surprise you. Saddle up, because we're ranking the toughest customers in "1923."

13. Elizabeth Strafford

The women of the "Yellowstone" universe have a reputation for grit, from Beth in the 20th century all the way back to young Elsa in the 19th in "1883." The ladies of the Dutton family in "1923" shouldn't be discounted either. The newest one in the family, Elizabeth Strafford, kicks off our list of the toughest characters in the series.

Young and bright-eyed, Elizabeth is due to be married to the youngest of the Dutton men, Jack Dutton, Jacob's nephew and a fiery, hot-headed cowboy. We'll grant that some of Elizabeth's toughness comes from her naive nature, with a self-assuredness that may be the result of having never experienced much danger in her life. But when things get rough for her—like when the Dutton clan comes under attack from Banner Creighton's gang, and Elizabeth is shot and wounded by gunfire—she perseveres.

In the aftermath, her family departs the valley and urges her to leave with them for the safety of a new home. Instead, Elizabeth sticks with Jack, refusing to have her life dictated by the whims of vile villains like Banner Creighton and Donald Whitfield. This shows she's got more mettle than meets the eye. 

12. Arthur

The spurned ex-lover Arthur is due to be married to the fair-haired Londoner Alexandra when the series begins. When Alexandra encounters the American legend and killer of man-eaters Spencer Dutton in Africa, she impulsively decides to abandon her life as English royalty for a more thrilling adventure. Suddenly, Arthur finds himself standing alone at the proverbial altar. When he turns up aboard the RMS Majestic, however, he isn't content to sit back and let Spencer Dutton flaunt his former fiancé as his own wife. Instead, he takes the fight to him.

Sure, Arthur can come across as a pompous, sniveling, entitled brat — which he definitely is — but it does take some guts to stand up to a big game hunter and famed war hero like Spencer Dutton. That he'd be willing to challenge a man who kills ravenous wild beasts for a living in a fight to the death, definitely takes some moxie that not everyone has. Plus, when the duel goes poorly for him, Arthur is steadfast and refuses to yield, repeatedly getting back into the fight no matter how obvious it is that he's outclassed.

Ultimately, of course, it's not any lack of courage that does him in, but his lack of skill and physical prowess. Unable to beat Spencer in honorable combat, Arthur resorts to pulling a gun, forcing his enemy to act fast, with Spencer tossing him overboard to his death.

11. Zane

When we first meet cowboy Zane, he's just another rider on the Yellowstone ranch, which seems to be run by Jacob's nephew John. But after Banner Creighton's attack on the Duttons leaves John dead, Zane steps up to lead the Yellowstone and does a capable job of it. More than just the lead cowboy, Zane becomes the primary point-man and bodyguard for ranch owner, livestock commissioner, and family patriarch Jacob Dutton.

Not only does Zane have to wrangle cows and corral his cowboys now, but he's also responsible for protecting the Dutton family and keeping their enemies at bay. Unfortunately, his new role puts a target on his back. In the season finale, his fortitude is put to the test when the authorities come to his home, tipped off by traitor Clyde. Zane is busted up by police while his wife Alice, a Chinese immigrant, is hauled away for marrying a white man.

Admittedly, we didn't get to see Zane in a ton of action in Season 1 of "1923." But as his story develops in Season 2, we suspect that Zane's toughness will be challenged more than ever.

10. Sheriff McDowell

"Terminator 2" star Robert Patrick may be almost unrecognizable under a thick bushy mustache in his role as Sheriff McDowell in "1923," but his grizzled, steely-eyed look was needed to portray the tough-as-nails frontier lawman. Full of grit and gumption, McDowell is fearless and determined to see justice done. Nobody is going to push him around or try to intimidate him; not lowlife thugs or even the Duttons, who seem to wield the most power and influence in the region.

Willing to stand up to dangerous gunslingers, McDowell uses the long arm of the law like a blunt instrument. He's shown overruling the intimidating Cara Dutton during his interview of new livestock agents, and when her husband Jacob wants to round up a posse to escalate his fight with Banner Creighton, McDowell doesn't flinch: He refuses to let his streets be run by mob rule, and shows no hesitation in arresting the ruthless rancher Creighton. 

Though McDowell is yet to see any gunfighting or brawling just yet, Season 2 may see him take more action as the war on the range ignites. If he does, he might eventually snag a higher spot on this list.

9. Alex

The men of the Dutton family seem to choose their women wisely. With the kind of lives they lead, they need a woman with nerves of steel. So when war hero Spencer Dutton chose Alexandra as his lover, it was clear there was probably more to this prim, proper Londoner than met the eye. 

After absconding with Spencer from her betrothal to Sussex royal Arthur, Alexandra quickly discovers that life with Spencer is filled with danger. In their first days together, Alexandra is attacked by an elephant, preyed upon by a pride of lions, and forced to sleep in a tree while Spencer defends them with a rifle while running out of ammo. That's only the beginning: she's next taken aboard an old rusted tugboat that strikes a larger ship and capsizes, nearly drowning her. She then nearly dies of dehydration while clinging to the hull of the upturned vessel adrift at sea.

Yet through it all, Alex sticks by Spencer's side. The experiences may frighten her, but they harden her, too, and only bring her closer to her new husband. So tough does Alex become that when all seems lost and she's torn from Spencer's arms, she's determined to find him again, even if she has to make the journey alone.

8. Jack Dutton

"1923" fleshes out the "Yellowstone" family with new looks at old faces like John Dutton I, who we saw in "1883" as a child, and who now has a son of his own named Jack. The next generation of Dutton, Jack is still a fresh-faced cowboy, but he's brash, headstrong, and always ready for a fight, even if he sometimes gets in a little over his head.

After the attack by Banner Creighton leaves his father dead and his uncle Jacob almost fatally wounded, Jack takes the lead for the family. He never backs down from even the most vicious of villains. He'll take on all comers with a stone-cold stare and a loaded pistol at his side, because he knows this West is still a bit wild. 

Still, Jack's youthful exuberance can sometimes get the better of him, as it did in court when he came to blows with Banner Creighton. The truth is that Jack probably isn't as tough as he'd like others to believe—at least, not quite yet. We suspect he'll grow into one of the fiercest members of the Dutton family with a little more experience under his belt.

7. Cara Dutton

Some might be quick to judge a character's toughness based on their looks, but it would be a mistake to dismiss someone just because they don't look like a traditional pistol-packing gunslinger. Such is the case with Cara Dutton, played by Helen Mirren, whose slender frame and older age might not be what one first imagines when picturing the toughest heroes of "1923." Make no mistake, Cara can tussle with the best of them.

In fact, Cara Dutton was the first character seen on screen. In the jaw-dropping opening scene, she's aiming a double-barreled rifle at one of Banner Creighton's thugs. Begging for mercy, the cretin tries to talk her into sparing his life, but Cara blows him away when he tries reloading his gun.

Throughout "1923," Cara never shows weakness. When Jacob is out of commission, she steps up to lead, taking his place on the livestock commission and standing up to Banner and his men—a particularly daring move, considering how women were viewed in the era. Though she knows she needs her son Spencer to come home to take charge, we don't suspect she'll stand back when he arrives. We fully expect her to be front and center in the fight to save the Yellowstone.

6. Hank

The Native American warriors glimpsed in "1883" were some of the toughest in that series. But by the era of "1923," America's indigenous people are no longer masters of the land, having been relegated to reservations and constantly at the mercy of U.S. laws they had no part in shaping. Understandably disgruntled, the ones we see in the series remain as tough as ever, led by a rebellious do-gooder who took the name Hank when he was forced to abandon his cultural identity.

We first meet Hank when he discovers Teonna, a young Native American girl who has escaped a Catholic boarding school. Knowing that the region's lawmen and religious leaders at the school will be hunting her, Hank offers to help hide her. Dressing her in men's clothing and giving her the name Joe, Hank hopes to throw off Teonna's pursuers. When they catch up to her, Hank can not sit by and watch them steal another one of his people, and fights back with a deadly rifle blast or two. Killing a pair of clergymen who came looking for Teonna, Hank valiantly fights them off, but ultimately meets his end when he's shot in the back.

5. Donald Whitfield

Played by '80s James Bond star Timothy Dalton, the biggest bad of "1923" is Donald Whitfield, the machiavellian monster and industrialist who wants the Yellowstone Ranch for himself. While he did top our list of worst villains in the series, he doesn't quite take the cake when it comes to toughness. Still, he's not to be underestimated, with a ruthless resolve and willingness to do just about anything to get what he wants.

Unlike so many other heroes and villains seen in "1923," however, Whitfield's toughness cannot be accurately measured based on how he handles a fight or wields a weapon, or even how well he can take a beating. Instead, Whitfield's spirit comes from his merciless pursuit of power and his utter lack of moral principle that makes him particularly dangerous. He admits that terms like "decency" don't apply to him as a businessman, which makes him unafraid to go up against even the most ferocious of foes. Whether it be his business rivals in a boardroom, gavel-banging judges in a courtroom, or gun-toting ranchers on the range, Whitfield will take them on undaunted.

So far it's been Whitfield's devious mind and indomitable will that prove he's made of sterner stuff. Given how tough he seems to be with the pen, we wouldn't want to see him pull his sword.

4. Banner Creighton

There are a number of sinister villains populating the world of "1923," from scheming double-crossers like agent Clyde to cruel and unfeeling monsters like Father Renaud. Without a doubt, the rudest ruffian and toughest terror in Montana is Banner Creighton. Not the biggest bad in the series, Banner actually starts out as something of a lowlife wretch, a rival rancher who's embittered by the Duttons' unwillingness to share the Yellowstone's land and resources. But when he draws the ire of Jacob Dutton after trespassing on his land, it ignites a war that sees him grow into a much worse nemesis.

Refusing to be bullied, Banner leads an all-out assault on the Dutton family with a gang of gunmen, tearing through their wagons with bullets and rage. But Banner finishes them off himself, toting a mafia-style Tommy gun that he uses to blast the Duttons full of holes, killing John and putting Jacob near death. But that's not the end of Banner's viciousness, who continues his fight against the Duttons, allying himself with mining magnate Donald Whitfield in the hopes of overwhelming his enemy.

Banner is more than just tough with the Duttons, though, unafraid of even the diabolical Whitfield, who is ostensibly on his side. He won't take the advice of his closest associates, who'd rather he defeat them in court with the law. He brazenly starts fights with Jack and Jacob out in the open. He's more than happy to tussle with them in the streets, eager to prove his toughness man to man.

3. Jacob Dutton

The many patriarchs of the Dutton family are often considered the toughest of the bunch, from Kevin Costner's John Dutton on "Yellowstone" to Tim McGraw's James Dutton on "1883." But Jacob Dutton in "1923" might just be the toughest of them all, and not just for what he's done, who he's gone up against, or how fearless he is. It's also because of what he's endured. He's been more in more hardships than could be handled by even the hardiest hombres.

In the series premiere, we learn that Jacob arrived in Montana with his wife after the death of his brother James, only to find his sister-in-law Margaret dead and his two nephews all alone. The pair raised the two boys as their own, took control of the Yellowstone, and built it into the sprawling empire. As the region's livestock commissioner and one of its wealthiest land, he's a man of great power and influence, which has made him a number of enemies. The latest include Banner Creighton, who came gunning for him and his family. Creighton killed Jacob's nephew in cold blood and gravely wounded Jacob. 

Jacob refused to die when others half his age would have succumbed. With Cara's help, he slowly made his way back to health and began making plans to strike back. No enemy—no matter how ruthless, blood-thirsty, or dangerous—can intimidate Jacob Dutton, and he'll be damned if anyone is going to take what's his.

2. Spencer Dutton

Though the world of "1923" isn't quite the Wild West, most of the heroes are old-school gunslingers and cowboys just the same. That's why it came as a bit of a surprise when we meet Spencer Dutton in the series premiere. Spencer is making a name for himself as an adventurer in Africa. He's cast much more in the mold of Indiana Jones than Butch Cassidy. Like the whip-wielding relic hunter, Spencer has a penchant for running headlong into danger, getting into all kinds of scrapes and scraps and facing life-threatening situations with a shrug.

More than just a risk-taker, Spencer is easily the toughest Dutton we've ever seen. A veteran of World War I, Spencer has fought in the trenches, faced machine gun fire, and watched comrades die in his arms and lived to tell the tale. Now a big game hunter, Spencer makes a living as a killer of man-eating beasts, and in the series premiere successfully faces down a leopard with his bare hands. His tenacity and courage were tested further still when he boards a doomed tugboat that leaves him stranded at sea after colliding with a ghost ship.

Spencer even faces off against an expert swordsman, easily besting the championship fencer in a duel aboard the RMS Majestic. He's also unfazed when the coward pulls a gun on him. Spencer is so tough that his family longs for his return because they know his mere presence could be enough to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. 

1. Teonna

When ranking a list of the toughest characters in "1923," you might have expected a Western hero type to top the list. But the toughest character isn't any kind of cowboy or gunslinger, but a young Native American schoolgirl named Teonna, and it's not a particularly close race, either. This should come as no surprise to those who saw Teonna's story unfold, as she was torn from her home, forced into a Catholic boarding school, and cruelly abused by her headmasters, led by the despicable Father Renaud.  

Despite her young age, Teonna faced horrors that no person should ever have to face, including beatings, lashings, and worse. Unwilling to let them break her will, Teonna stood her ground and fought back, murdering her tormentors and clawing her way to freedom. But that wouldn't be the end of her harrowing journey, as she'd be relentlessly pursued by Father Renaud's ruthless clergymen. Aided by Hank though, Teonna would show a lionhearted spirit, continuing her fight and surviving against all odds.

With fierce defiance unmatched, Teonna's toughness is measured not just in grit and determination, but in blood. She's fought through hell and persevered, experienced untold atrocities, and still managed to find love and strength in the process. By the end of Season 1, Teonna is no longer an innocent schoolgirl, but a young woman hardened by battle, and the toughest rock in "1923."