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The Worst Thing Every Yellowstone Character Has Done, Ranked

"Yellowstone" debuted in 2017 and quickly became one of the hottest shows around. The series revolves around the Duttons, a powerful family in Montana. They reside on the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch, which has been in their family for five generations. However, after decades of struggle, the end finally seems to be near as a number of enemies have tightened their grip on the Duttons, eager to take the Yellowstone Ranch for themselves. This includes the neighboring Broken Rock Indian Reservation and a number of big businesses that would like nothing more than to turn the tranquil open spaces of Montana into a tourist destination.

Driven by the hope of keeping the land from becoming the next urban development, the Duttons fight furiously for their family legacy. Led by Kevin Costner, the series has featured a host of compelling characters that all seem to have a dark side. From heroes to villains, even the most innocent among them have had moments that have shocked viewers. Whether it's a brutally violent murder, a money-grabbing scheme, or just a heartless act, we've ranked the worst moments from the best characters on "Yellowstone."

16. Tate lashes out at a nurse

First introduced in Season 1 as the young, plucky son of Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes), little Tate (Brecken Merrill) is not your typical tough kid. He's usually pretty well-behaved, looks up to his do-gooding father, and is unlikely to get into many scrapes. In fact, Tate has been the subject of much criticism from fans, who feel he is something of an annoying character who acts far too cowardly at times. Still, even Tate has had his bad moments, and if we were to find his worst, it would probably be an incident from early in the series, way back in Season 1.

In the episode "A Monster is Among Us," Tate's mother Monica (Kelsey Asbille) tries to break up a fight between a pair of kids she sees brawling in her son's schoolyard after she drops him off for the day. Unfortunately, she winds up getting seriously injured and is rushed to the hospital with a life-threatening blow to the head. And when Tate is refused a request to visit her in surgery, he lashes out, hitting a nurse and forcing security to restrain him.

We could chalk this up to him being childish and impulsive, and being motivated solely by his desire to make sure his mother is alright. That's why it's at the bottom of our list, but Tate still could have found a better way to deal with his emotions. The abuse of first responders and hospital staff is never okay.

15. Walker mocks a bunkhouse favorite

We first meet Walker (Ryan Bingham) at the start of Season 1, where he is introduced as an ex-con looking for a fresh start. The soft spoken Walker loves his guitar, and the string-strumming ranch hand became a fan favorite for his smooth swagger and laissez-faire attitude. Though he usually doesn't like to get involved with the underhanded, dirty shenanigans on Yellowstone, he has been forced to take violent action in protection of the ranch, and while some of those moments have been bad, they've all had noble intent. However, we can't say the same about the time he openly taunted bunkhouse stalwart Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith).

It all happened after barrel racer Laramie (Hassie Harrison) raced into Walker's arms after having a fling with the older Lloyd. Though Walker was unaware of how mad this made Lloyd at first, he soon realized the truth, and he didn't handle the situation particularly well. Sure, Lloyd was being a jerk about the whole thing, but Walker flaunting his relationship with Laramie just to jab at Lloyd wasn't exactly his best moment. In the end, all it did was incense Lloyd more, leading to a violent encounter and one of the show's most tense bunkhouse moments. But let's face it: Despite his laid back façade, if there's anyone who seems to enjoy pushing other people's buttons, it's Walker.

14. Jimmy breaks Mia's heart

A point-of-view character, Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White) is the everyman when "Yellowstone" begins, a window for the audience to introduce the ways of the ranch and the Dutton family. A total outsider, he helps viewers learn about the world of the series by learning about it himself. He's also a timid, mostly spineless cowboy-in-training at the beginning, but comes into his own as the series progresses. And while one might point to his deadly revenge on the cretins who attacked his grandfather as his worst moment, it's hard to blame him after their cowardly assault — they definitely had it coming.

So what is the worst thing Jimmy has done on the series? That would have to be breaking up with his girlfriend Mia (Eden Brolin). Another barrel racer, Mia was the first person to be able to look beneath Jimmy's awkwardness and see the kind, good-natured man he really was. And yet, even though she had helped nurse him back to health after a devastating rodeo accident, he leaves her high and dry when the Duttons send him to the Four Sixes ranch for cowboy training. He even sparks up a new relationship with another woman while there, breaking Mia's heart in two all over again.

13. Teeter starts a fight with the bikers

Played by Jennifer Landon, Teeter is a tough-talking Texan whose accent is so unintelligible that it was first mistaken for a foreign language. Always eager to speak some sass and scrap with anyone who looks sideways at her, Teeter is at heart a good person who wants little more than some love from bunkmate Colby (Denim Richards). Eventually she gets it, but it takes some persistent flirting, a skinny dipping session, and a vicious attack by a Yellowstone enemy. As for her worst moment? Well, it might also oddly be her best and most memorable.

It happens when Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) and the gang discover a group of California bikers called Divine Discord having a picnic on their property. Refusing to leave the premises, they're ready to fight, but it's actually Teeter's bad attitude that sets them off. Rip backs her up, though, and what follows is one of the best fights in the history of the show. Teeter gets more than one slug in herself, but it may be Rip who gets the best blows, ruining a branding iron after giving the biker leader a swift strike to the noggin. Teeter is at her best in her worst moment, duking it out like a true cowboy.

12. Dan digs up dirt on the Duttons

One of the first major villains in "Yellowstone," fans might have expected the worst moment from Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) to be at the top of this list — had we written this during Season 1, it may well have been. Little did we all know how truly despicable the villains would become later on, but at the time he was a real scoundrel. A real estate developer and foil to the Duttons, he arrives in Montana with big dreams of turning the region into a massive tourist destination. But, unlike those who would come after him, Jenkins valued the splendor of Big Sky country and was almost an environmentalist in his approach.

Despite his somewhat noble principles, he was still all about corporate greed and would do just about anything to make his deal happen. Unfortunately, the Duttons were in his way, though he wasn't above fighting dirty to eliminate them. To that end, he dug up all the dirt he could on the Duttons, with devious plans to destroy the family's reputation in an effort to sway public opinion to his side. Eventually, after an attack by Kayce Dutton that almost left him dead, Jenkins became a Dutton ally, who — alongside Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) — helped fend off the diabolical Beck brothers.

11. Monica kisses her therapist

Monica Long is the mild-mannered mother of Tate and loving wife of Kayce Dutton. She often resents the Dutton family for their wealth, privilege, and corruption, and isn't happy with their many feuds, which have led to her being caught in the middle of violent incidents more than once. She had lived on the Broken Rock Indian Reservation all her life, but chose to move to Yellowstone with her family to help keep them safe and provide a stable home life for her son. While Monica can actually get pretty tough when the need arises, it's not any ruthless or violent incident that provides her worst moment.

Instead, Monica's most despicable act comes in Season 2, in the aftermath of the serious injury she sustained breaking up a fight. During her recovery, she meets Martin (Martin Sensmeier), a local physical therapist. As the two work together to bring her back to health, Monica begins to develop romantic feelings for him. In fact, she comes very close to having an affair with her therapist, though she stops short of going all the way upon realizing just what she's about to do. Though it happened while her relationship with Kayce was strained, her emotional fling with Martin — which included a passionate kiss — is easily the worst thing she's done in the series.

10. Kayce kills Teal on the toilet

More than just a cowboy, Kayce Dutton is ex-military, with some serious training that also makes him one of the deadliest men on the Yellowstone Ranch. Thankfully, he's also the Dutton with perhaps the biggest heart. Yet, he has done some pretty awful things in the series, even if he rarely betrays his moral code. He strung up Dan Jenkins to send a message to leave his family alone, and while this definitely crosses a number of lines (including legal ones), it was understandable, and ultimately wasn't deadly. However, one act that was deadly, even if it was justifiable, was his killing of Teal Beck (Terry Serpico).

Nobody will argue that Teal didn't have it coming (after all, he was responsible for one of the most vile acts in the series), but it's the manner in which Kayce goes about it that makes it his lowest moment. Cornering Teal in his home, Kayce finds the malicious madman sitting on the porcelain throne reading a newspaper. Though Teal begs for him not to do the deed in such an undignified position, Kayce does just that, shooting him in cold blood on his toilet. As an officer of the law, Kayce probably should have remanded him into custody and had him prosecuted, but alas, that wouldn't have been nearly appropriate for a show like "Yellowstone."

9. Caroline makes a power move

After Market Equities CEO Willa Hayes is dumped from the company following a scandal, the new incoming villain is Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver). An unstoppable force of corporate nature, she's the worst that capitalism has to offer, and at first appears to be a foil strong enough to match Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly). She's dead set on taking down Beth's entire family, and actually uses Beth to do it, recruiting her to her own firm in a clever move, though it's not without its complications (more on that later). When things get tough, though, Warner realizes she has to take off the kid gloves and hit below the belt. To that end, she enlists the services of Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri), a corporate shark who Warner weaponizes against Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), who is now the state's District Attorney.

Atwood swoops in and beguiles Jamie — seemingly genuinely — but then pulls the rug out from under him, using her sexual relationship with him to manipulate him to get what she needs. And what she needs is for Jamie to turn against his own family — particularly his father John, the governor of Montana — to allow Market Equities' massive land project to move forward. While Warner may not have been the one to directly do the deed, she sent Atwood in, a brutal move to take out her biggest enemies.

8. Thomas' theft leads to a Dutton death

Another early villain in "Yellowstone," Chief Thomas Rainwater has evolved over the series to become something of an anti-hero. Fiercely protective of his people, Rainwater runs the Broken Rock Indian Reservation. At first he sees nothing good about the Duttons, eager to see them forced out of Montana altogether. Unwilling to break his own moral code, though, Rainwater refuses to resort to the same underhanded tactics as the Duttons and typically shies away from violence. However, he's definitely been involved in some rough shenanigans, and his worst might have actually come in the series premiere.

In the opening installment, Rainwater essentially steals cattle from the Duttons after a large herd wanders onto his reservation. This leads to a tense standoff between John Dutton's armed livestock agents — including his two sons, Kayce and Lee — and the Broken Rock security forces. Unwilling to return the cattle, the standoff quickly turns violent, and in the ensuing shootout, Lee Dutton is shot and killed. While Rainwater comes to regret the incident, it was his theft of the cattle and refusal to negotiate that led to Lee's death.

7. Lloyd crosses the line

Perhaps the longest tenured cowboy on Yellowstone, grizzled veteran Lloyd Pierce was at the ranch decades ago and helped mentor a young Rip Wheeler when he first came to the Duttons. The two built an inseparable, brotherly bond and have been close ever since, but it hasn't been easy, particularly when Lloyd goes too far — and he did just that in his worst moment. Anyone who's watched "Yellowstone" knows exactly what that moment is. It all started with Laramie's exit from his arms after Walker returned to the bunkhouse.

Once Laramie and Walker became an item, Lloyd went into a jealous rage, and Walker didn't make it any easier for him. After Walker all but openly mocked him and threw his relationship with Laramie in his face, Lloyd snapped, smashing Walker's guitar and hurling a knife into his chest in one of the most shocking and unexpected moments in the entire series. It took several men to restrain Lloyd, and when the dust settled, Rip was forced to fight his best friend to teach him a lesson. Thankfully, Walker's life was spared thanks to swift action by the rest of the crew, but if they hadn't been able to stop Lloyd from finishing the deed, this moment would have wound up much higher on our list.

6. John turns his back on family

At its heart, "Yellowstone" is the story of the Dutton family and its fight to hold on to its legacy. There is nothing more important than the Yellowstone Ranch to John Dutton, whose ancestors settled the land and built a home in the harsh Montana mountains all the way back in 1883. But more than the ranch itself, John often talks about the importance of family, which is why his worst moment isn't the murder of an enemy or retribution against a rival, but a betrayal of his own kin.

Though we never see this moment on screen, as it happens before the first episode begins, we eventually learn why at the outset of the series John is estranged from his son Kayce. We're initially led to believe that it was a mutual falling out, or even the result of the rebel son's defiance, but it's actually John's doing. As a teenager, Kayce was dating Monica, who his father John never approved of, and when the young lovers surprised him with the news that they were expecting a baby, he demanded she get an abortion.

When Kayce refused, John did the unthinkable, kicking Kayce out of the home and off the Yellowstone Ranch. The irony is, when "Yellowstone" begins, John is distraught that he has no relationship with that very child, his grandson Tate. Of course, Kayce and John would eventually hash things out, and John would become a doting grandpa and repentant father.

5. Rip goes too far with Walker

Rip Wheeler's violent, ill-tempered ways make him the meanest son of a gun on the ranch. If there's one man you don't want to mess with, it's Rip, who has been involved in some of the series' most brutal scenes. He has murdered more men than we can count, and is downright terrifying when someone crosses him. Several Rip moments were contenders for this list, but the truth is, most of them were justifiable to one degree or another. 

Loyal to a fault, and protective of his friends and family — not to mention the ranch itself — almost every awful thing Rip has done was to keep those close to him safe. That's not true of every moment, of course, an example being his treatment of guitar-playing cowboy Walker. From the get-go, Rip never really liked Walker, whose laid back attitude rubbed him the wrong way. When the newcomer showed open disdain for the ranch and their many violent feuds, Rip didn't hold back. 

On one occasion, Wheeler intentionally sliced Walker's face with razor wire, and when things got out of hand he ordered him killed, all for his own pride. And when Walker later turned up alive — after his life was spared by Kayce — Rip ambushed and kidnapped him, ready to do the deed himself. Thankfully, the two have patched things up (mostly) and learned to get along.

4. Garrett double crosses the Duttons

First introduced in Season 3 before becoming a bigger recurring character in Season 4, Garrett Randall (Will Patton) proved to be such a terrible person that no list of worst moments would be complete without him. He's the birth father of Jamie Dutton, who never knew he was adopted by John as a baby. Upon this revelation, Randall is sought out by his son, who slowly overcomes his shock and decides to try to build a father-son relationship. Unfortunately, his ties to the Duttons ultimately lead Garrett down a dark path.

At the conclusion of Season 3, the Dutton clan comes under attack by an unknown group of assassins. A multi-pronged assault almost gets John, Kayce, and Beth killed, while a fight at the ranch leaves Rip's cabin in flames. One of the show's most stunning cliffhangers, the man behind the plot to kill the Duttons turns out to be Randall, who wanted the family out of the way so that he could help Jamie get out of their shadow. Though the gunmen he hires fail to get the job done, it proved that Randall could go as low as anyone and that he wasn't to be underestimated.

3. Beth destroys a life over a personal vendetta

Beth Dutton has so many awful moments that it's hard to pick the very worst. From destroying corporate rivals for laughs and humiliating a shopkeeper to help a family member, to drunkenly punching a woman at a bar, any number would qualify. We've chosen one that stands out for its sheer callousness and selfish disregard for the person she inflicted pain and suffering upon. Wondering what that might be? Well, look no further than Summer Higgins.

A divisive character to say the least, Summer was an animal-loving environmentalist who shacked up with Beth's father, much to her chagrin. Bitter and hateful towards Higgins, you might think that Beth destroyed Summer's life because she didn't like her, but that was only an added bonus. The truth is, Beth set Summer up to take the fall in a plot that was part of a personal vendetta against Caroline Warner, and she was simply collateral damage.

In the end, Beth unfeelingly watched as Higgins was arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for over a year for a crime that Beth put her up to. It might not be the salacious, violent act you might have expected, but for the very cruelty of it all, it ranks as her worst moment.

2. Jamie resorts to murder to save himself

Jamie Dutton is a hard character to figure out. It's difficult to decide just what side he's on from episode to episode: Sometimes he's loyal to his adoptive father John and the Yellowstone Ranch, other times he's ready and eager to stab them in the back for his own personal gain. Unlike most of the Duttons he's not a naturally tough person, though his worst moment came when he actually grew a backbone all of a sudden.

During a brief period in which he had decided to betray his family, Jamie was interviewed by journalist Sarah Nguyen (Michaela Conlin). He dished about his father and his family, revealing all of their dirty little secrets. But, just as she was set to write her story, Jamie changed his mind and wanted her to put a stop to the expose. When she refused, Jamie took a page from the Rip Wheeler playbook, killing Sarah in cold blood.

It was a tough call to pick his murder of Sarah over the time he had his own sister sterilized at an abortion clinic, which will never not be appalling. But, considering that he was doing what he thought was helpful, and was only a teen at the time, his desperate act of self-preservation that killed an innocent woman tops his personal list. It might also be the worst thing anyone ever did on "Yellowstone" were it not for a pair of despicable brothers...

1. The Beck brothers kidnap an innocent child

If you're talking big bads on "Yellowstone," none can compare to the downright evil Beck brothers, Malcolm and Teal (Neal McDonough and Terry Serpico). They arrive in Montana with the same goal as many — to buy up land and turn it into a tourist trap. This instantly makes them enemies of the Duttons, but this time, even John is appalled by the lengths these siblings are willing to go to in order to get what they want. 

More than just corporate schemers like Dan Jenkins or small-time thugs like Garrett Randall, the Beck Brothers are formidable killers with no moral compass at all. They show just how vile they are when they kidnap John's grandson Tate to use as leverage. It's bad enough when a villain resorts to maiming and killing in the name of their cause. To target a child and use his life as a pawn goes way beyond general villainy. Thankfully, Kayce is able to save his son and the Beck brothers both meet swift ends, but their child kidnapping plot is easily the worst deed done by anyone on "Yellowstone."