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The Entire Dutton Family Tree In Yellowstone Explained

"Yellowstone" is more than anything a show about a family, and not a simple one. When we first meet the Duttons — owners of the sprawling Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch in Montana — we see right away this is no ordinary family. There is the head of the family, John (Kevin Costner), and his children Lee (Dave Annable), Kayce (Luke Grimes), Jamie (Wes Bentley), and Beth (Kelly Reilly). But there is also the man who was like a son to John, the mean cowboy Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), plus a number of other extended family members, as well as former and later generations introduced throughout the series' four seasons.

Though John Dutton is obsessed with family and loyalty, his family is not as close as you might think and is plagued with rivalries and complicated relationships. The trouble among the Dutton's makes John's mission to preserve their family's land and legacy a difficult one, and new revelations throughout the series threaten to unravel everything he's worked so hard to protect.

The launch of "Yellowstone" spinoff "1883," set in the days of America's westward expansion, has turned the neo-Western drama into a veritable franchise and introduced new, unseen branches on the Dutton family tree. How do the 19th-century Duttons relate to their 21st-century descendants, and what does their family tree look like? Whether you're new to the series or just want a refresher, we've got all the details.

The Duttons that settled the north

The first of the Dutton family to settle in Montana, audiences are just getting their first glimpse of "Yellowstone" founders James Dutton and his wife Margaret in "1883." Played by real-life country music star power couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, viewers meet them for the first time in the 4th season opener of "Yellowstone." In "Half The Money," we are introduced to James as he helps a group of resettled Native Americans looking to bury a family member on what was once their ancestral land.

Margaret joins him in another flashback in the season's seventh episode before the launch of their own series, "1883." As that period Western spinoff began, the Dutton family — which consists of James, Margaret, and their children Elsa (Isabel May) and John (Audie Rick) — are planning to move their family north and have stopped in Fort Worth, Texas. But after an attack on Elsa, James realizes it's more dangerous than he bargained for, so he hitches his proverbial (and literal) wagon to gruff ex-soldier Shea Brennan and even-keeled Pinkerton agent Thomas — two men leading a wagon train to Oregon. We know at some point they'll wind up in Montana and become homesteaders to what will one day become the Yellowstone Ranch, home of John Dutton III and his children — Lee, Beth, Kayce, Jamie, and beyond. The family will fight to preserve their land across six generations and fend off attempts from outlaws, big business interests, neighboring Native Americans, and even governments who want it for themselves.

The lost pioneers

In the first pair of episodes of the "Yellowstone" spin-off series "1883," we are introduced to the uptight, prim, and proper Claire, who we discover is the sister of James Dutton. She seemingly has little respect for her brother's wild ways and even less for her sister-in-law and how she has raised her rebellious niece Elsa. Claire is followed around by her daughter Mary Abel, who is an equally snooty young woman who looks down her nose at her cousin Elsa and the rest of the Dutton family. Mary Abel is particularly critical of Elsa's less lady-like behavior, especially by 1880s societal standards.

Claire also makes it clear that traveling north was not their idea, nor one she even endorsed, but after the death of her husband Henry, she is left with few other choices. She holds a dim view of the German immigrants they travel with on Shea's wagon train and is not afraid to make her disgust plain for all to see. In fact, this is her undoing, as when a group of outlaws came wandering into their camp, Claire antagonizes them by pelting them with rocks. This prompts the bandits to begin shooting, killing young Mary Abel in a hail of gunfire. Distraught, Claire sees no reason to go on and ended her own life. Her brother James buries her body by the river before continuing his wagon train north.

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The second settlers

In some ways, the "Yellowstone" spinoff series "1883" is more about young Elsa Dutton than her father, James. After all, episodes open and close with Elsa's breathy narration of the beauty and majesty of the land and her awe-inspiring outlook of their journey north. "1883" is as much about Elsa's innocence turning to hardened experience as it is about Western adventure and the new frontier. 

We know that Elsa and her young brother John (the first John) will eventually be joined by another brother, which we know thanks to flashbacks seen on "Yellowstone" that are set some years after "1883." We know little of this generation yet but will learn more as the spinoff continues and we see more of their long journey to settle in Montana. There they will establish their new home and help to form a powerful family legacy that will last almost 150 years (and counting).

The trio of Elsa, John, and Spencer will one day inherit their father's land and be the generation that sees the ranch through the first half of the 20th century. They'll be the land's stewards through two world wars, a dustbowl, and a depression. And if our timeline is right, young John may very well be the father to John Dutton Sr. we met in the "Yellowstone" 2nd season episode "Sins of the Father" at the end of his days. 

The next generation

If little is known of the second generation of Duttons — Elsa, John, and Spencer — even less is known of the next generation (their children). And unlike the stars of "1883", we may never learn much more, as there are currently no plans to explore the life of John Dutton III's father in his own spinoff series. But what we do know is that John's father — John the second — is quite possibly the son of the young John that we meet in "1883." We also know he was married and lost his wife long before his own death in what appeared to be the early 2000s. He also had at least two sons, one of which lost his life at some point before his father's passing, as he lamented to John III in what appeared to be their final moments together.

However, it's implied — and can probably be inferred — that John II was every bit the tough wrangler that his son has been on "Yellowstone." Additionally, the loss of his other son could hint at some dramatic adventures during his own time running the ranch. Given the timeline, it's likely that this John oversaw the Yellowstone during the 1960s through the 1980s and perhaps even earlier, give or take. This very well may have been the most prosperous time for the ranch as America's population exploded after the Second World War — and the need for cattle boomed — but predated technological, environmental, and health revolutions of later years. There also might have been less trouble with big business and greedy governments in an era when today's biggest cities were still being built.

John Dutton III

The star of "Yellowstone," John Dutton III — played by Hollywood legend Kevin Costner — is the kind of complicated, rough-riding rancher that leads every good Western. Tough as nails, resolute, and never afraid to get his hands dirty, he's a mean ol' son of a gun, but also a man with a strict moral compass that's surfaced on more than one occasion. He stands up for what's right, helps those in need, and even when he's in a battle for his life, he keeps his sights set firmly on his enemies and never permits collateral damage. 

But despite being the family patriarch — and in some ways, the entire franchise's star — little is known about John Dutton in the years before he took control of the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch. He fathered three children by birth (Kayce, Lee, and Beth) with his wife Evelyn, who died when his kids were still young after falling off a horse. He took in two more, but outside of a handful of flashback scenes that showed him raising his kids, his past is still largely unexplored. Nevertheless, we do know that he's a man who will stop at nothing to protect his family and ranch after making a promise to his forebears never to allow anyone to take their land. Fiercely loyal and equally vengeful, John is the true Western cowboy who rides the line between good and evil.

Dutton voyagers

The natural-born children of John Dutton III include Lee, Kayce, and Beth. They've all walked different paths, beginning with Lee, who may have been their father's favorite — and most loyal — son. But in a confrontation with the Broken Rock police over the theft of their cattle, Lee is killed in a fiery shootout. Brother Kayce lived on the Native American reservation with his wife Monica, and though he was there on behalf of the opposing side of the conflict, he took vengeance on the man who killed his brother in what became the first death coverup of the series.

Following that incident, Kayce reconnects with his estranged father, which eventually leads to him and his family moving to the Yellowstone Ranch. Kayce becomes his father's top lieutenant of sorts and is eventually elevated to John's former position as livestock commissioner and head of the ranch. In the 4th season, Kayce and his wife move their family back off the ranch after an assassination attempt, and the jury is still out on what this means for their future with the property.

Meanwhile, Beth is every bit her father's daughter — shrewd and cunning with a vengeful streak. Now a corporate raider, she is the pragmatist of the family, but her unwavering loyalty to her father means she'll never betray the ranch, even if she has to go down with it. With a sailor's mouth and a nasty attitude, Beth's father often tries to keep her out of the dirtier business, but she somehow always manages to be right in the thick of it. She survives several violent incidents and carries the scars both physically and emotionally, but she'll be damned if she doesn't always come out on top.

The adopted Dutton

It's revealed in the latter half of the 3rd season of "Yellowstone" that family pariah Jamie Dutton, the fourth of the Dutton siblings, isn't actually a Dutton at all. Adopted as a baby and raised by John Dutton as his own son, Jamie has a complicated relationship with his family. The only man of the group to not be a cowboy, Jamie eschews the wrangler lifestyle and goes into law. He is seemingly pushed into it by his adopted father, who may have wanted a son who could help the ranch in the courtroom.

But being away from the ranch leads Jamie down his own path, and after burning his relationship with his older sister Beth — after helping her get an abortion that led to her unknowing sterilization — he becomes the odd man out. Not as tough as cowboy Kayce and not as loyal as his sister, Jamie often clashes with his father over what he wants for himself versus what his father wants for him — to help the ranch. It all comes to a head when Jamie wants to run for attorney general against his father's wishes, and John forces him off the family homestead. He eventually comes around and ironically winds up in the post anyway, but when Jamie once again wants to run for office against his father's wishes — more directly this time — it once again puts them at odds. 

Ambitious but unsure of himself, Jamie eventually reaches out to his birth father, Garrett Randall — then out of prison after serving decades for murdering his wife — and the pair form a shaky bond. Randall wants revenge on John Dutton for stealing his son, and Jamie suddenly finds his loyalty tested once again.

The surrogate Dutton

Rip Wheeler, fan-favorite cowboy leader and surrogate son to John Dutton, came to the ranch as a teenager in a situation that mirrors Dutton's adopted son Jamie. Rip was discovered hiding in a barn covered in blood in the aftermath of murdering his own father, who had killed his mother and two brothers. Rather than take him to the authorities, though — where he knew he'd just wind up in foster care with no future — Dutton took him in and raised him almost like a son.

Through Dutton, Rip learns the traits that define him, from his undying loyalty to his need to take violent revenge on those who've wronged him and his surrogate family. Leader of the cowboys on the ranch, Rip is at one point demoted to make room for Kayce when the once-estranged Dutton son returns to the Yellowstone to take over the ranch. Though a kind of brother to Kayce, the two haven't always seen eye to eye, most specifically where it relates to matters involving bunkhouse outcast Walker.

Of course, Rip's most complicated relationship is with Dutton's daughter Beth, the girl who fell in love with him from the moment they met as teenagers. Their on-again-off-again affair continues into adulthood, but Rip is too loyal to John to officially pursue her without permission. Eventually, he gets, and the couple move into the ranch together as a new extension of the Dutton family.

The enterprising young Duttons

Dutton son Kayce left the Yellowstone ranch after a troubled youth, settling on the neighboring reservation with his girlfriend and eventual wife, Monica Long. Together, Kayce and Monica have a son of their own, Tate Dutton. After the death of Kayce's brother Lee, his father all but begs his son to allow him a relationship with his grandson, and Kayce begins bringing Tate to the ranch for camping trips and horse riding. After some trouble on the reservation, Kayce and Monica relocate to the ranch, where Tate grows closer to the extended Dutton family, and his father becomes livestock commissioner.

But this also means danger, as Yellowstone's enemies bring violence to their doorstep. Tate is kidnapped and held hostage by a dangerous militia, and a deadly assassination attempt on the entire Dutton family leaves him and his mother shaken enough to move off the ranch in the 3rd season. As the only biological Dutton grandson, Tate could be destined to inherit the ranch in the future, but it remains to be seen if he'll want it.

Of course, Beth and Rip, despite being unable to have children, have a surrogate son of their own in young Carter, who comes into their care after the death of his father in the 4th season. It seems more and more possible that he could become the next generation in the Dutton line as he grows closer and more connected to the Dutton family.

Dutton discovery

In the 2nd season of "Yellowstone," adopted Dutton Jamie becomes romantically linked to his campaign staffer Christina, and the two briefly live together after Jamie is kicked off the ranch. Christina urges Jamie to start a new life away from the Duttons, but Jamie eventually comes around to side with his father and moves back to Yellowstone. Christina leaves him over this betrayal, but not before revealing she is pregnant with his child. He begs her to be allowed to be a part of his unborn child's life, but she insists it won't happen until he's out from his father's shadow.

Flash forward two seasons later, after Jamie gets his own ranch with the help of his birth father Garrett Randall, and his former lover Christina turns up — with their young child in tow. It's still unclear what the child's name is or if he carries the Dutton or Randall family surname. While this child may not be a Dutton by blood, he's certainly a Dutton by law, and there's no telling how John, Beth, or Kayce will react when they discover him. Could he be considered family in John's eyes?

With "1883" and its parent show "Yellowstone" both continuing, it's likely there are still new Dutton family members we have yet to meet. There's also plenty of unseen Dutton's in the family's past we still have much to learn about, meaning the Dutton family tree will only continue to grow.