• Yellowstone
    delves into the harsh realities of the Western genre, exposing the complex morality of its characters like protagonist John Dutton.

  • The show’s darkest moments, including baby John Dutton’s death and Beth’s brutal attack, leave a lasting impact on viewers.
  • The legacy of the Duttons is built on bloodshed and abuse of power, highlighting the antihero nature of the show and John Dutton’s role as the real villain.

The darkest moments in Yellowstone remind viewers what Neo-Westerns are all about: unraveling the harsh realities on which the Western genre is founded. While traditional Westerns more clearly delineate the lines between good and evil, Neo-Westerns bring these ideals to task in the context of the real world. This can be observed in the actions of Yellowstone protagonist John Dutton. While John consistently abuses his power for personal gain, he also shares the same environmental ideals as the Indigenous community he constantly undermines. In order to do justice to its complex tale of morality, Yellowstone employs some of the darkest scenes in television history.

With the ending of Yellowstoneseemingly on the horizon, it is these dark moments that are bound to stay with viewers long after the story of the Duttons has concluded. Similar to the Byrdes in Ozark or the titular crime family in The Sopranos, the legacy of Yellowstone‘s Duttons is soaked in blood – built atop the countless corpses they’ve dumped at the “train station.” From all the times John Dutton and his clan served as the judge, jury, and executioner in Paradise Valley, to scenes that further confront viewers with the underlying social realities of Taylor Sheridan’s antihero crime drama, here are 11 of the darkest moments in Yellowstone.

Related: Yellowstone’s Ending Could Break The Show’s Biggest Rule

11 Baby John Dutton Dies In Season 5

A burial ceremony for baby John Dutton in Yellowstone

In Yellowstone season 5, episode 1, “One Hundred Years Is Nothing,” Monica gets labor contractions three weeks before she’s due to give birth. Unable to wait for emergency services at home, Monica drives with Tate to the hospital, as Kayce arranges an ambulance to meet them on the road. However, Monica and Tate get into a car accident, and though they survive, Monica and Kayce’s new baby does not. The episode’s last scene sees Tate revealing to John that they named the baby after the Dutton family patriarch. Apart from being one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone, this could foreshadow John Dutton’s death in the show.

10 John Dutton Puts Down A Horse In Season 1

Kevin costner as John Dutton with his arm on the fence in Yellowstone

Yellowstone‘s pilot episode opens with John Dutton appearing to be the only survivor of a horrible accident and pileup on the highway. After discovering a fatally wounded horse stuck in a trailer, John gives the animal a moment of comfort, saying “the best I can offer you is peace.” Using his revolver, John then puts the animal down with one shot. Indeed, one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone happens within the first 3 minutes of the show. Moreover, Yellowstone not only tackles a harsh reality that ranchers live with on a regular basis but also establishes John’s position in the world when the cops arrive and recognize the then-commissioner.

Related: Complete Yellowstone Timeline (Including 1883 & 1923)

9 Tate Gets Kidnapped In Season 2

Kayce and Tate by a fence in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone season 2, episode 10, “Sins of the Father” sees the Duttons’ rivalry with the Beck brothers escalating, as the Becks hire neo-Nazi thugs to kidnap Tate. The youngest of the Duttons survives and is rescued by his father Kayce – but not before the Duttons unleash hell on their enemies. This is what makes Tate’s kidnapping one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone. While the Becks crossed the line first, the Duttons use state resources and abuse their power to carry out brutal revenge killings. Despite the Duttons’ initially noble intentions, this was one of the first real clues that John Dutton is the real villain in Yellowstone.

8 Rip Kills Roarke With A Rattlesnake In Season 4

Roarke fishing while looking at something off-camera in Yellowstone.

After the Duttons survive attempted assassinations in Yellowstone season 3’s violent finale, Yellowstone season 4, episode 1 “Half the Money” sees Rip Wheeler taking immediate revenge against Roarke. At the river where Beth first met Roarke, Rip sees Roarke fishing at his favorite spot, and Rip walks up to Roarke while holding an unassuming cooler. As revenge for Roarke trying to kill John and Beth Dutton, Rip opens the cooler to reveal a rattlesnake that he throws on Roarke’s face. After getting bitten, Roarke succumbs to a painful death. Not only is this one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone, but it’s also arguably Rip’s most creative kill on the show.

Related: Forget Kevin Costner’s John Dutton, What Happens To Beth & Rip Is Yellowstone Season 5’s Key Story

7 Beth Dutton Gets Beat Up In Season 2

Beth speaking to someone off-camera in Yellowstone.

The following entry discusses rape and sexual abuse.

In Yellowstone season 2, episode 7, “Resurrection Day,” Beth Dutton gets brutally attacked at her office as part of the Beck brothers’ escalating attacks against the Duttons. While two armed assailants beat up and kill Beth’s assistant Jason, she messages Rip for help. The men beat up Beth and threaten to rape her – until Rip arrives to quickly dispose of the two. As Rip calls for a doctor, Beth attacks the corpses until she is restrained by Rip. Despite being fearless throughout the ordeal, Beth breaks down and is calmed only when Rip tells her he loves her – undoubtedly among the most poignant and darkest moments in Yellowstone.

6 Jamie Kills Garrett In Season 4

Garrett Randal - Jamie's biological father - in Yellowstone.

The train station in Yellowstone is filled with the bodies of the Dutton’s enemies, and Jamie Dutton’s biological father Garrett Randall was added to the pile in Yellowstone season 4, episode 10 “Grass on the Streets and Weeds on the Rooftops.” After Jamie and Garrett discuss their shared history, Jamie shoots his father in the head. Jamie then disposes of Garrett’s body at the train station while Beth films the crime – in accordance with her ultimatum for Jamie. This is one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone because Beth manipulated Jamie into patricide in order to control him – foreshadowing a bleak finale to Beth and Jamie’s rivalry.

Related: 10 Questions & Stories Yellowstone Still Needs To Resolve Before Season 5 Ends The Show

5 Kayce’s Vision Of Lee In Season 4

Lee Dutton looks at Kayce (off-camera) in Yellowstone

Kayce’s tribal initiation into his wife Monica’s tribe happens in Yellowstone season 4, episode 10 “Grass on the Streets and Weeds on the Rooftops.” During the Hanbleceya – which in Lakota means “to cry for a vision” – Kayce stays alone in the wild for days, waiting for the spirits to grant him insight about his path. In one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone, Kayce gets a nightmarish visit from his dead brother Lee. After failing to get Kayce to leave the prayer circle, which would’ve left Kayce vulnerable to the spirits, Lee spits blood as he blames Kayce for his death, underscoring Kayce’s guilt over his past.

4 Young John Dutton Poisons A Land Developer In Season 5

Yellowstone season 5 flashback explained

Yellowstone season 5, episode 2, “The Sting of Wisdom” ends with a dark glimpse into the history of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. In the present, Rip gets rid of the evidence of Yellowstone ranch hands killing protected wolves. This is followed by a flashback, in which young John Dutton discovers dead animals near a stream on the ranch. Later, John traces the deaths to an EPA-approved weed killer used by a nearby construction site. The Yellowstone ranch hands then spray the weed killer on the house and entire property of the site foreman, who gets knocked out. He awakens around dead birds and grass, soaked with the poisonous chemical himself.

Related: Who Plays Yellowstone’s Young John Dutton: Josh Lucas Movie & TV Roles

3 Samantha Takes Her Own Life In Season 1

Samantha Long and Monica Long-Dutton in Samantha's kitchen in Yellowstone.

The following entry contains discussion of suicide.

Yellowstone season 1, episode 3, “No Good Horses” reveals a shocking consequence of the death of Monica’s brother Robert Long during the pilot episode. At the Broken Rock Reservation, Robert’s wife Samantha takes her own life, knowing that she can’t take care of her two sons and daughter on her own. One of the darkest moments in Yellowstone, this scene touches on the reality of high suicide rates among Indigenous American women. With Robert’s death being caused by the feud between the Duttons and Broken Rock, Samantha’s actions also underscore the real cost of the Duttons’ combative and territorial attitude towards their Indigenous neighbors.

2 Monica And Mo Kill A Predator In Season 3

Monica stands by her car in Yellowstone.

The following entry discusses rape and sexual abuse.

Yellowstone season 3, episode 8, “I Killed A Man Today” sees Monica at the center of one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone. After Monica’s car breaks down, she’s picked up by a driver who takes her to an isolated dirt road. The driver assaults Monica, who runs out of the car and into the plains, where she is pinned down by her attacker. Just as the man is about to choke Monica unconscious, he gets shot in the head. With Monica still covered in blood, it’s revealed that Mo shot Monica’s attacker and that Monica was part of a plan to catch a predator who’s been attacking Indigenous women.

1 The Lynching Of Wade Morrow In Season 3

Wade Morrow looking concerned in Yellowstone.

The feud between John and Wade Morrow finally ends in Yellowstone season 3, episode 9, “Meaner Than Evil.” Teeter and Ryan receive the Yellowstone brand and are then called upon to perform their duty. To prove his loyalty, Walker accompanies John, Rip, and the other ranch hands as they round up Wade Morrow and his men. In the dead of night, the Duttons execute Wade by hanging – but not before John cuts off the Yellowstone brand from Wade’s chest. This is one of the darkest moments in Yellowstone not just for its brutality, but also for how it reveals what it really means to ride for the Yellowstone brand.

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