The Importance of Family in the Show Yellowstone

by Elysian Magazine
The Dutton Family

His wife—their mother—was thrown from a horse and died when their four children were very young and John Dutton, their widower father, chose to raise them by himself. He didn’t look at another woman; he looked at his responsibility, three sons and a daughter. They were his and now—his alone.

They grew to adulthood, strong and independent. Then a second tragic death took the life of the eldest boy. It was years before the next tragedy took its toll on the family, John’s darkest secret was exposed: one of his two remaining sons he’d adopted at birth. The circumstances were grim, John did what was right, and it was right that he loved like his own.

The Dutton family at dinnerImage courtesy of the Paramount Network

Meantime, a stray boy with no place to go and no one to love him was taken in by John as a cowhand. He grew up tall, and strong, and brave—all the things made him like Dutton and a son to John. Though the boy and John’s daughter had grown up together, they never crossed the line that divided their status until one day Beth Dutton (that is her name) realized Rip (that is his name) was as vital to her life as her heartbeat. They each had lived and lived hard and were in their 30s when they joined heartstrings. And the emptiness that had been inside them was filled by their love.

That’s just the bare bones of YELLOWSTONE, television’s most-watched and best-loved series led by Kevin Costner and a spectacular cast who don’t play their characters but appear to be the actual people they portray—interspersed with real-life cowboys and riders who don’t have to make it real because what they do is real.

There are lessons this series has taught us. As individuals. As families. And as a nation about the core values Americans once had but somehow we, as a nation, have lost along the way to becoming richer, faster, smarter…or so we believe. But it’s not true, not really. The quest for riches can cost a person her soul. The faster you go, the more gets left behind in your wake. And the smarter we think we are, the less intelligent are the decisions we end up making.

The Duttons on the ranchImage courtesy of the Paramount Network

YELLOWSTONE has caused people to pause, and think, and realize that we are the children of America’s Founding Fathers and Mothers. They declared that we, as a people, would be free and independent, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” They could only imagine because at that time, people of color were not free, and few were independent—economically and socially. Almost two and a half centuries have passed since the Declaration of Independence was signed by those early visionaries and regretfully, we as a nation are still not there yet. The fullness of the American Dream is still just that…a dream. If and when we ever wake up and make that dream a reality is within our illusive grasp.

But somehow, in the realm of Yellowstone Ranch and the Dutton family, they have grasped their dream to hold onto their land, rights, and independence, whatever the cost. They way they do it is with perseverance, passion, and commitment and it doesn’t come easy. But then, what in life that’s worthwhile ever does?

Above all in YELLOWSTONE, the most important thing—the tie that binds—is family. And, whether you know it or not, it’s the same for you. Each of us had a father and a mother. Whatever happened to you after that doesn’t change that fact. Maybe you grew up in a large family, you may you did not; you may be adopted, you may even have lost yours; maybe the friends you’ve gathered around you are your family. YELLOWSTONE drives the point that the blood that flows in a person’s veins doesn’t matter. What matters are sharing common values. Beliefs that sometimes bend but never break. Love that’s sometimes tested, even questioned, but never fails. Courage—yes, courage—to be able to say at the end of the day, “This is my mother, this is my father, my brother, my sister, my dear friend for whom I would give up my very life.” That’s family. And that’s the compelling core of YELLOWSTONE.

The Duttons talkingImage courtesy of the Paramount Network

Here are some lines from the acclaimed television series that hit a chord among millions. Who knows, if it resounds loud enough, maybe—just maybe—we would unite us as families and become the nation our Forefathers hoped we’d be.


“Learn to be meaner than evil and still love your family and enjoy a sunrise.”

“Someday your son’s gonna test you. He’s gonna force you to make a decision that not only determines his future but your place in it.”

“The difference between raising a son and a daughter. All you do with a daughter is just try to keep her from getting screwed. All you do with a son is trying to keep him from screwing himself.

“There’s a saying out here. If your daughter’s riding a horse, no one’s riding her.”

“My mother was the spine of this family. She was the center. And without her, he’s, well, the best of him died with her.”


“Your grandfather used to say you can’t fix a broken wagon wheel, but you can use the parts to make a new one.”


“It’s the one constant in life. You build something worth having, someone’s gonna try to take it.”

“No one has a right. You have to take a right. Or stop it from being taken from you.” —JOHN DUTTON


“The whole world’s a test, son. Don’t let them ever trick you into thinking differently.”

“There’s sharks and minnows in this world, Jimmy, and if you don’t know which one you are, then you ain’t a shark.”


“’I’m sorry’ are two words you never have to say to me.”

“Well, that’s what it means. It means that you have me, that I’m yours. It means come live your life with me. The only thing I ask is that you outlive me, so I never live another day without you.”

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