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The Baddies of Yellowstone: 7 of the Best-Worst Villains
In the cruel world of John Dutton's Yellowstone ranch, it takes a lot to stand out.
Yellowstone has captured our imaginations with shocking plot twists, stunning scenery in the wilds of Montana, and the dysfunctional dynamics of the Dutton family, who run one of the largest ranches in America. But perhaps most captivating are the villains.
Each season brings new drama and intrigue around family patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and the land developers, hedge fund managers, and journalists who want to take him down. Here, we look at the best-worst villains of Yellowstone — streaming on Peacock.
Don’t get us wrong, we love actor Danny Huston, but his character Dan Jenkins, a real estate developer from California, is so cringey he falls into "worst villain" territory. The high-rolling outsider is fixing to build a massive casino next to John Dutton’s Yellowstone Ranch. Claiming to love the beauty of the Wild West, this city-slicker is willing to destroy it for profit and makes an alliance with Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) — a casino mogul and head of the local reservation — to take down the Dutton family.
He almost got away with it until the ranch hands gave him a big scare by hanging him from a tree before letting him go. He ultimately switched sides to support the Duttons but ran afoul of the Beck Brothers, who sent a hitman to finish him off.
Malcolm and Teal Beck (The Beck Brothers)
Neal McDonough brings serious acting chops to his role as Malcolm Beck. Perhaps best known as SEC prosecuting attorney Sean Cahill in Suits, he’s had plenty of opportunities to perfect his piercing villainous stare in movies such as Walking Tall, Van Helsing, and Arrow. In Yellowstone, he and his brother Teal (played by Terry Serpico) are wealthy real estate power players whose connections to Neo-Nazis and Montana Free Militia put them squarely in the worst villain category.
Like their rival Dan Jenkins, they also have their eye on Yellowstone Ranch and Broken Rock Reservation and terrorize the Duttons throughout Season 2, killing smarmy Jenkins along the way. Things escalated with the kidnapping of little Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill), which was the final straw for the Yellowstone clan. Determined to get revenge, John Dutton and his ex-Navy SEAL son Kayce (Luke Grimes) rescue Tate and kill the brothers in a wild season finale that involves machine guns, several casualties, and Kayce killing Teal while he’s on the toilet. When it comes to the Duttons, there is no safe space.
One of the best villains of the series popped up in Season 3 and quickly became a fan favorite. Josh Holloway played a smooth-talking swindler in the series Lost, and he brings that same charm and charisma to Yellowstone as a savvy hedge fund manager and land developer with local roots. Roarke plans to use eminent domain to take over John Dutton’s property and open a posh ski resort, but he’s also not afraid to employ more devious tactics.
Comfortable dealing on both sides of the law, Roarke hired local ranchers Wade Morrow and his son to harass the Duttons, hoping they would retaliate by doing something that would land them in jail. Sure enough, Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) and his fellow ranch hands track them down and kill them both, but there’s no jail for these Dutton dudes. Instead, Roarke gets payback in one of the most outrageous deaths of the series — and that’s saying something. Rip approaches Roarke with a mysterious cooler while he’s fishing alone, and as he gets closer, he opens it to reveal an angry rattlesnake inside, which brutally attacks Roarke in the face. After stumbling off into the woods, he collapses and dies with Rip watching over him, his boot on his chest.
As a horse wrangler and stunt actor who grew up on a ranch in Colorado, the actor Boots Southerland seems tailor-made for the role of Wade Morrow. Judging by his handlebar mustache alone, we would put him in the Best Villains category, but Southerland brought an unmatched authenticity to his part as a former ranch hand for the Duttons.
Southerland has several Western acting credits and took on tough, gritty roles in movies such as No Country for Old Men and Sicario. Yellowstone is no exception. Whether he was ordering a horse stampede on the Dutton ranch or scheming up other ways to betray his former employee, Wade Morrow is one of the most mysterious characters of Season 3. Morrow “wore the brand” of all Yellowstone ranch hands, a “Y” burned into the skin, and in one unforgettable scene, Rip and his crew remove it as punishment.
One of our saddest villains, Garrett Randall, has quite a backstory. It’s clear from the get-go that Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) is the family's black sheep. He’s desperate to win affection from Kevin Costner, who plays his belittling dad — not to mention his sister Beth (Kelly Reilly) constantly torments him. When the secret that Jamie was adopted came out in Season 3, it was an “ah hah!” plot twist. Turns out, his biological father is none other than Garrett Randall (Will Patton), a farmer who murdered his own wife, Jamie’s mother, because of her drug addiction.
When we meet Garrett, he’s out of jail, and Jamie has just discovered his identity after accidentally finding his birth certificate. Garrett’s villainy did stop decades ago with his wife’s murder; he contacted his old jail cellmate Terrell Riggins to orchestrate hits on the entire Dutton family, even bombing a workplace. He’s still mad that John Dutton didn’t stand up for him in court long ago and feels they mistreat Jamie. Despite some father-son bonding time, Jamie, egged on by Beth, shoots and kills his dad in a full circle moment.
We’d wager that Sarah (Michaela Conlin) is one of the best villains on Yellowstone, and it could be argued she’s not a villain at all. As an undercover investigative reporter for a major New York media outlet, she poses as a campaign staffer during Jamie Dutton’s run for Montana Attorney General. When she revealed her identity as a journalist to Jamie and her mission to expose his family's corruption, the ostracized son was on board with her cause.
But Yellowstone alliances change more times than you can shake a stick at, and Jamie ultimately went back into the Dutton fold. He suddenly needed to convince Sarah not to publish unflattering quotes about his dad, but his efforts failed. Spinning out of control, he shoved Sarah against a car and strangled her to death in his first cold-blooded killing of the series. Rip, the ever-present ranch hand, helps him cover up the murder, making it look like a kayaking accident. One thing is for sure: there's more than one bad guy in these parts.
Catch up on Yellowstone on Peacock.