What does the Yellowstone brand mean? It’s not unusual for cattle to be branded. Typically, each ranch will have its own identifier to mark who the cattle belong to, and where to return them if they’re found roaming. But in Yellowstone, humans are seen sporting the same thing.
The Yellowstone brand has become part of the iconography of the best drama series on television. A symbol for the Dutton’s ranch, Taylor Sheridan pushed the concept even further by using it to mark some of the best Yellowstone characters.
But what does the brand mean, and who among the Yellowstone cast wears it? Here, we explain everything you need to know about the Yellowstone brand, and what it signifies in the best TV series around.
The Yellowstone brand explained
The Yellowstone brand is the logo for the Dutton ranch, which is used on both cattle and ranch hands to mark their undying loyalty to both the ranch and the Duttons.
It may seem a little medieval in nature, or perhaps like something that could be found in the best Westerns of old, but for John Dutton, it makes sense. Many of their ranch hands are ex-convicts or no-goods, who were plucked from the system and given a life, home, and job on the ranch.
Often, the riskier hires or those with nowhere else to go are offered the brand. This means that they are committing to work on the ranch and will perform whatever duties are asked of them until their end. If you take the brand, you’re essentially swearing yourself to the Duttons for good, so we’d encourage you to think real hard before committing.
Equally, a ranch hand can work for Yellowstone for several years and not be branded. But if they commit a crime, or need the help of other branded hands (to exact revenge on someone, or get them out of a tricky situation), they must take the brand. If the Duttons risk their necks to help you out, the brand is the only way.
The brand is given just as you’d expect: a searing hot iron rod with the Yellowstone logo (seen below) on the end, pressed into the skin just below the shoulder blade. Once you’re branded, you’re considered a part of the Dutton family’s inner circle, in exchange for your commitment and loyalty.
Who wears the Yellowstone brand?
Several characters on Yellowstone bear the brand, with most of the ranch hands committing to the mark, although Kayce was also branded when he was younger.
Here’s everyone who has the Yellowstone brand:
- Kayce Dutton
- Rip Wheeler
- Lloyd Pierce
- Jimmy Hurdstrom
- Colby Mayfield
- Wade Morrow
The characters are branded at different times for various reasons. We’ll start with the first one we see, Jimmy. When Jimmy’s grandfather fears for his grandson’s future and asks John Dutton to give him a job, Rip goes to Jimmy’s house and gives him the offer. When Jimmy accepts, he brands him there and then.
Rip was branded as a teenager after he accidentally killed another ranch hand, Rowdy, during a fight. Rowdy dies, and Rip asks for John’s help to get rid of the body. In exchange for this, Rip is then branded and sworn to the ranch for life.
Many of the ranch hands don’t share the exact reason for their brand, but Colby and Teeter are two that we see in action. After being attacked by Wade Morrow (who, incidentally, used to be a branded hand) and his son, the rest of the Yellowstone crew hunt them down and kill them. Colby and Teeter accept the help, meaning that they then must be branded.
But of all these, we think the most controversial brand belongs to Kayce. Although it’s not customary for the Duttons themselves to wear the brand, Kayce was given it at a young age after John demanded it. All this happened because Kayce got Monica pregnant, and refused to ask her for an abortion as John requested. To prove his loyalty (and probably as a punishment), John branded his son… A parenting technique we wouldn’t recommend.
That’s the lowdown on the Yellowstone brand. For everything you need to know about the Yellowstone timeline, check out our guides to Yellowstone season 5 part 2, the 1923 season 2 release date, and the 6666 release date. You can also find out if Yellowstone has been canceled for good, and find out why Kevin Costner is leaving Yellowstone.
Elsewhere, read our features on why at first James Osborne hated the Yellowstone movie, and now he’s changed his mind. You can also find out how Dallas ran so Yellowstone could fly. Happy reading!