‘Yellowstone’: Everything We Know About Rip Wheeler’s Dad

by Leanne Stahulak

Before he became John Dutton’s right-hand man on “Yellowstone,” Rip Wheeler experienced a tragic childhood thanks to his abusive dad.

We see bits and pieces of Rip’s childhood flesh out over the course of three “Yellowstone” seasons. Here’s everything you need to know about how and why Rip came to the Dutton Ranch in the first place. And it all starts with Rip Wheeler murdering his father.

Do We Know Who Plays Rip Wheeler’s Dad?

Season 1 is the only time we physically see Rip Wheeler’s dad. While we’d love to dive into the actor and what we know about him, the role is unfortunately uncredited. The only other mentions we get of Rip’s father come through flashbacks on “Yellowstone.”

The first time we see young Rip, played by Kyle Red Silverstein, is in “The Unraveling Part 1,” Season 1 Episode 8. The episode has one of the harshest cold opens in the history of the show. We see text at the bottom of the screen that places us on July 14, 1997. Young Rip wakes up in the corner of the kitchen, blood coating his face. He sees his little brother across the room, staring at him with lifeless eyes.

Starting From the Beginning: Rip Wheeler Witnesses His Family’s Murder

As we mentioned above, that first scene with Rip’s dad is a brutal one. Rip grabs a cast iron frying pan from the stove and goes into the other room. There, the young boy sees his dad beating his mom and eventually stabbing her several times. Rip Wheeler comes up behind his dad and whales on him with the frying pan. He doesn’t stop until blood starts coating the back of the pan.

So, from this horrific opening moment, we learn a few things: Rip’s father is a murderer who beat his sons and wife. His dad is responsible for their murder in 1997. And Rip himself kills the man.

The next scene shows a younger John Dutton (Josh Lucas) heading for a barn where Rip hid out for the night. He ran away from the scene of his family’s murder and slept in the hayloft. From Rip’s conversation with John, we learn a few more facts about his dad.

John mentions how a pig farm down near Miles City, Montana, was the scene of a gruesome murder. The “ex-husband” of the family showed up and “beat the whole family to death” until someone “cracked his skull” with a frying pan. Now we know where Rip and his dad grew up, as well as the fact that his parents were divorced.

Eventually, John offers Rip a job on the ranch, provided he pay a small price. This begins John and Rip’s father-son relationship, though we still see more mentions of Rip’s real father throughout the show.

More Mentions of Rip Wheeler and His Relationship With His Dad

In Season 2 Episode 5, “Touching Your Enemy,” Kyle Red Silverstein takes the stage again. He’s working on the ranch now as the low-man on the totem pole. All the other ranch hands give him crap for being an orphan. But this is also where Beth Dutton first expresses an interest in him.

The two bond over their killed family members. If “Yellowstone” fans will remember, Beth feels responsible for her mother’s death because she couldn’t control her horse and it caused Evelyn Dutton to fall off her own horse. When Beth asks Rip how he killed his family, Rip just says, “By not being bigger.”

This heartbreaking statement reveals a lot. Clearly, Rip seems to think that if he’d just been bigger and older, he could have not fallen unconscious when his dad beat him. Because while he’s unconscious, his dad kills his little brother and starts stabbing his mom.

We learn that Rip partially takes his revenge on his dad for the murder in “Yellowstone” Season 3. In the finale of the season, Rip goes to the cemetery to get his mother’s wedding ring from her casket. The cemetery worker, Terry, tells Rip that he “Never thought I’d have to do this for you again.”

This implies that Rip came back and dug up either his father, mother, or brother. We can’t see a viable reason that he would’ve dug up his younger brother or mother before getting the ring. So we have to assume that it was his father. Likely, Rip thought his dad didn’t deserve to be buried in the family plot after what he did to them. It wouldn’t surprise us if Rip took his father’s corpse to the train station and dumped him off the cliff.

While Rip Wheeler’s story is tragic and heartbreaking, it also made him into the person he is today. He learned loyalty and strength from John Dutton, and he met the love of his life on the Dutton Ranch.

What About Cole Hauser’s Dad in Real Life?

While Rip Wheeler had a horrible father, “Yellowstone” star Cole Hauer had a vastly different relationship with his dad. You might know Gerald Dwight “Wings” Hauser as a famous actor in his own right, well-known for roles in “A Soldier’s Story” and “Tough Guys Don’t Dance.”

Wings married Cass Warner, granddaughter of Warner Bros. founder Harry Warner, in 1974. Cole Hauser was born in 1975, and the couple divorced in 1977.

But Cole and Wings have a loving relationship today, with Wings loving Cole’s work on “Yellowstone.”

“Yeah, he’s a huge fan of the show and is obviously very proud of what I’ve done in it,” Cole Hauser told  Cowboys and Indians. “He’s an old cowboy, after all. Our family, the Hauser side of the family, are all Montanans. So, it’s very close to him. We have family in Helena and Livingstone and all over the state.”