For many, Rip Wheeler is their Yellowstone MVP, and Season 4 cemented the character’s staying power with Cole Hauser’s best performance to date.
Whether sparring with villains and friends alike or navigating his bizarre Dutton family life, Rip Wheeler is an undeniable highlight of Yellowstone. Through it all, John Dutton’s brutal enforcer shows he also has a heart of gold. And it’s Cole Hauser’s brilliant talents that continue to pull us all the way in.
Yellowstone Season 4 brought some of Hauser’s best work as Rip, too. With S4 wrapped and anticipation for Season 5 in full swing, now’s the perfect time to revisit those peak Rip moments.
‘Yellowstone’s Best Kill: Rip Ends Roarke with a Rattlesnake to the Face
During Season 4, Episode 1’s raucous end, Rip Wheeler approaches Market Equities’ Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway) while the villain is fly-fishing; his favorite peaceful pastime. Said peace turns deadly real quick, however, as Rip flings a diamondback rattlesnake from his cooler out onto Roarke’s face. The viper latches on, and in less than a minute-and-a-half Roarke is lying dead on the forest floor.
It’s one of the best on-screen deaths in television history. And one of the all-time best Rip Wheeler scenes in Yellowstone‘s 4 seasons.
Rip Knows a ‘Pet’ From a Mile Away
And then there’s Carter (Finn Little), a.k.a. Rip 2.0. These two become incredibly close over the course of Season 4. But it was mid-season when their dynamic was still highly questionable that brought about one of Rip’s best scenes.
Within, Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) decides she’s going to take her new orphan ward out “shopping” for a pair of boots and a jacket to work the ranch in. Carter has nothing to his name, and Beth is looking to give him a fresh start. But Rip sees exactly how this is going to go down from a mile away.
“You treat that boy like a pet, and that’s exactly what you’re gonna get: a pet. And not a good one, either,” Rip tells Beth. His love then responds in the most Beth Dutton way possible with an “I love you, but f**k you” – a highlight of the season, too.
‘Yellowstone’ Heartbreak: Rip Wheeler Makes an Example Out of Lloyd
“God d*mn you for making me do this,” Rip tells his best friend and mentor, Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith). Before viewers know what’s happening, he’s throwing Lloyd onto the bunkhouse table, knocking him out with a horrific punch to the face.
Rip then tells Walker, the receiving end of Lloyd’s own wrath, the same thing he told one of the cowboys he took to the train station: “There’s no fighting on this ranch. You want to fight somebody, you fight me. I’ll fight you all godd*mn day!”
Rip and Lloyd’s feud continues throughout most of Yellowstone Season 4, too. Wheeler has to volunteer over their boss, John Dutton (Kevin Costner), for the unenviable task of making an example of the old timer after he and Walker can’t sort out their differences. Rip then tells Lloyd he loves him before handing out even more of a beating and breaking his hand with the heel of his boot. Ouch.
Seeing Lloyd fall to such lows was beyond painful for longtime Yellowstone fans. But the dichotomy of love, respect, and duty from Rip sells the character as the ultimate enforcer through Season 4.
Rip Stands Up for Teeter
We all knew Teeter (Jen Landon) wouldn’t just up and leave after John banishes all women from the bunkhouse. In one of the best mid-season scenes, the ranch hand speaks directly to John, a rarity. She pleads for her job, citing Rip specifically. “Ask him if anyone works harder than me!” she shouts of Wheeler.
In a shock reveal, Teeter then flashes her Y brand to John and Rip. “So all this ‘this is your home forever’ was just bullsh*t?”
Rip takes the blame for her brand to a shocked John. He then shows his tender side, telling Teeter to grab her things and move back into the bunkhouse – and a collective sigh of relief was heard ’round the globe from Yellowstone fans.
‘Yellowstone’ Wedding: Rip Wheeler Finally Gives Beth His Mother’s Ring, Lloyd Gets to be Best Man
But the best moment of all for Rip Wheeler comes when he’s finally able to marry the love of his life.
On the Yellowstone ranch, Beth shows up in her killer conjugal gold dress and demands that her father, Rip, and Carter come outside. She’s brought (see: kidnapped) a priest and it’s time to get married.
Rip can’t let this happen without one thing, however. That one thing is his best man, Lloyd. In one of the best payoffs of the season, Rip fetches Lloyd to attend the ceremony by his side – ensuring fans that their relationship will last even the horrific beatings of Season 4.
With Lloyd’s inclusion, the priest goes through the motions. It’s then that Rip finally gets to give Beth his mother’s ring (retrieved from her grave in Season 3), another highlight of Yellowstone Season 4 for one Rip Wheeler.
“It’s yours now. And so am I,” he tells Beth.