Yellowstone TV: Theory Explains Why Rip Wheeler Is the ‘Embodiment of Death’

by Thad Mitchell

Preparing to begin it’s fourth season, ever-popular Paramount Network show “Yellowstone” has a loyal and growing fan base.

Warning: Proceed with caution, season 3 spoilers are ahead…

The new season is expected to roll out sometime this upcoming summer, though a start date is not yet official. In an effort to pass the time until the favorite television returns, Yellowstone fans are speculating on theories of what might happen in the new season.

The third season of the series ended on quite the cliffhanger with members of the Dutton family under siege from an unknown entity. When last we saw John Dutton, he took a few bullets to the chest from of an unknown gunman. It isn’t known if John, played by Kevin Costner, survived the attack but it is likely the series’ protagonist will live on. His final scene shows him removing his cell phone from his shirt pocket, riddled with bullet holes. The well-placed cell phone may have saved the Dutton family patriarch’s life.

Two of John’s children may not have faired as well. Kayce Dutton was last seen flipping over a desk to shield from incoming fire. Like John, it isn’t known if Kayce survives the attack or just who the attacker is. John’s only daughter, Beth Dutton, received a bomb in the mail that exploded when her assistant opened the package. Like her brother and father, Beth’s status for the fourth season is up in the air.

Yellowstone Ranch Hand Rip Wheeler Comes Into Focus

Then there is loyal Yellowstone Ranch worker Rip Wheeler, who is also Beth’s fiancé. The big and intimidating cowboy has shown he will go to great lengths to protect the Dutton family — including murder. Rip’s character arc is one of the most interesting aspects of the show. He serves as John’s right-hand man and has no problem getting his hands dirty or picking fights with John’s enemies.

An interesting theory regarding Rip’s role recently appeared on Reddit. Poster “Rotorfan1,” says he believes Rip is the “embodiment of death.”

“Rip Wheeler is the embodiment of death,” he writes. “He is always wearing black. His name is literally R.I.P. Makes sense why he’s the one that usually doles out the slayings as well as the recruitment (deal with the devil sort of thing?). Could just be a nod to other stories and myths from Sheridan and the writers. Either way, I thought it added a cool layer to the series. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s picked up on this. I feel like there is a larger allegory at work here.”

Indeed, Rip Wheeler is often put into situations that require his expertise and associates with death on Yellowstone.

Rip Wheeler is all too Familiar with Death

One particular instance occurs toward the end of the previous season when Rip has an associate dig up his mother’s grave. He has a heartfelt conversation with his long-dead mother about his intentions to marry Beth. He then takes the ring from her finger and plans to give it to Beth upon exchanging vows.

The Cowboy in black can be heard having conversations about murder or committing the act himself. He often discusses taking former ranch hands to the “train station” which is code for killing them.

In the first season, he attempted to assist 2 Asian tourists who were hiding from a bear. While he did everything he could to help them up, it was to no good and both tourists fell to their death.

Rip Wheeler also has a history with death. In his childhood, he witnessed his mother being beaten by his father. Though his mother would die, young Rip beat his father to death with a cast-iron skillet.

With the series’ return just around the corner, viewers won’t have to wait long to find out Rip’s next move.