‘Yellowstone’ TV: What Does It Really Mean To Be Branded By The Yellowstone Ranch?

by Kayla Zadel

The Yellowstone Ranch is an exclusive club. The price of admission is a painful one. Plus, there’s only one exit that includes a trip on a train that only heads one direction.

What Does a Brand Mean?

Let’s back up and talk about what a brand means. Mia (Eden Brolin), Jimmy’s girlfriend, tries and explain to him what a brand means. Livestock typically have a brand that the owner burns or freezes onto their skin. Wearing the mark means that you’re somebody’s property. Therefore, if you get lost, the finder knows where to return you.

Take for instance, when Walker is found singing in a local bar. He was supposed to be dropped off at the “train station.” Walker, against his will, is brought back to the Yellowstone Ranch.

Yellowstone Brand: A Mark of Loyalty or Property?

The branding on “Yellowstone” includes an actual branding iron even though the meaning is both a physical and metaphorical one. The Dutton Ranch logo, a hooked, rocking-Y, is heated over a flame and then placed on the chest of the dedicated wrangler.

It’s a big deal. Not just anyone wears the “Y” at the ranch. Because, for some, bearing the brand is worth the pain. It’s metaphorical meaning is about being an outsider, but also belonging to something bigger. The use of the symbol has been featured throughout the hit show’s three seasons. As a matter of fact, it thas fans talking about the mark.

“I thought branding was basically ‘You messed up so badly, you take this brand and we own you forever,” writes u/ChaserNeverRests on Reddit, “get the brand or we kill you/leave you to die/leave you to the cops’.

Some are relating the brand to the mafia, and in a way, “Yellowstone” is like the western mafia in Montana. Once you join the mafia, you’re owned by the family and will do anything they say. No questions asked. Betray them or try and leave, and your future is going to be a short one.

“It is both a mark of being ‘beyond redemption’ to society, but also a badge of honor on the ranch itself,” writes u/thehackneyedcarriage in response to the original post on Reddit. “It signals you removing yourself from regular society, and those who’ve been through the same will defend you with their lives unless you betray them.”

Which ‘Yellowstone’ Characters Bear the Brand?

The one-of-a-kind club has grown over the hit show’s three seasons. The first character to be branded on the show is Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White). Rip Wheeler, played by Cole Hauser gives him an ultimatum and after Jimmy’s decision, Rip then presents Jimmy with the initiation branding. In this case, the brand shows that Jimmy’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of the job.

Walker (Ryan Bingham) is the other ranch hand that receives the mark as part of his initiation. Rip picks up Walker from the state prison and presents him with the opportunity. Walker hesitates at first but then takes the physical oath.

However, not every wrangler gets branded immediately. We see Colby (Denim Richards), Ryan (Ian Bohen) who have both been around since season one, receive their brands in season three, episode 9.

Furthermore, Teeter (Jennifer Landon) started as a wrangler in season three, and she’s branded the same time the boys are. Fans speculate that this crew’s branding is a way of sealing the deal and ensuring that secrets are kept, especially since the three of them are now accomplices to murder.

Characters that start the show out with the Y-mark on their chests are John Dutton’s son, Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes), long-time wrangler Lloyd (Forrie Smith), and Dutton’s loyal right-hand man Rip.

Kayce’s wife, Monica (Kelsey Chow) often points out his brand and says that she can’t understand why a father would do that to his child. We have yet to find out why, either, but perhaps it will come to light in season four.

We don’t know if fellow brother Jaime Dutton (Wes Grimes) bears the mark or anyone else for that matter. Season four of “Yellowstone” premieres in June 2021.

[H/T: Looper]