‘Yellowstone’ TV: Remembering When Rip Wheeler Loses Family in Life-Changing Moment

by Katie Maloney
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Only dedicated Yellowstone fans will remember how Rip Wheeler came to live on the Dutton ranch.

Since Yellowstone‘s premiere, we’ve seen the darker side of Rip Wheeler. As a ranch hand, and essentially John Dutton’s hitman, Rip has beat up, set straight, and even murdered a lot of people throughout the seasons.

But, along with his gritty masculinity and violent capabilities, Rip also has a softer side and fierce loyalty to his family, especially Beth. Nevertheless, Rip is no stranger to the darker aspects of life. And there’s good reason for his edge.

Yellowstone revealed exactly how Rip Wheeler made his way onto the Dutton Ranch, and the story is heartbreaking. Rip grew up on a pig farm near Miles City, Montana. His parents divorced when Rip was young and he barely ever saw his father. For the most part, he and his brother were raised by their single mom. Until one night in 1997, when Rip’s abusive father returned to the farm with the intention of killing the entire family.

Rip was knocked unconscious while his brother was murdered. When Rip came to, he saw that his father was attempting to kill his mother. Before Rip could do anything to help, she was dead. His father went after Rip again but Rip hit him in the head with a frying pan, cracking his skull and killing him. Without knowing what else to do or where else to go, Rip ran away. He found a hayloft to sleep in and stayed there until the police found him.

How Did Rip Join The Dutton Ranch on Yellowstone?

The sheriff who found Rip was a member of the Montana Livestock Association along with John Dutton. So, he talked to John and suggested that he reach out to Rip.

John met with Rip and asked him about killing his murderous father. Rip confirmed the story and John offered Rip an opportunity for a new life. He invited Rip to stay and work on the Dutton ranch. The rest is Yellowstone history.

Certainly, this story is heartbreaking. And picturing a scared and hurt little Rip Wheeler makes us want to wrap our arms around little Rip and take him away to a safer place. That said, if there’s a silver lining in the story it’s that, without the Dutton ranch, Rip never would have met and fallen in love with Beth.

In a way, the ranch offered Rip a new life as well as an adoptive family. Leave it to Yellowstone to take a terrible story and transform it into something good…the opposite is also frequently true for the show.

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