- The Dutton family lineage in Yellowstone dates back to the pre-Montana statehood era, with the family settling in Montana in 1883.
- Chance Dutton and Ned Dutton are mentioned as two graves in the Dutton land, but their identities and relation to the family remain a mystery.
- Upcoming prequels or spin-offs in the Yellowstone universe could very well explore the lives and deaths of these forgotten Duttons.
You’d think that after all this time if there were more Duttons out there, we’d know about them by now. But Yellowstone keeps throwing us curveballs, and the more times we go back and review the series, the more we realize that there’s so much rich Western history to uncover. That’s right, folks, today we’re taking a look at two new Duttons who we’ve never seen — and most of us have never even heard about — to figure out where they may have come from.
If you didn’t know about them before (and it’s okay if you missed it the first time around), there are actually a Chance Dutton, a Ned Dutton, and a Patience Dutton lying in the ground on the Dutton land. The problem is, we don’t know who exactly they are, and they’re not characters who have been formally discussed thus far on screen, leaving their lives (and their deaths) a mystery.
The Dutton Family Lineage Goes Back to Pre-Montana Statehood
According to the prequel miniseries 1883, the Duttons first settled in Montana on a whim back in that titular year. After Elsa Dutton (Isabel May), the firstborn and only daughter of James (Tim McGraw) and Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill), died while defending their wagon train, her family opted to stay in the place where she was buried. That land would later become the Dutton Ranch, and it would border Yellowstone National Park and the Broken Rock Indian Reservation. After settling in Paradise Valley, the Duttons expanded their empire into the 20th century (chronicled in part in 1923), and later the 21st.
The John Dutton we know from Yellowstone, played by Kevin Costner, is a descendant of James and Margaret’s own son of the same name. His children, Lee (Dave Annable), Beth (Kelly Reilly), Kayce (Luke Grimes), and his adoptive son Jamie (Wes Bentley) were to split the Dutton empire, but after the death of John’s firstborn and multiple betrayals by Jamie, it’s unclear whether Kayce’s son Tate (Brecken Merrill), Beth’s surrogate son Carter (Finn Little), or Jamie’s infant son will take over. Who knows? Maybe John will just bequeath it to Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), his own surrogate son and Beth’s husband, in the end.
One thing’s for certain, though: every Dutton who has lived on the land since 1883 has been buried there, something John often thinks proudly about. In the series premiere “Daybreak,” after Lee is killed, John thinks of two gravestones in particular: Chance Dutton and Ned Dutton. These characters are never mentioned again on the show, and even in Season 5 when the Dutton graveyard (which looks pretty different from what it did back in Season 1, by the way) is examined once again, they aren’t even brought up. However, a new addition, Patience Dutton, has caught the attention of viewers everywhere.
These New Duttons Have Yet to Be Explored on ‘Yellowstone’
When John’s mind wanders to Chance and Ned’s graves, only one date on Ned’s headstone is clear: March 16, 186-. We don’t even get the full date because it’s obscured, but we learn that, whoever Ned Dutton is, he was likely born (or possibly died) at some point during the 1860s. Could this be another Dutton child born to James and Margaret sometime between their son John, Sr. and their other son Spencer (played by Brandon Sklenar in 1923)? Or maybe this is someone else entirely, perhaps Jacob (Harrison Ford) and Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren) had a child after all, one who died prematurely whom they wished to honor here?
It’s hard to say for sure who Ned and Chance could be. After all, we don’t know anything other than their names, though the fact that John meditates on them during his son’s funeral might give us some context clues. If John’s emotional state is to be taken into account during this scene, then the Dutton patriarch could be thinking about past kinsmen who, like his son, died before they had the chance to meet their full potential. If Ned Dutton was the son of James and Margaret, or even Jacob and Cara, it’s understandable given Yellowstone
‘s flashbacks to the year 1893 (not to mention the 1923 series as well) that the family wouldn’t mention it.
But that leads to some continuity errors as well, particularly that the Dutton graves we see in 1923 only consist of James, Margaret, Elsa, and later John, Sr. (played by James Badge Dale in 1923). So it’s unlikely Ned or Chance were premature deaths, but possibly other Dutton siblings (either James’ or John’s) who, like Spencer, left the ranch only to return later before their deaths. Additionally, the Yellowstone episode “Cigarettes, Whiskey, a Meadow and You” reveals that Patience Dutton was born in 1931, and may have died in 1939 (if not earlier). Her identity also remains a mystery.
Could These Forgotten Duttons Be the Focus of an Upcoming Prequel?
Franchise creator Taylor Sheridan has revealed that he has plenty of spin-off ideas for the Yellowstone Universe, and it’s more than likely that (unless he’s forgotten about these long-lost Duttons) that the truth will eventually be explored on one of these prequels. One upcoming prequel, titled 1944, is meant to be a sequel to the current 1923 prequel series, and could actually explore Patience’s identity further. If the dates we’ve mentioned above are accurate, then Patience Dutton died at only eight years old. 1944, taking place five years later, may deal with some of the fallout for whichever Duttons bore this young girl in the first place.
As for Ned and Chance, well, the jury’s still out on them. As we mentioned before, Ned’s supposed birthdate places him in his sixties come 1923, and easily in his eighties by the time 1944 would be set. If he’s going to be a character in the Yellowstone Universe, he’s running out of chances to show up. Admittedly, he could appear in the upcoming anthology series Lawman, which was originally envisioned as an 1883 spin-off. If that’s the case, we may get a real story out of him yet. And since we have no idea where Chance hails from, he’s fair game even as far as the present (who knows, maybe he’s John Dutton’s long-lost brother).
With Yellowstone now airing on CBS, it’s no wonder that the show is attracting new audiences and that longtime fans are noticing new things for the first time. Hopefully, if we continue to ask these questions, Sheridan and company will be willing to give us some real answers in the coming seasons. Even though Yellowstone itself is ending after the second half of Season 5 drops, that doesn’t mean that the entire Neo-Western universe is going to crumble with it. In fact, it doesn’t seem at all like Sheridan is going to be slowing down.
What’s Next for the Yellowstone Universe?
With another season of 1923 still underway and the back half of Yellowstone‘s final season coming down the pipeline, we’re not in danger of losing the Yellowstone Universe just yet. The first season of the planned Lawman series, subtitled Bass Reeves, is set to premiere in November 2023, and will be followed by subsequent seasons focusing on different historical Western icons. After that, there’s still 1944 and the upcoming Yellowstone sequel series set to be headlined by none other than True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey.
After that? Who knows. Sheridan has teased various other spin-offs, such as the long-anticipated 6666 series, over the years, and with Paramount continually giving him the green light, it seems that he can do no wrong. Outside the Yellowstone Universe, the filmmaker has also been responsible for Paramount’s Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King, and the recent Special Ops: Lioness, with the first two currently set to return for more seasons. While the Duttons’ story may be switching up in the coming years, Sheridan himself is seemingly bursting with new tales to be told. That’s a good thing too, because Yellowstone isn’t getting any less popular.