“He’S Literally Just Standing There”: Taylor Sheridan Can No Longer Defend ‘Wasting’ A Key Yellowstone Character Who Was Kevin Costner’S Greatest Threat On The Show


Has it ever tickled your fancy that while the Dutton family harvests the cream of the crop when it comes to spellbinding narratives, some of Yellowstone’s most fascinating characters are left gathering dust on the shelf? Certainly, with the series grafting its roots around the fractured family tree bearing the likes of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton, it stands to reason that others would play second fiddle.

Yet, it’s hard to justify when a character like Thomas Rainwater, played masterfully by Gil Birmingham, is left on the cutting room floor, given short shrift while another chapter of the Beth and Jamie saga unfolds.

Fans, thus, are fluttering like a hive on a hot summer’s day, lamenting how Taylor Sheridan seems to be ‘wasting’ a talent like Birmingham—an actor of such caliber that he was poised to be John Dutton’s most formidable adversary.

Fans Speak Out: Thomas Rainwater’s Neglected Narrative in Yellowstone

John Dutton (the ever-magnetic Kevin Costner) & his misfit family seemingly get the lion’s share of the storyline in Yellowstone. From gripping monologues to dramatic Ranch fights, these folks are always hogging the camera. But what about the other characters simmering in the background? That’s right; we are talking about Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham).

Rainwater has all the makings of an enthralling character—ivy-league education, deep-rooted cultural goals, and an origin story worthy of its own spin-off. Instead, he’s often left out in the cold while we endure another Beth (Kelly Reilly) and Jamie (Wes Bentley) cage match. C’mon, Taylor Sheridan– give this character what he actually deserves!

Even the digital townsfolk are up in arms. Fans via Reddit are practically lighting pitchforks, arguing that Sheridan has wasted a key Yellowstone character. They emphatically state that Rainwater, Dutton’s greatest rival, is now little more than a wallflower. Every time Rainwater attempts to flex his muscles, it’s like he’s got John Dutton’s dialogue on repeat—getting chewed out.

In the show’s inaugural episode, Daybreak, Rainwater shares a tidbit that, until the age of 18, he thought he was Mexican. Plus, we’ve seen flashbacks of the Duttons, heck even Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) got his origin story limelight, but zilch for Rainwater. The journey of this man merits plenty of attention.

However, the actor, who played the character had a different take on his role.

Gil Birmingham on Channeling the ‘Perfect Character’ in Yellowstone

If you’ve ever dived into the tangled web of Yellowstone, you know it’s like a wild wild West where it’s harder to spot the good guys than a needle in a haystack. Among these enigmatic entities, stands Chief Thomas Rainwater, a character who dances the fine line between hero and antihero with the grace of a fox trotter in a saloon showdown.


So, where does Rainwater fall on this moral spectrum? According to Gil Birmingham, the mastermind who brings Rainwater to life, the Chief of the Broken Rock Reservation is nothing short of a “legitimate hero”. In a candid chit-chat with Town & Country, Birmingham chuckled:

Yellowstone is filled with these what-you-might-call antiheroes, but really they’re just multi-dimensional folks, each with their own wart and all, which is pretty much what being human is all about.

Now, folks, let’s not get it twisted. Birmingham admitted that his cowboy alter-ego is a “flexible son of a gun” when it comes to right and wrong, but, does he have a soft spot for him? When asked about his dream role, Birmingham didn’t hesitate and said:

I’ve been asked before, ‘what would your perfect character be that you’re going to portray?’ Thomas Rainwater is it at this point.

Here’s the kicker: Birmingham and Rainwater go way back, way before Yellowstone roped us in and hogtied our Sunday nights. When Taylor Sheridan, the brains behind the show, approached him with Yellowstone’s script back in 2015, Birmingham jumped faster than a jackrabbit on a hot skillet. The actor revealed:

You don’t want to get your hopes sky-high because the industry’s brimming with letdowns, but Taylor had a hunch.

Now, that’s laying it all on the table. The Duttons and Rainwater often find themselves either shaking hands or standing off in the never-ending battle for land and legacy.

But then, why has Rainwater, once a tempest in Dutton’s teapot, been demoted to little more than a stagehand in his narrative, sidelined to the extent that his storyline is as clear as mud?

The second half of Yellowstone’s fifth season will be released on November 10, 2024.