How Did Cara Dutton Die & When? Here’s What Happened to Her

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Taylor Sheridan made his name way before Yellowstone ever premiered. However, one has to consider the show – and its spin-off prequels – as the guys crowning work. We’re already into the new spin-off, 1923, and it’s just as epic as Yellowstone or 1883. The matriarch of the family in 1923 was Cara Dutton. So, how did Cara Dutton die, and when?

We still don’t know how or when did Cara Dutton die exactly. After the pilot episode of 1923 premiered on December 18, 2022, Cara was still alive and well on the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Well, alive, at least, as she worries about her husband, Jacob, and son Spencer, who’s away in Africa.

The very first scene of the episode establishes how tough Cara Dutton is, as she shoots down a trespasser on the Dutton family land. There are numerous scenes and interactions in the episode that show us who Cara is and what her role will probably look like in the new show, so let’s dive into the character and see if we can figure out more info.

Who is Cara Dutton?

The Dutton family tree is growing larger and larger with every new season of every show in the so-called Sheridanverse. From Yellowstone, 1883, and 1923, it’s hard to keep up with all the names and family members if you weren’t following the shows from the start. So, who is Cara Dutton, and when did she first appear?

Cara Dutton is a character portrayed by Helen Mirren in the new Yellowstone prequel spin-off series 1923. She is the wife of Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) and stepmother of John and Spencer Dutton.

John and Spencer were children of Margaret and James Dutton, Jacob’s older brother. In the pilot episode, Elsa Dutton – the daughter of Jacob and Margaret, who died in the final episode of the show 1883 – is the narrator, and she explains what happened to her parents at the very beginning of the new show, 1923.

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“Upon my father’s death, my mother wrote to my father’s brother, begging that he bring his family to these wild lands and save her.
A year later, he arrived to find my mother frozen in a snow drift, her two boys half-starved and barely able to speak.
He raised them as his own and took my father’s dream and made it into an empire. Then… the empire crumbled.”

Essentially, that explains to you who Cara Dutton is. The ‘father’s brother’ that Elsa is referring to is Jacob Dutton, and Cara Dutton is his wife, an Irish immigrant. They arrived at the ranch after James and Margaret passed away and took in their two boys, John and Spencer, raising them as their own children.

They also decided to fulfill James Dutton’s dream of making the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch an empire, which they did. Sadly, the 20th century wasn’t kind to anyone, and the Duttons weren’t an exception. Prohibition, the Great Depression, horrible droughts, and countless other issues had the Duttons and their ranch on the ropes, but they never gave up.

How and when did Cara Dutton die?

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Through all those troubles, we know that the ranch survived, as we follow the same family running the century-old business still in modern times during the Yellowstone series. Naturally, seeing that there’s a hundred-year gap between the show, Jacob and Cara aren’t alive anymore when Yellowstone takes place. So, how and when did Cara Dutton die?

Well, so far, we still don’t know when and how Cara Dutton passed away. There was never a flashback in Yellowstone that portrayed her death as it did with, for instance, James Dutton. And, in the new series, 1923, she is still very much alive and well after the pilot episode aired.

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Where to Watch 1923? Is It on Paramount, Netflix, Amazon, or HBO?

Hence, we can only assume what happened to her and how she eventually died. I’m going to be optimistic and say that Cara Dutton was a very strong, feisty woman and that she eventually passed away due to old age.

But that’s just an assumption – we’ll have to wait and see if the series will show Cara’s death in either this or the next season. Yes, you read that right – unlike the first spin-off series, 1883, the new series, 1923, will have two seasons of action.

What happened to Cara Dutton in 1923?

Now, we still don’t know how Cara Dutton died, but we already have a lot of information about what happened to her in the 1923 series, even after only a single episode had aired. She is the current matriarch of the Dutton family, as her husband, Jacob, is the head of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

Their eldest adopted son/nephew, John, already has a wife, and a son, Jack, and has moved away from home to live with his own family. John’s younger brother, Spencer, is not at home with Cara and Jacob, either. He’s a World War I veteran that is currently in Africa, working as a big game hunter.

Meanwhile, at the ranch, Cara shoots down a trespasser on their land at the very beginning of the episode, hinting at potential troubles that will come. It doesn’t take long for us to learn what’s going on.

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The drought, and a locust infestation, destroyed all the grass for the cattle, who were slowly starving to death. There’s also the big problem of cattle stealing crimes that rose in numbers exponentially at the time of the Great Depression. 

To make matters worse, the neighboring sheep herders started to let their sheep eat grass on the Dutton land because they haven’t got enough grass to feed their herd, and the sheep began to die. Jacob argues that sheep eat to the root, destroying everything that would be left for his cattle.

Eventually, Jacob and the cattle ranchers embark on a journey up the mountains with their cattle, where there’s fresh grass, so that they can survive the summer.

Cara writes to Spencer in despair, hoping for his return home, and explaining all the trouble going on at the ranch:

“When the house is full, and the ranch is busy, I can lose myself in the hurry of it and forget you’re not here. But the house is empty, I have no chores left, and so I think of you and wonder why. Why won’t you come home to us?

I can’t help but think that your absence is punishment, that somehow we are the reason you won’t return. That’s selfish, I suppose; war changes men. I can only assume you are seeking a part of yourself you lost. And I can only pray that you find it and come back to us.”

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Does Spencer Dutton Die in the First Episode of 1923?

Little did she know that Spencer was on the hunt for a leopard, but as it turns out – there were two. Spencer gunned down one of them, witnessing the leopard killing a woman, and the episode ends on a huge cliffhanger, with the second leopard attacking and mauling Spencer Dutton.

Will he die, or will Cara live to see him eventually return home to Montana? It remains to be seen, and we’ll learn more on December 25, 2022, when the second episode of 1923 premieres on Paramount+.

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