It was reported earlier this year that Kevin Costner, the show’s leading man, may be leaving the franchise. As Deadline reports, Costner is directing and starring in his western epic Horizon, and supposedly didn’t have time to film the extensive Yellowstone scenes. Since Costner plays the family patriarch, John Dutton, his departure would leave a huge hole in the series. However, it is not yet clear whether this will actually happen. Speaking at a Yellowstone panel this past weekend, Keith Cox, president of development and production for Paramount Network, said at a Yellowstone panel last weekend that the network is “very confident that he will continue with our show.” This statement is bold considering all of the reports of unrest we’ve heard from both sides.
The comment came about the Costner-sized elephant in the room at PaleyFest TV Festival in Los Angeles. Yellowstone fans checked out Season 5, Episode 7 — the second-to-last episode aired before the current hiatus — and expected IRL appearances from creator Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Costner (John Dutton), Kelly Reilly (Beth), Cole Hauser (Rip), Luke Grimes (Case), Kelsey Aspel (Monica), Wes Bentley (Jamie), Jill Birmingham (Chief Rainwater) and Jackie Weaver (Caroline Warner). None of them showed up. Instead, fans have seen Cox, Mo bring on Plenty (Mo), Don Oliveri (Sarah Atwood), Josh Lucas (John Dutton the Younger in flashbacks) and Wendy Muniz (Sen. Lynell Perry). Deadline reported audible gasps from the audience. Cox quickly promised that the upcoming episodes—which have yet to be filmed, “will be exclusive”. “I am confident,” he added.
Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey is reportedly in talks to direct a potential franchise expansion to continue Dutton’s story, but nothing is known about its current plot or characters. That’s probably because the second half of season five, which returns earlier this summer, still has one big cliffhanger to tackle. The Dutton family has been trying to kill each other, which may give creator Taylor Sheridan the solution he needs — if not the one he originally envisioned. So instead of discussing the end of season five, let’s now find out what could happen in the potential series finale. So folks, how could Yellowstone end? We are breaking down our favorite theories below.
Who Could Die When Season Five Returns?
Before Deadline’s bombshell report, a Reddit theory suggested by user SuperPowMom made a lot of sense. It was thought that Jamie’s hitman might have accidentally mistaken Summer Higgins for Beth – which seemed like a good way to end the season. This event might still happen, but it would be more exciting if Yellowstone lasted at least five more seasons instead of ending abruptly now. If this is the end, then no one is safe.
Wes Bentley, who plays Jamie Dutton, sounds like he might be nearing the end of his time on the show. He told The New York Times last month that “Jamie’s sadness permeates my life.” Bentley also revealed that his wife even remarks to him that “‘Jamie’s coming home, and we don’t want him here.’” If the Dutton family retaliates, Bentley might finally see Jamie face some consequences.
How Will Yellowstone Handle the Kevin Costner Drama?
Keep in mind that While we need to figure out who might continue in a McConaughey-led series, Costner is lead we need to replace. Death is in the air – and John Dutton may take the first strike. Getting big names on TV for five seasons is an industry-wide issue, and a recent report from The Town and Puck News’ Matthew Belloni suggested that Sheridan had previously considered killing off Costner. Remember in season 3 finale where John Dutton was shot and left for dead? Well, according to Belloni, Sheridan and executive producer David Glasser “have been preparing for Costner’s eventual exit,” according to reports.
Apparently, Costner was in hiding after Sheridan bumped up the 10-episode order for the fifth season to a 16-episode two-part series, expanding the star’s short filming window. A source told Belloni that the Sheridan/Costner dynamic is akin to “wrestling silverbacks.” Rumors also swirled that their time together needed to be reduced to keep the ball rolling in the first half of Season 5. Things got even more complicated after Costner contracted COVID-19, forcing everyone to come back months later and finish filming his scenes. The reshoots were reportedly very expensive for Paramount – and greatly upset his co-stars.
According to Costner’s sources, Sheridan’s work schedule stretched him too far. It is said that he did not deliver the scripts on time and stopped the filming. Sheridan is writing several other series with Yellowstone, including Tulsa King, The Mayor of Kingstown, and upcoming projects such as Lioness, Land Man, and Bass Reeves. When you’re stuck in this scenario, it’s hard to tell who’s right. Belloni also reported that Costner’s Horizon does not yet have a projected release date as part of the upcoming Warner Bros. schedule. The second half of Yellowstone’s fifth season, originally slated for a summer release, is now filming this summer with an expected November release.
At the end of all these shenanigans, it’s entirely possible that Costner and Sheridan will return for a sixth season, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the next six episodes of Yellowstone will be the show’s last. “It’s probably a relationship that has run its course,” Belloni said. “Sheridan must be angry, they told me; he can’t finish writing 5B episodes until the Costner drama is resolved and his star is in or out.”
As many Reddit fans predicted, the ending where Tate inherits the ranch seems like the perfect ending. In addition to being John Dutton’s grandson, he is a bridge between the Duttons and the Indians on the Broken Rock Reservation. Yellowstone Ranch would then remain in the Dutton family and would eventually be incorporated into the reservation as well. Costner’s departure may hurt that possibility, but not if McConaughey’s subsequent spin-off continues whatever was left unfinished at the end of Yellowstone.
Will Creator Taylor Sheridan Stay With Paramount?
Yes, in a big way. In an interview with Vulture , ViacomCBS Entertainment President Chris McCarthy revealed that the projects Sheridan is helming will indeed continue to grow — even after Costner’s departure from Yellowstone. “Every year we’ll launch at least one Yellowstone franchise and one additional series … but we’re much more than that,” McCarthy said. “So 2021 was the Mayor of Kingstown and 1883, and last year was 1923 and the Tulsa King. Only this year it will be the second season of 1923, it will be Lioness and Bass Reeves – and that’s just on the streaming space.”