1 Yellowstone Spinoff Wasn’t Meant To Happen – How Paramount’s Mistake Actually Saved The Franchise

It appears the future of Yellowstone will rest in spinoffs, but a bizarre mistake on Paramount's part actually led to one offshoot being produced.


A certain Yellowstone spinoff only came to be following a truly bizarre misunderstanding on Paramount’s past. Few could have predicted the success of Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone when the first season aired in 2018. Sheridan was coming off the acclaim of film projects like Sicario and Wind River, but Yellowstone – which was billed as something of a modern-day Western – didn’t seem like a surefire hit, even with Kevin Costner starring. The series has since become one of the biggest TV shows in America, with audiences becoming absorbed in the evolving Dutton family saga. This extends to the ever-widening number of Yellowstone spinoffs too.

1883 was a prequel that followed the Dutton family’s ancestors on their grueling Oregon Trail journey, and how they came to establish the ranch in the first place. With a great cast and rich production values, 1883 received instead acclaim, and Sheridan has been working hard ever since to expand his universe. Various Yellowstone offshoots are on the horizon, including 66661944 and Lawmen: Bass Reeves; the latter may even become an anthology centered around famous law enforcement figures from America’s history. That’s not even mentioning the Harrison Ford/Helen Mirren fronted 1923 – whose existence is something of a mistake.

1923 Only Happened Because Paramount Didn’t Understand 1883’s Ending

1883 may end with the Duttons finding the land the Yellowstone ranch would be founded on – but it still closes on a heartbreaking note. The prequel sees ostensible lead Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) being fatally wounded after being hit by a poisoned arrow, and her father James (Tim McGraw) lets her pick out the spot where she dies; this is where the ranch is later established. The finale also saw Sam Elliott’s Shea fulfill his promise to his late wife that he would see the Pacific Ocean, and he dies by suicide shortly afterward.

Sheridan has since stated 1883 was designed as a limited series and amounted to a ten-hour movie. However, viewers were confused when after the series finished, Paramount quickly announced there would be additional episodes. Greenlighting 1883 season 2 made sense following its record-breaking success on Paramount+, but considering so many key characters had died by the end of season 1, it was difficult to see how the s tory could continue in a satisfying way. It was soon clarified that instead of a second series, there would be a new spinoff titled 1932

, which was later renamed 1923.

In a 2022 interview with Deadline, Sheridan himself explained what happened. He states that while he made it clear to Paramount executives that 1883 was a limited series, they apparently didn’t digest how the story ended. When they asked for a meeting about how Elliott’s Shea would “survive” his death, Sheridan came to realize they had already picked 1883 

up for a second season. Not one to waste an opportunity, he decided to explore another chapter in the Dutton family’s dark history instead, leading to 1923.

Yellowstone’s Future Is In Spinoffs, Not The Main Show

After months of rumors, it has finally been confirmed that Yellowstone is coming to an end after five seasons. This is due to creative disagreements between Sheridan and Costner, though another spinoff is already in the works that will feature key Yellowstone characters returning. However, the success of 1883 and sequel1923 have already confirmed the franchise can survive without the original series’ help.

Sheridan has seemingly been given a blank check by Paramount for the Yellowstone universe – and he’s only too happy to cash it. The franchise is one of Paramount’s biggest, and Sheridan appears more creatively invigorated getting to explore the history of America than by the modern-day setting of Yellowstone itself. 1883 is the best outing to come from the saga to date, and while the show’s creator can often spread himself thin – he famously pens every single episode of Yellowstone and its spinoffs himself – there’s no reason to believe it can’t keep running for years to come.

1923 Proves The Yellowstone Universe Can Survive Kevin Costner’s Exit

Nabbing a star like Costner for Yellowstone was a major reason Yellowstone became such a success. It was Costner’s first major television series, and he gave it a grounding and gravitas that few other performers could. That said, after five seasons, Yellowstone has been spinning its wheels narratively. Now the original show is definitely ending, a proper ending can be crafted for Costner’s John Dutton. How a proposed spinoff will continue without Dutton is currently unknown, but the popularity of 1923 proves the franchise will be fine.

Yellowstone is becoming a brand name in itself, and the upcoming 1923 season 2 is just as anticipated as Yellowstone season 5’s second half. The end of the main series would normally be cause for concern, but there’s little sense of worry about the property’s future. Costner’s exit will be a big – and hopefully emotional – event, but with so many spinoffs in the works, there are plenty of other Yellowstone tales to be told.


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