What’ll happen to John Dutton in Yellowstone? Look, there are some things we have no control over. We can’t stop Yellowstone from coming to an early end, and we can’t do anything to change Kevin Costner’s mind about leaving. But we can come up with as many unwarranted predictions about the show’s end as we like.
Yellowstone will be coming to an end once part two of season 5 closes out the show. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. But Kevin Costner‘s early departure as John Dutton kick-started the end of things, and now we have to say goodbye to everyone else in the Yellowstone cast, too. As far as we’re concerned, the main Yellowstone series is one of the best TV series around. So, yeah. We’re a little bitter.
The Yellowstone season 5 part 2 release date is still up in the air, and although there are contractual obligations and a supposed “moral death” provision to be fulfilled regarding Costner’s exit, there have been no hints about what might happen to the best Yellowstone characters. So, we’re here to speculate and share our thoughts on how we think the cattle ranch patriarch might meet his end on the show. Here are the five predictions for John Dutton’s fate.
1. He dies of natural causes
We’ll say it: we’ll be pissed if this is the path Taylor Sheridan decides to take for one of the greatest non-father figures since Succession’s Logan Roy. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. John Dutton is not a healthy boy. He drinks, he eats so much meat, and the only exercise he does is lifting his leg to mount a horse and perhaps throwing a punch at his terrible son Jamie Dutton.
All this is evidenced by the two major health scares J.D has already faced throughout the drama series. He had colon cancer in season 1, which he kept a secret, and even underwent surgery. He got the clear, but it clearly took its toll on the man. Later, in season 2, he suffered a ruptured ulcer. It was pretty traumatic, considering he began violently vomiting blood in front of the ranch hands, and had to be carted into the vet’s truck to be operated on right there and then.
But that’s just it — John Dutton is a tough old bastard. If you’re telling us that someone can go through all the above and come out the other side only to die in his sleep unceremoniously, then you’re dreaming. That’s not the ending we want for our John Dutton, no thank you.
2. He’s assassinated, duh
To be honest, we’re surprised this hasn’t happened already. Well, actually, it sort of has. The season 3 finale saw all three of the main Dutton family — John, Beth Dutton, and Kayce Dutton — all facing various assassination attempts happening at the same time. Beth got a bomb delivered to her at her office, Kayce was stormed at the Livestock office, and John was shot and left for dead at the side of the road.
Alas, they all survived. (Because that’s what Duttons do, dammit.) John was in dire straits for a while, ending up in a coma. Doctors told Beth that he would likely never wake up. But you can’t keep Big John down, and he eventually wakes up. We suppose: what if he’s killed by the hands of another at the show’s end…for good?
But who would be the killer? Some suit from Market Equities? A long-lost enemy returning to get his own back? Well, no. Yellowstone has always been a story of family, first and foremost. For that reason, we think that if anyone’s going to end up with John Dutton’s blood on their hands for the big finale, it’ll probably be Jamie.
3. He’s thrown from his horse and dies like a cowboy
We like this one. In fact, it almost gets us a little emotional. In season 5, when John’s old friend Emmett dies on a trail run in his sleep under the stars, John laments: “He didn’t wake up. He just died on the trail, like every cowboy dreams of.” Wouldn’t it be apt if John met the same fate, somehow? His entire mission in life has been to protect the legacy of the Dutton ranch and adhere to the old ways.
Even if he’s the Livestock Commissioner or the Governor of Montana, he’ll always be a rancher and a cowboy at his core. Being thrown from his horse seems like the most logical way for this type of fate to play out. His wife, Evelyn, died in the same manner. Plus, his own horse had to be put down during season 5 after it broke its leg while Carter was riding it.
If John takes out a horse that’s not his for a ride, gets thrown, and dies quietly on his own land under the open sky…well, that’s a death worthy of even the best Westerns.
Boring! John Dutton’s been fighting dirty to keep the ranch in his hands for five seasons now, so an early retirement would be very out of character. The only way we could foresee this happening is if the fate of the ranch is secured and he passes ownership onto Kayce or Beth, until Tate becomes of age. But what’s John going to do in the meantime? Play golf? Not likely.
This one is probably the most unlikely of them all. John Dutton is a morally challenged man — it’s just simply not plausible that he’s going to walk away from this with his life, integrity, or honor intact. Him simply sauntering off into the sunset with, say, Lynelle Perry just isn’t in the cards, we think.
5. He’s disposed of…off-screen
If Kevin Costner chooses not to return, then we may end up never seeing him again. (John Dutton, that is, not Kevin Costner.) This would allow for a lot of creative freedom in terms of how the best Taylor Sheridan TV series would be wrapped up. And what’s more, we’ve seen a series continue without its leading character rather successfully. *cough* Succession *cough*. It can be done; it’s just a matter of how.
Perhaps a time jump will come into play, suggesting that John died of whatever cause, and the drama is picked directly back up by the Dutton brood. Maybe part two of the final season will be one big epilogue, skipping ahead even further in time to Tate running the ranch as an adult. To be honest, we’re not mad at this idea. As long as it’s done skillfully and doesn’t give the vibe of a “f*ck you death”, we’re open to it.
(Bonus option) 6. Will the real John Dutton please stand up?
Ah-ha! You didn’t think we’d forget about secret option No.6, did you? Well, this one involves Kevin Costner being recast so that John Dutton can have a proper goodbye in the last few episodes. A few problems with this: We doubt Kevin Costner would stand for it, for one. To see the character he brought to life be fronted by someone else? No, no.
What’s more, Kevin Costner is one of the best actors of his generation, so unless you’re casting someone like Clint Eastwood, you’re not gonna be able to top his immersion in the role at this point. Another issue with this is that you’re basically erasing years worth of connection built between a performer and an audience, so whatever ending does come of this method probably wouldn’t hit as hard. A fun concept, but would be terrible in practice.
Those are our predictions for John Dutton’s fate. For more on the series, check out our breakdowns of the best Yellowstone episodes, the Yellowstone timeline explained, and the 10 shows like Yellowstone to watch next. Once it’s over, you can also check out the 6666 release date and the Horizon release date to see what Costner’s up to next.
Elsewhere, take a look at our features on why we changed our mind about the Yellowstone movie, how Dallas ran so Yellowstone could fly, and what to do now that Yellowstone is breaking up with you.