Yellowstone’s death knell came in two blows. First, earlier this week an exclusive report from Entertainment Tonight revealed Kevin Costner will not be returning to the series. And on May 5th, the inevitable follow-up: the show will end with its fifth season, part two of which is set to air this fall.
The massively popular contemporary western on Paramount went into hiatus in fall 2022 during part one of its fifth season. The series has been a Costner star vehicle since its 2018 inception, revolving around his aging Montana magnate John Dutton, a legacy owner of one of the state’s biggest ranches fighting to protect the power and influence of his position. But reports of tension between Costner and showrunner Taylor Sheridan have circulated for months, covered by outlets like Puck and Deadline, which indicated that Sheridan and the network were considering ending Yellowstone in its current form while kickstarting a series of spinoffs, including a sequel series rumored to star Matthew McConaughey.
Now, that news is official. “’Yellowstone’ has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits – from ‘1883’ to ‘Tulsa King,’” Chris McCarthy, president & CEO of Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement. “I am confident our ‘Yellowstone’ sequel will be another big hit, thanks to the brilliant creative mind of Taylor Sheridan and our incredible casts who bring these shows to life.”
Earlier reports highlighted that Costner had issues with the shooting schedule. Yellowstone shot and aired the first half of its fifth season, but according to Puck’s Matthew Belloni, was waiting for a clear sense of Costner’s availability before moving to the second part.
“Yellowstone is really in limbo right now until they can figure out whether Costner is coming back or, more likely, whether he’s going to be written out of the show,” Belloni told ET. “Once that determination is made, they can finish writing the second half of this season, shoot it, and it will likely air in the fall.”
In February, Costner’s lawyer denied a rumor that the two-time Oscar winner only wanted to work for a single week on the second part of Season 5. “It’s ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second,” veteran attack dog Marty Singer told Entertainment Tonight. Several Yellowstone stars have spoken publicly about the tension between Costner and Sheridan, including Josh Lucas, who said y, “[There’s] the responsibility of a huge movie star and a brilliant writer who are putting a lot of crazy love and pressure on each other and the show to make something that people love.”
Others, like Dawn Olivieri, Wendy Moniz, and Lainey Wilson, downplayed the rumors and stressed at various times that they did not know definitively what would happen with the series. Yet the turmoil has been evident, particularly when Costner, Sheridan, and many of the key figures in Yellowstone did not attend a PaleyFest panel in April.
Paramount has bet big on Sheridan in general and on Yellowstone in particular.A prequel series titled 1883, starring Sam Elliott and Faith Hill, began in December 2021, while another show, 1923, began in December 2022, with Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford in the lead roles. Both shows focus on different generations of the same Dutton family at the center of Yellowstone, and there are further spinoffs in the works, like 6666, set in West Texas, also created by Sheridan.
Costner, meanwhile, is currently directing his own period Western, Horizon: An American Saga, alongside visual effects veteran Robert Legato, which he also stars in with Abbey Lee, Jena Malone, and Sam Worthington. Costner is also producing several television shows, including One Giant Leap and The Gray House.
The news of Costner’s official exit from the hit series came the same week the actor’s wife, Christine, filed for divorce. The pair were married for 18 years and have three kids together between the ages of 12 and 15.