HomeEntertainmentTVYellowstoneIf ‘Yellowstone’ Ends, What’s Next for Taylor Sheridan’s Dutton Universe?

If ‘Yellowstone’ Ends, What’s Next for Taylor Sheridan’s Dutton Universe?

by Jon D. B.
Yellowstone John and Beth Dutton
Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton, Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 5. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

As rumors of Yellowstone‘s end swirl, what’s next for franchise mastermind Taylor Sheridan?

Kevin Costner may have had, in fact, too much of a good thing. Last week, Deadline dropped a bombshell report citing everything from the ending of Yellowstone to a disgruntled Costner being replaced with Matthew McConaughey. But is any of it true?

No, yes, and maybe. Even if it is, Sheridan’s television empire isn’t going anywhere. The same day as Deadline’s report, I reached out to Paramount, and the direct response from studio execs made it clear that Yellowstone isn’t going anywhere, either. In other words, Yellowstone will continue past Season 5’s second half, and the show isn’t getting cancelled. Costner’s involvement with the show, however, is where things may take a turn.

‘Yellowstone’s Kevin Costner Conundrum

According to sources close to production, the Hollywood icon, now 68, is looking to limit his days on set in Montana. Reportedly, Costner had already asked to cut his shooting days from 65 to 50 for Season 5’s first half. And now that he must return to Montana to film a hefty second half, he’s (again, reportedly) looking to spend only a week filming.

Kevin Costner as John Dutton on the set of Yellowstone. (Photo by Paramount Network Press)

All of the above makes sense give Costner’s current projects elsewhere. Specifically, his multi-part Western epic Horizon (which he co-wrote with Jon Baird and may star in) is kicking into gear. A bonified movie star by trade, Costner made the switch to television specifically for Yellowstone all the way back in 2017. He’s brought John Dutton to life ever since, so it’s not at all surprising if he’s looking for a change of pace. Or a return to his own storytelling, at the least, something that’s won him an Oscar in the past.

Yet official word from Paramount says Costner isn’t going anywhere. “We have no news to report. Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come,” the studio replied to both Deadline and Outsider.

Costner is bound to make more time for his passion project, however. He’ll have to in order to bring four Horizon films to fruition. And this is where the bad news comes for Taylor Sheridan.

Costner or No, Taylor Sheridan‘s Not Slowing Down

As someone who’s watched Yellowstone from the beginning-on, it’s hard to imagine the show working without Costner. Kelly Reilly‘s Beth and Cole Hauser‘s Rip could carry a “good enough” version of the Neo-Western, and people would certainly tune in (myself included). But it wouldn’t be Yellowstone. Not as we know it, anyway.

John Dutton is not only the emotional heart of the most popular show of the last half-decade, he’s also the anchor; full-stop. Even if JD sticks around in a minor role, his absence would come to dominate every episode. And at that point, it’s best to kill off the patriarch and watch his family pick up the pieces.

The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Death of John Dutton is the choice Sheridan makes for Yellowstone Season 6. Which, all things considered, should be the last season of a fine cinematic, television epic that is starting to feel a bit worse for wear.

Sheridan has been teasing John Dutton’s death since the pilot episode, after all. And seeing all that foreshadowing finally come to fruition would be the perfect sendoff for both John and Costner.

As a storyteller, producer, and talent in general, Sheridan has proven multiple times over that he’s capable of crafting television people love to watch without John and Costner, too. 1883 was a masterful showcase of his ability to craft a sweeping period-correct Western. And so far, 1923 has proven his best storytelling to date. Then there’s the separate success of Mayor of Kingstown and Tulsa King outside his Yellowstone universe, with more on the way (Lioness and Land Man, to name a few).

So What’s Next? ‘1923’s Second Season and Possibly ‘1944’ and ‘6666’

1923‘s success has been so great that a second season is already in the works before the first even leaves our screens. It’s set to continue filming in Butte, Montana this year. So at the least, Sheridan’s Yellowstone universe will continue on in that time period.

1944 Yellowstone Prequel
Brandon Sklenar as Spencer Dutton of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A studio rep has already “let the cat out of the bag” on a 1940s-based spinoff, too. While at an event in Montana, Tom Prince, executive vice president of production at 101 Studios, described a forthcoming “1944” as a follow-up to 1923.

Yellowstone‘s number-named spinoffs will also continue with 6666 at some point in the future. And it is this show that many are speculating Matthew McConaughey to lead (Outsider included). McConaughey could lead 1944 as the next Dutton patriarch for all we know, however. It’s too early to tell.

What we do know, though, is that Taylor Sheridan’s television empire isn’t going anywhere, John Dutton or no.

For a full list of Sheridan’s forthcoming projects, see our 10+ Shows ‘Yellowstone’ Mastermind Taylor Sheridan Currently Has in the Works next.