‘Yellowstone’ TV: What Does Potential Season 5 Renewal Mean for the Duttons?

by Jennifer Shea
Paramount Network

“Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan has a knack for getting his characters into some nasty scraps. But he’s going to have to get them out of trouble if he needs them alive for a Season 5.

Express is reporting that “Yellowstone” may have been quietly renewed for a fifth season.

And why wouldn’t it be? Its ratings are through the roof. The Season 3 premiere shattered ratings records, attracting 6.5 million total viewers. And the Season 3 finale did it again, bringing in 7.5 million combined viewers, per Deadline.

“This can only mean none of the Duttons die,” one fan posted on Reddit. But is that really what it means?

‘Yellowstone’ Has a Preordained Conclusion

Sheridan has said he wants to see the series “end on an upswing,” but at the same time, he’s crafting an ensemble drama. And his protagonists are complex characters. “Yellowstone” can’t be so simple that only the bad guys suffer.

Sheridan told Deadline last year that he’s already planned out the show’s finale, and there will be “consequences” for his characters along the way.

“I know how it ends,” Sheridan explained. “I know how the series ends, and you have to move in a straight line toward that end. You can’t walk in circles, waiting to get there, because the show will stagnate. So, you have to keep moving forward, and there have to be consequences in the world, and there has to be an evolution toward a conclusion.”

“Can that be another two seasons beyond this?” he added. “It could. I don’t see this as a procedural show. So, it’s not something that we could extend indefinitely. I don’t think anyone would want to do that; you’d cheapen the product.”

Another two seasons beyond Season 3 – which is what was airing in July of 2020 – would put the show’s endpoint at Season 5. Maybe Season 6 at the longest. But will Paramount really want to end a show that’s doing so well in the ratings?

Will Sheridan Kill Off Any of the Duttons?

Considering that he helms a show in which the good guys regularly take people to “the train station” and kill them off, it’s odd to find Sheridan talking about morality. Indeed, Kevin Costner, who plays John Dutton, has said that he’s struggled with some of the patriarch’s decisions on the show. But Sheridan insists that “Yellowstone” presents its protagonists with messy moral dilemmas, even if they don’t always pass those tests with flying colors.

“When you know the characters so well, the real question is what is the situation you’re going to drop them into? How are you going to test them, test their strength and their morality?” Sheridan mused to Deadline. “So, it isn’t a question of how they would react to those things, because after writing 20 episodes and directing all of Season 1 and big chunks of Season 2, I know these characters and the actors know I know them. It was just a question of, what do I want them to face?”

With the exception of Lee’s (Dave Annable) death in the pilot, Sheridan has never yet crossed the line and killed off a Dutton. Still, in interviews about the series, “Yellowstone” stars like Costner and Kelly Reilly have pointedly refused to promise that their characters will survive up until the series finale.

Looks like there’s only one way to find out for sure, and that’s to catch the next season of “Yellowstone.”