Danny Huston played the real estate developer Dan Jenkins on “Yellowstone” until his character suffered a bloody demise in the Season 2 episode “Sins of the Father.”
Jenkins died at the hands of hitmen hired by the Beck brothers (Neal McDonough and Terry Seripco). Before he did, he had struck up a truce with John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and joined forces with them to counter the Beck brothers’ cutthroat moves.
But Jenkins was not just a minor character. He had already survived hanging by a rope from a tree at the hands of Dutton’s ranch workers. So what was the real reason Huston got written out of the show?
Dan Jenkins Had to Die for Creative Reasons
In a 2019 interview, Huston told TV Insider that a more formidable enemy than Jenkins would join the show. As Huston sees his character, Jenkins is a basically well-meaning man with a moral core who starts to turn bad as his battle with the Duttons heats up.
“Dan Jenkins really in a sense is a character who’s an outsider,” Huston said. “And he’s a sort of eco-friendly land developer who believes that he can bring the dream of this grand landscape and very majestic palate to people who wouldn’t see it otherwise. But the mere fact of him being an outsider means that he’s going to create a certain amount of antagonism with the real cowboys, cowboys that city boys want to be.”
In a sense, Jenkins and John Dutton are mismatched. Between Beth’s humiliations of Jenkins and Dutton’s political influence, shrewdness and bunkhouse full of devoted ranch hands, Jenkins never really stood a chance. Dutton needs a more dangerous enemy to meet with a true challenge.
But it’s unclear how far in advance Huston knew that the Beck brothers would prove to be Jenkins’ downfall. By August of 2019, Huston had posted a picture to Instagram of his empty chair alongside the message, “Farewell my dear friends @yellowstone I have now left the chair!”
‘Yellowstone’ Fans Seem to Agree
“Yellowstone” fans apparently agree that the Duttons needed to face a stronger villain. In a Reddit poll conducted about 6 months ago, most fans voted the Beck brothers as the best villain of the series.
Jenkins came in second to last in the poll. After the Beck brothers, the next best villain was Jamie Randall (Wes Bentley), followed by Roarke and Willa of Market Equities (Josh Holloway and Karen Pittman), followed by Thomas Rainwater, followed by Jenkins, followed by “Other.”
But there were some detractors. One Reddit poster wrote, “For me? Dan Jenkins; he was giving the valley an option, and was mostly on the up and up.”
Another Reddit user agreed: “Yeah he was mostly legit. Decent guy who didn’t hurt anybody.”
But in the harsh logic of Taylor Sheridan’s world, that wasn’t interesting enough. It seems John Dutton needed to face a villain who made him look like a moral man by comparison.