Kevin Costner Has Indicated He May Not Be in Yellowstone's Final Episodes

Kevin Costner Has Indicated He May Not Be in Yellowstone's Final Episodes
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We finally have an answer about Yellowstone's future—but it may not be the one that fans were hoping for. In 2023, Paramount announced that the show will conclude after the second half of season five, and now later revealed when those episodes will debut: November 2024.

The first half of the fifth season of Yellowstone debuted in November of 2022 and wrapped up with a mid-season finale on January 1, 2023, with the promise of six more episodes to round out the show's super-sized, fourteen episode fifth season. However, actor Josh Lucas, who plays the younger version of Kevin Costner's John Dutton in flashbacks, recently indicated that there could be even more episodes coming that previously anticipated, telling Deadline in March 2024 that after speaking with creator Taylor Sheridan, "I think we're going to do 10 or so more episodes, and wrap up the story."

This isn't the first hint we've had that the final block of Yellowstone episodes might be supersized. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in June 2023, Sheridan said the final half of season five would possibly have ten episodes—making season five a total of eighteen episodes. "If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they’ll give me 10," Sheridan said. "It’ll be as long as it needs to be."

Whether or not Lucas's version of John Dutton will be appearing in some or all of those episodes wasn't immediately clear, though it's possible that Sheridan plans to use flashbacks to wrap up the character's story in lieu of having star Kevin Costner return for the end of the series.

Here's what we know so far about Yellowstone season five.

When will season five return?

In March 2024, Ian Bohen, who plays cowboy Ryan on the series, gave a hint at the show's timeline. In an interview with ET, Bohen revealed, "We will go back, rumor has it, in May. We should be on in November, roughly." Those dates clearly aren't set in stone, though, because the actor quickly added, "You're gonna have to give me some leeway on that. It's not gonna be sooner than that. It could be June. We shoot six episodes... November... maybe December, and then we go through the holidays, and then maybe season finale...series finale, maybe on Super Bowl, and that will be the end of an era."

It's a disappointingly long wait for fans, who have been eagerly anticipating more Dutton drama since the show's midseason finale in January 2023.

As for the finale itself, Bohen shared his feelings, saying, "It's like going to college and grad school with the same people for six or eight years, and you're like, 'Wait, we have to go? Then what are we gonna do next? It feels empty and weird so I'm gonna try to wring out every second of it."

Paramount originally confirmed that the show would be returning some time in the summer of 2023, a date that was later moved to November, and then December, before finally being announced for November 2024. No specific date has been announced thus far.

Will Kevin Costner be in the final episodes?

There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether Kevin Costner would make an appearance in the upcoming, now-final episodes of the series—concern about which has been further fueled by legal documents filed by the actor in his ongoing divorce proceedings with Christine Baumgartner. In the documents, obtained by Insider in July 2023, Costner reportedly wrote, "I will earn substantially less in 2023 than I did in 2022. This is because I am no longer under contract for 'Yellowstone,' the principal source of my income last year."

In a September 2023 child support hearing, Costner further stated, "I’ve been told it’s a little disappointing that [it’s] the #1 show on TV, I’m not participating,." He added, "I will probably go to court over" the payout for the second half of the season.

In May 2023, sources close to the production reportedly told Puck that Costner would not confirm his return for Yellowstone's final episodes "until he finds out and is comfortable with," how his character, John Dutton, is being written off. The first few episodes of the second half of season five, Puck says, have been written to allow for the possibility of Costner appearing, as well as the possibility that he will not be involved. The publication also reported that Costner was not informed ahead of the announcement that the show would be ending.

According to Us Weekly, an unnamed insider has indicated that as of April 2024, the production still hasn't settled on whether or not Costner will appear in the final episodes. "They’ve internally discussed going a couple different ways with the story line if Kevin doesn’t return," the source told the publication. “[Taylor Sheridan] could incorporate a big event to explain the disappearance, or there’s a calculative move to protect his family from an enemy." They added that if Costner doesn't appear that the final episodes of the show will "focus more on the children and ranch hands and their relationships, conflicts and alliances."

This news comes just two weeks after a report from Puck suggested that Costner is still hoping to make a comeback to the show, whether as a cameo or in some other form. According to the publication, Costner has been telling people that he will be returning to the show in some capacity, "but there are currently no discussions for him to do that." The report also indicated that the final episodes—which are set to begin filming this spring—have already been written, without an appearance by Costner in mind.

During promotion for his new film, Horizon: An American Saga, Costner himself seemed to indicate he won't be appearing in the final block of episodes, telling ET "I'd like to be able to do it but we haven't been able to.... I thought I was going to make seven [seasons] but right now we're at five. So how it works out—I hope it does—but they've got a lot of different shows going on. Maybe it will. Maybe this will circle back to me. If it does and I feel really comfortable with [it], I'd love to do it."

Is this the last season?

Yellowstone not will get a sixth season. The announcement of show's ending was the culmination of several tense months of speculation about the show's future. In early February 2023, Deadline reported on rumors that Yellowstone might be ending, writing, "The crux of the issue with the original Yellowstone series involves star Kevin Costner and disagreements over shooting schedules. We are told Paramount Network has declined Costner’s most recent proposal and instead has made the decision to move on to the other show, sources said."

Paramount's only comment at the time seemingly denied the claims, saying, "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. Thanks to the brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan, we are always working on franchise expansions of this incredible world he has built. Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner."

However, in late March 2023, Paramount Media Networks head Chris McCarthy did confirm that McConaughey will be joining the Yellowstone-verse, starring in a new spin-off, which the exec said will go ahead regardless of whether Costner returned to Yellowstone or not. "[Yellowstone] wouldn’t be what it is today without Kevin and we hope that that stays for a long time to come," he added.

The cast is expanding.

In June 2022, it was announced that Josh Lucas will be returning as the younger version of John Dutton, as will Kylie Rogers (who plays young Beth) and Kyle Red Silverstein as young Rip, so it seems we'll be getting some flashbacks from the family's past. Jacki Weaver, who played the family's corporate adversary Caroline Warner, will also be returning, while Mo Brings Plenty (Rainwater's right hand man, Mo) and Wendy Moniz (Governor Lynelle Perry) have been upped to series regulars.

yellowstone
Paramount

Some new faces will also join the season. Kai Caster, who fans may know from American Horror Story, will play a young cowboy known as Rowdy, Lainey Wilson as a musician, Lilli Kay (Your Honor and Rustin) will play an assistant to the Duttons, and Dawn Olivieri—perhaps best known to Taylor Sheridan fans as James Dutton's sister Claire on 1883will take on a new persona in the Yellowstone universe as the corporate shark Sarah Atwood.

It was previously announced that Jen Landon, who plays Teeter, and Kathryn Kelly, who plays Jimmy's new fiancee Emily, have been upped to series regulars for the season. Jefferson White, sho plays Jimmy, is also set to return to the show, leaving earlier speculation that he could be moving the spin-off show 6666 still up in the air. Neither Kelly nor White appeared in the first half of the show's fifth season.

Along with White, Yellowstone's core cast is expected to return, with Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Forrie Smith, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, Finn Little, Ryan Bingham and Gil Birmingham all announced for the fifth season.

yellowstone season 4
Paramount

The Yellowstone universe is growing.

In addition to the show's fifth season, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan has already begun to expand the show's canon on Paramount+. In addition to the existing Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Sam Elliott-starring prequel, 1883, the streaming service also has another Yellowstone origin story set in the Great Depression era, titled 1923 starring Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford, which will return for a second season. Sheridan has also inked a deal for several in-development spinoffs, including the newly announced 1944 and 2024.

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The two new series look poised to follow the format of previous prequels, focusing on an era of the Dutton family's history. It's currently speculated that 2024 will, in fact, be the long-gestating project starring Matthew McConaughey, though no casting information has been revealed yet. Rumors have since circulated that Yellowstone stars Cole Hauser, Kelly Reilly, and Luke Grimes are all in talks to join the spin-off.

Like 1883 and the rest of Sheridan's slate of upcoming projects for Paramount, the show currently operating under the working title 6666 is expected to be streaming-first on Paramount+, and though no date has yet been announced for when it may debut, according to The Atlantic, it was slated for some time in 2023. A June 2023 interview with THR, Sheridan seemingly called that timeline into question, saying, "[6666], for a number of reasons, needs a unique level of special care because this is a real place with real families working here. You have to respect the lineage. I’ve told [the studio] to be patient."

The synopsis released along with the show's announcement seems to suggest that it will be set in the modern day, on the historic 6666 Ranch (the actual 266,000 acre property of which was acquired by Sheridan) in West Texas.

Read the full synopsis below:

Founded when Comanches still ruled West Texas, no ranch in America is more steeped in the history of the West than the 6666. Still operating as it did two centuries before, and encompassing an entire county, the 6666 is where the rule of law and the laws of nature merge in a place where the most dangerous thing one does is the next thing... The 6666 is synonymous with the merciless endeavor to raise the finest horses and livestock in the world, and ultimately where world class cowboys are born and made.

Catch up on Yellowstone here:

Previous seasons of Yellowstone are available for purchase on Amazon Prime, or streaming through Peacock.

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In September 2023, the show made its broadcast debut on CBS, with episodes airing from season one of Yellowstone through what's been released of season five. It's not currently clear when or if the network will also gain access to the second half of season five.

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