Yellowstone is riding off into the sunset, but the sun will rise on a new chapter.
Today (May 5), Paramount announced Yellowstone season 5 will be the final installment of the massively popular Paramount Network show starring Kevin Costner. But a sequel series, possibly fronted by Matthew McConaughey, has already gotten the green light.
Earlier this year, rumors began to float that Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan was considering ending the show over Costner's demands for a shorter filming schedule. While no official reason was given, Yellowstone's conclusion is confirmed for November.
"Yellowstone has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits — from 1883 to Tulsa King, and 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," Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement.
The neo-Western follows the Dutton family, whose sixth-generation patriarch John Dutton (Costner) owns the largest ranch in the United States. Located in Montana near Yellowstone National Park, the ranch is under constant threat from land developers, an Indian reservation and conservation activists.
Yellowstone has become a huge hit for the Paramount Network. The season 5 premiere drew 16 million viewers, making it the most-watched show on TV in all of 2022. Its success has radiated beyond cable TV in the form of two prequel spinoffs, 1883 and 1923, on Paramount Plus.
The flagship show will begin to wrap up its story with the second half of season 5 in November, with the finale airing in December. The new sequel series will follow immediately.
While it seems bonkers that anyone would mess with such a success, this is not an unique story when it comes to television. Leads have left hit shows before for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, those shows keep going with barely a blip (ER, Cheers); sometimes, the star's absence is a harbinger of doom (Two and a Half Men, House of Cards).
According to Deadline, Costner allegedly wanted to work one week filming the eight episodes that make up the second half of Yellowstone season 5. Reports also indicated Costner was focusing on an upcoming directorial project, Horizon. The actor's attorney declared the rumors were an "absolute lie" to Puck News.
Meanwhile, Paramount Network tried to make nice, calling Coster "a phenomenal talent" and "a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come."
In this case, hope didn't float.
Yellowstone sequel series in the works
Yellowstone is dead, long live (another) Yellowstone. In announcing the end of the flagship series, Paramount was quick to assure fans that the franchise is far from dead. A sequel series has been set for December.
"The Dutton story continues, picking up where Yellowstone leaves off in another epic tale. We are thrilled to bring this new journey to audiences around the world," said David Glasser, CEO of production company 101 Studios.
Though no casting has been confirmed, McConaughey's name has been linked to the sequel for months. Media outlets reported that the Oscar-winning actor was in talks for the lead role of a Yellowstone sequel. A "handful" of original cast members are expected to join him. That could include the actors playing the next generation of Duttons: Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley and Cole Hauser.
In addition to the sequel series, the Yellowstone Universe has a number of irons in the fire. 1923 is bringing back Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren for a second season. An 1883 spinoff centered on Bass Reeves, played by David Oyelowo, is in development. So is 6666, set on a legendary Texas ranch that is now home to former Yellowstone hand Jimmy (Jefferson White).
In the meantime, as fans wait for Yellowstone season 5 and its spinoffs, they can watch a collection of shows like Yellowstone right now.