Yellowstone may be riding off into the sunset. Rumors are swirling that the future of the mega-hit Paramount Network show is up in the air — shocking since it's one of the most-watched shows on television.
According to Deadline, creator Taylor Sheridan is considering ending the show in its current form because of star Kevin Costner's demands for a shorter filming schedule for the second half of Yellowstone season 5.
In its place, Sheridan reportedly wants to launch a "franchise extension" starring Matthew McConaughey.
Yellowstone is a juggernaut of TV. The season 5 premiere drew over 12 million viewers, making it the top scripted series premiere in all of 2022. It surpassed even the highly anticipated debut of HBO's House of the Dragon. The OG show's success has led to several spinoffs on Paramount Plus: 1883, 1923 and the forthcoming 6666.
Costner has been a key part of Yellowstone's appeal. The series was initially viewed as a kind of vanity project for him. His exit would leave a big gaping hole in the fabric of the show. He plays the protagonist, John Dutton, the patriarch of the sprawling Montana ranch. Costner recently won a Golden Globe for his performance.
“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,” a Paramount Network spokesperson told Deadline.
Deadline's report claims that Costner wanted to shoot for a week in the second half of season 5. According to The Wrap, the limited time is tied to a movie project, Horizon, which he is directing, co-writing and starring in.
If Costner leaves, it wouldn't be the first time the star of a show left before it ended. Ellen Pompeo is stepping down later this month as a series regular on Grey's Anatomy, which she has headlined for 19 seasons. David Caruso infamously walked away from NYPD Blue after one season to pursue a film career. Two and a Half Men killed off Charlie Sheen's lead character when the actor was fired. Same thing with Roseanne Barr on The Conners.
It's unclear if the "franchise extension" starring McConaughey would carry over plots or cast members from Yellowstone. If Sheridan decides to make it an unrelated spinoff, another factor comes into play — streaming rights.
Currently, Yellowstone's past seasons are available only on Peacock, not Paramount Plus. Meanwhile, Yellowstone's spinoffs are exclusive to the latter. A brand-new show could air on Paramount Network, then stream on its sister streamer to keep current entries in the franchise within the family.