There’s Only 1 Satisfying Way For Kevin Costner To Leave Yellowstone

It appears Kevin Costner won't be returning for Yellowstone's final episodes, but he could wrap up his character's story by filming just one scene.

  • Kevin Costner’s return for Yellowstone’s final episodes is unlikely due to scheduling conflicts and reported clashes with the series creator.
  •  A satisfying way for John Dutton to sign off could be for the first episode of season 5 part 2 to open with the character dying in a meaningful spot on his ranch.
  •  Closing out the show without its main character will be difficult, as John Dutton is key to the story being told.

The odds of Kevin Costner returning for Yellowstone’s final episodes are looking increasingly bleak, but there is one satisfying way for John Dutton to sign off. Part of what attracted viewers to the show in the first place was the presence of a genuine movie star in Kevin Costner. The series positioned itself from the beginning as a modern Western, with John Dutton resorting to whatever means it took to hold onto his titular ranch. While the series could get outlandish or downright goofy in later seasons, Costner’s gravitas always kept it grounded.

While there had been reports Costner and creator Taylor Sheridan had clashed over the direction of the series, it was a surprise when it was confirmed Costner was leaving Yellowstone after season 5. The fifth season was always planned to be shot in two parts, but when it came time to schedule the second half, Costner’s focus on his Western movie series Horizon: An American Saga led to scheduling conflicts. The actor has even suggested he might bring legal action over his impending exit, and recent reports suggest Costner won’t appear at all in Yellowstone’s final episodes. (via The Town)

Yellowstone’s Next Episode Can Open With John Dutton’s Death

Costner’s Dutton can die in a meaningful spot

Yellowstone has always positioned Dutton as a man born into the wrong era, and the only way he’d ever leave his ranch was death. The show has plenty of other lead characters, like John’s daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) or her husband Rip (Cole Hauser), but it’s ultimately John Dutton’s story. Ending the show without the character is far from ideal, but instead of killing him offscreen or featuring his funeral, the first episode of the upcoming Yellowstone season 5 part 2 could open with a wounded Dutton riding out to the spot on the ranch where his father died.

Costner’s Dutton could sit there overlooking his ranch before dying, with the rest of season 5 focusing on finding who killed him. The aforementioned scene could be shot in a matter of hours, and there doesn’t even need to be any dialogue from the star. Not only would this be a shocking way to open, it would be an emotionally satisfying end for the character. Yellowstone season 2 featured a tear-jerking flashback to John taking his dying father John Sr. (Dabney Coleman) to this place, and in season 4, Costner’s John revealed to Kayce (Luke Grimes) that this was the spot where he proposed to the latter’s mother too.


Yellowstone season 5 part 2 is expected to start filming in early 2024.

It’s a beautiful place that overlooks the entire Dutton ranch, and John seems to visit it when he needs to clear his head or just needs some peace. If he had to pick his own death spot, this is where he would go. With just one scene Costner could exit Yellowstone with dignity, and the aftermath of Dutton’s death would be a great hook for the final episodes, including whether his estranged son Jamie (Wes Bentley) had anything to do with it.

Costner’s Messy Yellowstone Exit Puts The Show In A Tough Spot

Closing out the show without its main character will be difficult

The drama behind Costner’s exit will be hard to ignore when the series eventually returns. Again, the story has always been about the Dutton clan holding on desperately to the land, no matter how much blood is shed over it. The ranch is John’s legacy, and it will be hard to wrap up Yellowstone satisfyingly if Costner’s Dutton doesn’t make an appearance. Given Sheridan’s past work, John was always riding towards a tragic ending, but killing the character off between seasons would feel very anti-climactic.

Of course, there’s little the showrunners can do about that. Sheridan has plenty of other shows – including the various Yellowstone spinoffs – to focus on, and the franchise will survive the end of the original series. Sheridan can rework the planned final episodes to put the focus on the various Dutton siblings to wrap up the saga, but the absence of John will still be hard to overlook.

Is There Any Hope Kevin Costner Will Return For Yellowstone’s Final Episodes?

The actor seems to have moved on from Yellowstone

There’s still time for Costner, Paramount and the showrunners to resolve their differences before the final episodes go before cameras, but the odds of him participating are grim. The actor is currently in the process of separating from Christine Baumgartner, and during a divorce hearing in September 2023 (via THR), Costner stated he’s considering going to court with Paramount over his Yellowstone exit.

He claims they walked away from negotiations on the final episodes, and that he’s still owed millions. Costner is hard at work on Horizon too, which he’s largely funding himself and one that has been a passion project for decades. There’s still hope Costner could return as John Dutton for Yellowstone’s ending, but time is running out.

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