Kevin Costner “won’t be returning” to Yellowstone (What might happen to John Dutton in season 5 part 2?)

Kevin Costner has made it clear he won't return to Yellowstone, so just how will the series write off John Dutton?
Yellowstone /

It’s official: Kevin Costner is finished with Yellowstone. So, how is the show going to write off John Dutton?

For fans of Yellowstone, the behind the scenes drama is outdoing anything the Dutton clan gets up to onscreen. Just as season 5 of the hit Paramount Network show was beginning production, word came of conflict between star Kevin Costner and creator Taylor Sheridan. The issues involved classic stuff from salary disputes to the series’ creative direction, which delayed shooting. 

Paramount split the fifth season in two, with the second half delayed by the 2023 Hollywood strikes. Then it looked like a final falling out between Costner and Sheridan (complete with a breach of contract lawsuit) would lead to Costner leaving the show. Yellowstone season 5 is the final season, and a spin-off with Matthew McConaughey as the potential new lead is now in th works.

Courtesy: Paramount Network /

Recently, Costner has hinted in interviews that he might be open to returning to Yellowstone in the right conditions. Costner has been busy filming his epic Western film Horizon, which is set to have at least two installments opening in June and August, with more films planned. However in most recent news in a social media post, Costner confirmed to everyone that he is indeed done with Yellowstone

"I want to reach out and let you know that after this long year and a half of working on Horizon and doing all the things that’s required, and thinking about Yellowstone, that beloved series that I love, that I know you love, I just realized that I’m not going to be able to continue Season 5B or into the future. It was something that really changed me. I loved it. And I know you loved it. And I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be returning and I love the relationship we’ve been able to develop and I’ll see you at the movies."

With any hope for Costner to wrap up the saga of John Dutton finished, just how is the series going to handle his departure?

Courtesy: Paramount Network /

How can Yellowstone write off John Dutton?

Few things are as challenging to a TV series as having to write off its biggest main character. With Costner it’s trickier as they can’t count on him coming back for some farewell scene and handling John’s absence. 

The most obvious answer is to kill John off. There is no shortage of ways to do it, as between his own family, the scores of enemies he’s made over the years, and just some freak accident, killing John off-screen seems the best option. It doesn’t even have to be some enemy; John could end up dying of cancer or have a heart attack in the wild, which would be fitting for him to die in the land he loved.

It doesn’t have to be death, as it could be explained that John is moving to Helena to fuel his political career and to try to help the ranch more. There’s also him either eloping with Summer (Piper Perabo) or maybe a reunion with Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) to leave the craziness of the family behind. 

However, it’s hard to see John ever letting go of control over the ranch or, more importantly, his family. Thus, it looks like killing John off-screen is going to be the best option. It’s still unsure how the plotlines for Yellowstone season 5 part 2 are going to go without Costner or what it means for the spin-off. But it’s settled that John Dutton’s story appears to be finished, making Yellowstone one of the wilder on and off-screen dramas on TV today.

Yellowstone season 5 Part 2 premieres Sunday, November 10, 2024 at 8/7c on the Paramount Network.

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