Why There Will Be No ‘Yellowstone’ Season 6 Without Kevin

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John Dutton’s long reign will soon reach a dramatic end. According to recent reports by Variety and Entertainment Tonight published in early May 2023, Yellowstone star Kevin Costner will not return to the series after season 5, and the flagship show will not continue without him, instead ending its run and branching out into a sequel series.

The actor’s final chapter on the supremely popular western has already aired the first half of its full-season run, but the remaining episodes have yet to drop, reportedly—at least in part—thanks to scheduling tensions between Costner and showrunner Taylor Sheridan. As of May 3, the cast and crew still had “no update” on when the series would return to Montana to finish shooting the remainder of season 5. That changed only two days later, when Paramount Network revealed the goodbye episodes will arrive in November 2023.

Costner’s exit has enormous implications for remaining Yellowstone storylines; it’s led to the creation of a series “extension” and the dashing of hopes for a season 6. As such, here’s everything we know so far about the franchise’s future.

Will there be a Yellowstone season 6?

The short answer is: No. The long answer is: Sort of, but not by name. The end of Costner’s run on Yellowstone will not mean the end of Yellowstone as a story, but of Yellowstone the series itself. The show is a ratings behemoth, having helped Sheridan craft not just an individual hit but an entire franchise around his own name. Such success will allow him to end the flagship property with season 5 and instead branch off into spin-offs, such as the previously announced Yellowstone “franchise extension” reportedly featuring Matthew McConaughey as star.

This spin-off is currently in production and was earlier announced to be moving “forward regardless of whether Costner returns to the original,” per The Hollywood Reporter. The new series will debut on Paramount Network and Paramount+ in December 2023.

Who will replace Kevin Costner in the Yellowstone universe?

Costner will not be officially replaced, in the sense that no other actor will step into the role of John Dutton III. But, as Deadline reported in February, the franchise’s “extension” would instead be led by McConaughey in an as-yet-undisclosed role.

Are the rest of the cast leaving, too?

Costner’s drama with Sheridan, thankfully, does not seem to have extended to his cast-mates. The absence of a season 6 doesn’t necessarily mean other beloved Yellowstone characters will disappear from screens altogether. As Deadline initially reported, “It is unclear which of the Yellowstone cast will move over to the McConaughey-led series, but it is expected to include several of the big stars.” That means actors including Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Gil Birmingham, and Wes Bentley might appear not in a season 6 but in a different continuation of the same story.

When will season 5 finish airing?

According to Variety, now that Costner’s news is official, Yellowstone will begin filming its final episodes, with the show planning one last return to Paramount Network in November.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 

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