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Yellowstone Season 6 - Will It Ever Happen?

Since 2018, the cowboy-themed neo-Western "Yellowstone" has captivated audiences everywhere. After a rocky critical start, the series gained an immensely loyal fan following as subsequent seasons built on the foundation series creator Taylor Sheridan carefully laid. Originally meant to be a feature film in the same vein as "The Godfather"(just trading the mafia in for Montana ranchers), the project developed into a long-form television series that, after many attempts to get it made, was finally picked up by the Paramount Network.

Sheridan has built an entire "Yellowstone" television empire — with the main show as Paramount Network's flagship series, — that at this point would rival John Dutton's (Kevin Costner). But while the two-part Season 5 remains on hiatus until further notice, off-screen developments are occurring that have changed the entire trajectory of the series, and its greater body of work. Having become a massive success for Paramount, it's hard to believe that the network would let its biggest cash cow ride off into the sunset. After all, there are plenty more Dutton-themed stories to tell, and even some that don't center on the uber-violent and intense ranch family.

Right now, the big question on everyone's minds is, after Season 5 Part 2 airs, will there be another season of "Yellowstone?" Believe it or not, there are real answers out there, but they might not be to everyone's fancy. Still, here's hoping that the Dutton clan will make the most of what they have while they've still got it.

Season 5 is still wrapping things up

From the moment that Season 5 was announced as an extended two-part season, folks got worried that "Yellowstone" might be coming to an end. The first batch of episodes began airing in late 2022 and ran on the Paramount Network consistently until the New Year. With eight episodes already under its cowboy-sized belt buckle (just one episode shy of Season 1's entire catalog, mind you), "Yellowstone" went on hiatus while Taylor Sheridan and his crew went off to tackle the second half of the season. But it doesn't look like 2023 will be the Dutton's year.

Given the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes occurring in Hollywood right now, it's unlikely that the back half of the season will air anytime soon, especially since "Yellowstone" hasn't even finished filming its fifth season. Since the series typically shoots from April to October, the mild months concerning Montana's usual wintery climate, their entire shooting schedule has been thrown out the window. Even if the strikes are resolved sooner than later, winter will likely keep the series from shooting until at least mid-spring 2024.

Though six episodes were initially reported for the back half of Season 5 (totaling the season at 14, the longest so far), Sheridan sounded confident that could change. "If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they'll give me 10," Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter. "It'll be as long as it needs to be."

Kevin Costner wants out

After the first part of Season 5 aired, the fate of "Yellowstone" soon came into question. As it turns out, Kevin Costner wants to leave the show. Reportedly not returning after Season 5, Costner — who has been the tried-and-true face of "Yellowstone" since its inception — thinks it time for him to move on to other projects. This all comes off the heels of Costner's next directorial project, a multi-part Western epic titled "Horizon: An American Saga," which the actor/director is itching to continue to work on. 

The film series, set both before and after the American Civil War, will span four installments, with the first already in post-production after shooting in Utah throughout 2022. It's been a while since Costner's biggest Western epic, 1991's "Dances with Wolves," hit theaters, so the promise of more from the filmmaker is exciting, though not to everyone.

"My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct," Sheridan explained to The Hollywood Reporter in June 2023. "He and the network were arguing about when he could be done with 'Yellowstone.'" Sheridan went on to explain that, though he's saddened to see Costner go, his departure doesn't change the way he wanted John Dutton's story to end, even if he isn't happy about it. "It truncates the closure of his character," he said. "It doesn't alter it, but it truncates it."

Kelly Reilly says Season 5 is not the end

Between the two-part fifth season, Costner's impending departure, and the Hollywood strikes threatening to stall production indefinitely, it's understandable that some "Yellowstone" fans might be worried about the show's future. After all, the Season 5 Part 1 finale, "A Knife and No Coin," ended with some serious cliffhangers that we're anxious to see resolved. But, despite the news of Costner's coming absence, series star Kelly Reilly isn't worried about the future of "Yellowstone."

"'People keep saying, 'Is it the end? It must be the end.' It's not the end,'" the actress told Vulture back in 2022. To be fair, Reilly said this way before Costner's departure leaked and the upcoming sequel series — set to replace the original — was announced (more on that later), but her sentiments ring true even now. On the special features for the "Yellowstone" Season 5 Part 1 Blu-Ray, released in May 2023, Reilly elaborated on how she thought the series might play out in the end.

"The main theme of protecting and sustaining this way of life in this land is the bottom of everything. So, I don't know which way it's going to go, but we're in Season 5, and who knows what's in store," Reilly explained. "Though it will probably be beautiful and epic, I'm not sure it will be happy." Still, Reilly sounds fairly optimistic about "Yellowstone" going forward, even if it may be ending.

What has the rest of the cast said about how the show will end?

Reilly isn't the only cast member to have an opinion on Season 5 possibly closing the curtain on "Yellowstone." Asked if he knew when the show might end, actor Cole Hauser shared some thoughts. "I would never ask... [Sheridan will] do what he thinks is right and I trust that his storytelling is going to be right on point," he told TODAY, all while reassuring viewers that this isn't the end. But the series is coming to an end, and some stars, like Wes Bentley, are okay with that. "I will miss it, but I will also celebrate it being over," he related to The Hollywood Reporter.

"[The show is] peaking and ending at the same time," Bentley continued. "I've always been prepared for some version of the show ending or I'm out of it, or Kevin decides to go do other things and he's out. You just know the business and always expect the craziest thing to happen. And often, it does." 

But as far as how the show will actually end, series star Luke Grimes doesn't have a clue. Appearing on "The Tonight Show," Grimes says he doesn't think creator Taylor Sheridan wants him to know. Rather, he's happy to experience Kayce Dutton's life just like his own: blind. "Just, I don't know, it might affect the way you do something, or play something, and it's kind of fun to experience it this way anyway."

Taylor Sheridan knows how the show is going to end

But while the cast doesn't have a clue how "Yellowstone" might play out, series creator Taylor Sheridan has known since the very beginning. This doesn't exactly come as a surprise. Sheridan writes nearly every episode himself, and even when "Yellowstone" briefly employed a writers' room during its sophomore season, his vision always won out in the end. After all, one doesn't begin a neo-Western epic such as "Yellowstone" without knowing where you're headed, even if the show sometimes felt lost along the way.

According to Sheridan in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the ending of "Yellowstone" has remained the same since his original feature film script. Furthermore, it may surprise fans to know, that John Dutton may not make it to the end — which might've been planned all along. After all, this is "The Godfather" in Montana, and Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) never made it to the end credits. "Whether [Dutton's fate] inflates [Costner's] ego or insults is collateral damage that I don't factor in with regard to storytelling," Sheridan said.

"This 'Yellowstone' chapter is closing sooner than we all wanted," Paramount's Media Network CEO Chris McCarthy noted, "but we feel good with where it's going to end." If the series creator feels good about it, and the head of the studio does too, then we shouldn't be worried about whatever the end of "Yellowstone" brings, even if a sixth season isn't on the table.

A sequel series will continue the Yellowstone story

Although it doesn't look like a traditional Season 6 will happen, a sequel series to "Yellowstone" is in the works. As something in the same vein as how "Little House: A New Beginning" continued from the original "Little House on the Prairie," the "Yellowstone" follow-up will include a new cast of characters and expand on the empire the Duttons built for themselves over the course of half-a-dozen generations. The sequel will star Matthew McConaughey, but it's unclear if it will bring back other cast members, though Wes Bentley would certainly be open to it.

"[McConaughey] seems like a natural fit," Taylor Sheridan noted to The Hollywood Reporter. "We had a few conversations over the years, and spitballed a few ideas. Then he started watching 'Yellowstone' and responded to it. He was like, 'I want to do that.' And by 'that' he meant diving into a raw world clashing up against the modern world. And then I said, 'Buddy, that we can do.'" As to who McConaughey's character might be, we've got no idea but whether he's another long-lost Dutton or a new character entirely, Sheridan will be sure to make him an unforgettable addition to the "Yellowstone" universe.

Of course, until "Yellowstone" wraps itself up, this upcoming sequel project won't see the light of day. In the meantime, it's not the sole "Yellowstone" show worth watching, nor is it the only one fans ought to keep track of.

Various prequels keep the Duttons going

With the success of "Yellowstone," Taylor Sheridan opened the floodgates to a larger Western franchise that went back as far as the Last Best Place itself (the institution, not the land). Starting with "1883," Sheridan's self-described 10-hour movie, the "Yellowstone" franchise took a deep and dark look back at those who settled in Montana more than 140 years ago. A massive hit, the mini-series highlighted the dangers of westward expansion as well as the authentic nature of what the journey to Oregon looked like.

As a companion piece set 40 years later, Sheridan's "1923" — which stars Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren — began its journey at the end of 2022 but will expand beyond just a single season. While Sheridan always envisioned "1883" as a one-and-done story, for "1923" he needed some more time. Even if more seasons of "Yellowstone" never see the light of day, there's no denying that Sheridan's commitment to the franchise shines through these two prequel stories. Thankfully, there's even more Western content coming down the pipeline.

The first season of the "1883"-adjacent "Lawman," an anthology about different Western heroes, will premiere in late 2023, expanding the "Yellowstone" universe far beyond the Duttons who started it. While the first season is set to follow the historical Bass Reeves, the possibilities for future seasons are endless. Maybe we'll see a Sheridan tackle Wyatt Earp sometime in the future, which would be sort of poetic given Kevin Costner's filmography.

More Yellowstone spin-offs are underway

In addition to the previously released "Yellowstone" prequels and the upcoming "Lawman," Taylor Sheridan continues to develop additional stories set within the Dutton universe. For starters, the "Yellowstone" spin-off "6666" (set to follow Jefferson White's character, Jimmy Hurdstrom, who left the Dutton Ranch for Texas back in Season 4) has been in development for a number of years now. In the meantime, Sheridan purchased the titular Four Sixes Ranch, all 270,000 acres of it, taking him back to his Texan cowboy roots. Now that he's in charge, we'll hopefully see some progress on this long-awaited project.

Along with that, it was reported that another prequel spin-off, "1944," will carry on the legacy left by "1883" and "1923" into a new decade of American history. Unfortunately, we don't know much more about "1994" other than the title, and by extension, the year the show will be set. But that doesn't mean there aren't even more Dutton-related stories on the way. Evidently, Sheridan has several other, not-yet-announced prequel and spin-off ideas in development.

"As long as I do my job well, and people don't bore of the genre, I think there will be enough for many more [prequels] — three or four," Sheridan explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "Chris McCarthy trusts me, because I haven't been wrong yet." Sounds like, as long as we keep watching, more Westerns will come.

Taylor Sheridan has other non-Yellowstone shows to run

As if the "Yellowstone" franchise didn't keep Taylor Sheridan busy enough, the cowboy-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker inked an exclusive deal with Paramount, one that has resulted in more television shows than just our favorite band of Westerns. Alongside "Yellowstone" are shows like "Tulsa King," which stars Sylvester Stallone as a mob enforcer sent to Oklahoma. "Tulsa King" performed well enough during its first season to warrant an immediate green light for a second, with the potential for spin-offs in the future.

In 2021, Sheridan's first-ever pilot script was finally developed into the hit series "Mayor of Kingstown," which starred Jeremy Renner in the titular role. Centered on a small Michigan prison town, the series dives deep into the prison system and a local economy's reliance on the criminals that inhabit it. With two seasons already under its belt, "Mayor of Kingstown" will likely continue, though nothing has been officially announced.

More recently, Sheridan's latest television thriller, "Special Ops: Lioness" made waves, boasting talents like Zoe Saldaña, Laysla De Oliveira, Nicole Kidman, and Morgan Freeman. But, showing his love for people he's worked with before, "Yellowstone" universe staples Dave Annable, LaMonica Garrett, and James Jordan are also featured in prominent roles. And let's not forget about the upcoming "Land Man," which will star Billy Bob Thornton as the face of a Texan oil company. Sheridan is, indeed, a busy, busy guy. 

The current Hollywood strikes may change things

As noted earlier, the current Hollywood strikes spark bad news for "Yellowstone" fans, even if they're meant to do good for the industry. Most of Sheridan's shows, especially "Yellowstone," are written entirely by the series' creator, but the Writer's Guild of America strike prevents him from penning any more at the moment. That doesn't mean that our favorite cowboy filmmaker isn't still daydreaming about the next phase of his neo-Western franchise.

But what may be even more of an issue for a production like "Yellowstone" is the concurrent SAG-AFTRA strike, which keeps folks like Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, and the rest of the cast from working until the studios and unions come to an agreement. Until this thing is over, the back half of Season 5 can't be filmed, since "Yellowstone" is a union production. Though Sheridan has claimed his support for the WGA during the strike, he made some controversial comments in his extended Hollywood Reporter interview.

"The freedom of the artist to create must be unfettered," he explained. "If they tell me, 'You're going to have to write a check for $540,000 to four people to sit in a room that you never have to meet,' then that's between the studio and the guild. But if I have to check in creatively with others for a story I've wholly built in my brain, that would probably be the end of me telling TV stories." An interesting perspective, for sure.

Where to watch the Yellowstone universe

For those looking to binge Taylor Sheridan's neo-Western franchise in full, you're a bit out of luck. Jumping the gun on the streaming game, the Paramount Network made an exclusive deal with the Peacock streaming service, allowing them the full streaming rights for every season of "Yellowstone." As it stands now, Peacock is the only place to watch the Costner-led flagship series. Well, unless you catch it live on the Paramount Network, that is (and there's almost always a "Yellowstone" marathon at the ready).

But there's good news for fans of the greater "Yellowstone" universe. Paramount didn't make the same mistake twice. The prequel shows, the miniseries "1883" and the first season of "1923," can be streamed exclusively on Paramount+, alongside Sheridan's nearly complete catalog of other television projects such as "Special Ops: Lioness," "Tulsa King," and "Mayor of Kingstown." Even the Sheridan-produced reality TV series "The Last Cowboy" can be streamed on Paramount's service. 

As such, it seems likely that Sheridan projects, including "Lawman: Bass Reeves," "1944," "6666," "Land Man," and the "Yellowstone" sequel, will find their way onto Paramount+. Sadly, they're not here just yet.