How Dave Annable Predicted His Yellowstone Character's Fate

Season 4 of contemporary Western TV series "Yellowstone" began airing on November 7, drawing in the most viewers of any cable TV premiere since Season 8 of "The Walking Dead" four years prior. "Yellowstone," then, is a big hit, despite new episodes debuting on TV the old fashioned way, rather than on a streaming service as most series do nowadays. In a sense, "Yellowstone" forgoing new technology is befitting of its subject matter. Though it takes place in the present day, the series is heavily inspired by old-school Westerns, its drama typically unfolding in pastoral landscapes absent many trappings of urban life.

Like plenty of Westerns that inspired it, "Yellowstone" is notably violent, beginning even in its pilot episode, which culminates with Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) — the son of Dutton Ranch patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) — dying in a gunfight over stolen cattle. At the episode's end, John witnesses a goldfinch land on a plot of land, deciding that will be Lee's resting place in commemoration of his affinity for the natural world.

As it turns out, Annable revealed in an interview that he picked up on the fact Lee would die in the series premiere ahead of time, agreeing to the role in spite of predicting its short duration.

Annable figured out that Lee would die early on

Dave Annable shared his thoughts on Lee's early exit from "Yellowstone" in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. In response to question about when he knew his character would die in Episode 1, Annable explained that "it came across from Taylor Sheridan," referring to the series' showrunner. He recounted how he almost passed on auditioning for "Yellowstone" under the assumption that another project would conflict with its filming until Sheridan personally requested that he try out for the role. Knowing that his other commitment wouldn't ultimately cause a conflict tipped Annable off to his character's death.

"I knew my character was going to die right away and I was OK with that," Annable said. "But as we were shooting and practicing and I was at cowboy camp and learned to ride horses and we were in Montana, I thought, there is no way I want to die on this show. It was just one of the best life experiences that I've ever had." He then described Lee's death as like that of Ned Stark in "Game of Thrones," in that despite leaving the show so early on, his character's absence can still be felt well into the series' future.