"Yellowstone," Kevin Costner
Credit: Paramount Network/courtesy Eve

“Anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed!”

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We might be saying farewell to America’s favorite cowboy. There are still many unknowns surrounding the fate of Paramount’s top-rated TV series, including whether the show will end and why Kevin Costner could be leaving Yellowstone after five seasons.

Costner first assumed the role of John Dutton, the charismatic Montana rancher and patriarch of the Dutton family, in 2018. The series is in the middle of its fifth season and new episodes are dropping this summer. Coster recently celebrated a Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Drama Series for Yellowstone, but rumors are swirling about the actor’s involvement in the franchise moving forward.

Read more to learn everything we know about Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone and the future of popular western franchise.

Why is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone?

"Yellowstone," Kevin Costner

Why is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone? It reportedly has to do with scheduling conflicts while filming. According to sources obtained by Variety, SOAPS’ sister publication, “The issue seems to be Costner’s shooting schedule, with Costner being available for fewer days as the show has progressed.”

Deadline, another SOAPS sister site, also discovered similar findings. “Costner, who had originally limited himself to 65 days of shooting on Yellowstone, only wanted to shoot for 50 days for the first part of the current season,” sources report. This scheduling conflict has supposedly impacted the second batch of episodes in the show’s current fifth season, as Costner “only wanted to spend a week shooting.”

The actor’s lawyer, Marty Singer, spoke with Puck.News after the reports and shut down claims that Coster halted the second season’s production. “The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of Season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie,” he said. Singer also called the allegations “ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second.”

While there has been no official confirmation of Costner’s exit, a Paramount Network spokesperson said that they hope Costner will be a part of the show moving forward. “We have no news to report. Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come.”

Costner is currently busy directing and starring in the Western “epic” Horizon, a four-part feature film picked up by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. Horizon has a demanding shooting schedule of 220 days, which could be contributing to the actor’s tight schedule.

Costner told Variety last year that it could take eight months to shoot the multi-film project. The first part started shooting in the fall of 2022, while filming for the subsequent three films will take place in April 2023 “with the trio of titles shooting at the same time.”

This has allegedly been “a source of frustration” for Yellowstone’s co-creator and showrunner Taylor Sheridan, even causing “morale problems for the other stars of the show,” sources tell Deadline.

Is season 5 the last season of Yellowstone?

"Yellowstone," Kevin Costner

Is season 5 the last season of Yellowstone? We’re not sure, but Paramount Global and Paramount Network could be moving to end the show as it currently stands following the season’s finale this summer.

“They are plotting a potential franchise extension to continue the Dutton saga, a new show with Matthew McConaughey in talks to star,” the Deadline report says. McConaughey is in negotiations for the role, and there have been no updates about his casting status as of yet. “Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner,” the Paramount spokesperson added.

Sheridan told The New York Times in 2021 that he’s open to more Yellowstone spinoffs, so the concept of a McConaughey-led series comes as no surprise. “I don’t limit myself. I’m drawn to the sparseness of the West because that’s where I’ve spent most of my life,” Sheridan said.

As for the remaining Yellowstone cast members, the report says that several of the show’s big stars are expected to move to the new series (although it is still unclear who that might be). The main cast of Yellowstone consists of Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Asbille and more.

Yellowstone continues to perform exceptionally well on TV and streaming platforms. The season 5 simulcast premiere across Paramount, CMT, Pop, and TV Land brought in nearly 16 million viewers, according to Deadline. Yellowstone captured the title as the most-watched show on TV for 2022 and was the most-watched cable premiere since The Walking Dead in 2017.

In response to Yellowstone’s overwhelming success, Paramount+ ordered three spinoff prequel series: 1883, 1932, and 6666. The first stars Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Sam Elliott and dives into the origins of the Duttons, including how they came to own Yellowstone Ranch. Set 40 years later, 1932 follows another set of Duttons (Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren) as they navigate the challenges of the 20th century, and was renewed for a second season in February 2023. Sheridan is also working on 6666, another spinoff based on the legendary Four Sixes Ranch in Texas. An investment group representing Sheridan acquired the 266,255-plus acre ranch in 2022.

How much does Kevin Costner make per episode of Yellowstone?

How much does Kevin Costner make per episode of Yellowstone? According to a 2022 report by Variety, Costner is making more than $1.3 million per episode in season 5, joining TV’s “one million salary club” of stars racking in seven figures. Season 5 has 14 episodes, which means Costner could be making upwards of $18.2 million for this season alone. This sum is a big jump from the $500,000 per episode salary Costner made in season 1.

You can watch Yellowstone, 1883, and 1932 on the Paramount Network, which is available to stream on services including Fubo TV, Philo TV, and Hulu+ With Live TV. The first four seasons of Yellowstone are also available to stream on Peacock

Want to meet the real-life partners of your favorite Yellowstone stars? Check out the gallery below!