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

Even more drama than the Dutton Ranch! If you’ve been following the back-and-forth between the cast and creators of one of television’s most popular western dramas, you may have questions over if Yellowstone is ending and if it’s canceled after season 5.

Yellowstone is Paramount Network’s a Western drama series revolving around the Dutton family, the owners of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch—also known as the Yellowstone—the largest ranch in Montana. The show is led by Kevin Costner, who plays protagonist John Dutton III, a widowed, sixth-generation patriarch of the Dutton family who runs the ranch and defends it from those seeking control of his family’s land.

In November 2022, Deadline reported that Yellowstone was the most-watched television show of 2022 with almost 16 million viewers for the premiere of its fifth season, which was the most-watched season premiere of any cable television show since The Walking Dead in 2017.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2021, Yellowstone creator and executive producer, Taylor Sheridan, explained why he thought Yellowstone was such a success to audiences, despite its mixed reception from critics and award shows. “I don’t care if critics hate it and I don’t care if they like it. I’m not resentful. I just simply do not care,” he said. “I’m not making it for them; I’m making it for people who live that life. The audience has expanded beyond that because, you know, a lot of people love westerns. I think one of the reasons the critics haven’t responded to Yellowstone is that I’m breaking a lot of story rules. I’ll jump the plot ahead for no reason whatsoever except that I wanted to and it’s entertaining.”

He continued, “The people who get it eat it up, and the people that try to look at it with a critical eye see a mess. But that’s what I love about Yellowstone, the way that it flows from being campy to melodramatic to intensely dramatic to violent. It’s every old western and new western and soap opera thrown together in a blender. And yes, I think it infuriates and confounds some people who study storytelling. They don’t understand why this thing’s such a hit.”

But after five seasons, could Yellowstone be ending? Read on for what we know about if Yellowstone is ending after season 5 and if it’s canceled.

"Yellowstone," Kevin Costner

Is Yellowstone ending and canceled after season 5?

Is Yellowstone ending and canceled after season 5? The answer is yes, according to Deadline. The magazine confirmed in February 2023 that Yellowstone is ending and is set to be replaced by a new show with Matthew McConaughey as its new lead after filming issues with Kevin Costner, who has played protagonist John Dutton III since season 1 of Yellowstone aired in 2018.

Deadline reported that Yellowstone will end with the second half of season 5, which airs in the summer of 2023. The magazine also reported that the new Yellowstone will also air on Paramount Network before it becomes available to stream on Paramount Plus. Deadline also reported that Paramount Network isn’t as dependent on Yellowstone anymore after the success of its prequels, 1883 and 1923, on Paramount Plus, as well as its upcoming spinoff, 6666. Two Yellowstone limited series based on the Dutton Ranch in the 1940s and the 1960s are also in the works, according to Deadline.

A representative for Paramount Network, which airs Yellowstone, didn’t confirm or deny the report at the time. “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,” the representative told Deadline “Thanks to the brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan, we are always working on franchise expansions of this incredible world he has built. Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner.”

Sources told The Hollywood Reporter in February 2023 that the second half of Yellowstone was also set to start filming in March 2023, however, the date was pushed due to the drama around Costner’s exit. Sources also confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Yellowstone is ending, but the show would not be “immediately” over after Costner leaves.

"Yellowstone," Kevin Costner

Why is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone?

Why is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone? Deadline reported in February 2023 that Paramount Network chose to end Yellowstone and create a new show without Costner due to filming and scheduling issues. Sources told the magazine that Costner, who originally limited himself to 65 days of filming on Yellowstone for previous seasons, only wanted to film for 50 days for the first part of season 5, which aired from November 2022 to January 2023.

The decision to end Yellowstone came after Costner requested to film for only one week for the second half of Yellowstone season 5, which Paramount Network declined. Reports of Costner leaving Yellowstone also came amid news that he’s starring in the film Horizon, a four-part western movie series, which he also wrote, directed and produced. Deadline also reported that Costner’s filming issues caused “morale problems” with the rest of the Yellowstone cast, which includes Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille and Gil Birmingham.

Costner’s lawyer, Marty Singer, responded to Deadline‘s report in February 2023, calling claims Costner only wanted to film Yellowstone for one week an “absolute lie.” “The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of Season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie,” Singer told The Puck. “It’s ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second.” He continued, “As everyone who knows anything about Kevin is well aware, he is incredibly passionate about the show and has always gone way above and beyond to ensure its success.”

Though The Puck didn’t confirm how long Costner requested to film, the site also reported that the actor “negotiated short shooting windows” after Yellowstone season 5, which was originally planned to be 10 episodes, was expanded to 16 episodes. “As we previously stated, Kevin has been a key component of the success of our Yellowstone series, and we hope that continues from here on out,” a representative for Paramount Network told CNN after Singer’s statement.

News of Costner leaving Yellowstone also came a month after he won the award in the Best Actor in a Television Series — Drama category at the 80th Golden Globe Awards in January 2023. “I’m so glad I have this. I wish I again could have been there,” he said in a virtual acceptance speech. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Costner did not mention Yellowstone, Paramount Network or creator Taylor Sheridan.

Wes Bentley, who plays James Michael “Jamie” Dutton on Yellowstone, responded to the drama between Costner and Paramount Network in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in February 2023. “The news that’s come out recently about the show is, you know, it’s above my pay grade. Different people making decisions,” he said. “I know that they’re still working on… working things out with everyone, to make sure we shoot. And I’m confident we will. We always have before. I think it’s probably a bit of drama over nothing.”

Bentley also teased the relationship between Jamie and Bethany “Beth” Dutton in the second half of Yellowstone season 5, which he described as a “Greek tragedy out in Big Sky country.” “We’ve got something coming. We’re both threatening each other now in some serious ways,” he said. “It’s a mystery to me too where it’s going. I just know this is an inflection point…. Something major will come of this moment between Jamie and Beth. This is kind of the final straw. He didn’t much how much Beth was really fed up with him until really recently, and I think that is now flipped a switch in Jamie that he feels similarly.”

Bentley also confirmed that he was still interested in starring in Yellowstone despite the reports the shoe was ending. “I wait for that next script and within the same kind of anticipation or fans do for the next episode to be aired because, you know, Taylor [Sheridan] surprises us so much. And I’m so interested in everyone. I’m so invested in more than just Jamie. I’m invested in the whole thing now,” he said. “We all talk about it on set, you know, all the possibilities. We do our own fanfiction.”

For more on Yellowstone, check out our gallery on Yellowstone stars and their real-life partners.