may end with the Duttons finding the land the Yellowstone ranch would be founded on – but it still closes on a heartbreaking note. The prequel sees ostensible lead Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) being fatally wounded after being hit by a poisoned arrow, and her father James (Tim McGraw) lets her pick out the spot where she dies; this is where the ranch is later established. The finale also saw Sam Elliott’s Shea fulfill his promise to his late wife that he would see the Pacific Ocean, and he dies by suicide shortly afterward.
Sheridan has since stated was designed as a limited series and amounted to a ten-hour movie. However, viewers were confused when after the series finished, Paramount quickly announced there would be additional episodes. Greenlighting season 2 made sense following its record-breaking success on Paramount+, but considering so many key characters had died by the end of season 1, it was difficult to see the story could continue in a satisfying way. It was soon clarified that instead of a second series, there would be a new spinoff titled , which was later renamed .
In a 2022 interview with , Sheridan himself explained what happened. He states that while he made it clear to Paramount executives that was a limited series, they apparently didn’t digest how the story ended. When they asked for a meeting about how Elliott’s Shea would “survive” his death, Sheridan came to realize they had already picked up for a second season. Not one to waste an opportunity, he decided to explore another chapter in the Dutton family’s dark history instead, leading to .
After months of rumors, it has finally been confirmed that is coming to an end after five seasons. This is due to creative disagreements between Sheridan and Costner, though another spinoff is already in the works that will feature key characters returning. However, the success of and sequel have already confirmed the franchise can survive without the original series’ help.
Sheridan has seemingly been given a blank check by Paramount for the universe – and he’s only too happy to cash it. The franchise is one of Paramount’s biggest, and Sheridan appears more creatively invigorated getting to explore the history of America than by the modern-day setting of itself. is the best outing to come from the saga to date, and while the show’s creator can often spread himself thin – he famously pens every single episode of and its spinoffs himself – there’s no reason to believe it can’t keep running for years to come.
Nabbing a star like Costner for was a major reason became such a success. It was Costner’s first major television series, and he gave it a grounding and gravitas that few other performers could. That said, after five seasons, has been spinning its wheels narratively. Now the original show is definitely ending, a proper ending can be crafted for Costner’s John Dutton. How a proposed spinoff will continue Dutton is currently unknown, but the popularity of proves the franchise will be fine.
is becoming a brand name in itself, and the upcoming season 2 is just as anticipated as season 5’s second half. The end of the main series would normally be cause for concern, but there’s little sense of worry about the property’s future. Costner’s exit will be a big – and hopefully emotional – event, but with so many spinoffs in the works, there are plenty of other tales to be told.