is a very different show from despite the two series being originally announced to be under the same narrative universe. Lawmen: Bass Reeves arguably owes itself to the overwhelming success and critical acclaim of , which through five seasons has created an entire Western franchise for Paramount+ and CBS with several spinoffs and prequel series. Despite the ever-changing status of the final six episodes of , lead actor Kevin Costner has officially revealed that he will not be a part of conclusion even though the series was slated to return at the end of 2023.
has emerged as a strong series in its own right after just three episodes, two of which recently aired on CBS to an audience of more than 3.3 million viewers. The Bass Reeves story, which is executive produced by creator Taylor Sheridan and lead actor David Oyelowo, was originally marketed as an expansion on the miniseries starring Sam Elliot, which serves as a prequel to . However, t here is zero connection whatsoever to and , making the historical Western a completely standalone series.
One of the most glaring differences between and is that intends to follow only one major character throughout its entire season. is certainly an ensemble show, following the various interwinding storylines of many characters relating to Costner's Dutton family played by prominent actors such as Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley, Kelsey Asbille, Cole Hauser, and Kelly Reilly. While has a great cast featuring Donald Sutherland, Barry Pepper, and Dennis Quaid, they are all supporting characters to Oyelowo's titular Bass. also has guest appearances from notable actors such as Garrett Hedlund and Lauren E. Banks but they do not take up a fraction of the screen time that Bass does.
The biggest difference in the plots of Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Yellowstone has everything to do with historical accuracy. Bass Reeves was a real-life Old West lawman who became famous for being one of the first black Deputy U.S. Marshals in the southern United States. He also was famous for making over 3000 arrests without getting injured on the job once. These remarkable feats of the real-life Bass Reeves actually happened, whereas the characters and stories told in are entirely works of fiction. In this way, is rooted in the historical accuracy of the actual person and his life events whereas has always had the creative freedom to take the show wherever it wanted to go.
While the original plan for the Bass Reeves series was set to take place during the same time period as the prequel series, will actually only happen between the years 1862 and 1877. In this case, it is extremely unlikely that the worlds of and will ever overlap, especially considering that Bass would not have feasibly ever encountered the Dutton's ancestors. Bass Reeves died in 1910, which would also make it impossible for him to have crossed paths with the Dutton family of the other prequel series, . History is a much bigger part of the story in than it is in .
Despite Taylor Sheridan's partial attachment to , he is not nearly as involved in the series as he is in. Sheridan's only credit in the Bass Reeves series is as executive producer, which means that his responsibilities are mostly creative oversight and financial backing. The creative direction of plot is instead in the hands of former writer Chad Feehan as well as star actor David Oyelowo, who spent eight years trying to bring his vision of the famous Old West lawman to the screen. There are also 18 other producers attached to the project, meaning that Sheridan's influence is likely not felt in nearly as much as it is in .
and many other viewers of the series who compared the modern neo-Western to the likes of the popular melodrama series . Through its first three episodes, has generally avoided sentimentality in its overall plot to focus on the amazing feats of the real-life lawman and his rise from being a slave and involuntary Confederate soldier to becoming a farmer and eventual Deputy U.S. Marshal. There are glimpses of melodrama in the Bass Reeves story through brief moments with Bass and his family, but most of the series is intent on delivering action sequences and historical events.
is currently slated to be only 8 episodes long and will be considered a miniseries rather than a standard television show with multiple seasons. There could certainly be potential for to extend into a potential season 2 considering that the current series is set to end only two years after the real-life Bass gets sworn in as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1975. This will leave more than three decades' worth of Bass Reeves' career in law enforcement on the table, which is an interesting creative choice if the series does conclude after just 8 episodes. Before Costner's abrupt exit, could likely have run for several more seasons.
keeps its locations true to the original story of the Old West lawman, which consists of Indigenous Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), western Arkansas (particularly Fort Smith), and eastern Texas (Grayson County). takes place for the most part on the Dutton family's ranch in Montana by comparison, which marks another clear difference between it and . While there are some regional crossovers with regard to the prequel series, explores the deeper regions of the southern United States more intensely, including a significant Civil War battle in its first episode.
The largest thematic difference between and is the type of story it tells. Bass Reeves' story is undeniably that of the underdog who defies all conditions, obstacles, and expectations to emerge as one of the best to ever do it. is similar to HBO's in that it chronicles the difficulties of people who are already at the top and struggle to maintain their impressive status. While John Dutton is much more of a king within his kingdom throughout , Bass Reeves's story is essentially the total opposite in , making him a true American underdog.