Kevin Costner confirms to fans he’s not returning to “Yellowstone” — see why

It’s not every day an actor quits one of TV’s most popular shows mid-season, but that’s what Kevin Costner did recently, officially announcing he would not return to Yellowstone.

Costner had starred as John Dutton, patriarch and owner of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, in the Paramount western series since its premiere in 2018. Throughout its run, Yellowstone became one of the top-rated shows on television.

As the show’s biggest star, Costner commanded a whopping $1.3 million salary per episode. His character was also met with acclaim by fans and critics, and Costner received a Golden Globe for his performance.

Kathy Hutchins /

But there has long been speculation that Costner would depart from Yellowstone — and last night, Costner finally confirmed that he would not be returning to the show, citing his commitments to his film project Horizon.

” I just realized that I’m not going to be able to continue”

Costner made the announcement on social media last night. “I just want to reach out and let you know that after this long year and a half of working on Horizon and doing all the things that that’s required, and thinking about Yellowstone, that beloved series that I love, that I know you love. I just realized that I’m not going to be able to continue, season 5B or into the future,” Costner says.

“It was something that really changed me. I loved it and I know you loved it, and I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be returning. I love the relationship we’ve been able to develop, and I’ll see you at the movies.”

Yellowstone is slated to end after its current fifth season, which was split into two parts. Costner appeared in the first half of the season, but there had long been speculation whether or not he would return for the second part, scheduled to air in November.

While there has long been speculation Costner might leave the show for good, he had been keeping the door open for a return as lately as this month.

“I’ve supported that thing and I’ve loved it,” he told Today’s Savannah Guthrie on June 17. “It’s been really important to me. I would love to go back under the right circumstances I think that all of us want. For me, it really needs to be the right circumstances.

“Saying there’s a chance, there’s always a chance. I love the thing. You’ve got to be really clear about that.”

It’s not clear how Yellowstone will deal with the mid-season departure of its most central character, who became Governor of Montana in season 5.

Kathy Hutchins /

Costner’s departure isn’t likely to affect the show’s ratings: Yellowstone reigns has TV’s top-rated drama, and viewers will almost certainly tune in for the final episodes, with or without the Oscar-winner. But the announcement will likely come as a disappointment to many fans who have watched John Dutton for all these years.

“Sorry to see you go!” one fan wrote in the comments. “You made those series the best, no one else can replace you John DuttonI watch them with my family together every Sunday!”

Costner’s gamble with “Horizon” film series

Costner’s exit marks a major career gamble for Costner, who left a lucrative and top-rated TV show for a cinematic passion project that carries some big risks.

Costner stars in and directed Horizon: An American Saga, an epic western film series, in an ambitious return to his roots as the helmer of films like Dances with Wolves and Open Range. Costner had been developing the script since 1988 and trying to get the project off the ground for decades.

The first two films in the series will open this summer, with Chapter 1 arriving on June 28 and Chapter 2 scheduled for release on August 16. There are two other entries in production, making up a four-part epic.

But while Costner is likely hoping that Yellowstone fans will flock to the theaters, it isn’t clear how successful Horizon will be. Chapter 1 has received mixed reviews from critics, and is tracking for a $12 domestic opening weekend — which wouldn’t be a promising start for a film with a $100 million budget, $38 million of which was financed by Costner himself.

Alleged feud with Yellowstone producer

While his commitments to Horizon are Costner’s official reason for leaving Yellowstone, it’s possible there is another factor in his departure: alleged disagreements with series co-creator Taylor Sheridan.

A source told the Daily Mail that Sheridan had “developed a God complex,” and when Costner raised concerns about the show’s direction he was told to “stick to acting.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 30: Kevin Costner attends the Premiere Party For Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” Season 2 at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Other sources said Costner was to blame, frustrating producers with demands for shorter production schedules to accommodate Horizon. Breaking his silence on the matter last year, Sheridan denied the “god complex” allegations and took a diplomatic tone.

“My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered,” Sheridan told the Hollywood Reporter. “His creation of John Dutton is symbolic and powerful … and I’ve never had an issue with Kevin that he and I couldn’t work out on the phone.”

“But once lawyers get involved, then people don’t get to talk to each other and start saying things that aren’t true and attempt to shift blame based on how the press or public seem to be reacting.”

Denis Makarenko /

“He took a lot of this on the chin and I don’t know that anyone deserves it. His movie seems to be a great priority to him and he wants to shift focus. I sure hope [the movie is] worth it — and that it’s a good one.”

Yellowstone‘s future — with Matthew McConaughey?

So does Yellowstone have a future without Kevin Costner? The answer likely is yes — possibly with another major star attached.

Yellowstone has had success with some star-studded spin-off series: 1883, starring Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott, and 1923, starring Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford, were released on streaming service Paramount+. A new spin-off called 1944 is confirmed to be in development.

But another spin-off is said to be in development that will continue the saga of Yellowstone into the future. Deadline reported last year that Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey was in talks to star in a sequel series, which would also see the return of several original Yellowstone cast members.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: Matthew McConaughey visits the Empire State Building on September 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by John Nacion/Getty Images)

So while Yellowstone may be ending, and will do so without Kevin Costner, it’s clear fans haven’t seen the last of the Dutton family.

We’ll miss Kevin Costner on Yellowstone, but we wish him the best in his new project and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the Duttons.

What do you think of Kevin Costner’s departure from Yellowstone? Please share this story with your thoughts!


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