Kevin Costner Leaving ‘Yellowstone’: Actor Announces He Won’t Return for Rest of Season 5

There's been just as much drama offscreen with Kevin Costner and 'Yellowstone' as John Dutton faces onscreen. The actor recently revealed that he's 'not involved' in the show anymore.

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Kevin Costner
Image Credit: Paramount Network

  • Kevin Costner said he’s “concluded his work” on Yellowstone.
  • Yellowstone season 5 will be the last season of the hit show.
  • Kevin is currently in the midst of a nasty court battle with his ex.

Yellowstone became TV’s hottest show and a ratings juggernaut. The show’s rising trajectory came to a screeching halt following the release of the first batch of Yellowstone season 5 episodes. Reports began to swirl that Kevin Costner was leaving Yellowstone and that the show would be ending after season 5. Due to behind-the-scenes drama and the ongoing Hollywood strikes, fans still don’t know when Yellowstone will be able to finish the fifth season.

So, what’s really going on? Will Kevin ever return as John Dutton? It sounds like the fan-favorite character has already been taken to the train station. HollywoodLife has all the latest news about Kevin’s future with Yellowstone.

Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner as John Dutton. (Paramount Network)

Is Kevin Costner Leaving Yellowstone?

Yes, Kevin Costner is leaving Yellowstone, and the show’s fifth season will be the final season. Yellowstone was supposed to return for Part 2 of season 5 in the summer, but the cast has not even filmed the second half of the season yet. At first, it was due to alleged behind-the-scenes drama with Kevin, but now the double Hollywood strikes have put filming on hold.

In new court documents related to his child support battle with Christine Baumgartner, Kevin revealed that he “concluded his work” on Yellowstone in 2022, according to Us Weekly. His legal team also noted that Kevin is “not involved in any future episodes” of the hit show. This means that Kevin will not be returning for the second half of season 5.

This latest news continues to make the final half of Yellowstone season 5 even more complicated. In February 2023, Deadline reported that co-creator and showrunner Taylor Sheridan, Paramount Global, and Paramount Network were “moving to end their signature show in its current form” and possibly explore a sequel series with Matthew McConaughey.

According to the outlet, Kevin reportedly set a 65-day shooting schedule. For the first part of season 5, he allegedly only wanted to shoot for 50 days and spend just a week shooting the second half of the season. The disagreements over Kevin’s shooting schedule, which impact everyone, became a “source of frustration” for Taylor and began “causing morale problems” with the other cast members.

“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. 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,” a Paramount Network spokesperson said in a statement.

Kevin’s lawyer, Marty Singer, denied any reports about discord over the Oscar winner’s shooting schedule in a statement released on February 21. “The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie,” Marty told Puck.News in response to an exposé that was published. “It’s ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second. 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.”

Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner with co-star Kelly Reilly. (Paramount Network)

In April 2023, sources told The New York Post that Yellowstone was going to end with season 5. “Hopefully Kevin [Costner] will return for the remaining episodes if everyone works together, but it looks like Yellowstone will end after this season.” At the time, the outlet also alleged that there was “friction” between Kevin and Taylor.

Paramount announced on May 5 that Yellowstone would indeed end after the fifth season. “Yellowstone has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits – from 1883 to Tulsa King, and I am confident our Yellowstone sequel will be another big hit, thanks to the brilliant creative mind of Taylor Sheridan and our incredible casts who bring these shows to life,” Chris McCarthy, President & CEO Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement.

Why Is Kevin Costner Leaving Yellowstone?

Kevin has yet to explain publicly why he decided to leave Yellowstone after season 5. The show could have easily gone on for several more years. However, he is focused on his 4-part Western epic Horizon, which he is directing, starring in, producing, and co-writing.

When the actor took the stand in a child support hearing on September 1, PEOPLE reported that Kevin testified that the “long, hard-fought negotiation” about splitting season 5 into two parts led to him leaving the show. Kevin claimed that he “changed” his personal schedule to film the first half of season 5, and there were “no scripts” for the second half at the time.

Despite being open to returning for season 6, negotiations fell through. “I couldn’t help them anymore. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons, there were issues with the creative,” he said. After trying to work out a deal one last time, the network allegedly “walked away.”

The first movie in Kevin’s Horizon saga has already been filmed, and three sequels are currently in the works. The second film in the series started production in May 2023 but has been shut down due to the strikes. Kevin’s co-stars include Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Luke Wilson.

Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner in ‘Yellowstone’ season 5. (Paramount Network)

In a June 2023 profile, Taylor Sheridan addressed the Kevin feud rumors and revealed his reaction to Kevin leaving Yellowstone prematurely. “My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered,” Taylor told THR. “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. 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.”

He added, “I’m disappointed. It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it.” The profile noted that there were “ongoing discussions” to try and get Kevin to “film a few scenes to wrap his character,” but those scripts are not finished. Given Kevin’s latest comments, John Dutton’s taken his final bow.

Will Kevin Costner Be Replaced?

Since the show is ending after season 5, Kevin is not going to be replaced. Let’s be real, they would never recast John Dutton. Kevin simply is John Dutton.

There have already been Yellowstone prequel series — 1883 and 1923 — but Paramount is in “late-stage negotiations” with Matthew McConaughey about a Yellowstone sequel series. It’s unclear if other original Yellowstone cast members would be involved in the series.

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey is in talks for a sequel series. (Matt Baron/Shutterstock)

“He seems like a natural fit,” Taylor told THR about Matthew. “We had a few conversations over the years and spitballed a few ideas. Then he started watching Yellowstone and responded to it. He was like, ‘I want to do that.’ And by ‘that’ he meant diving into a raw world clashing up against the modern world. And then I said, ‘Buddy, that we can do.'”

David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, said in a May 2023 statement about a follow-up series: “The Dutton story continues, picking up where Yellowstone leaves off in another epic tale. We are thrilled to bring this new journey to audiences around the world.”

When Will Yellowstone Season 5 Return?

The second part of Yellowstone season 5 still does not have an official premiere date yet. The first part of Yellowstone season 5 ended on January 1, 2023. The second half was expected to premiere in the summer of 2023.

Paramount Network tentatively set a November 2023 premiere date window for part 2 of season 5, but nothing has been confirmed. Since the cast has yet to film any of the second half and the ongoing writers’ strike, the premiere date may be pushed even further into 2024. HollywoodLife will keep you posted on the latest updates about Kevin’s future with Yellowstone.