Why Yellowstone Is Ending

After months of rumors, Paramount has provided some clarity to the future of the Yellowstone universe.

Why Yellowstone is Ending
Photo: Paramount

Yellowstone, co-created by the rogue cowboy of television, Taylor Sheridan, and second-generation mega producer, John Linson, has become one of the biggest properties for Paramount in just five short years. It has spawned prequels, spinoffs, and given Sheridan a seemingly endless street of green lights when it comes to getting his television concepts into production.

Paramount has announced today that the cornerstone program will air its final episodes on Paramount Network beginning this November. It is finally official. After months of alleged tension behind the scenes, scheduling conflicts, clashes of egos, Kevin Costner’s massive Western film series and most recently, a writer’s strike, the Yellowstone fandom can begin to have some closure. 

This would typically be massive news, but it’s difficult to ignore the fact that Paramount Network’s announcement is seemingly trying to bury the cancellation of a once-in-a-lifetime mega hit with the revelation that a new Yellowstone television project will attempt to immediately fill Yellowstone’s rather large proverbial shoes. That new program is set to debut just one month later, tentatively airing this December. This new project seems as if it is going to be the much talked about spinoff that brings Matthew McConaughey to the forefront of the franchise

“A new, untitled Yellowstone sequel from creator Taylor Sheridan – a further expansion of the Yellowstone universe – has been greenlit straight-to series. The cast will be announced shortly,” Paramount Network declared in their official release. “The new series will premiere in December on Paramount Network and later on Paramount+ following the epic, final cycle of Yellowstone – television’s #1 hit series”.

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Lost in this is the subtext of the latter half of that statement – that Paramount is correcting an old, self-inflicted mistake. Three years ago, in a deal that Paramount President and CEO Bob Baskin himself called “unfortunate”, Peacock was given the streaming rights to Yellowstone, rather than the network’s own subscription service, Paramount+. This was a deal that garnered more and more attention from fans as the Yellowstone universe grew. Sheridan’s catalog of other shows could all be found on Paramount+, but ironically the one that started it all would require another subscription to a different service. 

With this announcement, Paramount can rectify that issue by making the new series its next lynchpin, and ensuring all new content that Sheridan and his team creates will air and eventually stream under the Paramount umbrella. Paramount did not exactly wear their poker face either when releasing the announcement today, as they repeatedly mentioned this new series was going to be exclusively on Paramount Network and Paramount+. By absolutely bombarding journalists and the public with that specific part of the announcement, they let everyone know where their priorities lie. Clearly they are thinking about the future of the Yellowstone universe more than they are about the completion of Yellowstone itself.

That is undoubtedly in no small part to the recent drama surrounding the show. Since the mid-season break of Yellowstone, Paramount management and star Kevin Costner have reportedly had several clashes, ranging from Costner requesting an extremely short shooting schedule, or more time off to direct his Western epic Horizon, to Costner’s personal issues due to a strained marriage. At one time, a source told the New York Post that it was in fact Sheridan who had developed a “god complex,” and had caused the rift in the first place. In more anonymous reports than not, however, the star is claimed to be asking too much, and not the showrunner. Costner has always attempted to maintain a level of control on Yellowstone as both star and executive producer, and with Sheridan being given the keys to the kingdom, this professional relationship was bound to dissolve at some point. 

While these stones are being thrown in the glass house that is Paramount, at least one of them can kill two birds at the same time. With Yellowstone ending, so does the feud. The studio can move on to bigger and better things and not have to deal with any outlandish requests that Costner has allegedly made. Costner can also cross one thing off his list that has clearly been causing him some duress, and focus on his future projects. 

Regardless, hopefully this means that the franchise, which sadly has slipped slightly in terms of quality season by season, can give the ravenous fanbase the programming that made the Yellowstone universe what it was in the first place.