Kevin Costner Officially Confirms He Won't Return to Yellowstone

yellowstone season 4 finale
Kevin Costner Won't Return toYellowstoneParamount Network

It's been a wild ride for Yellowstone fans, and while there's still a long wait ahead before the long-promised finale episodes of the series, it's now official that at least one famous face from the cast won't be making an appearance.

While the series recently entered production on its final batch of episodes—what's being referred to as season 5 part 2 of season 5B—Kevin Costner, who has played one of the show's protagonists, John Dutton, has finally confirmed what's been long speculated: that he won't appear in any further episodes of the series.

In a new Instagram post, shared shortly after Paramount Network announced the premiere date for the final episodes, the star spoke directly to fans, saying "I 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’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." He added, "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 and I love the relationship we’ve been able to develop and I’ll see you at the movies."

It's certainly a blow for fans of the character who had maintained hope after the actor's multiple statements indicating his willingness to return to close out the Dutton storyline.

In am interview with Today to promote his upcoming film Horizon: An American Saga, just days before his Instagram post, Costner said "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.” He added, “Saying there’s a chance, there’s always a chance. I love the thing. You’ve got to be really clear about that.”

The sentiment echoes Costner's previous statements on the subject. "I'd like to be able to do it but we haven't been able to," he told ET in April 2024. "I thought I was going to make seven [seasons] but right now we're at five. So how it works out -- I hope it does -- but they've got a lot of different shows going on. Maybe it will. Maybe this will circle back to me. If it does and I feel really comfortable with [it], I'd love to do it."

The possibility of Costner's participation, or lack thereof, in the second half of season five (the first half debuted in November 2022, giving way to a protracted hiatus) has been the source of speculation for some time. Last spring, Costner announced that he would be exiting the series after the fifth season—shortly afterwards, it was revealed that the show itself would be coming to a close after the second half of the season, likely to be replaced with the in-the-works spin-off show currently titled 2024.

Documents related to Costner's divorce last summer seemed to call this continuing role on the show into question. In them, the actor wrote, "I will earn substantially less in 2023 than I did in 2022. This is because I am no longer under contract for 'Yellowstone,' the principal source of my income last year." In a later hearing, Costner added, "I’ve been told it’s a little disappointing that [it’s] the #1 show on TV, I’m not participating."

A report by Puck later stated that Costner's Yellowstone contract includes a "moral death" clause, which gives general terms for the ways that John Dutton can and cannot be killed on the show, however no official announcements about Costner's role in the series's final episodes have been made by the actor's team or the production.

Initial reports started in late 2023, when Hollywood insider Matt Belloni indicated that Kevin Costner, who plays one of the show's protagonists, John Dutton, would not be returning for the final set of episodes.

Yellowstone will probably go back into production at the beginning of the year. So it could be out this spring or summer," Belloni said on an October 30, 2023 episode of his podcast The Town—it's since been announced that the show will return in November 2024. "Scripts are already written, I’m told, or are being written. And the question is whether Costner is in those final episodes of this season of Yellowstone. And my understanding is that, as of now, he is not going to be in those episodes.”

In a March 2024 post to Puck, Belloni echoed the sentiment, saying that while Costner has reportedly said he plans to return, "for at least a cameo and possibly more" that there are no discussions from within the production to include him. That same report also indicated that the scripts for the remaining episodes of the series had been completed, evidently without the inclusion of Costner's John.

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