Did John Dutton Have Cancer In Yellowstone? What Happened To His Illness


With Kevin Costner exiting Yellowstone ahead of season 5, part 2, viewers are trying to recall if John Dutton had a cancer scare in previous seasons.

Ahead of Yellowstone season 5, part 2, viewers are trying to recall if protagonist John Dutton had a cancer scare in previous seasons. With John Dutton actor Kevin Costner exiting Yellowstone ahead of the show’s final batch of episodes, the return of a terminal illness — or a new plot line that wades into that territory — could be a convenient way to write the Dutton patriarch off without showing an on-screen death. Co-created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, Paramount’s neo-Western drama has broken all sorts of ratings records, with Yellowstone’s season 5, part 1 premiere garnering a whopping 12.1 million viewers.

The show’s at-times melodramatic flair, sweeping Montana backdrops, and modernization of long-standing cowboy tropes have kept fans hooked. Yellowstone’s cast of characters is also a valuable asset, especially since the series centers on the Yellowstone Ranch-owning Dutton family. In the first half of season 5, John Dutton was elected governor of Montana, though he’s staring down the barrel of an impeachment thanks to his arrogant son, Jamie (Wes Bentley), who’s feuding with John’s only daughter, the tough-as-nails Beth (Kelly Reilly). Clearly, Costner’s character is instrumental to Yellowstone’s narrative, making fans wonder how, exactly, the series will handle John Dutton’s glaring absence.

John Dutton Had Cancer In Yellowstone Season 1 (But It Was Removed)

When viewers first meet Costner’s John Dutton III in Yellowstone season 1, it becomes clear that he’ll do just about anything to protect his family’s ranch. The land that the Dutton ranch occupies borders Yellowstone National Park and the Broken Rock Reservation, which means various groups have been vying for the property for generations. This is a struggle that continues for the course of Yellowstone’s five-season run. Even in Yellowstone season 5, part 2, the fate of the ranch remains up in the air. While Beth and Jamie’s feud comes to a head, John’s younger son, horse wrangler Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes), seems poised to take the reins.

From the jump, John’s place on the ranch has been in jeopardy. With no clear successor — it could be Kayce’s family or Beth’s husband, Yellowstone’s beloved Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) — John focuses on protecting the family legacy. At times, this means carving a new path forward, hence his recent run for Montana governor. Even back in Yellowstone season 1, it isn’t just John Dutton’s family and enemies that threaten his livelihood and legacy. At one point, John’s cancer diagnosis is revealed, though he hides it from his family. When Beth and Jamie discover John’s secret, he assures them it’s fine — even as his health takes a turn.


John Dutton Mistook An Ulcer For His Cancer Returning

While John Dutton did have cancer at one point, the storyline surrounding his illness is a tad confusing. John’s illness was definitely introduced to apply more pressure to the ranch’s successor plot, all while adding more uncertainty to the fate of the land and family legacy. In the Yellowstone season 2 premiere, John is convinced his cancer is back when he suddenly collapses. After being rushed to a ranch veterinarian, John coughs up blood and explains he had colon cancer, which he fears is back with a vengeance. When the vet realizes John is suffering from a ruptured ulcer, he performs emergency surgery and cauterizes the wound on the spot.

Does John Dutton Have Cancer In Yellowstone Season 5?

The ruptured ulcer moment explains why John Dutton wasn’t looking too good toward the end of Yellowstone’s first season. Still, John did have cancer originally, which means that story could resurface in Yellowstone season 5, part 2. In part 1, John doesn’t have cancer — though that was well before Costner’s departure was cemented. Now, it’s hard to imagine a truly satisfying way for Costner to leave Yellowstone: an off-screen death would feel cheap, but having John leave the ranch behind is equally ill-fitting. Since the show previously laid the groundwork for John Dutton’s cancer plot, the illness might return for Yellowstone’s series finale.