Yellowstone Theory Suggests A Dropped Season 1 Plot Point Could Resolve Kevin Costner’s Exit


This Yellowstone theory suggests a dropped season 1 plot point could resolve Kevin Costner’s untimely exit from the show ahead of season 5, part 2.

An emerging Yellowstone fan theory suggests that a dropped season-one plot point could resolve Kevin Costner’s untimely exit from the show ahead of Yellowstone season 5, part 2 — the long-awaited series finale. In the first part of the fifth season, Costner’s John Dutton III, the hardened Dutton patriarch and owner of Yellowstone Ranch, became the newly minted governor of Montana. Despite his new position, John’s still grappling with age-old problems: the fate of the ranch land is at stake — as is the Dutton legacy. Unfortunately, the neo-Western isn’t primed to adequately conclude John’s arc.

Reportedly, Costner and series co-creator Taylor Sheridan sparred over creative differences. Unhappy with the show’s direction, Costner refused to sign off on an ending for John Dutton until he read one he truly believed in. This behind-the-scenes friction led Costner to quit Yellowstone altogether, which means John Dutton won’t be appearing in season 5, part 2. It’s hard to envision a satisfying way for Kevin Costner to leave Yellowstone — and the character of John Dutton III. Even so, one theory posits an interesting twist that’s rooted in a long-forgotten season-one plot point.

John Dutton Had Colon Cancer In Yellowstone Season 1

The Dutton patriarch was introduced to viewers as a man who’d do anything to protect his family’s ranch, and, with that, their hard-won legacy. The land that the Dutton ranch occupies borders the Broken Rock Reservation and Yellowstone National Park, prompting various groups to fight for control of the property. When viewers meet the Duttons, it’s clear that the conflict has been going on for generations. Not to mention, John doesn’t have an obvious successor, leaving the fate of the ranch in even murkier territory. This is further complicated by John Dutton having cancer in Yellowstone season 1.

Although John’s experience with colon cancer is revealed to viewers, he hides the health scare from his adult children — Beth (Kelly Reilly), Jamie (Wes Bentley), and Kayce (Luke Grimes). Between Jamie and Beth’s ongoing Yellowstone rivalry to John’s fraught relationship with Kayce, the inter-family drama encourages John to remain tight-lipped. Eventually, Beth and Jamie discover their father’s secret. While John assures them that he’s in good health, things take a drastic turn at the end of season 1, convincing John (and viewers) that the colon cancer has resurfaced.


Another Season Already Teased The Return Of John Dutton’s Illness

Undoubtedly, John’s illness was introduced in Yellowstone’s first season in order to apply more pressure to the ranch’s successor plot. In the Yellowstone season 2 premiere, the show leans into this dramatic story line (and, seemingly, resolves it). After John collapses on the ranch, everyone around him, including the ranch’s vet, fears the worst. However, when Costner’s character coughs up blood, the vet realizes he’s actually suffering from a ruptured ulcer. The emergency surgery ends with the vet cauterizing John’s wound. With the return of John’s cancer being a fake-out, Yellowstone goes on to abandon the thread altogether.

Even though season 2 of Yellowstone already teased the return of John Dutton’s life-threatening illness, enough time has passed in Yellowstone’s timeline for the character’s colon cancer plot line to return in season 5. In other instances, the convenient recurrence of a potentially terminal illness could cheapen the story. However, with Costner’s departure hanging over season 5, part 2, finding a canonical reason for the character’s exit might sit better with viewers. It’s hard to know what to expect from Yellowstone season 5, part 2, but the return of John Dutton’s cancer is looking a little more likely.

The Return Of John Dutton’s Cancer Means The Show Could Write Off Kevin Costner In Yellowstone Season 5, Part 2

While Yellowstone season 5 ending without Costner feels wrong, it doesn’t seem likely that the actor will return at all when the show starts production. In season 5, part 1, John doesn’t have cancer or any obvious health scares. Instead, he’s weathering a potential impeachment and the ongoing fight for the ranch land. Of course, the first half of season 5 was conceived before Costner’s departure was set in stone. While an off-screen death might feel stilted, Yellowstone has certainly laid the groundwork for John Dutton’s cancer plot, making it a probable go-to in the series finale.