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‘Yellowstone’ Ends, Kevin Costner’s Out — But Matthew McConaughey May Ride to the Rescue

The Western hit airs its last episodes in November, with McConaughey in talks for a ‘Yellowstone’ spin-off show

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Album / Alamy Stock Photo

Kevin Costner, 68, who is divorcing Christine Baumgartner, his wife of 18 years, is also ending his relationship with his juggernaut hit TV series Yellowstone. The brilliant show will air its final half-season in November, thanks to a long, Western-style standoff between Costner and the show's creator, Taylor Sheridan, 52.

But never fear! The future for Yellowstone fans is still bright, and it probably involves Matthew McConaughey, who is in talks to star in a new Yellowstone spin-off series that will premiere in December, likely with some of the current show’s cast. Here’s everything you need to know about the real-life drama and what it means for your watching this season.

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How big a deal is ‘Yellowstone,’ anyway?

Very! The modern-day cowboy epic about a Succession-like family feud is TV’s No. 1 scripted series: Its most recent season premiere broke ratings records; it’s the No. 1 DVD bestseller and it’s one big reason Paramount+ added more subscribers this winter than any other streaming service.​

Don’t miss this: Sorry, Kids: Grownup Movie Stars Are Literally Ruling TV Right Now

Why would Costner quit his huge comeback hit?

Right now, Costner is writing, directing and starring in Horizon, a $100-million-plus film (with several sequels green-lit) about the settlement of the West, so he’s got less time for Yellowstone. Insiders told the news site Puck that Costner and Sheridan are like “Brady and Belichick,” or “silverbacks wrestling.” With his own Western epic universe in the Horizon franchise, Costner was evidently less lured by the millions he makes on Yellowstone and more interested in creative control (and making even more millions).

Should we know this guy Taylor Sheridan?

​Yes, if you like TV hits with major movie stars. Check out Sheridan’s Sylvester Stallone crime show Tulsa King; Jeremy Renner’s Mayor of Kingstown; the OG Yellowstone and spin-offs 1883, 1923 (with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren) and the soon-to-be-released frontier epic 1883: The Bass Reeves Story with David Oyelowo; plus the spy show Lioness, with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman, and the coming series 6666, about the cowboys on Texas’ historic 6666 ranch, which Sheridan’s team bought for more than $320 million in 2020. According to audience analysts at Samba TV, 24 percent of people watching Paramount+ only watch Sheridan’s shows.

Why did an Oscar winner do TV in the first place?

The megastar wasn’t that mega for a time there. “He was going through a fallow period when he did Hatfields & McCoys,” the 2012 Western that became cable TV’s top series, says Showbiz 411 pundit Roger Friedman. “And then he did Yellowstone.” Now, Friedman says, Costner is back and reestablished. “Everyone who forgot him remembers him now,” he says. “He doesn’t need Yellowstone.”

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Would the ‘Yellowstone’ universe fall apart without Costner?

Not hardly! He’s been less central as the spotlight has fallen more on other vividly ornery Dutton family members and nemeses. Costner helped make it a phenomenon, but now it’s a self-sustaining phenomenon.

So what does this mean for viewers?

We can’t lose. Yellowstone shows are virtually certain to stay great even without Costner. McConaughey, who earned an Oscar (Dallas Buyers Club) and an Emmy nomination for 2014’s wonderful True Detective (and whose career could use another McConaissance), would be a must-watch on whatever spin-off series Sheridan has in mind.

And with Costner’s golden touch for Westerns, it figures that Horizon — an epic about the settling of the West before and after the Civil War, starring Sienna Miller, Luke Wilson, Jena Malone, Thomas Haden Church and Will Patton — will come out a winner too.

Editor's note: This story, originally published on March 7, 2023, has been updated with new information.

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