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Taylor Sheridan writing rule is a disaster for Yellowstone’s ending

Western legend Taylor Sheridan is the king of TV, with his Yellowstone empire dominating Paramount Plus. But his writing rule doesn't bode well for the ending.

Taylor Sheridan as Travis Wheatley and Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler in Yellowstone

Throughout his long and varied career, Taylor Sheridan has done much more than Yellowstone. But, right now, it’s the Western TV series and its spin-offs that defines him.

After Taylor Sheridan finished writing Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River – three of the best movies of the 2010s – the screenwriter returned to his TV roots in 2018 with one of the best Westerns of the modern era: Yellowstone. Yellowstone has become its own beast, picking up an enormous audience and finding immense popularity as it focuses on Kevin Costner’s John Dutton struggling to keep a hold of his enormous cattle ranch.

Now, Yellowstone is halfway through its fifth season and Yellowstone season 5 part 2 will conclude the series once and for all, with Costner demanding that he be able to exit the series in order to focus on his new movies. Unfortunately, it looks increasingly likely that Sheridan will be forced by Costner’s exit – and seeming refusal to return – to change whatever ending he had in mind in some major ways. However, to do so would contradict Sheridan’s most precious writing rule.

“If I know how it ends and what I’m trying to say then getting there isn’t terribly difficult,” said Sheridan, speaking to Gold Derby about his writing process. “What I find terribly difficult is having a world you want to explore, and a character you want to follow, and no idea where they’re going. So for me, I have to know exactly how it ends and then I work backward.”

Sadly, due to Costner’s exit from Yellowstone, it now seems that Sheridan is going to have to break his rule, and will find himself in a position where he’s manufacturing a new ending for Yellowstone in order to work around the real-world dilemmas triggered by Costner’s departure.

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Previously, Sheridan had said that the early end of the show would cause the ending of the series to be truncated, but not fundamentally changed. However, if Costner refuses to return to the show at all in order to film some concluding scenes for John Dutton, it’s hard to imagine how Sheridan would be able to stick to his original idea of Yellowstone’s ending.

And, because the writer is so adamant that he needs to know the ending in order for his stories to work, perhaps audiences should be expecting some bumps in the road as Sheridan adapts and is forced to abandon his rule.

A messy ending seems almost inevitable now then, given how many plot threads Sheridan has to conclude with only half a season. If Costner still refuses to return under any circumstances, it could be an outright disaster for the best TV series around. At least we still have the spin-offs, and Matthew McConaughey sequel series to look forward to.

Now go see the six best Taylor Sheridan TV shows and movies. You can also read about how Sheridan broke a 43-year Hollywood rule for his TV franchise.