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Kevin Costner prevented Yellowstone from crumbling in first season

As John Dutton, Kevin Costner's main job was to stop the Yellowstone ranch from crumbling, and it looks like that job extended to behind the camera too.


When Yellowstone first started in 2018. I don’t think anyone could’ve anticipated the scale of the show’s success. It faced middling reviews by critics, accusations of being too “soapy,” and it failed to set Peacock alight with its viewership.

But five seasons on, Yellowstone has proven that Westerns are well and truly back in fashion. As well as turning the tide on critical opinion, with its latest season scoring 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, Yellowstone has also won numerous accolades and broken countless viewing records both on the streaming service Paramount Plus and as a cable network show on CBS. It’s by no means a stretch to call Yellowstone one of the best TV series around by now, and if we’re being honest, we have Yellowstone cast member Kevin Costner to thank for that.

As the Yellowstone character John Dutton, Costner has been at the center of Yellowstone since the beginning.

“When I was approached with this, it was going to be one long movie, a 10-episode movie, like a Hatfields and McCoys,” the actor explained during an appearance on Good Morning America.

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“And somewhere along the line, the show got put together and it was no longer going to be that. I felt, in a way, that a lot of it had been put together because of me agreeing that I would do it. And so lo and behold, it went from one season to suddenly it was going to be a multi-season thing, and I had to make a real fundamental decision there,” he added.

“I thought actually, if I would have said, ‘Well, now I’m not doing it,’ that maybe it might have crumbled before it got started. So I kind of took the weight on emotionally not wanting to have the show crumble, but that’s how it started.”

It’s true that without Kevin Costner, there would be no Yellowstone — his character, John Dutton is the patirach of Yellowstone ranch, after all.

The question of who will succeed the character has been key ever since Yellowstone’s premiere episode, which saw John’s firstborn son and heir, Lee Dutton, get unceremoniously gunned down. And as the show gallops towards its ending with Yellowstone season 5 part 2, it looks like we’ll get an answer to that question sooner than we think.

Still, Taylor Sheridan has demonstrated that Yellowstone can succeed without Costner, with various spin-offs like 1923, 6666, and 1883 focussing on other Duttons, but would we have gotten those spin-offs if the parent show with Cosnter hadn’t been such a success? Probably not.

For more on the silver screen’s best drama series, check out our guides to the Yellowstone timeline, all the Yellowstone series ranked, the Yellowstone 1923 season 2 release date, and the Yellowstone 6666 release date.