Taylor Sheridan is now best known for his beloved neo-Western drama series Yellowstone, but prior to the success of the show (and of his various movies) he was once most recognized for his minor role in the smash-hit thriller series Sons of Anarchy. In Sons of Anarchy, a younger Sheridan starred as the deputy chief of Charming’s Police Department, David Hale.
Sheridan quit the series before long though (allowing him to change his career to screenwriting, leading to Yellowstone) and that decision essentially marked the end of his acting career. It was his final recurring role on a TV series until he joined the Yellowstone cast himself as apparent king of the cowboys Travis Wheatley. Clearly though, from Sheridan’s end, his exit was fairly acrimonious (citing unfair pay and a lack of respect from those in charge of the show towards him) and he was given, in his own words, a ‘fuck-you’ death.
The resentment that Sheridan felt toward Sons of Anarchy has probably evaporated since (creating the best TV series and best movies around will surely have helped), but the filmmaker still seems to have used Yellowstone’s most violent plot line to get revenge on his former show. We are, of course, talking about the infamous ‘bikers vs cowboys’ moment in season 3.
When Ryan, Colby, and Teeter discover a group of bikers on John Dutton‘s land, it leads to a stern war of words. Eventually, all hell breaks loose and the arrival of Rip Wheeler and Lloyd (the best Yellowstone characters, obviously) leads to a truly brutal brawl. The cowboys, of course, end up winning. Yee-haw. You can watch the motorbike-smashing scene below:
Despite their defeat, the bikers return in the dead of night to cause chaos on John’s land as revenge. But, anticipating their move, John is there with a gun waiting for them. He makes them dig their own graves, before terrifying them enough that he believes they won’t ever come back.
Did you hear that, Sons of Anarchy? In a battle between bikers and cowboys, it’s the cowboys who win. Given the context surrounding his departure from Sons of Anarchy, that must have given Sheridan no small degree of satisfaction, and because it’s not really linked to any other plotline (other than John’s overall defense of his land) it seems like a truly obvious dig at his former show.
The truth is though, Yellowstone and Sons of Anarchy share more similarities than differences. They’re similarly violent and dramatic, and this Reddit thread from Sons of Anarchy fans argues that Yellowstone is, effectively, Sons of Anarchy on horses. We really can’t disagree, the latter obviously influenced the former, and that’s fine because they both rank among the best drama series ever. Having said that, we can’t help but love Yellowstone just a little bit more, and we’re impatient for its return with Yellowstone season 5 part 2.
To learn more about the rest of the Yellowstone timeline, see our guide to the 1923 season 2 release date, and learn all about the upcoming 6666 release date for the spin-off series about Jimmy. Or, see our favorite Taylor Sheridan TV series and movies, before checking out why we think Yellowstone is brilliant despite its lack of actual plot.