(Content warning: this article contains mention of suicide.) It’s no secret that we’re as obsessed with the Yellowstone ending as the Duttons are with their own legacy. The Taylor Sheridan series first landed on screens in 2018 and quickly became a TV behemoth thanks to impressive ratings and fan loyalty.
So, yeah, it was a tough break for many (me) to hear that not only was Yellowstone ending, but that its cancelation was due to Kevin Costner leaving. Since then, we’ve spent a good chunk of the industry strikes killing time by making our predictions for John Dutton’s fate, guessing which Yellowstone characters are most likely to die, and putting every wish we have towards a miraculous reversal of reality.
But for as much as we’ve enjoyed guessing, it takes only one viewing of the Yellowstone prequel series, 1883, to realize that Sheridan’s already revealed all. In fact, the hints dropped in 1883 aren’t just hints — they’re the pieces of Sheridan’s Yellowstone playbook.
Let’s start with the most fundamental takeaway from 1883: the Dutton prophecy. If you haven’t already seen 1883 (in which case, you’re missing out on my favorite spin-off of the bunch), then you’ll have skipped the most important condition for the Duttons seizing their land. In the season finale, James and Elsa Dutton ride out to find a place for her to die after she’s been gravely injured. Wherever she lays, that’s where they’ll plant their roots.
They meet a Native American Chief named Spotted Eagle, who tells them they can head to Paradise Valley. He says they can have the land but warns James: “In seven generations, my people will rise up and take it back from you.” James obviously doesn’t care about what’ll happen in seven generations’ time, but you know who might? John Dutton.
John’s grandson Tate marks the seventh generation of Dutton, and he’s the sole heir to the Yellowstone land. If we’re taking this prophecy literally (because Sheridan famously never ditches a plot point…right?), then this means the finale of Yellowstone could possibly see the result of it all coming true. The Duttons will lose the ranch, and it’ll return to the Native American community of the Broken Rock Reservation.
In all likelihood, given how Tate has genetic ties with Broken Rock, it’s very possible that he’ll surrender the land himself. Why? Perhaps he’s seen what the land has done to his family and wants to wash his hands of the whole thing. Let’s not forget that Kayce Dutton had a vision during his Hanbleceya ritual, one which he said showed him “the end of us.” Do we think this is all connected? Hell yeah.
So, prophecy this, prophecy that… that’s all easy enough to understand. But what about the fates of the key Yellowstone characters? Well, lo and behold, 1883 drops a lot of clues in that regard, too.
Remember how Jamie, after killing that journalist, was riddled with guilt and nearly driven to suicide? He even gets as close as stealing a gun and riding into the hills before John stops him by reminding him that nobody would care if he died, so he shouldn’t bother. (I mean, come on, that’s basically what he says — not exactly Father of the Year.)
Jamie reminds us of another Dutton in 1883: Claire. The stern, practical sister of James, Claire lasts only two episodes of 1883 before she, consumed with grief at the loss of her daughter, shoots herself.
As these characters generally go, Jamie is very Claire-coded. They both complain endlessly, are untrusting of their families, and are fearful of the unknown. Two peas in a pod. The point is that Jamie might have lived another day to continue his journey through the modern-day Yellowstone timeline, but there’s no reason to believe that he won’t relapse and meet a fate similar to Claire’s by the time his story is wrapped up.
Likewise, if Jamie is Claire-coded, then John is Elsa-coded. They both adore a monologue, have a deep love for the land, and they’re both fighters. Ultimately, Elsa’s death is very reminiscent of one of John Dutton’s best quotes and one of the most poignant moments of the mainline show: “He didn’t wake up. He just died on the trail, like every cowboy dreams it.”
It’s no secret that John Dutton’s death is one of our most confident predictions for the series and certainly has the potential to be the perfect ending. Much like Elsa, it would be fitting for John to lie down under a tree and simply fall asleep.
Of course, there’s every possibility that 1883 could end up having nothing to do with the future of Yellowstone. Taylor Sheridan doesn’t go in much for continuity, and you’ll not find many Easter eggs scattered throughout the Duttonverse. But if this was the one thread to weave the connective tissue of Yellowstone together, then it would be a narrative marvel.
For those who don’t think about it so obsessively, it would simply feel right. For hardcore fans who know the Dutton family tree better than their own, it would be the ultimate payoff. It would be the perfect ending to a long exploration of legacy. Like every cowboy dreams it.
For more on one of TV’s most dysfunctional families, get to know our guide on the Yellowstone cast. You can also keep up to date with Yellowstone season 5 part 2, and the 6666 release date, to see what the next step in the story is for the best TV series on Paramount.