Yellowstone season 5 could be longer than expected

Cole Hauser and Kevin Costner in Yellowstone
Cole Hauser and Kevin Costner in Yellowstone (Image credit: Paramount Network)

Taylor Sheridan has no intention of letting Yellowstone have the same problem Game of Thrones did. After the announcement that Yellowstone season 5 would serve as the end of the popular series, Sheridan plans to take as long as he needs to wrap up the Duttons' story.

"If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they'll give me 10," Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter in a profile piece; the "they" he is referring to is the executives at Paramount. "It'll be as long as it needs to be."

Yellowstone season 5 was already slated to be the biggest of the show to date, with a total of 14 episodes, the first eight of which premiered between November 2022 and January 2023. That meant six episodes were expected in the second half of the season. However, when news broke about scheduling conflicts with Kevin Costner, who plays lead character John Dutton and the decision was made that the series would end with season 5, it meant those last six episodes would be responsible for concluding the entire story Sheridan wanted to tell with Yellowstone.

That may have brought unpleasant reminders of Game of Thrones for some. The HBO fantasy famously shortened its final two seasons from 10 episode every season to seven and six, respectively. That led to a rushed quality that fans were not happy about.

Yellowstone season 5 still has a lot of plotlines to wrap up. What's going to happen to the cowboys that were forced to leave the Yellowstone ranch to look after the cattle, including Rip (Cole Hauser)? Is Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) going to be able to maintain his leadership of the reservation? What will happen to Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Monica (Kelsey Asbille)? Is Jamie (Wes Bentley) going to go through with the plan to have John killed? And if so, how would Beth (Kelly Reilly) respond? And, ultimately, will the Duttons be able to hold on to and protect the ranch from all their enemies?

That is a lot to try and wrap up in six episodes, so it is actually encouraging to hear that Sheridan is not beholden to those parameters and feels he has the support of Paramount to do what is necessary to end the show that has become a flagship property for the studio.

Sheridan, however, did acknowledge some problems to those plans. He teased that while Costner's departure does not change the outcome the creator had for John Dutton, "it truncates it." 

He also acknowledged he is currently participating in the writers strike and not working on the final episodes of the series. That leaves the question of how much is already written and how quickly the prolific writer can turn them around once the strike concludes. Depending on that answer it could impact when we get the final batch of Yellowstone season 5 episodes; the show is currently expected to return in November 2023.

Not to mention Sheridan is quite busy with his other "Sheridan-verse" titles. In addition to Yellowstone he has created Mayor of Kingstown, 1883, 1923 (the ongoing strike has impacted 1923 season 2, with production "suspended indefinitely") and Tulsa King. He also has a number of upcoming series, including Special Ops: Lioness, Lawmen: Bass Reeves, Land Man and the announced Yellowstone sequel series.

(Definitely recommend reading the full Hollywood Reporter piece to find out how and why Sheridan exerts so much control over these shows and meets the high demand of each.)

Until Hollywood's labor issues are settled, we likely won't know how much of Yellowstone we have left to enjoy. But Sheridan is without a doubt committed to telling his story his way, no matter the challenges.

Here's how to catch up with Yellowstone right now.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.