Yellowstone Season 4 is currently in production in Missouri, and as fans wait for a premiere date, speculation is running rampant. After Season 3 ended with a major cliffhanger that (spoiler alert!) left multiple characters' lives hanging in the balance, the chance of the beloved Paramount Network show looking wildly different when it returns could become a reality, begging the question: what happens if Kevin Costner leaves Yellowstone after Season 4?
Although Costner is all but guaranteed to make an appearance in the upcoming season, there is no guarantee that his character will survive. In fact, speaking with Good Day New York in December, he said that he "can't say" if he will return for another season. The actor also has several other projects already lined up, with ABC earlier this month giving a pilot order for National Parks, a crime procedural that plays out in the beautiful landscapes of America's national parks. Costner is writing and co-producing the drama. Should Costner leave Yellowstone during or by the end of Season 4, his departure would have massive impacts on individual characters as well as the story as a whole.
As Looper points out, should John Dutton succumb to the assassination attack that targeted numerous characters, Yellowstone's story could shift direction towards a sibling rivalry. The outlet suggests that if a few Dutton family members survive, "maybe the two Dutton survivors will pair up against Jamie," with an internal family struggle possibly freshening things up a bit. The outlet also suggests, "maybe all three will end up wanting different things, and we'll get a battle royale. Or maybe, if Jamie wasn't involved in the attacks, the shock of the violence will flip him back to their side."
Costner's absence would also open up a vacancy in the lead character department, meaning that another character on the show could step in to fill his shoes. Not only that, but somebody would also have to take over running the ranch, a role that any of the Dutton children could fill. It seems likely this could be passed on to Beth Dutton, whose interests are most aligned with John’s by the end of Season 3 and who has experience in formal negotiations.
It is also possible that John may survive the attack but face a long recovery that would all but sideline him from the show, forcing all of the above scenarios to play out. Ultimately, though, Yellowstone fans will have to wait until Season 4 premieres to find out what happens. The season does not yet have a premiere date but is currently filming. In the meantime, fans can have a little fun coming up with theories by catching up on all three seasons of Yellowstone, which are available for streaming on Peacock.