The Yellowstone universe has produced multiple acclaimed spinoffs, but none of them have matched the original series in one important way. Following the massive success of the first few seasons of creator Taylor Sheridan’s Western drama, multiple spinoffs have explored the history of the Dutton family, including how they came to settle in Montana. Each of the spinoffs has been a hit with both critics and fans, but none of them has lasted more than a season (although 1923 was renewed for season 2 and is on the way).
None of the spinoffs, including the unrelated but Yellowstone-adjacent drama Lawmen: Bass Reeves, have ever been intended to be a long-term replacement for Yellowstone. With Yellowstone season 5 set to resume filming, the void left by the show’s ending is approaching swiftly. Two more Yellowstone spinoffs are in development, but adding more limited series like 1883 and 1923 may not be the answer to the larger connected universe’s long-term success.
Yellowstone Doesn’t Have Any Long-Running Spinoff Shows Yet
There are spinoffs, but nothing has truly replaced Yellowstone.
Much of the reason the Yellowstone universe is set to continue on is that the show’s prequels were both popular and successful. Both 1883 and 1923 were well-received by critics thanks to tight story-telling and undeniable star power. 1883 was driven by powerful performances from Isabel May, Tim McGraw, Sam Elliott, and Faith Hill, while 1923 has so far been dominated by screen legends Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford.
However, as successful as the shows are, neither is a suitable long-term replacement for Yellowstone itself given their limited time frames. Both 1883 and 1923 explore the history of Yellowstone’s Dutton family tree, meaning that the events they depict can only lead to the history shown in Yellowstone. There is no long-term future for any of Taylor Sheridan’s Western drama spinoffs, and none can act as a suitable replacement for Yellowstone.
Why Yellowstone Needs A Long-Running Spinoff
The Yellowstone universe still needs an anchor point.
Part of the reason that 1883 and 1923 are successful is that both shows are extensions of the central Yellowstone narrative. The main show gained popularity due to its memorable characters, engaging story-telling, and intense blend of modern drama with Western action. Without Yellowstone as a sort of anch or point, there’s no guarantee that similar shows like the prequels or Lawmen: Bass Reeves would have been a success. Yellowstone helped popularize Western dramas with the modern audience and created an appetite for more. Without that common anchor point, there are further issues that could confound modern television audiences when it comes to the Yellowstone universe.
If the universe continues solely with one-off shows that run for only one or two seasons, it becomes increasingly likely that viewers could miss seasons or entire shows. That could cause them to lose interest, which is far less likely with one ongoing narrative to keep track of. It’s also hard to get invested in characters that only run for a single 8-10-episode season, and that in itself could cause people to lose interest as well. Ultimately, there needs to be one common thread that ties the Yellowstone universe together in the form of a continuous, long-running show.
Could Matthew McConaughey’s Yellowstone Show Be Its True Replacement?
If some of the central Yellowstone characters cross over, it could be.
A sequel series to Yellowstone starring Matthew McConaughey is in development, but it will likely not begin filming until the back half of season 5 has been released, which will probably occur in the fall or winter of 2024. To be a true replacement for Yellowstone, it will need to fulfill several specific conditions, the most significant of which is the continuity within the franchise’s existing timeline. Like the upcoming spinoff 6666, the sequel series could center on a location away from the Yellowstone ranch in Montana, but it would need to have some tangential connections in order to be a real replacement for the original show.
The easiest way to do that would be to carry over some characters from Yellowstone, just as 6666 is doing with Jimmy Hurdstrom. In order to really sell itself as a Yellowstone replacement, the sequel series would need to include at least one member of the Dutton family. The most natural fit would be Kelly Reilly’s Beth Dutton, whose business acumen could plausibly put her just about anywhere in the country, which would be necessary if the sequel series ventures away from the Yellowstone Ranch and Montana in general. Whether it’s Matthew McConaughey’s sequel series or something entirely new, the Yellowstone universe needs a long-running show at its center.