Warning: This contains spoilers for Yellowstone Season 5 and 1883.
People may think: John Dutton is the series’ protagonist, so surely they won’t let him die. But it’s Yellowstone, and no one is truly safe in this world. And though he has narrowly escaped several death snatches, fans think his luck may finally run out this Season 5.
First, everyone’s out resorting to desperate measures to get what they want, which has always been the Duttons’ land. And that may ultimately lead to John Dutton’s death. Second, there are also rumors that this season will be the last. The Duttons have long defied death without any permanent consequences, and it’s the perfect time for them to suffer their biggest loss. Though Cole Hauser, who plays Rip Wheeler on the show, has teased that season 5 is not the end and season 6 is in the works. No official announcement has been made by Sheridan or Paramount, so nothing’s set in stone just yet.
And as Peter Mutuc of Screen Rant said, “only time will tell if death can even touch the great John Dutton, the greatest Neo-Western antihero in contemporary television.” Agreed. We’ll just really have to wait what this series has in store for the characters and the fans.
But for now, let’s take a look back at the masterful moments when John Dutton cheated death.
Right off the pilot of Yellowstone, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) already had his one leg inside the pit of death.
In the opening sequence, he was seen emerging from the carnage of a tractor-trailer wreck, bleeding from one side of his head. He then went on to place his hand on one horse that had been suffering and put it out of its misery. And as he walked over to the fence and braced himself for the arrival of the cops, he stared back at a cow and a calf and said, “Things we lose to keep you fed.”
This scene is very telling of his fate in the series, and further down the seasons, we see more of these brutal moments in increasing intensity.
In fact, in the early episodes of Season 1, it was revealed that John was diagnosed with colon cancer. And so, he had to undergo surgery to remove parts of his colon – two feet, to be exact. After that, he kept his illness under wraps until eventually Kayce and Beth found out. But that wasn’t the end of it. In episode 6, his doctor found another mass during a CT scan. Though instead of having a proper talk about what he needed to do next, John left the hospital frustrated.
S02E01: The Thundering
During the final scene, Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White) had half his arm shoved up to a bull’s rectum when John appeared and started coughing up blood. He confessed to everyone (who was watching and laughing at Jimmy) that it was likely the cancer that he had been hiding. But when the onsite vet checked him out with an x-ray, they discovered that it was instead a ruptured ulcer that would bleed out in twenty minutes. And so, in the next crucial minutes of John’s life, he was cut open in the back of the truck, his ulcer cauterized and surgically removed, and finally closed up.
Considering that the vet didn’t know how to measure the dose of anesthesia needed but knew enough to open up the boss for surgery, it’s one of those moments you’d think that John cheated death with a loophole.
S03E10: The World Is Purple
Fast-forward to the last episode of Season 3; fans were kept at the edge of their seats (us included) as the Duttons faced simultaneous attacks. Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) received an exploding package in her office, Kayce (Luke Grimes) was cornered by gunmen at the Livestock Commissioner’s Office, and John was targeted in an open fire on a roadside while helping a mother change a flat tire.
Fortunately, all three of them survived the attacks. And for John, it was all thanks to his cellphone, which was luckily placed by his heart. If it weren’t there, the bullet would have pierced his heart, and he may already have died. His right-hand man, Rip, also had a good sense of calling in a helicopter to whisk his boss to the hospital to get him treated immediately as he sustained multiple shots.
Then in the premiere of season 4, John woke up from months of being in a coma.
What will happen to John Dutton in season 5?
Fans have long been speculating that season 5 will be John Dutton’s end.
First, the series’ organic climax is perfectly timed with the fifth season. All the build-up of drama within the Dutton family and the outside forces charging in to secure their own interests definitely line up to an ending. And there’s no better and more impactful way to cap off the series than to go for an explosive ending which is to kill off John Dutton.
Second, this season’s episode 4 titled “Horses in Heaven,” gave an ominous foreshadowing with Kayce holding a funeral for his son, whom he named John Dutton. Some fans have also pointed out that just like how Elsa Dutton died in the finale of 1883 to close that chapter of the ranch, John also needs to do so. That way, Yellowstone spinoffs can take on a deeper exploration of its sociopolitical themes that weren’t possible in the series.
And third, unlike previous seasons, which have 10 episodes, season 5 has fourteen (14) and will be split into half.
As for Kevin Costner himself, he hasn’t given much thought to how his character will end up in the show. As he said, “Everybody dies, but it’s how you live.”
If ever John Dutton should die in Season 5, we can all agree that he has lived his life to the best that he could – protecting his family and the land that has been in their name for generations.