While fans eagerly await Yellowstone season 5, part 2, theories are swirling about who will survive the series finale and carry on the Dutton legacy.
As viewers eagerly await Yellowstone season 5, part 2, speculation about who will die in the series’ highly anticipated finale is swirling. The first part of the final installment of Taylor Sheridan’s ultra-popular neo-Western leaves the barn door wide open for an all-out bloodbath, with the Dutton family’s legacy — and the ranch’s future — at stake yet again. In the past, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) has proven he’ll go to extreme lengths to protect what he believes to be his, so any lingering rivalries are sure to come to a head in Yellowstone season 5, part 2.
Central to fan theories about how the ending will play out is, of course, speculation over who will bite the dust. Yellowstone is a Western, and nothing defines the genre like an end-of-story shootout. Although every character has a target on their back, some are less likely to die, while others are all but guaranteed to end up six feet under. Despite the show’s large ensemble, Yellowstone’s cast of characters can be whittled down to the most crucial members, and, first up, are the characters who are most likely to continue the Dutton’s story in the Matthew McConaughey-led spin-off.
10. Monica, Kayce & Tate Dutton
The first four and a half seasons of Yellowstone‘s darkest moments make one thing abundantly clear: no one is safe. Even so, it’s hard to imagine the series killing off Monica Long-Dutton (Kelsey Asbille) or Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes), namely because Kayce’s revenge-stricken siblings are in more imminent danger (from each other). Much of Yellowstone‘s drama hinges on the Duttons’ feud with the Indigenous leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock, who believe the white ranchers don’t have a claim to the stolen land of Yellowstone Ranch. Monica and Kayce’s union is a partly symbolic one, given that Monica is the granddaughter of Felix Long (Rudy Ramos), an Indigenous elder.
The neo-Western drama is exactly the kind of show that would further romanticize Monica and Kayce’s shared life in the series finale. Their son, Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill), is a potential heir to the ranch but also a member of the people who first worked and lived on the land. This trio seems most likely if any of the Duttons survive Yellowstone‘s finale. Not to mention, the family was already put through unspeakable tragedy when their second son, John Dutton IV, died shortly after being born. Sheridan’s vision of the West can be harsh, but it probably won’t bring more pain to Monica, Kayce, or Tate Dutton.
9. Rip Wheeler
A fan-favorite character, Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), is more than just a ranch hand. In fact, he’s proven time and again that he’s willing to do anything for John Dutton and his family. With John being the newly minted Governor of Montana, Rip has really taken the reins at Yellowstone Ranch, becoming something of John’s adopted heir apparent. Moreover, he’s married to the strong-willed Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly), which is both good and bad for his ultimate series finale fate. What happens to Beth and Rip is shaping up to be Yellowstone season 5’s key story.
That is, Beth is locked in a mounting feud with her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley), who forcibly sterilized Beth — without her consent — while arranging her abortion services. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jamie has his eyes locked on the family ranch for all the wrong reasons. It feels likely that either he or Beth will die (more on that later), which directly impacts Rip’s fate. If the Dutton sister goes down, Rip will no doubt be out for revenge. Given everything the long-suffering Rip has weathered, a fate worse than death would be him living out his days without Beth; it feels just painful enough to be this cowboy’s end.
Played by Mo Brings Plenty, Mo is Thomas Rainwater’s (Gil Birmingham) driver and assistant, as well as a member of the Tribal Police. As fans know, Thomas, the elected high chief of the Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock, is keen to reclaim the Tribes’ ancestral, stolen land from John Dutton. There are several burning questions and stories Yellowstone needs to resolve, and there’s no doubt that season 5, part 2, will tackle a big one: Thomas and John’s feud. In seeing the conflict through to the end, Mo will, in turn, be impacted. Despite being Thomas’ right-hand man, Mo seems to be safe from an untimely demise. In true Western fashion, he’ll probably be involved in a massive shootout though.
7. Beth Dutton
One of Yellowstone‘s most interesting plots remains the Beth vs. Jamie Dutton feud. While Beth is apt to fly off the handle, it’s hard not to root for her in this sibling face-off, especially since the first chunk of season 5 sees her revisiting her past traumas. Beth has yet to tell Rip about Jamie’s violent hand in her inability to have children, but her father, John, is in the know and made it incredibly clear what he’d do to Jamie if the ill-intentioned attorney ever crossed him or Beth again. Regardless, as Jamie positions himself to take hold of Yellowstone Ranch, he’s also openly plotting his sister’s murder.
While it remains unclear who will get caught in the Beth vs. Jamie crossfire, at least one (if not both) of the siblings will fall by the time the finale rolls around. What Beth has going for her — she’s more likable than Jamie — is also her potential downfall. Sometimes, villains win out, and that’s just life. For now, her fate seems like it could go either way. It largely depends on how much Sheridan wants to torture Rip and how many Duttons he wants to polish off. Off-screen, Beth’s Yellowstone fate might be tied up in Matthew McConaughey’s spin-off, as it would be immensely entertaining to watch McConaughey and Reilly share scenes.
6. Thomas Rainwater
As mentioned, the Thomas vs. John feud is representative of a long-standing, bloody history between the Indigenous peoples who lived in the area now known as Montana and the white settlers who stole the land and profited off of it. In addition to being the chief of the Broken Rock Reservation, Thomas Rainwater is a casino mogul and high-profile businessperson. Given John’s new governorship, the two rivals have more reason than ever to put an end to their conflict.
More likely than not, the fight will be a bloody one, with Thomas, John, and their most loyal comrades exchanging blows. Much like Beth, Thomas’ fate feels 50-50, but killing off both Thomas and John would serve as an epic conclusion. It’ll be especially compelling since Yellowstone season 1, which is rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, turned failure into success. Going back to where it all began carries some risks, but it can also cast the show’s first outing in a more appealing light.
5. John Dutton
Fan-created Yellowstone theories of John Dutton dying are forever gaining steam, especially since Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone departure was announced. Before the dual writers’ and actors’ strikes took hold, Costner caused some hold-ups, allegedly refusing to sign off on an ending for John Dutton until he read one he liked. Without a doubt, Yellowstone rejuvenated Costner’s career; the franchise-spawning show gifted him with a defining role, after all. Even so, the actor may want his character written out in such a way that closes the door to a return in the upcoming sequel series.
That doesn’t necessarily mean John Dutton will die in Yellowstone‘s final season, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if the ranch-owning patriarch-turned-state-governor bit the dust. Dramas that center on anti-heroes have a way of resolving their narratives in death — just look at Breaking Bad‘s Walter White — so Yellowstone has the chance to either follow or subvert this trope. Between John’s feud with Thomas Rainwater and his kids’ brewing face-off, the rancher will be surrounded by death, and it seems unlikely that he’ll avoid it altogether.
Played by Ryan Bingham, Walker is a formerly incarcerated ranch hand who’s as dedicated as can be to Yellowstone Ranch. After all, when Rip hires him on, Walker is branded with the ranch’s symbol to prove he’s committed to taking a second chance. Prior to his time in Montana, Walker worked the 6666 Ranch, a.k.a. The Four Sixes, and deeply regrets leaving the Texas-based spot. Given that Sheridan is planning a Yellowstone spin-off set at The Four Sixes, there’s a slim chance Walker will live on and return to the place “where world-class cowboys are born and made.” Instead, it seems more heartbreaking and fitting that Walker would die defending John and Yellowstone before having a chance to return to 6666.
Old-timer Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith) is another Dutton ranch hand who took on the brand, indicating his commitment to a second chance at life. Thanks to a few season 5 flashbacks, viewers have more insight into the ranch’s mentor figure, though that deeper look at the character may also be a sign of bad things to come. A faithful servant to John Dutton, Lloyd will likely stand by Yellowstone Ranch’s patriarch until the very end. If it does come to an old Western-style shootout, Lloyd will be there, and he’ll have no regrets taking a bullet for John.
2. Jamie Dutton
At the end of season 5, part 1, Jamie openly plots his sister’s death. In fact, he may even have it out for his Governor of Montana father. As mentioned, John Dutton made it crystal-clear to Jamie what would become of him if he crossed the family again, and even though Jamie will likely draw first blood, he won’t make it to the Yellowstone sequel series. In fact, no Yellowstone spin-off exploring a character like Jamie would be worthwhile — his time in the Sheridan verse must come to an end.
Thankfully, there’s a spot in the “train station” — a roadside cliff where the Duttons dump their enemies bodies — that’s waiting for Jamie. Of course, Sheridan needs to pull off something staggering with Jamie’s death. Either he and Beth both die, or John has to kill his attorney son. More dramatic yet, Jamie’s potential killing of Beth — or the reveal of the monstrous things he’s done to her — might be enough to push Rip into taking the Dutton brother out. Regardless of how Jamie’s death happens, there’s no doubt he’ll cause plenty of bloodshed and havoc on his way out.
1. Summer Higgins
The Yellowstone character who’s most likely to die in season 5, part 2, is none other than Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo). The environmental activist and Portland-based vegan holds little bearing on the larger narrative of the series, which makes her a perfect candidate for an untimely demise. Earlier on, John Dutton bailed the activist out of jail after one of her protests ended in arrests. In season 5, now-Governor Dutton saves her from more prison time by granting her clemency.
With Summer serving out the rest of her sentence on house arrest at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, it seems her sole purpose is to get caught in the Beth vs. Jamie crossfire. Previously, Beth and Summer got into an all-out brawl, but the accidental killing of Summer Higgins would likely still upset Beth — and, more importantly, John. With Jamie taking a hit out on his sister, Beth, the odds are high that an attempted assassination will end with the wrong blonde murdered in cold blood, especially since Summer is confined to the Dutton house. No doubt, Summer Higgins’ death will be the catalyst for an open battle between Jamie and his family in Yellowstone‘s final season.