'Yellowstone': The Biggest Character Deaths (and Exits) So Far

With the news that Kevin Costner will not be returning after season 5, which other major characters have left the popular drama?

Yellowstone has gone through quite a revolving door of cast exits -- and character deaths -- over the years.

The biggest one, of course, is the impending departure of Kevin Costner, who has played patriarch John Dutton III since the series' 2018 launch. ET broke the news earlier this week that Costner would not be returning to the popular drama after season 5 amid alleged tension with co-creator Taylor Sheridan over filming commitments for the remaining episodes of the season.

While details remain unclear on how Costner's exit will be incorporated into Yellowstone, there continues to be uncertainty over when filming will resume in Montana to finish out season 5, which was originally slated for a summer return on Paramount Network.

The update on Costner's involvement comes months after it was first reported that the series may be ending in its current form. Since then, Yellowstone spinoff series with Matthew McConaughey, which is being considered an extension of the franchise, officially received the green light to move forward.

Even as Yellowstone fans (and cast) await answers about the fate of the drama, the characters who exist in the Yellowstone world aren't strangers to shocking betrayals, revenge, murder and death. ET highlights eight of the most shocking ones from the series so far.

John Dutton III (Kevin Costner)

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Sources close to Yellowstone production told ET that Costner would not be returning to the series after the fifth season following reports of alleged drama with series co-creator Taylor Sheridan over the actor's filming commitments for the second half of the season. Additional sources also told ET that there was no update on when the cast and crew were to return to Montana to continue filming season 5's remaining episodes, which were set to air sometime this summer.

With questions surrounding Costner and Yellowstone, it remains to be seen how his character, the patriarch of the family, will be written out. In the last season 5 episode that aired, John and his eldest daughter, Beth, were seen ruminating on whether Jamie is the next victim of the Train Station, a deserted canyon area where the Duttons have disposed of the bodies of their enemies. 

Costner told ET last June he would continue with Yellowstone until it no longer felt "interesting" to him. "I'll go till it doesn't feel like we're interesting, and right now we have our foot on the gas and that feels OK to me," he said at the time. "I have interests that are outside of everything I do, including the movies, so I have other things that I want to do."

Lee Dutton (Dave Annable)

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In Yellowstone's very first episode, John's oldest son and Dutton Ranch's head of security was tragically killed when Lee went on what turned into a suicide mission to take back cattle stolen from the family property. Finding himself in the middle of gunfire after a fight breaks out, Army vet Robert Long shoots Lee, killing him. The tragic turn of events ends up being the catalyst for the Duttons' drive to protect the ranch and fuels Lee's brother, Kayce, to later kill Robert in an act of revenge. 

Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston)

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In season 2, the land developer went up against the Duttons as he had plans to acquire land in order to build a casino near the Yellowstone ranch. Undeterred by the Duttons, Dan's cutthroat approach left him in precarious, and ultimately, dangerous situations -- most notably when he was hanged on a tree as a warning. Though he survived that near-death experience, the land developer never saw his casino dream come to fruition, as he was later shot and killed by a hitman hired by the Beck brothers.

Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough)

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Speaking of the Beck brothers, one of them, Malcolm, had dreams -- much like Dan -- of building a casino by the Yellowstone ranch and he'd leave no stone unturned to make sure they got their way. Malcolm, along with his brother, Teal, both saw Broken Rock Reservation, headed up by Thomas Rainwater, as adversaries and were hellbent on going after the Duttons any way they could. Unfortunately for Malcolm (and Teal, who ended up dying on the toilet), he was no match for the Dutton clan and he died after getting shot by John.

Sarah Nguyen (Michaela Conlin)

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An undercover investigative journalist for New York Magazine, Sarah -- who went by the name Kendall -- was hired to do research for Jamie's campaign. She successfully infiltrated the campaign, exposing a thread of corruption within the Dutton family and the ranch, with Jamie cooperating for a period of time. But when he did a 180 and Sarah expressed that the damage had already been done, Jamie accidentally killed Sarah in a momentary fit of rage in season 2. He sought Rip's help in the aftermath to cover up the murder and make it look like Sarah had died kayaking.

Garrett Randall (Will Patton)

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The biological father of Jamie, Garrett was sentenced to prison for 30 years after killing Jamie's mother when he was just a little boy. Once he got out of prison, Garrett turned his sights on going after the Duttons, which led to Beth giving Jamie a cruel ultimatum: Kill his own biological dad or suffer the consequences. At the end of season 4, Jamie ultimately went through with Beth's unnerving request, killing his own father in cold blood.

Donnie Haskell (Hugh Dillon)

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One of John's closest friends and a local sheriff in town, Donnie met his untimely fate after dying in a shootout with armed robbers at a local diner in season 4.

John Dutton V 

Not exactly an established character but still significant, the heartbreaking death of Monica and Kayce's newborn baby boy in the first episode of season 5, following a terrifying car crash, fueled much of the couple's journey of grief. It's later revealed that they named their child after Kayce's father, John.