The best ‘Yellowstone’ spinoff shows from ‘1883’ to the recently teased ‘1944’
Taylor Sheridan’s growing Yellowstone universe is dedicated to telling a powerful story, and he does so with the Dutton family in various timelines throughout their beautiful yet sordid history. When Sheridan and Paramount aired the first episode of Yellowstone in 2018, no one knew what kind of wild ride we were in for, but we’re enjoying the journey.
When a group of die-hard fans began sharing the story with their friends and loved ones, a subculture was born of those who love the Dutton family, trying hard to figure out the next pieces of the puzzle while understanding the importance of what came before this chapter in their story. Sheridan recognized immediately that what he’d crafted was more than one series; it was a story with enough heart and majesty that an entire universe could be born of it, a Yellowverse — if you will.
From spinoffs to prequels, with each branch of the Dutton family tree we’re greeted by, we learn more about Kevin Costner‘s John Dutton, the valiant fight he is constantly up against, and both the love and heartache that got us to the timeline we’re in now. We’ve seen the most beautiful scenes on television with some of the best actors and actresses in the business, and for a moment in time, we forget we’re watching a scripted series.
Sheridan’s realm feels like a window into the real lives of people who are sharing their stories for valuable reasons: to remind us to fight for what we believe in, to love like there’s no tomorrow, and to find solace in the moments we’re surrounded… no, enveloped by the things that bring us joy — no matter how fleeting they may be.
It’s a poetic ride, being a Dutton family fan, and from 1883 and 1923 to the upcoming stories set at the 6666 Ranch and the chapters that will take us back in time once again, we’re being intricately linked to these characters and their families forever.
Telling the story of the first branch of the Dutton family, James and Margaret Dutton take their children and venture West to find promise and hope and to build a better life for themselves. Armed with only a few sacred belongings, their love for one another, and a dream, they find a group of travelers to experience the journey of a lifetime with; but it’s not all sunshine and green pastures on the way.
1883 brought fans face-to-face with the profound devastation of what the Westward Expansion truly was through the eyes of a family who desperately wanted not just to survive it but to thrive afterward. They knew they were up against a challenge, but they thought they’d prepared enough to survive, but with each episode, we saw that the obstacles they faced were more significant than they could have anticipated.
That doesn’t mean it was all doom and gloom either; it was a mix of the highest of highs and the most devastating lows. It was a coming-of-age story for Elsa Dutton, who narrated the series and acted as the character propelling the story forward. We’re not just talking about the tales being told in 1883 but the fundamental story of the Dutton family as a whole; it was her life and untimely passing that set the Duttons up at what is now the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.
Alongside the Dutton family were travelers like Shea Brennan, Ennis, Josef, Thomas, and Claire — each telling a different version of the same journey, seeing it through different lenses and with their unique perspectives. These stories were told in moments of joy and heartache, and it allowed us a space to fall in love with each of their truths. There was something almost Shakespearean about this journey, and it can only be described as a piece of magic we were lucky enough to experience.
Be still our beating hearts! Yellowstone‘s second prequel, 1923, introduced us to Spencer Dutton, and we’ve not been the same since. Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, let’s look at this chapter of the family story.
Led by Jacob and Cara Dutton, 1923 stars Harrison Ford and Dame Helen Mirren as the powerhouse of the Dutton family in the 1920s, existing on the ranch, trying to build a home for their family of today and of the future, and hoping like hell that they’re strong enough to survive. Lawlessness is the name of the game in this spinoff, but there’s also an innate sense of magic, love, and wonder.
Of course, there have been some devastating moments too — ones where we had to say goodbye to characters too soon while other lives hung in the balance. There were scenes where we thought we’d be left crying all evening and others that made us want to respect and value the time we get with our loves ones more than we already do.
Of course, there were those moments with Spencer Dutton, too. You know the ones where he looked into the screen with a smolder, making us all weak in the knees; he’s a multifaceted character — layered and complex. Spencer spends most of his time running from his demons and the voices in his head, but he also spends a lot of time highlighting the grey area between finding love and letting your guard down or continuing on a path that is sure to leave you lonely.
Another great love story is that of Jacob and Cara, existing in the space of love that’s comfortable. They’ve been together for decades, enjoying the good and helping one another through the bad; all while highlighting a stage of marriage that isn’t often shown in television. It’s the kind of love strong enough to get them through anything, and they need it.
Now, for the upcoming spinoffs!
1883: The Bass Reeves Story
1883: The Bass Reeves story is a prequel in the works for the Yellowverse, and one of the most fleshed out of the three. Starring David Oyelowo, Dennis Quaid, Garrett Hedlund, Cole Hauser (yes, Yellowstone‘s Rip Wheeler), and Shea Whigham – so far, the series isn’t skimping on star power.
Oyelowo shared the following statement with Deadline in 2021, and to say he’s thrilled about the series coming to fruition is an understatement. He’s working alongside his wife, Jessica, and Yellowstone creator Sheridan on the project — and it’s packed full of power from the minds behind the scenes to those starring in it.
“The stories Jess and I want to tell are boundary-busting and full of folks the likes of whom we have seldom seen on screen. The extraordinary story of Bass Reeves exemplifies just that. To collaborate with world-class talent like Taylor Sheridan to tell those stories to the widest audience possible, is our dream, and we believe that can and will be realized through the shared ambitions we have with ViacomCBS and its signature branded platforms, alongside our seasoned and brilliant producing partners at 101 Studios.”
While an official synopsis for the story has yet to be revealed, Bass Reeves is telling a historical story, and we can’t wait to find out how they plan to tie that into the wondrous and gritty world of Yellowstone. So just who is Bass Reeves? The answer is a layered one: he was an official in law enforcement, a husband and father, a hardcore lawman, and the first African American deputy U.S. marshall west of the Mississippi River.
He’s also the man that “The Lone Ranger” was based on, and he shares more about his impact on history with The Upcoming:
“Bass Reeves is a character who the Lone Ranger was actually based on. But unfortunately, he was whitewashed out of history. He was born into enslavement, went on to fight in the Civil War, then escaped to the Indian Territory, learned the Native American languages and skills which ended up being applied to his career as a lawman and had the most prolific career – 3000 arrests in his career and someone whose exploits are truly legendary.”
Via a poster reveal, the tagline for the series reads as both a powerful statement and a promise — Bass Reeves is going to deliver on a story we’re familiar with while teaching us something new: “The legend you know, the truth you don’t.“
With an all-star cast and excitement from those who are part of the project, we can’t wait to see this one.
Little is known about the upcoming prequel, 1944, other than it was initially confirmed at a town hall as reported by Ravalli Republic by executive vice president of 101 Studios, Tom Prince.
“Of course, we’ve got 1923, we’ve got the sequel, we’re not letting the cat out of the bag, it’s going to be called 1944. My guess is that it’ll be shooting largely in the Bitterroot Valley because it has to take place at what is Chief Joseph Ranch.”
He went on to speak about how Yellowstone isn’t just a hit in the states, but worldwide. Fans of the series know its reach is major; but it is an honor, in a way, to see it for your self is something else entirely. When Prince was visiting Europe, he heard people talking about the series.
“It’s an enormous hit, not just in the United States. I was just in Europe two weeks ago. They talked about it in London, I’m like ‘how the hell do you know about Yellowstone in London?’ It’s a big, big show. And it’s the highest quality of television being made right now.”
Prince is right on that, too; the Yellowverse is some of the highest quality television there is, and it’s only getting better. When we find out more about 1944, we’ll be the first to let you know.
There’s no official title for the spinoff taking place at the 6666 Ranch just yet, but it’s been teased as everything from Yellowstone: 6666 to 6666 Ranch and simply 6666. No matter what title ultimately ends up encompassing the series, it’s going to be magnificent.
We also know that we’ll see some familiar faces in the series, especially if it follows into the current storyline starring our favorite ranch-hand turned husband and cowboy: Jimmy Hurdstrom. Sent to the ranch as a means of discipline and a lesson, Jimmy was supposed to learn to be a real cowboy and realize the importance of following the rules and working hard. He did more than that when he arrived in Texas, and in some seen and unseen moments, he became the best version of himself — finding purpose, love, and a genuine sense of happiness in the process.
While glimpses of the 6666 Ranch have been taking place in Yellowstone, having a series of its own focused there is sure to be a real treat.
Parade shares the following synopsis of 6666:
“Founded when Comanches still ruled West Texas, no ranch in America is more steeped in the history of the West than the 6666. Still operating as it did two centuries before, and encompassing an entire county, the 6666 has inspired a new scripted series where the rule of law and the laws of nature merge in a place where the most dangerous thing one does is the next thing. The 6666 is synonymous with the merciless endeavor to raise the finest horses and livestock in the world, and ultimately where world-class cowboys are born and made.”
Here’s to seeing more world-class cowboys and enjoying how all of these stories were born from the heartwrenching and beautiful story of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton and the vital promise he made so many years ago.