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Wait, Is 1883 Season 2 Not Happening, Or Is Yellowstone's Taylor Sheridan Just Being Cryptic?

James holding gun on horseback on 1883
(Image credit: Parmount+)

Spoilers below for the season finale of 1883, so be warned if you haven’t yet watched!

As if 1883’s trauma-filled season finale didn’t already have Yellowstone franchise fans thrown for an emotional and reference-filled loop, creator and timeline spearheader Taylor Sheridan followed the episode up by seemingly shooting a poisoned arrow through the belief that the Dutton ranch’s origin story will be returning for an official Season 2. Which is weird, obviously, since Paramount+ is where the news about 1883’s next chapter was first announced. So what’s actually going on here?

 What Has Paramount+ Said About 1883’s Future? 

A little under two weeks before 1883’s conclusion came along and made viewers sob as hard as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill did when they were bringing it all together, Paramount+ put out an announcement that not only revealed the impending arrival of a new 1932 spinoff timeline, but also that “more” from the streaming service’s smash hit prequel series would be on the way. To be sure, the company didn’t specifically say Season 2 was on the way, but given that a TV show’s first season is traditionally followed by — stay with me here — a second season, it wasn’t a logical long jump to get to that assumption. 

It’s understandable why Paramount+ would want to let the world know about its 1883 extension as soon as possible, since it’s been such a standout success since debuting in December. And it’s likely that, given the timing of things, the announcement couldn’t get very detailed when it came to exactly what “more 1883” even means, since the doom-setting penultimate episode hadn’t even aired yet. 

What Has Taylor Sheridan Said About 1883’s Future?

As someone who doesn’t do a ton of press interviews, Taylor Sheridan isn’t someone whose quotes tend to contradict themselves, or anything else that’s come before them. So imagine everyone’s confusion when he spoke with Deadline about 1883’s conclusion as if it was indeed all there was to tell about that particular story and its central characters. Here’s how he put it:

I created this peek through time to show you this one specific journey. I’m not someone who likes to tie everything up in a bow and explain how everyone lived happily after, or didn’t. I’d rather you imagine it, and wonder what Thomas and Noemi made of their lives. You never get to see how James and Margaret move on. You did seem them in a flashback as having moved on, and so that’s what I cared to explore. On to the next peek through the window.

That notion of peeking into one specific journey was essentially hinted at in 1883’s closing minutes, with a flash-forward that gave viewers a taste of where some of the characters ended up. Thomas and Noemi were on the verge of settling down with their more talkative children in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, while a still-mourning Josef appeared ready to plant his own stakes, possibly to resurface again in the Dutton’s lives somewhere down the line. And, of course, the episode put a rather dour, if at peace, period at the end of Shea Brennan’s sentence, with Sam Elliott’s character making good on his promise to die by his own hand, and did so on a beach while staring into the Pacific Ocean. 

But what of James and Margaret Dutton themselves? And their sons John Sr. and Spencer (assuming there aren’t other children we don’t know about yet)? The second Season 4 flashback in Yellowstone seemed to point to not-so-great things happening to Tim McGraw’s patriarch ten years later, which is something fans no doubt hoped to see explored through a later 1883 season. But as Taylor Sheridan put it, this was always meant to be something that could be enjoyed all by itself. He said:

I also wanted to create something you could watch and be completely enthralled and fulfilled, having never seen Yellowstone. Let it live on its own merits. Yes for those fans of Yellowstone, there are some real Easter eggs and understanding you can take away from that, that informs the way you watch Yellowstone. I like that model. For me, as a storyteller it feels close ended. I’m going to peek through the window of a different era and see what I see then.

But doesn’t that actually mean fans won’t ever see 1883’s characters again in another project in the Yellowstone-verse? Of course not. 

So How Could 1883 Technically Continue?

Realistically, it can’t, and I’m sure I’m not alone in having wondered how 1883 would continue its story for years and years while keeping the same locked-in-time title. (What is this, The Rookie?) But now that we know about the plans in place for 1932 to follow James Dutton’s sons, along with whatever others, it gives us a little more insight into how Taylor Sheridan is plotting things out in his mind, as it appears he’s keen to use yearly classifications for the timeline jaunts. 

The Yellowstone Ranch wasn’t officially founded until 1886, two years beyond the flash-forward at the end of the finale, so could that be the next peek into the storyline that Taylor Sheridan is talking about? Or, like the aftermath of James and Margaret’s mourning Elsa’s death, does Sheridan think that ranch-forming process is something fans don’t necessarily need to see? Hell, it’s even possible Paramount+ will announce 1894 next, which could follow Margaret raising her boys alone after James’ presumed death. There are so many options to choose from in a case like this, and I’m sure that’s exactly what Sheridan was going for when thinking about how to branch out this family’s origin stories. 

For now, it doesn’t appear as if Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will be following up on their respective Dutton family roles, but there are plenty of reasons to hope that Sheridan finds a way to bring them back, and maybe even give them a few reasons to smile and laugh more. And not just like “you’re my dying daughter and I love you, so I’m going to smile because it’s all I can do to not sob.” I mean like real smiles.

1883 is available to stream in full for anyone with a Paramount+ subscription, and that’s how fans will be able to catch 1932 and any future spinoffs. Meanwhile, Yellowstone Season 4 will hit streaming exclusively on Peacock on March 28. For shows that aren’t necessarily filled with the Duttons’ deadly drama, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see everything coming soon.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.