Why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone, what happened to him and could he be back in Yellowstone season 5?

The moment fans saw Jimmy leave Yellowstone in season 4 was a turning point for the ranch hand but was this the last we'll see of him?

Why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone? Seen here are his actor Jefferson White and the Duttons side-by-side
(Image credit: Future// Image 1:Photo by Roy Rochlin/WireImage via Getty // Image 2: Paramount)

Why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone might be the question on your mind if you’ve been making your way through the hit neo-Western series from the beginning.

Ranch hand Jimmy Hurdstrom might not take center stage when the Duttons are in town but with his hard work and dreams of becoming a rodeo cowboy he won many fans’ hearts from season 1 onwards. The Yellowstone Ranch might not be real but the stakes couldn’t feel higher in this drama and Jimmy also found himself in a fair few dangerous situations in his time on the show. 

Sadly, season 4 saw his actor Jefferson White depart Yellowstone as Jimmy, leaving the Dutton’s and their serious drama behind him. And if you've only just been drawn into the hit show you might well be wondering what sparked his emotional exit.

But why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone, what happened to the Dutton’s ranch hand and could he ever come back in Yellowstone season 5? What you need to know…

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead!*

Why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone?

Whilst Yellowstone season 4 wouldn’t have been nearly so emotionally hard-hitting and dramatic without the all-important Dutton family, ranch hand and wannabe cowboy Jimmy was just as much a part of the neo-Western series. So when Jimmy left the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch in season 4 it likely came as a surprise to many long-time fans. He received John Dutton’s blessing to return to work on the 6666 Ranch in Texas permanently instead of returning to their Montana ranch. 

Jimmy said his farewells to the Duttons who'd essentially been his family for so many years and set off to make a life at the new ranch with his fiancée Emily, the chief vet technician at 6666 down south.

Opening up on how Jimmy left Yellowstone, Jefferson previously told Us Weekly that he was “proud” of the ranch hand’s decision to put himself and Emily first for once. 

“When Jimmy drives away off into the sunset, I’m proud of him for making a decision for what he wants for him and Emily. I think that’s a beautiful thing,” he explained. “Also, the uncertainty that that represents is a scary thing. He’s in this real transition moment for the first time in his life. He’s being offered the opportunity to make his own decisions.”

Of course, this means that Jimmy has no-one to blame but himself if his dive into the unknown goes badly wrong - something Jefferson remarked upon too.

YELLOWSTONE, Jefferson White, Eden Brolin

(Image credit: photo: Cam McLeod / ©Paramount Network / Courtesy Everett Collection via Alamy)

He said, “[T]hen the sort of flip side of that is to take accountability for those decisions. The consequences of those decisions Jimmy can’t blame anyone for but himself, so fingers crossed it goes well for him. We all have these moments where we step out into the unknown, we make the difficult decision to step away from familiarity and safety and security into the unknown. I hope that it goes well for old Jimmy.”

Anyone who'd been wondering why did Jimmy leave Yellowstone now has their answer, but since then there have been some exciting developments about the future of the character and his fate in the show.

Does Jimmy die in Yellowstone? 

With a lot of violence and even more tension building ever since Yellowstone season 1 it seems like everyone’s been in danger at least once and though Jimmy didn’t die in Yellowstone, his journey across the seasons hasn’t been easy. Ranch hand Jimmy Hurdstrom (played by the wonderful Jefferson White) suffered serious injuries in the Yellowstone season 3 finale after breaking a promise he’d made to John Dutton.

Jimmy had sworn he’d never try his hand at the rodeo again after an incident but he just couldn’t keep away. Unfortunately for him, this led to - you guessed it! - another horrific accident. This took place in the season 3 finale, leaving his fate unknown and lying in the balance going into season 4.

He was found unconscious in the opening episode of season 4 and rushed to hospital where he’s revealed to have sustained multiple fractures.

Although he began to heal and was eventually discharged from hospital, he had to face John who confronted him over breaking his promise. The firm but fair patriarch isn’t about to cast Jimmy out though and he takes a more thoughtful approach. Jimmy is sent to the 6666 (AKA the Four Sixes Ranch) in Texas where he can pursue his dream of being a rodeo cowboy.

Could Jimmy come back to Yellowstone? 

Given Jimmy set off into the sunset with Emily at the end of Yellowstone season 4 it’s all-too-easy to assume that this meant the end of the character’s time on the hit show but it seems this isn’t the case. Already it’s been announced that both Jefferson White and Emily’s actor Kathryn Kelly would be Yellowstone season 5 cast-members, suggesting that we haven’t seen the last of Jimmy and Emily at all. This might leave some fans a little confused, though, as despite this Jimmy hasn’t been seen back with the Duttons so far in the latest season.

Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith

(Image credit: photo: Emerson Miller / ©Paramount Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection via Alamy)

But Jefferson might have just dropped a valuable clue about Jimmy’s return to Yellowstone in the drama’s official podcast. As per Express.co.uk, he seemed to suggest that his scenes don't happen where the main events take place.

As he discussed trying to keep any potential Yellowstone season 5 spoilers under wraps he said, “Never setting foot in Montana one time this whole season, it really makes it a lot easier. So it’s been a lot easier to keep a handle on the spoilers when Jimmy is uh… I didn’t see it go down.”

In light of these comments, it seems like maybe Jimmy could return later on in Yellowstone season 5 but in scenes that take place at the 6666 ranch, meaning that Jefferson wouldn’t have had to go to Montana to film for the new season. Even if we only get a small snippet of Jimmy in Yellowstone season 5, though, it’s possible that he could be seen more in the wider Yellowstone franchise. 

Jefferson White attends Paramount's "Yellowstone" Season 5 New York

(Image credit: Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Following in the mighty footsteps of the 1923 Yellowstone prequel starring Dame Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford which is premiering soon and 1883 prequel with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, there is set to be a 6666 spin-off. The casting hasn’t been announced yet for 6666 but Jefferson White hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Jimmy making an appearance. 

“We don’t know anything. Listen, I certainly don’t know anything,” he told Us Weekly in March 2022. “I think it’s very funny. People keep expecting me to know what’s going on, and nobody would tell Jimmy anything, right? Like, it feels like another way in which me and Jimmy are similar is that nobody tells me anything. So, I would be incredibly excited to go back to work in Montana. I would be incredibly thrilled to go back to work in Texas.”

Jefferson White attends the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

(Image credit: Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

But given that Jimmy now lives and works on the Texas ranch it would perhaps make sense for him to pop up in the spin-off show, even very briefly. It seems we’ll have to wait and see! Until then, fans can wait eagerly to see how and where Jimmy will appear in Yellowstone season 5 as it continues...

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!