- Lawmen: Bass Reeves is a standalone series that is not connected to Yellowstone, despite initial announcements suggesting otherwise.
- Lawmen: Bass Reeves focuses on the story of one major protagonist, unlike Yellowstone which follows an ensemble cast.
- Bass Reeves is rooted in historical accuracy, while Yellowstone is purely fictional, allowing for more creative freedom in storytelling.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves is a very different show from Yellowstone despite the two series being originally announced to be under the same narrative universe. Lawmen: Bass Reeves arguably owes itself to the overwhelming success and critical acclaim of Yellowstone, which through five seasons has created an entire Western franchise for Paramount+ and CBS with several spinoffs and prequel series. Despite the ever-changing status of the final six episodes of Yellowstone, lead actor Kevin Costner has officially revealed that he will not be a part of Yellowstone’s conclusion even though the series was slated to return at the end of 2023.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves has emerged as a strong series in its own right after just three episodes, two of which recently aired on CBS to an audience of more than 3.3 million viewers. The Bass Reeves story, which is executive produced by Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan and lead actor David Oyelowo, was originally marketed as an expansion on the 1883 miniseries starring Sam Elliot, which serves as a prequel to Yellowstone. However, there is zero connection whatsoever to Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Yellowstone, making the historical Western a completely standalone series.
8 Bass Reeves Only Has 1 Major Protagonist
Yellowstone Follows The Larger Dutton Family
One of the most glaring differences between Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Yellowstone is that Bass Reeves intends to follow only one major character throughout its entire season. Yellowstone is certainly an ensemble show, following the various interwinding storylines of many characters relating to Costner’s Dutton family played by prominent actors such as Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley, Kelsey Asbille, Cole Hauser, and Kelly Reilly. While Bass Reeves has a great cast featuring Donald Sutherland, Barry Pepper, and Dennis Quaid, they are all supporting characters to Oyelowo’s titular Bass. Lawmen: Bass Reeves also has guest appearances from notable actors such as Garrett Hedlund and Lauren E. Banks but they do not take up a fraction of the screen time that Bass does.
7 Bass Reeves Is Rooted In Historical Accuracy
Yellowstone Is Completely Fictional
The biggest difference in the plots of Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Yellowstone has everything to do with historical accuracy. Bass Reeves was a real-life Old West lawman who became famous for being one of the first black Deputy U.S. Marshals in the southern United States. He also was famous for making over 3000 arrests without getting injured on the job once. These remarkable feats of the real-life Bass Reeves actually happened, whereas the characters and stories told in Yellowstone are entirely works of fiction. In this way, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is rooted in the historical accuracy of the actual person and his life events whereas Yellowstone has always had the creative freedom to take the show wherever it wanted to go.
6 Bass Reeves Takes Place Before Yellowstone
Bass Reeves Will Cover 1862 To 1877
While the original plan for the Bass Reeves series was set to take place during the same time period as the 1883 prequel series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves will actually only happen between the years 1862 and 1877. In this case, it is extremely unlikely that the worlds of Yellowstone and Bass Reeves will ever overlap, especially considering that Bass would not have feasibly ever encountered the Dutton’s ancestors. Bass Reeves died in 1910, which would also make it impossible for him to have crossed paths with the Dutton family of the other prequel series, 1923. History is a much bigger part of the story in Lawmen: Bass Reeves than it is in Yellowstone.
5 Taylor Sheridan Did Not Create Bass Reeves
Chad Feehan Is Bass Reeves’ Showrunner
Despite Taylor Sheridan’s partial attachment to Lawmen: Bass Reeves, he is not nearly as involved in the series as he is in Yellowstone. Sheridan’s only credit in the Bass Reeves series is as executive producer, which means that his responsibilities are mostly creative oversight and financial backing. The creative direction of Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ plot is instead in the hands of former Ray Donovan writer Chad Feehan as well as star actor David Oyelowo, who spent eight years trying to bring his vision of the famous Old West lawman to the screen. There are also 18 other producers attached to the project, meaning that Sheridan’s influence is likely not felt in Bass Reeves nearly as much as it is in Yellowstone.
4 Yellowstone Is More Soapy Than Bass Reeves
Bass Reeves Is More Of A Classic Western
Yellowstone has been called soapy by Sam Elliot and many other viewers of the series who compared the modern neo-Western to the likes of the popular melodrama series Dallas. Through its first three episodes, Lawmen: Bass Reeves has generally avoided sentimentality in its overall plot to focus on the amazing feats of the real-life lawman and his rise from being a slave and involuntary Confederate soldier to becoming a farmer and eventual Deputy U.S. Marshal. There are glimpses of melodrama in the Bass Reeves story through brief moments with Bass and his family, but most of the series is intent on delivering action sequences and historical events.
3 Bass Reeves Will Be Shorter Than Yellowstone
Bass Reeves Is Set To Start A Lawmen Anthology Series
Lawmen: Bass Reeves is currently slated to be only 8 episodes long and will be considered a miniseries rather than a standard television show with multiple seasons. There could certainly be potential for Lawmen: Bass Reeves to extend into a potential season 2 considering that the current series is set to end only two years after the real-life Bass gets sworn in as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1975. This will leave more than three decades’ worth of Bass Reeves’ career in law enforcement on the table, which is an interesting creative choice if the series does conclude after just 8 episodes. Before Costner’s abrupt exit, Yellowstone could likely have run for several more seasons.
2 Yellowstone Takes Place In Montana
Bass Reeves Takes Place In The Southern U.S.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves keeps its locations true to the original story of the Old West lawman, which consists of Indigenous Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), western Arkansas (particularly Fort Smith), and eastern Texas (Grayson County). Yellowstone takes place for the most part on the Dutton family’s ranch in Montana by comparison, which marks another clear difference between it and Bass Reeves. While there are some regional crossovers with regard to the prequel series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves explores the deeper regions of the southern United States more intensely, including a significant Civil War battle in its first episode.
1 Bass Reeves Is An Underdog Story
Yellowstone Tells A Dynasty Tale
The largest thematic difference between Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Yellowstone is the type of story it tells. Bass Reeves’ story is undeniably that of the underdog who defies all conditions, obstacles, and expectations to emerge as one of the best to ever do it. Yellowstone is similar to HBO’s Succession in that it chronicles the difficulties of people who are already at the top and struggle to maintain their impressive status. While John Dutton is much more of a king within his kingdom throughout Yellowstone, Bass Reeves’s story is essentially the total opposite in Lawmen: Bass Reeves, making him a true American underdog.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves
- Release Date:
- David Oyelowo, Dennis Quaid, Forrest Goodluck, Lauren E. Banks, Barry Pepper, Grantham Coleman, Demi Singleton, Garrett Hedlund
- Drama, Western
- Chad Feehan, Jacob Forman, Taylor Sheridan
- Streaming Service:
- Taylor Sheridan, Damian Marcano, Christina Alexandra Voros
- Chad Feehan, Taylor Sheridan