Prepare for more of those clicker sounds bouncing around your brain. After setting HBO viewership records, zombie apocalypse thriller The Last of Us is headed for a second season, bringing Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal back as emotionally traumatized psuedo-father-daughter duo Ellie and Joel.
The HBO adaptation is the media giant’s second largest debut, falling only behind Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon in viewership, and having experienced a 22 percent audience jump from its first episode to its second. (That’s the largest increase for an HBO original drama in history.) Suffice to say folks are invested in the variation of the PlayStation series, which itself has sold thousands and thousands of copies across two games.
Upon HBO’s greenlighting season 2, executive producer and show co-creator Craig Mazin released the next statement: “I’m so grateful to [co-creator and original game developer] Neil Druckmann and HBO for our partnership, and I’m much more grateful to the thousands and thousands of people that have joined us on this journey. The audience has given us the possibility to proceed, and as a fan of the characters and world Neil and Naughty Dog created, I couldn’t be more able to dive back in.”
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Throughout its nine episodes, season 1 remained largely faithful to the 2013 game, even re-creating some scenes essentially image for image. But season 2 is more of an enigma, given the source material upon which it’d hypothetically be based: The Last of Us Part II, the sequel set several years after the events of Part I. After bringing the video game’s controversial (and, to be fair, beloved) cliffhanger ending to the screen within the season 1 finale, the showrunners are already jumping into the fray on season 2. Here’s what we all know thus far.
What is going to season 2 of The Last of Us be about?
Mazin has made his intentions clear: he desires to adapt Part II, and he desires to do it with Ramsey as Ellie. In an interview with ELLE.com in January, he said, “To get to the top of the story within the time that we’d like to take to get to the right end could be awesome. If I set to work on a set with Bella Ramsey daily for the remaining of my life, I’d be thrilled.”
Ramsey can be desperate to return to the role, telling ELLE.com, “There’s no limits for me. They’ll do as many games as they like, as many series as they like, and I’ll be here, flying back out to Canada.”
But what exactly which means for season 2 is as yet unclear. Part II takes a multi-year time jump, introducing fans to Ellie on the age of 19. (She was 14 in Part I.) The story follows the now-adult Ellie as she hunts down a stranger referred to as Abby, following her and her faction across the country to the ruined outskirts of Seattle. The sport is viscerally violent, much more so than Part I, though that’s not the one potential issue impacting a sophomore season of the HBO series. Perhaps essentially the most immediate query deals with time. Might season 2 explore the period between Part I and II, and an eventual season 3 adapt Part II directly? Or will the show dive directly into Part II, styling Ramsey to look her own age?
What we do know is that the subsequent season won’t give you the option to cover the whole lot of Part II. When asked how the second game could be adapted for TV, Druckman coyly replied to GQ, “It’s multiple season.” He didn’t share more after that. “You’ve gotten noted appropriately that we’ll not say what number of,” Mazin jokingly added. “But multiple is factually correct.”
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Season 2 “might be different” from Part II, Mazin told Entertainment Weekly in a post-finale interview, “just as this season was different [from the first game]. Sometimes it’s going to be different radically, and sometimes it’s going to be [barely] different in any respect. But it surely’s going to be different and it’s going to be its own thing. It won’t be exactly just like the game.”
Other questions abound, most of them within the spoiler territory (so I’ll keep my speculating vague). Fans found multiple major plot developments in Part II difficult to observe, and transferring those scenes to the screen could prove a selected challenge for Mazin and Druckmann. There’s also an important perspective shift that takes place midway through Part II, one which forces the player’s empathy to realign with a distinct character. Replicating that very same impact in a live-action adaptation might be tricky, though not inconceivable, to perfect.
Who might be within the solid? Will Bella Ramsey’s role as Ellie be recast?
On the Completely happy Sad Confused podcast with Josh Horowitz in February, Ramsey looked as if it would confirm that the show would take a time jump between seasons 1 and a pair of—and that she’d be an element of the production. She shared that she’s going to “be 20, probably” by the point season 2 begins production, “and I’ll be playing 19. So yeah, I might be closer to my age.”
Within the post-finale interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mazin batted away any ideas of recasting Ellie, and teased a more mature search for Ramsey. “We all know what we’re gonna do by way of costume and makeup and hair, but more importantly, we also know the spirit and soul of the actor,” he said.
Ramsey and Pascal, then, seem guaranteed to return to their roles, but the remaining of the solid announcements remain completely under wraps. (Even Merle Dandridge is open to the attention of returning to her role as Marlene in a possible flashback. She told ELLE.com, “You never know! That show is so non-linear!”) And a couple of talented stunt performers and extras will get the possibility to embody clickers once more: Mazin teased during a press conference that “it’s quite possible that there might be lots more infected later” in season 2. “And maybe different kinds.”
Within the meantime, avoid looking for potential solid lists unless you desire to endure plenty of spoilers.
When will season 2 of The Last of Us come out?
Unfortunately, now we have no idea. The Last of Us season 1 took a couple of 12 months to film, starting in July 2021, after which took an extra half a 12 months to debut on HBO. If Mazin and Druckmann follow an identical pattern in adapting Part II—and it could easily take for much longer—the earliest season 2 would arrive is late 2024 or early 2025. But HBO has yet to verify.
This story might be updated.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture author at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE.