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The Last of Us Season 2 Will Extend Our Stay in Zombieland

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bella ramsey as ellie williams in the last of us season 1

Liane Hentscher/HBO

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 series 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 biggest increase for an HBO original drama in history.) Suffice to say folks are invested in the adaptation of the PlayStation series, which itself has sold millions of copies across two games.

Upon HBO’s greenlighting season 2, executive producer and show co-creator Craig Mazin released the following statement: “I’m so grateful to [co-creator and original game developer] Neil Druckmann and HBO for our partnership, and I’m even more grateful to the millions of people who have joined us on this journey. The audience has given us the chance to continue, and as a fan of the characters and world Neil and Naughty Dog created, I couldn’t be more ready to dive back in.”

Thus far, the still-airing season 1 has remained faithful to the 2013 game, even re-creating some scenes practically 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, released in 2020. Here’s what little we know so far.

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What will season 2 of The Last of Us be about?

Mazin has made his intentions clear: He wants to adapt Part II, and he wants to do it with Ramsey as Ellie. In an interview with ELLE in January, he said, “To get to the end of the story in the time that we need to take to get to the proper end would be awesome. If I got to work on a set with Bella Ramsey every day for the rest of my life, I’d be thrilled.”

Ramsey herself is also eager to return to the role, telling ELLE, “There’s no limits for me. They can 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 that means for season 2 is as yet unclear. Part II takes a multi-year time jump, introducing fans to Ellie at the age of 19. (She was 14 in Part I.) The story follows the now-adult Ellie as she hunts down a stranger known as Abby, following her and her faction across the country to the ruined outskirts of Seattle. The game is viscerally violent, even more so than Part I, though that’s not the only potential issue impacting a sophomore season of the HBO series. Perhaps the most immediate question 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?

The Last of Us Part II

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The Last of Us Part II

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Credit: PlayStation

Other questions abound, most of them in the spoiler territory (so I’ll keep my speculating vague). Fans found multiple major plot developments in Part II difficult to watch, and transferring those scenes to the screen could prove a particular challenge for Mazin and Druckmann. There’s also an essential perspective-shift that takes place midway through Part II, one that forces the player’s empathy to realign with a different character. Replicating that same impact in a live-action adaptation will be tricky, though not impossible, to perfect.

Who will be in the cast?

Ramsey and Pascal are all but guaranteed to return to their roles, but the rest of the cast announcements remain completely under wraps. In the meantime, avoid searching out potential cast lists unless you want to endure a lot of spoilers.

When will season 2 of The Last of Us come out?

Unfortunately, we have no idea. The Last of Us season 1 took about a year to film, starting in July 2021, and then took an additional half a year to debut on HBO. If Mazin and Druckmann follow a similar pattern in adapting Part II—and it could easily take much longer—the earliest season 2 would arrive is late 2024 or early 2025. But HBO has yet to confirm.

This story will be updated.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Lauren Puckett-Pope

Associate Editor

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion. 

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