The Last of Us Season 2: when is it coming and what can you expect?

Why the second season of The Last of Us will make the first look like Sesame Street

The Last of Us Part 2
(Image credit: Sony)

I've barely stopped crying at the finale of The Last of Us, but I'm already getting excited about – and if I'm honest, utterly dreading – the next season of the show. We know that HBO has greenlit a second series, and if it's as close to The Last of Us Part II as the first season was to the original then it's going to make season 1 look like Sesame Street.

Here's what we know.

When will The Last of Us Season 2 be released?

Definitely not before 2024, and possibly not even then. As of March 2023 Season 2 hadn't been fully cast or written, let alone started filming. According to executive producer Craig Mazin in the Washington Post, season 1 took 200 days to film and then spent more months in post production. All in all it took 18 months from the first day of filming to its premiere on HBO Max.

Will Joel and Ellie be back in The Last of Us Season 2?

Yes, although if you've played the game you'll know that I can't say more without the mother of all spoilers. According to Mazin on the Last of Us podcast, "There will be Pedro [Pascal]. There will be Bella [Ramsey]. And there will be blood."

I'd also expect to see Gabriel Luna return as Joel's brother Tommy – he plays a much bigger role in the second game – alongside new characters such as Abby, who is a crucial part of Part 2, and fleeing cult members Lev and Yara. 

Will The Last of Us Season 2 follow the story of the game?

Yes, at least in part. The second game happens five years after the events of the first game (and first season of the show) and shows us that Joel and Ellie still live in the same place, although there are definitely signs of strain in their relationship. What happens next introduces a terrifying new threat more dangerous than any of the Infected. As with the first season and the first game, what's really frightening in The Last of Us Part 2 isn't the infected. It's the people who aren't.

Neil Druckmann, who wrote the game and helmed the TV adaptation, has hinted that Season 2 may experiment more with the form. In the game there are some perspective shifts, and speaking to the Last of Us Podcast he said that "The moment-to-moment beats and characters, they might stay the same, they might change. We will do what needs to happen to that story as it transfers from one medium to another." 

One rumour I've seen suggests that Season 2 and Season 3 will each focus on one of the key characters from the game, although I haven't seen any evidence to back that one up. 

Where can I stream The Last of Us Season 2?

As with season one this is an HBO show, so you'll be able to stream it on HBO Max in the US. In the UK I'd expect Sky to acquire the rights if it hasn't already done so, and that means it'll be on Sky and on Now TV. 

Will Season 2 be controversial?

If you haven't seen the first season or played the Left Behind DLC and the second game, you might want to skip this bit.

The second game managed to end up in not one, not two but three different controversies over the inclusion of LGBT+ characters.

The first controversy started long before the game was ever released. Based entirely on a couple of screenshots of new character Abby, people on the internet decided that Abby was a trans woman because she didn't look like a girl from anime. The game was immediately denounced by terrible people for its supposed "woke anti-Christian agenda", based on no evidence whatsoever.

The same terrible people then decided that there was more evidence of a woke agenda because Ellie's sexuality is clear in the second game: where the Left Behind DLC left a bit of room for interpretation about who Ellie loves, in Part 2 there's no such doubt. 

Thirdly, there was Lev. Lev is a trans boy and many of the horrors he endures are because of that. To the best of my knowledge Lev is the first trans masculine character with such a high profile in any massive video game, so of course the usual suspects got upset about that too. Some trans people also expressed concerns, arguing that it'd be nice if we could see trans people whose main characteristic wasn't pain or suffering.

Which, ironically enough, is what The Last of Us on TV delivered. Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, is non-binary and has become something of a role model for other non-binary people. And Pedro Pascal is a fierce LGBT+ ally who brought his sister, who is trans, to the 2023 Oscars. So if people are expecting Season 2 to drop the "woke" stuff, they're going to be awfully disappointed. 

Will The Last of Us Season 2 be good?

Given that it's the same people, the same writers and the same cast as before, I think it's likely to be amazing. And I also think it's going to be one of the bleakest, most upsetting, most emotional series we've ever seen.

I'm not joking or exaggerating here. I spent most of my time playing Part 2 through floods of tears, and by the awful, inevitable climax I could barely hold my controller because I was sobbing so much. I haven't been able to go back to it since: it's a masterpiece, but a brutal and horrific one. And I can't see how season 2 can be any less devastating.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (