The Last of Us ‘may require season four’, creators say

The Last of Us creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have teased that their hit HBO adaptation of the Naughty Dog video game franchise ‘may require season four’.

The first instalment of the critically-acclaimed, video-game adapted series The Last of Us hit screens in 2023, telling the story of smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal) and teenager Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) brutal fight for survival as they battled their way across an apocalyptic United States of America.

The nine episodes expanded faithfully upon the source material of the franchise, a 2013 video game of the same name, and was renewed for a second season shortly afterwards to adapt the video game’s 2020 sequel, The Last of Us: Part II.

Fans of the game will know that the second entry in the franchise is both a lot more brutal than the first (if that’s even possible) and also a lot longer, with the sequel jumping between the viewpoints of Ellie and newcomer Abby as the pair become entangled on a brutal quest for revenge, all set against the backdrop of a world ravaged by the fungal-zombie-making Cordyceps fungus.

While it was already confirmed by co-showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the latter of whom heads up TLOU production studio Naughty Dog, that The Last of Us: Part II would be adapted into “more than one season”, the pair have now hinted that this could be three separate seasons, just for the events of the game.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us season two. (HBO)

Speaking to Deadline, Mazin said: “We don’t think that we’re going to be able to tell the story even within two seasons [two and three] because we’re taking our time and go down interesting pathways which we did a little bit in season one too.

“We feel like it’s almost assuredly going to be the case that — as long as people keep watching and we can keep making more television — season three will be significantly larger. And indeed, the story may require season four.”

Later in the interview, Mazin doubled down on the point, adding: “One thing is absolutely for sure, I don’t see how we could tell the story that remains after season two is complete in one more season,” he said.

It’s worth noting that The Last of Us has (currently) only been officially greenlit for a season two, so a third and potential fourth season depend on viewership and reception.

How many episodes will The Last of Us, season two, have?

Mazin also confirmed the episode count for season two, which comes in at two less than season one, at seven episodes long, due to “natural breakpoints” in the plot of the game.

Speaking about the narrative arc of The Last of US: Part II, they explained: “The story material that we got from Part II of the game is way more than the story material that was in the first game, so part of what we had to do from the start was figure out how to tell that story across seasons,” Mazin said.

“When you do that, you look for natural breakpoints, and as we laid it out, this season, the natural breakpoint felt like it came after seven episodes.”

Will further seasons of The Last of Us go beyond the video games?

The pair also confirmed that, although a third video game has been heavily rumoured for some time, they will not adapt anything for TV that does not have the source material, à la Game of Thrones.

“As a fan, I’m thrilled that there might be a third Last of Us game. As the co-creator of this television show, there’s no world where I would want our show to go beyond the source material that people have in the world,” Mazin said.

“Our show as people know it on HBO is going to cover the material from the second game and then quite a bit of material that is relevant to that story but, as I said, wanders down interesting new paths, unseen stories that were told within the context of that game’s material.”

The Last of Us season two (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

What will happen in season two, three and four of The Last of Us?

Warning: Spoilers for The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Part II.

The Last of Us: Part II sees Ellie involved in a brutal storyline involving newcomer and member of the Washington Liberation Front (WLF), Abby Anderson (who will be played by Kaitlyn Dever in the TV adaptation).

Abby is the daughter of the surgeon that Joel shot during the first game/season’s final moments. Joel did so because the surgeon was about to operate on Ellie to extract the mutation that made her immune to the Cordyceps fungus to reverse engineer a cure – but the operation would have killed her.

After Abby and her friends launch a brutal attack, players control Ellie as she sets off across the States to find them, but after three days in an unrecognisable Seattle, the game jumps back in time, with players then controlling Abby over the same three days. There is also a tense epilogue set several months after the two storylines converge, set in sunny Santa Barbara.

So will season two follow Ellie’s story, season three Abby’s and season four the Santa Barbara chapter of the story? Or will viewers see what Abby’s up to at the same time as Ellie, unlike in the game? Only time will tell.

Who has been cast in season two of The Last of Us?

Alongside Pascal and Ramsey season two (and beyond) of The Last of Us will star Isabela Merced as Ellie’s girlfriend Dina, Young Mazino as Jesse and Gabriel Luna as Tommy again (Joel’s brother).

WLF-wise, Dever will be joined by Danny Ramirez as Manny, Ariela Barer as Mel, Tati Gabrielle as Nora, Spencer Lord as Owen and Jeffrey Wright as Isaac Dixon.

Catherine O’Hara has also been cast in an undisclosed guest role. We doubt it’s a disgruntled pelican, though.

The Last of Us, series two (or three, or four) has not yet received a release date.

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