‘The Last of Us’ season 2 just cast 3 major characters — see who’s joining Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey

(L to R) Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel, navigating a museum, in The Last of Us on HBO
(Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

“The Last of Us” season 2 just filled several of its biggest roles.

As announced by Variety on January 9, Kaitlyn Dever is officially joining the HBO adaptation of the beloved post-apocalyptic video game as Abigail “Abby” Anderson. While newcomers to the franchise will be unfamiliar with the character, who was absent from the first game and therefore not in season 1, fans of  “The Last of Us Part II” game will have been anticipating this announcement since season 1 wrapped. 

Abby is a main character in the second game, and season 2 would have been impossible without her. By casting Dever in the role, HBO has filled a key piece of the puzzle for season 2 and can hopefully begin production soon.

This also fulfills a dream for Dever and fans of the series alike. Dever had been fan-cast for the role of Ellie for years thanks to the combination of her acting talent and physical resemblance to the character. In a feature for The Hollywood Reporter prior to the debut of season 1, game and show creator Neil Druckmann said that Dever even did a table read for Ellie. 

Even though Bella Ramsey was ultimately cast as Ellie, it’s clear that the show’s creatives liked what they saw from Dever. And given the excellence of Ramsey’s performance in season 1, having her and Dever instead of one or the other should be a major win for everyone when season 2 finally debuts. 

HBO fills two more key roles

HBO didn't stop with hiring Dever as Abby. Variety announced the next day that Young Mazino (most well-known from "Beef") would be joining the show as Jesse, one of Ellie's friends in Jackson. And then today (Jan. 11), "The Last of Us" made its third casting announcement of the week. 

According to Variety, who clearly are on HBO's speed dial at this point, Isabela Merced will be playing Dina, who is one of Ellie's most intimate companies in the second video game. Merced is also going to be in the next "Alien" movie and the upcoming "Madame Web" Spider-Man universe film, so clearly her star is on the rise. Getting her involved seems like a big win for HBO and Druckmann.

'The Last of Us' season 2 explained: Abby, Jesse and Dina

Quick spoiler alert for anyone who wants to go in blind to the next season of “The Last of Us” —  or hasn’t seen the first season —  we’re about to get into some spoilers. Turn back now if you want to play it safe.

At the end of season 1, which lines up with the end of the first game, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie escape the Fireflies and head back to the Jackson, Wyoming community where they found Joel’s brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) earlier in the season. Joel has just slaughtered an entire compound of Fireflies, a militia group working to create a cure for the Cordyceps pandemic because their cure would have killed Ellie.

One of the people killed in that raid? Jerry Anderson, the surgeon tasked with operating on Ellie. In the second game, and presumably in the second season, Abby, his daughter, will hunt down Joel in a quest for revenge. She’s a major character in the second game, so I won’t spoil anything further. Just know that she’ll be integral to the second season of “The Last of Us,” in a role on par with Joel and Ellie.

Jesse, meanwhile is one of Ellie's friends in Jackson and leads one of the community's patrol groups. While potentially not as big as Abby in season 2's story, he's still an important character to cast, as he'll be working with Ellie in her storyline throughout the season.

Someone else who will be very close with Ellie is Dina. Dina is also one of the members of the Jackson community and at one point is romantically involved with Jesse.

But for most of the second season, she'll be romantically involved with Ellie instead and she, Ellie and Jesse will be working closely together in the fulfillment of Ellie's quest that occupies most of Ellie's storyline in the second video game. That same quest will likely be the main focus of season 2, so expect plenty of screen time for the trio.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.