We may still have a while to wait to see what horrors are in store for Joel and Ellie. The Last of Us season 2 will enter production in early 2024, HBO and Max content chief Casey Bloys said in a Thursday press conference, Variety reports.
Bloys explained that production has been delayed because of the (now-resolved) WGA and (ongoing) SAG-AFTRA strikes. The show's sophomore season also didn't appear on HBO’s slate presentation for 2024, Variety notes, meaning we may not see it debut until 2025 at the earliest.
But that doesn't mean work isn't already well underway. The original Last of Us Game spawned one sequel, The Last of Us: Part II, directed by the show's co-creator Neil Druckmann, and he and showrunner Craig Mazin already have plans to adapt it to the small screen.
“We’ve outlined all of season 2 and we’re ready to go as soon as the strike ends,” Druckmann told Entertainment Weekly in September.
“We were able to map out all of season 2,” Mazin said in an August interview with the outlet. “And I also wrote and submitted the script for the first episode and sent it in [to HBO] around 10:30 or 10:40 p.m. right before the midnight the [WGA] strike began."
"I think it’s becoming essentially a near certainty that we won’t be able to start [filming] when we were hoping to start, which is upsetting," Mazin added. "We are all raring to go.”
Not much information has been confirmed about season 2 of The Last of Us, but it's almost certain to see Pedro Pascal return as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie, two survivors in a pandemic-ravaged America. Given the time jump between the first and second The Last of Us games, doubts swirled about whether Ramsey would stay on for the next phase of Ellie's adventure.
But Mazin has since squashed those rumors, telling the press back in March that season 2 "won't be exactly like the game, it will be the show that Neil and I want to make. We are making it with Bella."
Of course, with production delayed by the strikes, that could all be rendered moot if season 2 is given longer to cook. Additionally, The Last of Us: Part II is quite a lot messier than its predecessor in terms of story and pacing, and that's before we even get into the backlash from players over certain narrative decisions.
Given how big a hit the first season was, it should go without saying that HBO is likely to give Mazin and Druckmann the creative freedom to tell this story how they see fit. But given the particular challenges season 2 faces compared to season 1, it feels like the more time in the oven it can spend the better.