What to Expect from The Last of Us Season 2

5 minute read
Updated: | Originally published:

Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Last of Us finale

The season finale of HBO’s The Last of Us was a gut punch for both those who have played the video game, and those who came to the story through the show. Following the devastating finale, many are wondering what Season 2 of the TV series will look like. It was announced last January that the hit show would be coming back for a second season, and with the first season closely following the storyline of the game, it’s to be expected that the creators of the show will follow suit in Season 2.

The second part of the game has a much darker tone following the harrowing final scene in the first. The TV adaptation ends in the same way as the game, with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) asking Joel (Pedro Pascal) to promise that he didn’t lie to her about there being others who are also immune to Cordyceps and that the doctors didn’t need her after all. He reassures her that it’s true, and they make their way to Jackson, Wyoming, to settle down with Joel’s brother Tommy. Without spoiling anything for The Last of Us Part II, it’s fair to say that there is a time jump, and a violent attack sets the game’s story in motion.

While fans of the show wait for the next season to be released, here’s everything we know so far.

Read more: How The Last of Us Finale Tried to Capture the Game’s Gut-Punch Ending

Who will be back for Season 2 and when will they begin filming?

In an interview with W Magazine, Ramsey told the publication that they will be returning to play Ellie, and while Pascal has yet to say anything about the reprisal of his role, it’s expected that he will be back. There have not been any announcements as to when the show will begin filming, but when Pascal was asked during an interview if there’s a chance that filming will begin later this year, he said that there is.

Many of the major actors who appeared in Season 1 played characters who died, so with the exception of any flashbacks they would not be returning. But there are many crucial characters in Part II who will most likely be featured in Season 2. The casting for those roles is highly anticipated, with multiple publications sharing their dream casts for these characters.

In early 2024, HBO announced that Kaitlyn Dever will join the cast for Season 2, playing the role of Abby, a major character who appears in Part II and is a rival of Ellie. Abby is described as "a skilled soldier whose black-and-white view of the world is challenged as she seeks vengeance for those she loved," per The Hollywood Reporter.

What is the time jump between the seasons?

The second game makes a significant leap forward in time. It starts five years after the end of the first game, and we see Joel and Ellie settled down in Jackson, Wyoming with Joel’s brother, Tommy, and the rest of its inhabitants. Given that the first season stuck to the storyline of the first game, it’s to be assumed that the second season will do the same.

What are the themes and storylines that are explored in Part II?

One of the biggest storylines that got a moment to shine in the second half of the first season is Ellie’s love life. Episode seven was modeled after the downloadable content from The Last Of Us titled “Left Behind” and gave viewers a look into her friendship with Riley, played by Storm Reid. The episode follows their last day together as Riley convinces Ellie to sneak out of her QZ dorm and explore an abandoned mall. They encounter an infected and both got bitten, but Ellie found out she was immune and had to kill Riley when she turned. This was Ellie’s first romantic connection and it was a heartbreaking way to venture into her sexuality, but Part II includes some surprises on these themes, as well as even more heartbreaks.

Is the tone for Season 2 going to be darker?

The moral conundrum that is posed to Ellie and Joel at the end of the first game laid the foundation for the main protagonists’ splintered relationship, which gets explored throughout the second part of the game. But a particular event that we will not spoil here causes the game to go down an even darker route and leads Ellie to question herself and her motives even more. The second game is a tale of vengeance and explores that theme in multiple ways, which should once again make for exciting television.

When asked about the amount of violence and zombie action in Season 1 during a press conference last week, co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said the next season will have “a lot more infected.” Of the differences between the game and series, Mazin added, “We will present things, but it will be different, just as this season was different. Sometimes it will be different radically, and sometimes it will be barely different at all, but it’s going to be different. It will be its own thing. It won’t be exactly like the game.”

Will there be a Part 3 of The Last of Us?

Druckmann told IGN that the only way they would do a Part 3 is if he and Mazin had “a really good, compelling story,” but answered “no comment” about the existence of a third installment. He said that there is a “mulitplayer game coming out” and there will be more updates on the game “later this year.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com