HBO Has Renewed 'The Last of Us' for a Second Season Because the First Is That Fantastic

The video game-to-TV adaptation enjoyed the US network's second largest debut ever, behind 'House of the Dragon'.
Sarah Ward
Published on January 28, 2023

HBO's Cordyceps infection isn't going anywhere soon — not for the seven more weeks that The Last of Us' first video game-to-TV season has left to air, and not for a further season after that either. In excellent news for fans of the PlayStation title, the Pedro Pascal (The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent)- and Bella Ramsey (Catherine Called Birdy)-starring show it has inspired, and both, the US network behind it has officially announced that its first massive hit of 2023 will return for a second season.

This development is hardly surprising, but still obviously hugely welcome. When it comes to mashing buttons, the 2013 game also inspired a 2014 expansion pack and 2020 sequel. Also, even just two episodes in so far, HBO's version has been attracting viewers faster than any sudden movement attracts zombies.

When the series' debut episode aired on Sunday, January 15 in the US and Monday, January 16 Down Under — where it screens and streams via Foxtel and Binge in Australia, and on Neon in New Zealand — it became HBO's second largest debut ever. The first? A little show called House of the Dragon in 2022.

In America alone, The Last of Us' movie-length first instalment has notched up more than 22 million viewers, while its second episode earned 5.7 million viewers just on one night — more than a million than that premiere chapter, and giving HBO its largest-ever growth from week one to week two of any series it has ever made.

In other words, even after leaping to television with a huge gaming fanbase behind it, The Last of Us' popularity is spreading. Given how impressive the HBO series' first season is — how thoughtful, character-based, well-cast, and committed to exploring not just what's happening in its contagion-ravaged dystopian world but why life is worth fighting for — that too is unsurprising.

For newcomers to the franchise on consoles and as a TV series, it's set 20 years after modern civilisation as we know it has been toppled by a parasitic fungal infection that turns the afflicted into shuffling hordes. Pascal plays Joel, who gets saddled with smuggling 14-year-old Ellie (his Game of Thrones co-star Ramsey) out of a strict quarantine zone to help possibly save humanity's last remnants. There wouldn't be a game, let alone a television version, if that was an easy task, of course — and if the pair didn't need to weather quite the brutal journey.

As a television series, The Last of Us hails from co-creator, executive producer, writer and director Craig Mazin, who already brought a hellscape to HBO (and to everyone's must-watch list) thanks to the haunting and horrifying Chernobyl. He teams up here with Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog, who also penned and directed The Last of Us games.

Alongside Pascal and Ramsey, the series also boasts Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) as Joel's younger brother and former soldier Tommy, Merle Dandridge (The Flight Attendant) as resistance leader Marlene and Aussie actor Anna Torv (Mindhunter) as smuggler Tess. And, Nico Parker (The Third Day) plays Joel's 14-year old daughter Sarah, Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) and Nick Offerman (The Resort) feature as isolated survivalists Frank and Bill, Storm Reid (Euphoria) pops up as Boston orphan Riley, Jeffrey Pierce (Castle Rock) plays quarantine-zone rebel Perry and Yellowjackets' Melanie Lynskey also guest stars.

HBO hasn't announced when season two will arrive, but cross your fingers that it drops early in 2024.

Check out the full trailer for The Last of Us below:

The Last of Us screens and streams via Foxtel and Binge in Australia, and on Neon in New Zealand. Read our review of the first season.

Images: Liane Hentscher/HBO.

Published on January 28, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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