HBO’s THE LAST OF US Series Will Likely Debut in 2023

Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us debuted in 2013. The action-adventure game quickly acquired devoted fans enthralled by its story focused on Joel and Ellie. Joel, a smuggler, and Ellie, a teenage girl, try to make their way across a post-apocalyptic United States. An infection has ravaged the country, but Ellie’s immune and could possibly help with a cure. The escort and teen duo encounter danger along the way in the form of violent humans and scary fungus-infected creatures. Players became invested in their story. And now, HBO is bringing The Last of Us of to the screen. The network greenlit the project in November 2020.

What’s It About?
Sony Pictures Television

We don’t know specific details about the plot yet or how many episodes the show will run. The Hollywood Reporter did state in initial reports that HBO is focusing on the original game rather than the sequel—at least initially. And we’re assuming the story will follow the award-winning video game’s narrative. It’s set in the 2030s. Joel, a smuggler who has seen some s**t, gets Ellie out of a quarantine zone for their journey. They must depend upon each other for survival as they travel from east to west. By all accounts it’s an intense and emotional story, so brace yourself.

Druckmann told IGN at SXSW 2021 that season one will indeed be the first game, down to some dialogue being the same. But they’ll be deviating to varying degrees because it’s a different medium. He said, “For example, in the game, there’s so much action you have to have to train the player about mechanics. You have to have more violence and more spectacle to some degree than you would need on a TV show because you don’t need to train people on how to use a gun. So that’s something that’s been really different, and HBO’s been great in pushing us to move away from hardcore action and focus more on the drama of the character. Some of my favorite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them.”

Who’s Behind the Scenes?

Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of The Last of Us game, will write and executive produce the series. Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) will also write and executive produce. Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Word Games, and Naughty Dog are producing. The series, which is now in production, released its first look at Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey Joel and Ellie. Sure, we can’t see their faces. But the world Druckmann and Mazin are building looks incredible.


Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed both installments of The Last of Us video games, will bring his musical talents to the HBO series.

Who’s Starring?
Naughty Dog/Lucasfilm

HBO has already cast the two lead roles of Ellie and Joel. Pedro Pascal will portray Joel, which is perfect. And Bella Ramsey, perhaps best known for playing Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones, is set to play Ellie. That is also perfect. We can’t wait to see the duo together.

Naughty Dog/Lucasfilm

Additionally, The Hollywood Reporter says Merle Dandridge will reprise her role from the video game. Dandridge voiced Marlene in both Last of Us games and will now play Marlene in the TV series. Deadline reports Nico Parker (Dumbo) will play Joel’s daughter. Entertainment Weekly notes that Anna Torv (Mindhunter) will play Tess. In the games, Tess is Joel’s long-term smuggling partner. They made their living through smuggling in Boston.

On top of this, Deadline shared that “Jeffrey Pierce, the voice of Tommy in The Last of Us video game series, is set to recur as a different character” and Murray Bartlett also joins the cast. According to the report, “Pierce will recur as Perry, a rebel in a quarantine zone.” Bartlett will guest star as Frank. Joining them is Nick Offerman, who plays Bill. Bill and Frank are “two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town.”

Murray Bartlett discussed the role in an interview with The Guardian. He noted:

It’s an epic show, but beautifully human and intimate. We filmed it in Calgary. A lot of my scenes are with Nick Offerman. Playing off him was awesome.

Also among the guest stars is Storm Reid. Per Deadline, the A Wrinkle in Time and Euphoria star is playing Riley Abel, an orphan from post-apocalyptic Boston who survives alongside Ellie prior to the latter meeting Joel. She appears in The Last of Us DLC Left Behind as well as American Dream, a comics miniseries written by Neil Druckmann from Dark Horse.

Sounds like this cast really nails it.

When Will It Arrive?
According to HBO and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys, the series will likely arrive in 2023. He told Deadline pretty definitively that “It’s not going to air in 2022.” While we’re keeping fingers crossed things change, we’re looking ahead to 2023.

Originally published on March 18, 2021.

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