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‘The Last of Us’ Episode 3 Debuts to 6.4 Million Viewers, Up 37% From the HBO Series’ Premiere

Total cross-platform viewership for each of the post-apocalyptic drama’s first two episodes exceeds 21 million, according to Nielsen and first-party data

“The Last of Us” Episode 3 has continued the post-apocalyptic drama series’ viewership momentum, bringing in 6.4 million viewers on Sunday night, according to Nielsen and first-party data.

The latest ratings mark a 37% jump from the show’s premiere and a 12% jump over Episode 2. In addition, total cross-platform viewership for each of the show’s first two episodes has reached 21.3 million.

“The Last of Us” is one of four current HBO Original series that now have cross-platform audiences averaging more than 15 million viewers per episode. “House of the Dragon” Season 1 saw an average of 29 million viewers, while “Euphoria” Season 2 saw 19.5 million viewers and “The White Lotus” saw 15.5 million viewers.

“The Last of Us” marks an extension of HBO’s historic first of multiple current series drawing more than 15 million viewers each. For comparison, in 2002, “The Sopranos” averaged an estimated 18.2 million viewers in its fourth season, with “Sex and the City” Season 5 (13.8 million) and “Six Feet Under” season 2 (12.1 million) following closely behind.  

“The Last of Us” takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

In addition to Pascal and Ramsey, the main cast includes Gabriel Luna (“True Detective”), who plays Joel’s younger brother and former soldier Tommy; Anna Torv (“Fringe”), who plays a smuggler and fellow hardened survivor Tess; and Merle Dandrige (“The Flight Attendant”), who reprises her role from the video game as resistance leader Marlene.

Episode 3 follows Frank and Bill, two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town played by guest stars Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”), respectively. Other guest stars include Nico Parker (“The Third Day”) as Joel’s daughter Sarah; Storm Reid (“Euphoria”) as Riley, an orphan in Boston; and Jeffrey Pierce ( “The Last of Us” video games) as Perry, a rebel in a quarantine zone.

The series, which is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, is written and executive produced by Craig Mazin (“Chernobyl”) and Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann. Other executive producers include Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan and Rose Lam.

The Last of Us” airs weekly on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.