“The Last of Us” has officially been renewed for a second season at HBO.
The news comes as the post-apocalyptic drama series has shattered viewership records, becoming HBO’s second largest debut – behind only “House of the Dragon” – since “Boardwalk Empire” premiered on the network in 2010. The show’s first episode has now surpassed 22 million viewers domestically, up nearly 5 times from its premiere night audience.
Additionally, episode 2 of “The Last of Us” drew 5.7 million viewers across HBO Max and linear telecasts in the U.S. Sunday night, based on Nielsen and first party data, adding more than 1 million new viewers vs. the series premiere. The 22% jump marks the largest week two audience growth for any HBO Original Drama Series in the history of the network.
Based on Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed video game, “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.
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.
“Craig and Neil, alongside EP Carolyn Strauss, and the rest of our phenomenal cast and crew, have defined a genre with their masterful debut season of ‘The Last of Us,’” Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming and head of HBO Drama Series and Films, said in a statement. “After pulling off this unforgettable first season, I can’t wait to watch this team outshine themselves again with season two.”
Druckman said that he is “humbled, honored, and frankly overwhelmed that so many people have tuned in and connected with our retelling of Joel and Ellie’s journey.
“The collaboration with Craig Mazin, our incredible cast & crew, and HBO exceeded my already high expectations,” he added. “Now we have the absolute pleasure of being able to do it again with season two! On behalf of everyone at Naughty Dog & PlayStation, thank you!”
Mazin said that he’s grateful to Druckmann, HBO, and the “millions of people who have joined us on this journey.”
“The audience has given us the chance to continue, and as a fan of the characters and world Neil and Naughty Dog created, I couldn’t be more ready to dive back in,” he added.
In addition to Pascal and Ramsey, the main cast of Season 1 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.
Guest stars in the first season include Nico Parker (“The Third Day”) as Joel’s daughter Sarah; Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) as Frank and Bill, two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town; 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 Last of Us” made its debut on PlayStation 3 in 2013, while its sequel, “The Last of Us: Part II,” was released in 2020 on the PlayStation 4. The “Last of Us” video game franchise has sold through more than 37 million copies globally as of December 2022, according to Naughty Dog.
“The Last of Us” airs weekly on HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET and is streaming on HBO Max