The Last of Us' adaptation of Part II could spill into a fourth season

The Last of Us season 2
The Last of Us season 2 /

We're still a ways off from The Last of Us season 2 making its debut, but we've all be aflutter over the latest word from Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann on what we can expect as this universe expands. Here's the deal, they've plotted out just how much time, in theory, they need to tell Part II's story and it seems we're going to be with this series for awhile.

Yes, the buzz right now is centered on season 2's episode count. We're only getting 7 episodes. They teased that one episode will be "quite big" in terms of its runtime, but we're getting a shorter season in comparison to the freshman run nonetheless. Mazin explained the decision in an interview with Deadline:

"The story material that we got from Part II of the game is way more than the story material that was in the first game, so part of what we had to do from the start was figure out how to tell that story across seasons. When you do that, you look for natural breakpoints, and as we laid it out, this season, the [natural] breakpoint felt like it came after seven episodes."

Mazin and Druckmann have consistently put storytelling first in their adaptiation of the beloved videogame. It's what has made the show so compelling. They have an attention to what serves the overall arc of this winding tale in this specific medium. So, if the natural breakpoint means we're only getting a seven episode season, then so be it.

But what's most intriguing is that even with the promise of a "significantly larger" season 3, it's quite possible The Last of Us' story won't be wrapped until a fourth season. Mazin shared why:

"We don’t think that we’re going to be able to tell the story even within two seasons [2 and 3] because we’re taking our time and go down interesting pathways which we did a little bit in Season 1 too. We feel like it’s almost assuredly going to be the case that — as long as people keep watching and we can keep making more television — Season 3 will be significantly larger. And indeed, the story may require Season 4."

The transparency around the creative drive of the adaptation has helped ease concerns that the shortness of season 2 meant that Part II's narrative would be rushed. Clearly, that's not going to be the case. The revenge side of the story is going to get heavy exploration but, given the beauty of season 1 and its interest in love (how it can save and how it can harm), we're sure to be in for seasons of heartbreaking and heartwarming storytelling.

Of course, in order to ensure we get to see Mazin and Druckmann's vision in full, we'll need to tune in. HBO hasn't greenlit The Last of Us for a third or fourth season. However, the studio is obviously putting a lot of trust into these creators' hands with how much control they have over the show's structure and the breadth of story they want to cover. But, if you're concerned the adaptation is going to be going beyond the source material, don't be. Mazin spoke to this:

"As the co-creator of this television show, there’s no world where I would want our show to go beyond the source material that people have in the world. Our show as people know it on HBO is going to cover the material from the second game and then quite a bit of material that is relevant to that story but, as I said, wanders down interesting new paths, unseen stories that were told within the context of that games material."

This exploration is why a fourth season may be required in order to complete HBO's The Last of Us adaptation, though, we certainly won't be complaining about more time with these characters. Genre television has always snared a certain type of viewer, those of us who dream of other worlds and not so far flung possibilities, who seek to learn about humanity through the lens of the end of the world or nightmare scenarios. But there are some shows that wind up being universally loved, this is one of them so however long Mazin and Druckmann need to tell this tale, we'll be along for the ride.