The Handmaid's Tale season 6: Everything we know about the Hulu show's return

The Handmaid's Tale
(Image credit: Hulu)

The Handmaid's Tale season 6 is on the horizon, and it marks the final season of the dystopian show. But don't fret yet, it seems like there is plenty more drama on the way as June Osborne's (Elisabeth Moss) traumatic story continues. Given the season 5 cliffhanger, we know there are a lot of loose ends to tackle too, including what will happen to Luke, where June is going next, and if she will finally be able to save her daughter. Blessed be the fruit, indeed.

However, there have been some big delays ahead of the final run of episodes making it to our screens. Not only is writing taking a while to get right, but there have also been two big strikes to contend with. Along with this, the showrunners have to work out a way to link the series to its sequel The Testaments, which is also being adapted for Hulu

If that's a lot to get your head around, then you're in the right place. Below, we've compiled a complete guide to The Handmaid's Tale season 6, including what you can expect from the final outing, all of the latest quotes from the show's cast, and everything revealed about the release date so far.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 release date

The Handmaid's Tale

(Image credit: Netflix)

Hulu has not yet announced a release date for The Handmaid’s Tale season 6. 

Filming was due to begin on the show in August 2023 (per Bradley Whitford, who plays Commander Lawrence), but the SAG-AFTRA strike put a hold on this. It's very likely writing was delayed heavily too due to the WGA strike. This is now over, but will have caused delays. 

This is especially true as Moss shared the show will be the biggest season yet. "It feels like it’s going to be so long until you guys get to see anything else," the actor told Elle back in November 2022. "And I apologize personally for that, but every season we do gets bigger, and it takes longer to make every time. And because it’s the final season, we really want to make sure that it’s exactly what we want to do."

This all being said, we'll do our best to predict when it could come out based on previous seasons. The first few seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale aired every year on Hulu. However, after pandemic delays during production on season 4, there have been long breaks between seasons of the show. The gap between season 4 and season 5 was around one year and three months. 

Our previous best guess was some point in mid-2024, but to be honest it might be even longer than this depending on when filming can begin. We'll keep you updated.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 plot

The Handmaid's Tale

(Image credit: Netflix)

No official plot points for The Handmaid's Tale season 6 have been divulged yet, but the cliffhanger at the end of season 5 left some pretty big questions to answer. Just a quick recap – season 5 saw Canada growing increasingly similar to Gilead with the authorities tightening control on its citizens. 

In the finale, June and Luke decided they needed to escape the country as soon as possible. However, things took a downward turn when Luke attacked a truck driver who tried to hurt June. The driver's injuries were fatal and the Canadian authorities arrested Luke, leaving June to escape on her own with her daughter Nichole. 

On her train out of the country, she found out that Serena and her baby were traveling with them. Given the pair have been at loggerheads all season, this could prove interesting when the show returns. Elsewhere, Luke and June’s daughter Hannah is still trapped in Gilead, Nick has escaped to Canada, and Commander Lawrence is busy creating Gilead 2.0, New Bethlehem.

Executive producer Bruce Miller said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn’t expect there to be a big time jump when the show returns. "We don’t tend to jump very much in time," he said. "And it’s simply because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m like, 'What happens next?'."

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he also teased that Nick and June have some unfinished business in the final season. "I feel like this is the most romantic Nick/June season ever because they spend the whole time trying to convince themselves that they don't need to be together," he told Entertainment Weekly. "And by the end, they are not successful at all, they fail entirely. They don't even see each other in the last episode, and they're so in love they can't think about anything else."

However, the latest update ahead of production is that Miller will not be the showrunner on season 6. He's writing the first two episodes but will then pivot to The Testaments as Eric Tuchman and Yahlin Chang take on showrunner duties (H/T Variety).

The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 cast

The Handmaid's Tale

(Image credit: Hulu)

All of the major cast of The Handmaid’s Tale is expected to return for the final season. This means Elisabeth Moss will be back as June Osborne, alongside O-T Fagbenle as her husband Luke. Max Minghella will likely be back as Nick too, who is June’s former boyfriend and confidante. Ann Dowd will also return as the conflicted Aunt Lydia in the new season too.

Yvonne Strahovski will be reprising her role as Serena Joy Waterford, who’s become one of the lead characters in the series over the past few seasons. Other returning stars include Samira Wiley as Moira, Bradley Whitford as Commander Lawrence, Amanda Brugel as Rita, and Madeline Brewer as Janine. 

Sadly some of the series' original cast are not expected to be back after their absence in season 5. This includes Joseph Fiennes as Commander Waterford after his brutal murder in the season 4 finale. Alexis Bledel has also been written out of the series after announcing her exit as Emily ahead of the fifth season.

As the new season begins production, we expect more casting announcements to be made. Especially as we know the show is heading towards setting up The Testaments so there will likely be some new introductions on the way.

Is The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 the final season?

Serena is in a mourning veil in The Handmaid's Tale season 5

(Image credit: Hulu)

Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 is the final season of the Hulu dystopian series. In a statement about it, Miller said that he was thrilled to be given the chance to end the show in a sixth season.

"It has been a true honor to tell the story of Margaret Atwood’s groundbreaking novel and the chillingly relevant world, and we are thrilled to bring viewers a sixth and final season of The Handmaid’s Tale," he said. "We are grateful to Hulu and MGM for allowing us to tell this story, which unfortunately has remained as relevant as ever throughout its run, and are in awe of our incredible fans for their unwavering support, and without whom we never would have gotten to this point."

However, while this is the end of the original show, a spin-off series is on the horizon. Atwood’s sequel novel The Testaments has already been snapped up by Hulu. Some aspects of the storyline will be included in the final season, while others will be incorporated into the spin-off. Details are still relatively light on this, but it’s expected to begin production after the final season airs.

This also means we might not get a complete ending to Gilead’s story, according to Moss. "I don’t think we feel an obligation to tie up the entire story of Gilead, especially not because we’ve got the sequel coming up in The Testaments," she told Elle in the same interview as above. "So we do have the opportunity to continue the story."

Check out our round-up of the best Hulu shows for what to stream next.

Fay Watson

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.