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The Last of Us TV show: Everything we know so far about the HBO series

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

The Last of Us series has started filming. We've now got the first look at Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey's Ellie. Alongside that, there's been talk of Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann rocking up in the director's chair, set photos that are replicating key locations from the games, and even new incomings for the cast of the HBO show.

But a lot has happened since the recent wave of news and the initial announcement back in 2020. If there are gaps in your knowledge or you're a Last of Us megafan intent on devouring every last morsel about the classic series then step right this way. We touch on everything from a potential Last of Us series release date, full cast list, and why the adaptation won't exactly mirror the games...

The Last of Us TV show release date: one director says 2022

(Image credit: Sony)

We don't have a release date for The Last of Us HBO series just yet, but we do have a few details that give us an idea of how long we'll be waiting. The first set photo (which you can see elsewhere on this page) from the production recently surfaced, meaning filming is already underway. We're expecting production to last all the way to June of 2022.

That means we shouldn't expect to see the series land on HBO until late 2022, at the very earliest. One director, Kantemir Balagov, has listed 2022 on their Instagram page. While that's certainly not unrealistic, that feels like more of a placeholder instead of anything official.

The Last of Us TV show story: "enhanced" but will it adapt both games?

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

So far, only a synopsis has been officially revealed by HBO: "The story takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival."

As revealed by The Hollywood Reporter in early March 2020, the series will "cover the events of the original game… with the possibility of additional content based on the forthcoming game sequel [The Last of Us 2]." 

A separate report from the publication indicates that "future seasons" are a possibility, meaning this is unlikely to be a Chernobyl-style miniseries but instead one that will stretch out over several years. The mention of sequel story beats also making their way into the HBO series should also whet the appetite of many who enjoyed The Last of Us 2. 

The first season, meanwhile, is set to last for 10 episodes. It's not yet known if the first season will cover the entirety of the first game's events.

Co-creator Craig Mazin has also hinted that The Last of Us HBO series may be a more definitive version of the game's story, telling the BBC, "In this case, I’m doing it with [Neil Druckmann], and so the changes that we're making are designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance." In the same interview, he added that the TV series will include a moment not in the games that will make our jaws drop.

(Image credit: Sony)

So, how do you adapt one of the most beloved games of all time? Carefully, probably. 

The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann has briefly touched upon the challenges of bringing the game's story across to HBO in an interview with EW.

"You have to figure out [with a TV show] how it communicates ideas or tells stories. In removing the interactivity of the story, how do you make it unique for this other medium? It's an interesting challenge, and I think there's a lot to learn from it... Craig [Mazin] had ideas about how to adapt the show, it became intriguing to work with another creative who I admire. It just became a no-brainer - and to do it under the umbrella of HBO and all their content."

Troy Baker, who plays Joel in both The Last of Us and its sequel, has full faith in the story adaptation versus the original plans to turn it into a movie.

"The thing that encourages me most [about the HBO show] is that while there were a lot of people in Hollywood that stood up and took notice [of The Last of Us and its success] and were thinking, 'Oh, a lot of people like this - we should turn it into a movie,' Craig [Mazin] came at it from a fan's perspective," Baker told Fandom in a recent interview. "He just wants everybody to know this experience."

The Last of Us TV show cast: who's playing Joel and Ellie?

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

The Last of Us TV show has its Joel – The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal, AKA television's favorite dad, will be taking on the series' lead male role and Troy Baker, the actor behind Joel in the video game, has given the casting decision his seal of approval. "This IS the way. Full support. Full stop. Can't wait for you to show me a side of Joel I never knew, Pedro," he posted on Instagram.

Pascal will be joined by fellow Game of Thrones alumni Bella Ramsey as Ellie, which seems an ideal fit. With her role as the fan-favorite Lady Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones, Ramsey has already proven herself more than capable of playing a fierce, confident, show-stealing character. 

The first look at their pair of leads have been released as part of the franchise's Outbreak Day celebrations. You can see the image below.

Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us series

(Image credit: HBO)

Gabriel Luna will play Tommy, Joel's younger brother. Luna's previous roles include parts in Terminator: Dark Fate, True Detective, and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD.

Meanwhile, Merle Dandridge will play The Fireflies leader Marlene – Dandridge also played the role in the video game. It's thanks to Marlene that Joel and Ellie meet each other.

Nico Parker, will play Joel's daughter, Sarah. Parker's breakout role was as Milly Farrier in Tim Burton's 2019 reimagining of Dumbo. You might've also seen her in the 2020 HBO series The Third Day, in which she played Ellie (not that Ellie) in three episodes.

Con O'Neill will play Bill and Murray Bartlett is set to play Frank. The pair are described in Deadline as "two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town." Tommy's voice actor from the games, Jeffrey Pierce, will play an original character by the name of Perry.

Finally, the most recent casting news revealed that Fringe star Anna Torv will be playing Tess, Joel's friend and fellow smuggler who helped Joel and Ellie get to the Fireflies. Tess will be a recurring character in the series, so expect her to play a major role in more than one episode.

One mysterious character, by the name of Mr. Adler, will be played by Brad Leland.

As for the other, so far uncast roles, Neil Druckmann has listed a large chunk on Twitter. We know the leading duo will be joined by Ellie's Left Behind girlfriend, Riley, as well as Maria, and a redacted character with four letters – which very well could be *mild spoilers for The Last of Us 2* Abby, a member of the WLF and one of the main characters in the sequel.

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Mazin also assuaged fears that characters will not change from their game counterparts by stating that Ellie will remain LGBTQ.

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Alongside the cast of characters and director is a certain composer. Gustavo Santaolalla will be scoring the HBO series, just as he did with the first two games. There are also several directors on board, including Oscar nominee Jasmila Žbanić, Kantemir Balagov, and Ali Abbasi. Neil Druckmann has also been rumoured to helm an episode, thanks to a production listing.

The Last of Us TV show set photos

The first set photo from The Last of Us' production has surfaced, all thanks to Tommy actor Gabriel Luna. 

Luna appears alongside Pedro Pascal and Sarah actor Nico Parker, perhaps hinting that they're filming the tragic opening to The Last of Us. If you know, you know.

Another two batches have also given us the first look at the series' sprawling sets. Could this be the Boston QZ where Joel and Ellie first meet? Another set of photos certainly back that theory up.

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That's everything we know so far about The Last of Us HBO series. For something to watch now, make sure to check out the best Netflix shows currently streaming. 

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