The Last of Us is one of the biggest shows of the year so far, and ever since it ended we’ve all been eagerly awaiting season 2. Adapted from the beloved video game by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us is the story of hardened apocalypse survivor Joel (Pedro Pascal) and precocious teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey), who have to road trip across a ruined United States in hopes of synthesizing a cure for the fungal zombie plague which ended the world as we know it.
Part of what made the series work so well was the obvious love the people behind it had for the source material. The showrunners are Neil Druckmann — who also created the games — and Craig Mazin, a longtime fan and the veteran TV producer behind HBO’s Chernobyl.
Neither Mazin nor Druckmann have been working on The Last of Us season 2 lately due to the ongoing labor dispute between the studios of the AMPTP and the actors and writers guilds. Mazin is a longtime member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), so he hasn’t been talking much about The Last of Us season 2 in solidarity with the strike. However, in a new interview conducted by TheWrap in accordance with WGA guidelines, Mazin weighed in about the future of the series and whether we might see any spinoffs that explore other corners of this fascinating post-apocalyptic world.
The Last of Us showrunner is not opposed to spinoffs “in principle”
“We haven’t talked about that specifically because we’re so focused on just telling this main narrative. I’m not against the idea of other shows that may draw from these characters or that world,” Mazin explained. “I don’t know how much more The Last of Us I personally would be able to do. I mean, these shows are so big, I’m sort of burning one of the precious few remaining decades I have on telling this story. But in principle, I have no issue with it whatsoever. And I’m sure Neil would be interested as well.”
If there was something that made sense, then I don’t see why not. My great hope is that if there is anything like that, that it’s done with as much care and respect and love as what we are applying to this series right now.
Mazin seems to be echoing a pretty popular sentiment among the creatives behind The Last of Us: if there was a good reason to do a spinoff and it was done well, then people would be okay with it. Last year actor Melanie Lynskey, who plays the revolutionary leader Kathleen, said something similar when asked about whether she would return for a spinoff if Mazin and Druckmann wanted to do one. “If they wanted to go back and do an origin story, I would be there for it,” Lynskey said. “The story of how this woman got into this crazy position would be really interesting.”
Merle Dandridge, who reprised her role as Marlene from the video game in the show, also told TheWrap back in March that she thought HBO was looking to capitalize on all the juicy side stories that take place in The Last of Us. She held up the show’s critically acclaimed love story for Bill and Frank in the show’s third episode as a way it could be done well. “I think honestly, all of the characters are so beautifully and deeply drawn. There is an opportunity in, I think, every facet of this world to go a little deeper and we just touched on that with the Bill and Frank story, but there’s so much,” Dandridge said.
Every character and every situation is so beautifully connected into the fabric and everyone’s experience, even the minor characters, have such difficult moral conundrums that they are contending with in the midst of all this world … what did they have to give up, sacrifice, go through, live through? What have they seen? There are so many unmentionable horrors for them to even be able to survive to this moment that we have a lot of ground to cover and I think HBO knows that and I hope that they lean into that.
It will likely be quite a while before we hear anything official about spinoffs. Mazin emphasized that the main show is the priority for the time being, which is refreshing to hear considering how much studios have pushed for cinematic universes in recent years.
Production on The Last of Us season 2 is currently on hold until the Hollywood writers and actors strikes resolve. Let’s hope for a fair deal soon so that Mazin and Druckmann can get back to work on the series.