HBO's The Last of Us season two will only be seven episodes long

Season three, however, promises to be "significantly larger."

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in a first look from The Last of Us, season two. (HBO)

Somehow, it's already been almost a year and a half since the first season of The Last of Us arrived on HBO. Things are well underway with the second season, and we've known for a while that it won't premiere until 2025. We still don't know exactly when to expect it (though given that they're well into shooting, an early-year debut isn't out of the question), but we do now know that season two will only have seven episodes.

In an extensive interview with Deadline, showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann (director of the two The Last of Us games that Naughty Dog has released for various PlayStation consoles) confirmed the shorter season. "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,” Mazin said to Deadline. “When you do that, you look for natural breakpoints, and as we laid it out, this season, the national breakpoint felt like it came after seven episodes.”

That said, Mazin said that season three will likely be "significantly larger" — we don't know if that's from a scope perspective or running time perspective, but it's an interesting thing to broadcast given that we're still six months minimum away from season two premiering. And Deadline also confirmed that season two will have at least one extra-long episode, much like the 90-minute series premiere and the 70-plus minute episode focused on Bill and Frank in season one.

We've known for a while that Mazin and Druckmann were going to spread The Last of Us Part II over multiple seasons, but it even sounds like the story could spin into a forth season. "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," Mazin said.

While the plotting of The Last of Us Part II was fairly involved, with lots of flashbacks and multiple points of view, stretching it over three seasons seems like a bit much. But based on this interview, it sounds like Mazin and Druckmann have figured out exactly where they want each season to begin and end and what story beats it'll cover. Of course, the show hasn't yet even been renewed for season three yet, so all this is contingent upon continued success. Given that season one was one of HBO's biggest ever, that probably won't be an issue.

Pedro Pascal as Joel in a first look at The Last of Us, season two.
Pedro Pascal as Joel in the first image from The Last of Us, season two. (HBO)

Finally, Deadline dropped a surprising tidbit about a potential third game in the series — specifically, it's still unknown if one will happen. Indeed, the publication says that "a new installment has not been picked up or put into development." That's a very strong statement, albeit one that isn't sourced directly from a quote or given any real attribution. If true, it means a third The Last of Us game could easily be more than five years away, if it ever happens.

Druckmann did confirm that the show won't go beyond the what has been portrayed in the video games, unlike the HBO Game of Thrones series infamously moving beyond the novels it was based on (not that they had much of a choice). "As a fan, I’m thrilled that there might be a third Last of Us game," Mazin said. "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."

Hopefuly, Deadline just has its lines crossed about a potential third game — with Summer Games Fest just days away, there's a lot of buzz around what Sony's first-party studios, including Naughty Dog, might be planning to announce. The last bit of concrete news we got around the game series was that the planned multiplayer game set in the Last of Us universe was canceled.