Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us II.


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Summary

  • The Last of Us season 2 must abandon what made season 1 great in order to work, as replicating the same formula could doom the next chapter.
  • A faithful adaptation worked well for season 1, but season 2 cannot stick too closely to the games. It needs more original ideas to properly follow the pacing of The Last of Us Part II.
  • Adapting Part II will be a real test for HBO, as it is more challenging than the first season. There are more characters to balance and potential controversy if changes are made.

HBO’s The Last of Us had a phenomenal first season, but to make season 2 a success, the show must abandon its winning formula. Adapting one of the most popular video games of all time into a live-action television show was a difficult task, yet the showrunners managed to pull it off. The great cast, solid pacing, and faithful adaptation all contributed to The Last of Us season 1 being met with critical acclaim. Despite how popular the show became and how well-executed it was, The Last of Us season 2 must abandon what made season 1 great in order to work.

While the first game in the Last of Us franchise has been praised since it came out, the controversy around the second game means caution must be taken heading into season 2. Certain plot decisions in The Last of Us II were dubious, and the show’s creators must be aware of this when continuing the live-action story. HBO’s series did a fantastic job of building the world and characters, but it will have a more difficult task this time. There are more challenges when it comes to adapting The Last of Us Part II, and trying to replicate what made season 1 work could doom the next chapter.


The Last Of Us Season 1 Was Very Faithful To The First Game

Joel holding Sarah in The Last of Us

The Last of Us season 1’s biggest strength was how faithful it was to the first game. There are good reasons it’s considered one of the best video games of all time; its brilliant story blew players away and left a lasting impression. With all the story elements already set up, all the show had to do was adapt this in a way that would work in live-action — a feat they achieved. The show’s story was almost identical to that of the game, with a few tweaks that actually made it better. The Last of Us season 1 even managed to turn the game’s DLC into its own one-off episode.

With video games adaptations not having a great record, HBO took a massive gamble following The Last of Us game so closely. In doing so, The Last of Us killed the video game adaptations “suck” argument and proved that a good story could translate to other mainstream media. By being faithful to the game, fans of the original could relive the most shocking and heartbreaking moments, while people experiencing the story for the first time were wowed by it. The Last of Us season 1 may go down as one of the best video game adaptations of all time, but season 2 must be less faithful.

The Last Of Us Season 2 Cannot Be Too Faithful To Part II

Ellie from The Last of Us Part 2 and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in TLOU on HBO

A faithful adaptation might be what has worked for The Last of Us show so far, but it cannot stick too closely to the games in season 2. Regardless of The Last of Us II‘s reception, the story itself isn’t the main issue. It’s the pacing of the second game that will prove difficult to properly follow; big changes will be needed to make it work in a TV format. Going for more original ideas may make The Last of Us season 2 a different show entirely, but it is the right way to go. Having two protagonists with individual stories that don’t overlap until the end could become hard to follow.

Given Abby’s polarizing role in Part II, audiences may have a hard time following episodes focused entirely on her. The way that The Last of Us II presents the story dedicates three whole consecutive chapters to Abby. Telling the story this way would likely alienate part of the audience. This would only be amplified if it got to the end of Ellie’s climactic chapter three, only to switch to the beginning of Abby’s arc. It may work in a video game format, but it would ruin the pacing of the TV show. This would be especially noticeable after how well The Last of Us season 1 flowed.

Adapting Part II Will Be HBO’s The Last Of Us Real Test

The Last of Us's Joel and Abby

Adapting The Last of Us Part II will be the real test of HBO’s ability to utilize this IP to its full potential. Season 1 wasn’t a guaranteed hit, but it was always going to be an easier challenge than portraying the sequel. With Part II being so divisive, it will be challenging to get its live-action adaptation right. Pedro Pascal has a great following, and people love him as Joel. If The Last of Us season 2 follows Part II’s lead and gives him an early exit, this will likely spark controversy. On the flip side, those who loved how Part II unfolded may be upset by any changes.

There are also a lot more characters to focus on, with Dina and Jesse being important newcomers, Tommy having a bigger role, and Abby’s whole group being introduced. Season 1 and the first game largely put the focus on Joel and Ellie’s relationship. Part II has more characters to balance, and this could be challenging for the show. Even with such obstacles ahead, there is still potential for The Last of Us season 2 to improve upon the game. To do so, it must avoid being as faithful as the season, even this approach led to success the first time.

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