The Last Of Us TV Series Won't Follow In The Footsteps Of Game Of Thrones

How long will HBO's TV adaptation of "The Last of Us" last? We're finally inching closer to an answer. With only two primary video games serving as the source material, fans (myself included) have been wondering if the show would pull a "Game of Thrones" and end up pushing beyond the story laid out in the games. We saw what happened when HBO and the "Thrones" creatives made that decision, but we can breathe easy: That won't happen here.

In an interview with Deadline, "The Last of Us" game creator Neil Druckmann and his co-showrunner Craig Mazin said the show will not include stories that go beyond the endpoint established in the second game. "As a fan, I'm thrilled that there might be a third 'Last of Us' game. 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," Mazin explained. (A third game has been long whispered about, but not confirmed.) "Our show as people know it on HBO is going to cover the material from the second game and then quite a bit of material that is relevant to that story but [...] wanders down interesting new paths, unseen stories that were told within the context of that games material."

"Our focus is the two games," Druckmann agreed.

That tracks with the duo's creative approach to the adaptation so far, where they remain faithful to the games' overall narrative, but allow themselves the room to radically depart from them whenever needed. That resulted in season 1's "Long, Long Time," the episode that explored the relationship between Bill and Frank, which was only briefly hinted at in the first game; the episode became one of the most beloved episodes of television of the decade so far.

The Last of Us season 2 will be shorter than season 1

In that interview, Druckmann and Mazin also revealed that the upcoming second season of the show, which will premiere in 2025 and has Kaitlyn Dever on board to play the character of Abby, will actually be shorter than season 1, running for only seven episodes as opposed to the nine we saw in season 1.

"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 told the outlet. "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." It's worth noting that he also said one of the season 2 episodes "will be closer to — I don't know if I would say feature length, but quite big," so that should please fans who might initially be disappointed by the smaller episode count.

But what about the total number of seasons? The final answer to that question is still something of a mystery, but at least we got some more clarification about what the future holds.

The show will almost certainly get a season 3, and likely a season 4

We've known for a while that the second game has so much story packed into it that it would be impossible to squeeze it all into one season of TV, but in this interview, Mazin teased not only a third season, but a possible fourth as well:

"We don't think that we're going to be able to tell the story even within two seasons [2 and 3] because we're taking our time and go down interesting pathways which we did a little bit in Season 1 too [...] 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."

If that wasn't a strong enough hint, a statement he made later in the interview made his view on the matter even more clear: "One thing is absolutely for sure, I don't see how we could tell the story that remains after season 2 is complete in one more season."

So, how long will "The Last of Us" last? If we assume the show remains a hit, it sounds like four or maybe even five seasons could be the sweet spot for the storytellers here. And given the enormity (and, frankly, the thematic darkness) of the second game, viewers might need that many seasons to digest what the showrunners have in store.

"The Last of Us" season 2 will hit HBO and Max sometime in 2025.