The Last of Us HBO TV show: Release date, trailer, cast, plot, more

Brad Norton
Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last of Us HBO trailer

Here’s everything we know about The Last Of Us HBO show, an adaptation of Naughty Dog’s beloved game, from its release date and trailer to plot, cast, and other details.

First released in 2013 for PlayStation 3 and later released on PS4, The Last Of Us is often regarded as one of the best games of all time, as well as a top PlayStation exclusive.

It follows the story of Joel after a mutation of the Cordyceps fungus takes over the United States. He is tasked with transporting Ellie, a young girl who is immune to the disease, across the country in hopes of developing a cure.

Following the success of the first title, Naughty Dog released the highly-anticipated sequel advancing the story of the main characters. Now HBO and Naughty Dog are bringing the critically acclaimed franchise to the screen with a multi-million-dollar production.

From an early look at the new Joel and Ellie to leaked set photos, here’s everything we know about The Last of Us HBO TV show, including its release date, trailer, cast, plot, and more.


The Last of Us HBO cast, characters and director

In March 2020, HBO announced they were taking on the project, and revealing its first director. Director Johan Renck (Breaking Bad, Chernobyl) was set to helm the pilot episode but had to drop out due to scheduling issues.

Since then, the project brought on Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov (Beanpole) who will now direct The Last of Us pilot. Ali Abbasi (Border) and Jasmila Zbanic (Quo vadis, Aida?) have also been tapped to direct episodes in the premiere season. More directors are expected to come on board and Neil Druckmann himself even got in on the fun, directing a full episode himself.

The official The Last of Us Twitter page uploaded character posters for most of the main cast on December 1, giving a much better look at the casting.

The central characters will be played by the following actors:

  • Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) – Joel.
  • Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) – Ellie.
  • Merle Dandridge (The Flight Attendant) – Marlene
  • Storm Reid (Euphoria) – Riley
  • Gabriel Luna (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) – Tommy.

Henry and Sam, two brothers who appear during a key storyline in the game, will be played by The Hate U Give’s Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard respectively.

Speaking to Collider, Johnson said: “They [are] definitely are taking this IP and making sure that the fans are really getting what they want.

“Adaptations are always difficult, but I think with the team behind this, they really care about the material and the project, and the characters. I think the fans are really going to love the show.”

As announced during the Summer Game Fest 2022 broadcast, we also know the original Joel and Ellie, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, will be appearing in the show.

Druckmann has also helped write some episodes, while being a co-creator of the HBO adaptation alongside Craig Mazin.

Gustavo Santaolalla, who scored both Last of Us games, will create some music for the show. Executive producers include Asad Qizilbash (Uncharted), Rose Lam (Altered Carbon), PlayStation Productions’ Carter Swan, Naughty Dog President Evan Wells, and Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones, Chernobyl).

While Pascal landed the lead role of Joel, an April 2022 interview with GQ revealed he’s actually staying away from the video game. Rather than taking inspiration from the original portrayal of the character, he’s opting to come at it from a fresh perspective.

“I watched for as long as I was able to that day,” Pascal said while his nephew was playing the game. “I found Joel so impressive — I found the whole of it such a visually impressive experience. And then I got worried that I would imitate too much, which I think could be right in some circumstances, and then a mistake in others.

“So I just wanted to create a healthy distance, and for that to be more in the hands of Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann.”

You can find out more about the cast of The Last of Us HBO here.

The Last of Us HBO release date: When is it coming out?

The Last of US HBO show has a release date of January 15, 2023.

The Last of Us TV show will have nine episodes in Season 1. You can read our spoiler-free review of the episode here.

Do we know how much The Last of Us HBO cost?

While the exact number isn’t known, reports have suggested that HBO are ready to shell out more money per episode on The Last of Us than they did on Game of Thrones.

A CTV News interview with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees 212 (IATSE 212) union president Damian Petti, who’s working with the production on the Last of Us, gave us an idea of HBO’s budget.

“I cannot confirm the official budget numbers but will say it is likely the largest project shooting in Canada,” Petti said. “This project well exceeds the eight-figure per episode mark,” he said, “so there is a multiplier effect on our economy in terms of its impact.”

HBO famously spent upwards of $6 million USD per episode for the first season of Game of Thrones, with that cost rapidly shooting up to $10 million to $15 million in the later seasons.

The Last of Us Season 1 is reportedly starting with an eight-figure budget per episode, and it’ll be interesting to see how it progresses with any future season orders.

The Last of Us HBO trailers

Before any official footage was revealed, HBO provided a first look with a handful of early images. Without giving away too much, these simple pictures showed the iconic Joel & Ellie in live action.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey can be seen in character as Joel and Ellie. The two are staring across a field at a wreckage, both in costume with their character’s respective backpacks.

A second image soon followed up during the Summer Game Fest 2022, as Neil Druckmann provided another look at the central characters in action.

Following on from these pictures, the first official footage arrived on August 21 as part of an HBO Max sizzle reel. Closing out the promotional package with a few seconds of footage, we finally saw multiple characters in action.

From Joel carrying Sarah in the dramatic intro to Ellie’s heartbreaking story of loss, and even a brief glimpse of a Clicker embedded in a wall, this footage revealed a great deal despite its short duration.

A full teaser trailer has since been released, which you can watch below:

On December 20, 2022, HBO Max released a new teaser, which showed the threats that Joel and Ellie will face on this adventure, including a sequence inside a decrepit office building that seems to resemble the skyscraper level of the first game.

The Last of Us HBO set photos

With production now underway on The Last of Us TV show, plenty of filming is being done on external sets. To capture the post-apocalyptic nature of the series, many of these outdoor locations have been sectioned off and completely overhauled for the sake of the shoot.

From rundown vehicles to overgrown foliage, many streets across the United States have been given an end-of-the-world makeover to fit the bill.

— The Last of Us HBO – Status (@HBOsTheLastofUs) June 9, 2022

Given the budget, it appears no stone is being left unturned in bringing The Last of Us to life.

From sprawling set designs down to the finest little details, it’s clear to see plenty of love is going into the production.

The Last of Us HBO plot: What is it about?

In March, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the series will cover the events from the first game, with the “possibility” of it delving into Part II in the future.

Whether it will continue past the events of both games is currently unknown, but speaking to GameSpot, Troy Baker, Joel’s voice actor, claimed that the show could have “three to four” seasons to match the pace of the game.

We also know for certain the series will dive deeper into certain chapters than the games. For instance, it appears we’ll learn more about Ellie’s mother, a good deal more about Bill, and even meet some new characters along the way that didn’t show up in the first game.

In a recent interview, cast member Murray Bartlett claimed it has some of the “best” feats of filmmaking to grace the small screen.

We can only hope that HBO doesn’t rush through it… *cough* like the final season of Game of Thrones. *cough*

About The Author

Brad Norton is the Australian Managing Editor at Dexerto. He graduated from Swinburne University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been working full-time in the field for the past six years at the likes of Gamurs Group and now Dexerto. He loves all things single-player gaming (with Uncharted a personal favorite) but has a history on the competitive side having previously run Oceanic esports org Mindfreak. You can contact Brad at