The Last of Us season 2 first images have left game fans worried about the timeline of the HBO show

Pedro Pascal as Joel in HBO's The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning! This article contains fairly mild spoilers for The Last of Us: Part 2. If you haven't played the game, and don't want to know anything that happens, turn back now!

HBO has finally revealed the first look at The Last of Us season 2, and one of the images has already sparked debate amongst fans of the games. 

In the snap, Pedro Pascal's Joel can be seen looking forlorn, but it's what's in the background that has caught people's attention. You see, the twinkly lights behind him suggest it's a shot inspired by Part 2's cutscene at the Jackson community barn dance, where Ellie and Joel clash after he defends her and Dina from a homophobic jerk.

"You alright, kiddo?" Joel asks in the game, to which Ellie replies: "What's wrong with you?"

"He had no right," Joel replies, as she snaps back: "And you do?! I don't need your f***ing help, Joel." (If you've played, you'll know that things have been super frosty between them since she learned two years earlier that he'd lied about the cure and his reasons for taking her from the Fireflies). 

It's no secret that The Last of Us: Part 2 is a long game that covers a lot of time and ground, and with season 2 of the adaptation set to be only seven episodes – two episodes less than season 1 – it seems safe to assume that HBO and Naughty Dog are planning to extend the story beyond just two onscreen chapters. 

But some gamers, knowing that the above scene is a flashback that is shown towards the end of Part 2, are now worried that the show will show said sequences in chronological order instead. 

The Last of Us season 2 first look

(Image credit: HBO)

"[It] would be a huge mistake," said one doubter on Reddit. "It kneecaps so much of the meaning and makes Ellie's time in Seattle even darker than it already is.

"That said, they could bring the dance scene specifically up without moving other scenes. I don't think that changes too much, and IIRC the game script had the dance at the beginning for a long time anyway. But the museum and the porch scene absolutely have to stay as flashbacks, IMO."

"There's absolutely no way they can do it in chronological order and have the story still hit the same. It just doesn't work," wrote another.

Others are more optimistic about the potential changes to the narrative structure, though, and argue that creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann earned trust with the stellar first season.

"A lot of genuine criticism of the game is the chronology of the story," said someone else. "I personally love it before I get downvoted; and I think it'll translate to screen 100x better than the game but I'm sure it's something the team have deliberated and may adjust quite a bit."

"I think it's going to be a case of changing the order and showing the dance in real time," replied another Reddit user. "As well at it works in the game, I think bringing it forward will help us buy into Ellie/Dina's relationship with the kiss as well as getting across just how pissed Ellie is with Joel. They can still keep the why Ellie is so pissed at Joel a mystery for late in the season."

"Let them tell this version in whatever way they think is best, and then decide if the changes ruin the story," added one more. "These are different mediums here, and they might find certain elements of Part II's structure work better for TV if altered a little. That's the point of an adaptation, after all."

The Last of Us season 2 is set to premiere sometime in 2025. For more, check out our list of the best new TV shows coming your way in 2024 and beyond.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.