Is “The Last of Us” a new beginning for apocalyptic content?

13 January, 2023

The upcoming The Last of Us premiere is on track to be the first major breakout series premiere of the year. Multiple factors seem set to make the show a hit with audiences.  On the one hand, it is riding the current wave of video game adaptations as creators look to tap into games as a source of valuable IP. Other recent shows like ArcaneCyberpunk: Edgerunners, and Halo have proven that drawing from video games as inspiration for series activates existing game fanbases while also bringing the content to a larger audience. It also stars Pedro Pascal in his first leading role in a TV series since the massive success of The Mandalorian.

But the show is also hoping to win over fans of the apocalyptic subgenre with its depiction of a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by a killer fungus. The apocalyptic subgenre has become something of a staple in recent years - whether because of or despite the pandemic we’ve all lived through.


Demand for apocalyptic content grew throughout 2020 and peaked in 2021.  This was driven in part by the sheer amount of shows coming out with different visions of how the world might end. Series in the genre that premiered in 2020 such as Raised by Wolves, Snowpiercer, and The Stand still ranked among the ten most in-demand apocalyptic shows in 2022.  Several high profile apocalyptic shows that premiered in 2021, however, like Sweet Tooth and Y: The Last Man did not hold up as well. This seems to point to viewers losing interest with the genre by the second year of a global pandemic and 2022 was characterize by a drop off in demand for apocalyptic content overall.


What really stands out when looking at the most in-demand apocalyptic shows of the past year, is the dominance of The Walking Dead franchiseThe Walking Dead was the globally most in-demand apocalyptic show in 2022, with 59.18x the average series demand.  Not only did the original show in the franchise have by far the most in-demand in this genre, three spinoffs in the franchise also feature in the ranking of the most in-demand apocalyptic shows of the year.  

With The Walking Dead having just wrapped up its eleven season run in November and Raised by Wolves cancelled and removed from HBO Max, the two most in-demand apocalyptic shows have come to an end.  Additionally, The 100The Stand, Station Eleven, and Kingdom have all ended, leaving a void for fans of this type of content who are looking for more than another Walking Dead spinoff. The Last of Us might be the show that will re-engage fans of the genre with a fresh take on how the world ends.


While The Walking Dead has a number of spinoffs either already released or teed up to fill the void of the original series, the pre-release demand for The Last of Us is outpacing the demand for several of those spinoffs in the lead up to their premieres. The amount of interest it has generated ahead of its premiere puts it on track to be not just one of the most in-demand apocalyptic shows but one of the most successful premieres overall in recent months.  

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