Severance season 2 is by far the most-wanted TV show return of 2023 — but is there trouble brewing on the set of the hotly-anticipated Apple TV Plus show?
Despite filming now being deep into the shooting schedule, with leaks coming in from filming locations across New York State, reports are coming in that key cast and crew members are no longer getting along, and that delays to the long-awaited return of the show may be inevitable due to the ongoing TV writers strike.
It's perhaps a fitting tone for season two of Severance to be produced out of. Stars including Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette, have teased a "darker" look at Lumon's world for Severance season 2, suggesting we'll find out more about how exactly the show's dystopian scenario came to be — perhaps even reflective of the mood on set. Here's everything we know so far...
While we're holding our breath for a full Severance season 2 trailer to release soon (so far only a short teaser clip has been revealed), still images from some outdoor sets for season 2 of Severance are being distributed online, with superfans painstakingly studying their pixels for hints to answers to the show's mysteries, following the heart-stopping season one closer.
There's a lot riding on Severance season 2: it represents the cream of the crop from the Apple TV Plus TV show streaming library, alongside comedy Ted Lasso. The 2023 Golden Globes saw cast and crew walking the red carpets, with awards season bringing lots of interviews with the show's starring members, each beginning to share more details of season 2 of Severance, and giving us a taste of the mood and direction the show is about to take.
Season 2 of Severance will continue the story of the claustrophobic office. Falling somewhere between workplace comedy and sci-fi thriller, Severance's debut episodes had a unique twist, becoming an unlikely streaming hit for 2022. It's now looking to be Apple's leading streaming title for 2023.
Severance's first season ended with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. Questions about its alternate-reality sci-fi world were left unanswered, and a growing base of hardcore fans were left pulling their hair out as to what would happen to the show's ragtag group of lovable outcasts.
That's where we come in. Apple TV Plus's first big hit rolled credits on the final episode of season one of Severance in April 2022, and now cast and crew are beginning to share details of what to expect when the show makes its inevitable return to our screens, now that season 2 has officially started filming. Over at iMore, we've been carefully curating all the latest goings on surrounding the show, and pulling them into this handy Severance Season 2 preview guide.
So what’s in store for Severance fans? Will the psychologically-trapped employees of Lumon ever find out the full details of their ‘real’ lives? And what the hell were those goats about?
Following news on the show regarding a filming location tip-off, with cast and crew seen shooting scenes in Hudson Valley in New York State — and images from the set leaking to the press — the latest rumors are pointing to a troubled on-set mood at the moment, with key crew falling out, and the Hollywood writers' strike wreaking havoc on the production schedule.
Read on for everything we know so far about Severance season 2, and keep this page bookmarked – we’ll be updating it every time fresh info on the show is released. And be warned: some spoilers may follow.
Severance: the spoiler-free story so far, in a nutshell
Let’s get you all up to speed first. For the sake of not wanting to spoil too many of Severance’s excellent secrets, here’s just a top-line overview of the show’s world – a mini Severance recap of the overall concept.
The Apple TV Plus show centers around the employees of Lumon, a biotechnology company that works on a mysterious project so secret that its details are obscured from even the rank and file employees that make up the majority of its staff.
To further protect the company’s secrets, a surgical procedure is in place that most members of staff must agree to – it’s the show’s central hook – where an employee’s memories are split in two, one focussing on their work lives, and the other on the personal lives and memories they’ve had since birth. The two can never come into contact – a Lumon employee turns up at work, enters the workplace, and forgets everything that ever happened during the work day when they leave, meaning that their professional memories effectively constitute a whole other life being lived, that of their so-called ‘innie’, separate and unknown to the personal life.
While some employees believe this separation – this ‘severance – keeps their lives free of the stresses of work, it essentially subjects the other side of their brain to a life of abstract enslavement. However, when new employee Helly (Britt Lower) joins the Lumon Macrodata Refinement team, it sparks a rebellious streak in division head Mark (Adam Scott) and his colleagues Dylan (Zach Cherry) and Irving (John Turturro), leading to startling revelations not only about the company they work for but also the outer lives they cannot access.
Severance season 2 cast: who’s confirmed?
If like us you’ve fallen for the lovably-lost cast of Severance, we’ve got good news. As of the time of writing, all the key cast members from season 1 are set to return for season 2.
Severance season 2: Returning cast
Adam Scott (Mark), Britt Lower (Helly), Zach Cherry (Dylan) and John Turturro (Irving) will be returning to the Macrodata department, while Patricia Arquette (Mrs Cobel) and Tramell Tillman (Mr Milcheck) will once again be enforcers. Ms Casey / Gemma, as played by Dichen Lachman will be back, as will our personal favorite character, the kind-hearted Burt, played by the legendary Christopher Walken.
Severance season 2: New cast members
The end of October 2022 saw a giant announcement of new talent joining the show, too.
Getting ready to enter the Lumon offices are Emmy nominee Gwendoline Christie (star of the recent Star Wars movie reboots, and a Game of Thrones fan favorite) Oscar and Emmy nominee Bob Balaban (a regular in such Wes Anderson movies as Moonrise Kingdom and The French Dispatch), Robby Benson (the Beast from Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast – no, seriously!), Stefano Carannante (Mirabilia), John Noble (star of Fringe and the one who really grossly eats tomatoes in Lord of the Rings), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The Tourist), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development and Search Party), and Merritt Wever (Godless).
“We already have an incredible new set of cast members," Britt Lower told The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) at the 2023 Golden Globes. "I’m geeking out about all of them. Honestly that’s all I can think about. They’re really dynamite”.
But could we have some more comedy luminaries join the cast? And even one of the most famous people on the planet – a former president?
“For me there are a lot, people like Christopher Guest [the comedy genius behind Spinal Tap and Best in Show]. I kind of imagine ‘Wow that would be amazing if someday he might be a part of the show,’ ” director / executive producer Ben Stiller said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab).
“It’s fun when you have a show like this where it allows for people to maybe come in for an episode or two but also fit into the world of Severance.”
In an even more ambitious move, Erickson teased that he was going to pitch a role to Barack Obama. "I think he’d be really good, he’d bring some gravitas,” the creator told The Hollywood Reporter.
Actress Jen Tullock, who plays Devon on the show, had some dream casting desires of her own too – she'd "pretty much give you every American dollar I’ve got in my bank account" to have Barbara Streisand make an appearance.
It's not just the cast that's expanding though, but the production team too. Fifth Season, the production outfit behind Severance (which was previously known as Endeavour Content), has been quietly adding to its ranks in preparation of season 2's kick off. It has added Ben Irving to its roster, who was previously acting as the BBC's acting director of drama. He'll be taking on the newly created position of creative director, UK Television at Fifth Season.
Severance showrunners' frosty relationships?
It may be their baby, but showrunners Dan Erickson and Mark Friedman are reported to not be on the best of terms (opens in new tab) as Severance season 2 production rolls on. According to Puck News (opens in new tab)Erickson and Friedman can barely stand to be in the same room any more, claiming the pair "hate" each other.
Puck News states that the show's return "has been plagued for months by pricey problems, including scrapped scripts and the dreaded showrunners who don’t speak to each other." It goes on to say that the pair "ended up hating each other" while making the first season. Freidman tried to leave the show as a result, but was persuaded to stick around for the next wave of episodes.
That doesn't seem to have worked out. Director Ben Stiller is said to have attempted replace Friedman but couldn't come up with someone he liked. Friedman is still in fold for now, but to make for a smoother long-term production of the show, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon has been hired to help with seasons three and four.
Severance season 2 will include ‘expansion’ of Lumon’s world
When a company, even a fictional one, has the power to make demands of their employee’s bodies, you can be sure they’ve got deep pockets and an even deeper reach into many aspects of the world they inhabit. Season 1 of Severance showed how many people in its universe actively protest against Lumon and its Severance procedure, and season 2 of the show will delve further into exactly how much influence Lumon has on the wider world.
"There’s definitely going to be some expansion of the world," Erickson said in an interview on season 2 with Esquire. "Within Lumon, we’re going to see more of the building, and we’ll see more of the outside world, too.
"There's an overall plan for the show. I have an end point in mind, and I intentionally didn't plan it season by season, because I wanted it to be flexible enough that we could get there in two seasons or six seasons. I want to allow us to be surprised by where the show goes. There’s a sense of what Lumon is trying to do and the role that our main characters are going to play in that, and where it all will culminate. It's really exciting to think about taking the next step on that trip."
Mark's past — will Severance season 1's mysteries be resolved?
Lots of that will tap into exploring the mystery of Mark and Gemma’s (Dichen Lachman) relationship, too, with the season 1 finale tightly tied to their fates.
"There’s a question of sort of who was targeted first: was Mark targeted because of his relationship to Gemma, or was it the other way around? And that’s something that we don’t see this season, but we will in subsequent seasons," Erickson told Variety.
"That’s the big question, what is special about Mark? And is it actually that there’s something special about him or is it more about Gemma, and he was sort of pulled in? Those are all left unanswered this season, but we will get into it."
"I think that the biggest thing is how to maintain all those things in terms of the feeling of the show, while at the same time expanding the world since the end of the last episode," said Stiller in an August interview with Variety (opens in new tab).
"We’ve brought Mark and Irving and Helly to the surface, and I think those are storylines that people are going to be interested in. So, it’s going to be figuring out that balance. We’re writing and prepping right now to shoot in October."
“It’s so exciting,” Erickson added in a December 2022 interview with Gold Derby (opens in new tab). “There is an expanding world that I think is teased, and in a way is owed, by the way that we ended season 1. We did suddenly get some glimpses of Helly’s life on the outside. What is Dylan’s life on the outside? What is Irving’s life on the outside? They have stuff going on that we haven’t seen, that we haven’t explored yet. And of course, inside the company, there’s plenty of stuff that we haven’t seen yet. It’s expanding on both sides. That’s both the fun and the challenge.”
Britt Lower wouldn't be pressed on details of the scripts she's worked on for Severance season 2 when talking to The Hollywood Reporter in January 2023, but was excited to continue to explore Helly's Lumon experience:
“I can’t tell you anything! Yes [I was shocked and surprised]. It’s great. There’s just this sense of excitement that we’re getting to revisit this story, to step back into the characters shoes, literally and metaphorically. And to come back with the sense that the fans have received the show with such warmth and curiosity. There’s a lot of integrity with which we’re approaching this season so that we really deliver."
Severance season 2 filming dates
Shows like Severance aren’t made overnight, and often require complex shooting schedules to accommodate other projects the cast and crew may be involved in. Severance is no different, and so its shooting schedule runs a little into the distance - and will run for several months.
According to Production Weekly, and as confirmed by Stiller, filming of Severance season 2 began in October 2022 and will likely stretch out to May 2023 - a seven-month window. This was further confirmed in late October by a report by Variety Insights, confirming that filming has now begun on season 2 of Severance.
Speaking to SiriusXM back at the end of August 2022, Adam Scott echoed how close the crew were to reuniting for shooting Severance season 2. "We're getting ready, and we're going to start here pretty soon. It's all starting to come together. Trying to think if I can say anymore before a tranquilizer dart comes in from offscreen!"
As we’ll explore in a second, this makes the Severance season 2 release date likely quite far off into the distance. Good things come to those who wait…
In the meantime however, the cast and crew have finally been caught in the wild filming scenes for the new season of Severance. According to Philip Pantuso of Times Union (opens in new tab) , Midtown Kingston in Hudson Valley, New York State, has recently played host to filming for the show.
"A production crew had blocked off most of Cornell Street from Broadway to Smith Avenue for a scene involving a car chase," while "several storefronts near that end of [Broadway street] had been modified by set designers."
One modified store featured new signage reading “Kier Uniforms Co.,” suggesting we'll see more of how the cult-like leader of Lumon Industries influence can be felt out in the wider world of Severance.
Severance at San Diego Comic-Con 2022
The Severance cast and crew hit 2022’s San Diego Comic-Con event for a panel discussion on the show’s story so far, and what’s going to happen next for those involved. And it threw up some interesting tidbits to get excited about.
"Something that I am excited about going into season 2 is building out the world a little bit more,” said series creator Dan Erickson at San Diego Comic Con 2022.
“Being able to see with this one slight tweak to reality what the different ramifications would be."
The panel also revealed some unlikely trivia about season 1 that we hadn’t heard before - such as the fact that, initially, Mark and Helly’s roles in the show were reversed, with Mark the new recruit waking up in the strange surroundings of the conference room. Also, the rainbow ceiling lights for the ‘Defiant Jazz’ scene were not communicated to the cast in order to preserve their real first-take responses to the surprising visuals.
"We didn't want it to feel like sci-fi – we wanted it to feel grounded," said Erickson, to the point where a real neurosurgeon was not only a consultant on the ‘severance’ procedure, but played an onscreen role in the show, too.
The physical presence of the elusive board was teased for season 2, while a discussion around fan theories presented “ideas better than” what even Erickson had in mind.
Season 2 of Severance: Script writing
If you’re looking for answers to Severance’s many mysteries though, you’ll want a peek inside season 2’s writing room, with scripts now being finalised for filming. It’s said to be quite a collaborative process between the show’s key creative teams. Even star Adam Scott gets to ‘peek in’ on what’s coming up for his character Mark.
“It’s not really a straight line process, and it never was with this show,” Erickson explained to Deadline following the show’s 14 nominations for the 2022 Emmys.
“Ben Stiller is very involved with the creation of the story, which is the same as how it was in season 1. It was always about this sort of weird alchemy of his ideas and my ideas, and filtering those through each other until we get something that we both agree feels right. So, it’s a really in-depth process, but a joyful process, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Keeping Severance season 2 spoilers secret
But even with filming now underway, some key cast members are being kept in the dark about the plot's twists and turns to protect spoilers from being leaked.
For instance, Patricia Arquette told Entertainment Tonight (opens in new tab) that she knows "very little" about where the show is ultimately headed for season 2. “They don’t tell me anything, so I’m innocent.”
But Arquette did tease a darker turn for Severance season 2. "Be scared, very scared," she said. "I think these guys have been working really hard, and come up with a lot of really creative things. They have a whole world in their minds. They just let us in, piece by piece, into what’s going on, but I think it will be fun and beautiful.”
"I think we feel some pressure going in the second season, really because of the fans," the actress continued in conversation with ET Online (opens in new tab)at the 2023 SAG Awards. "The fans really got on board, and the fans were really invested, and we don't want to let them down, so, I think the pressure is more from them than anything."
Writers' strike woes
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is currently on strike, causing major upset for productions right across Hollywood. It's now hit Apple's Severance season 2 schedule, too.
As the WGA strike action rolls on, Deadline (opens in new tab) reports that "WGA members picketed York Studios in New York with members of IATSE and the Teamsters refused to cross the picket line." This is the second Apple TV Plus show to have suffered a similar fate after Maya Rudolph's Loot saw its own filming halted as a result of strike action.
Pay related to content shown as syndicated reruns is one of the guild's top concerns, among other negotiations, with wariness brewing around the use of AI-generated content. The WGA is looking for assurance that Hollywood would not use that as a way to work around its members. The Guardian (opens in new tab) reports that some believe the strike could last for months, leaving Severance and other shows and movies in limbo.
The first teaser footage of Severance season 2
If you stuck around to the very end of Apple's iPhone 14 event, after the camera cut off CEO Tim Cook and showed the Apple logo in its starry configuration, you were treated to a Marvel-like post-credit scene that may have given us our first look at the second season of Severance.
It wasn't much, but the scene featured Britt Lower as Helly (or her outie!), standing in front of a subway car at a train station. She glitched in and out of the screen before the screen cut to black.
You can check it out and the end of Apple's "Far Out" event below:
What is the Severance season 2 release date?
Season 2 of Severance is confirmed – even before the finale of season 1 wrapped, the show’s success meant that Apple commissioned a new batch of episodes without delay. Ben Stiller always envisioned the show as a ‘multi-season’ story.
However, those wanting the cliffhangers to be resolved soon may be in for quite a long wait – it took many years for season 1 to make it from script to screen, as Stiller explains.
"It’s really exciting to see the response from people who are loving the show – and the level of fan engagement. It has been a long road bringing Severance to television. I first read Dan’s pilot over five years ago," Stiller said in a statement.
"It has always been a multi-season story, and I’m really happy we get to continue it. I’m grateful to our partners at Apple TV+ who have been behind it the whole way. Praise Kier!”
When will Severance season 2 be released?
With all we know about the script writing process and filming schedule for Severance Season 2, when will it hit Apple TV Plus?
Just filming alone for season 1 of Severance took 11 months to complete, and with writing underway as of July 2022, we wouldn’t expect to see season 2 of Severance debut until late 2023 at the earliest, with a 2024 return more likely. By our estimates, that lines up with the current October 2022 - May 2023 shooting schedule. As yet, however, no official date has been revealed.
To complicate matters, the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike is slowing production down right across Hollywood, and Severance season two has not escaped that upset. Those holding their breath may want to take another gulp of O2...
Errr… you mentioned goats? What are Severance’s goats about?!
The goats! Of course - who could forget the series’ strange room with a lone employee feeding the tiny kids...
While we still don’t know exactly what that mysterious room was about, Erickson promised at Comic-Con that their meaning and purpose will begin to become clear when season 2 airs.
The return of the goats was also echoed in a Variety (opens in new tab) interview with director Ben Stiller. "Dan said yes [of another glimpse of the goats] at the Comic-Con panel, so I guess I can! Yes. There’s no way the goats are there for no reason."
Speaking to AV Club (opens in new tab), Zach Cherry discussed a set of fan theories that have come from a very specific place — his father. “They all come from my dad who text’s me after every episode, and he’s pretty sure it’s… aliens.”
“What’s the deal with the baby goats?’ [...] is a legit question,” Adam Scott joked with the Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab).
“I love reading everything, all [the fans'] ideas, what they think’s going on,” Arquette added in an Entertainment Tonight (opens in new tab). “I mean, they’re for real.”
Either way, EXPECT MORE GOAT ACTION TO COME.
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Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 14 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system.
Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar, Space.com, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews, Mirror.co.uk, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.