Behind ‘Euphoria’ Season 3 Delay: Where the Show Goes After High School

When Euphoria eventually returns for its third season, Rue and friends will no longer be in high school.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that multiple factors are behind HBO’s decision to delay production on the third season of the drama starring Zendaya, notably conversations between the network and creator Sam Levinson on where the action will be set after the characters leave high school. Initially slated to begin in the coming months, production is now forced to hit pause as the creative team and network hash out the new world.

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Sources close to the series say Levinson’s plan is to feature a time jump when the third season eventually returns — ideally in 2025 but no longer guaranteed. Also unclear is the number of episodes that will make up season three as Levinson and HBO go back and forth on the arcs for Rue (Zendaya), Nate (Jacob Elordi), Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney).

On Monday, HBO said in a statement that it was allowing its star-studded cast to “pursue other opportunities” even as all parties “remain committed to making an exceptional third season.” HBO declined further comment outside of its initial statement.

The show has helped launch the hot film careers of Zendaya (Dune), Sweeney (Anyone but You) and Elordi (Saltburn), but the cast remains in first position on Euphoria. That means that should a castmember line up a new film or TV project, they may have to pause it whenever cameras are ready to roll on Euphoria, or film both projects concurrently. The production also could work around their schedules, which will be another factor in lining up when filming can begin again. With the high-wattage cast in demand and eager to work, however, sources say HBO felt it was unfair to prevent them from taking roles in the interim.

Season two of Euphoria, which aired in early 2022, saw many of its characters as juniors or seniors in high school. The season two finale made no mention of graduation and instead featured a play that went off the rails and a deadly shootout that wrote off Javon “Wanna” Walton (Ash) and saw the late Angus Cloud’s character Fez arrested. Barbie Ferreira (Kat) also revealed last April that she and Levinson made the mutual decision that she would not return. “I don’t think there was a place for [my character] to go,” she said at the time.

Sources say that Levinson is a notoriously deliberative writer. In a late February interview with GQ, Emmy-winning guest star Colman Domingo (Rustin) attempted to explain the delay for season three, describing Levinson as someone “who writes and rewrites and writes and rewrites again” and saying the creator was “interested in the existential question of who we are right now. Our souls. That’s what he wants to figure out with season three.”

Levinson also spent a few years juggling Euphoria with HBO’s ill-fated music drama The Idol. That series, which was announced in June 2021, faced a creative overhaul a year later, before it eventually aired as a five-episode order (down one from what was originally conceived) in summer 2023. HBO canceled the show in August 2023. Levinson also lost a huge chunk of 2023 due to the writers strike, which also contributed to the delay.

High school-set shows — think Glee, Beverly Hills 90210 and Saved by the Bell — have historically struggled to evolve as the narratives move beyond graduation, adding a rare pressure on the next season of the hit series.

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