Foundation season 3: key information
- Hasn't been officially announced
- Filming reportedly underway prior to Hollywood strikes
- Unsurprisingly, no trailer is available
- Key cast members likely to return
- Should pick up 150 years after season 2 finale
- No confirmed plot details
- Likely to draw from Isaac Asimov's 'Foundation and Empire' and 'Second Foundation' books
- Could set up a fourth season
When will Foundation season 3 land on Apple TV Plus? Right now, the answer is: we don't know.
At the time of writing, another season of Foundation hasn't been formally announced by Apple's streaming division. However, given the epic sci-fi series is one of the best Apple TV Plus shows, we'd be very surprised if it isn't renewed for a third season.
In the meantime, there's plenty to speculate about Foundation's potential third outing. Below, we've rounded up all the information and rumors we can find ahead of its likely renewal, including cast details, potential storylines, and the series' future.
Full spoilers for Foundation season 2 follow, as well as possible spoilers for Foundation season 3. The latter is based on what we know about Isaac Asimov's seminal books, which Apple TV's show is adapted from, and what happened in the Foundation season 2 finale.
Foundation season 3 release date speculation
Foundation season 3 doesn't have a launch date. As mentioned, it hasn't been greenlit by Apple yet.
That said, there are rumors that filming for a third season was already underway before the writers and actors strikes effectively shut down Hollywood. Speaking exclusively to TechRadar before Foundation season 2's launch, showrunner David S Goyer and some of the cast declined to comment on speculation about Foundation season 3's potentially secret renewal. Hopefully, Apple won't make us wait too long for an official announcement on the show's return.
Foundation season 3 potential cast
Major spoilers are incoming for Foundation season 2.
If (and when) Foundation season 3 is greenlit, here's who we expect to see as part of its cast:
Jared Harris as Hari Seldon
Lee Pace as Brother Day
Lou Llobell as Gaal Dornick
Laura Birn as Demerzel
Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn
Terrence Mann as Brother Dusk
Michael Persbrandt as The Mule
The first six actors have played major roles in Foundation so far – they'll definitely be back. Persbrandt's The Mule only made brief cameos in the second season, but he's expected to be one of season 3's villains, so he'll have a bigger role to play next time.
There's the possibility that other supporting characters from season 2 could feature in the series' next installment. That could include Ella Rae Smith's Queen Sareth, Isabella Laughland's Brother Constant, Kulvinder Ghir as Poly Verisof, Oliver Chris as Director Sermak, and Dino Fleischer as Glawyn Curr.
However, as we noted in our Foundation season 2 ending explainer, a third season will likely be set 150 years in the future. If the series features another big jump forward in time, none of those characters will likely be alive in season 3's opening episode. Well, unless the Vault – the giant 4D structure they're housed in – affects the flow of time within its walls, meaning they could age more slowly or not at all.
One main character who definitely won't be back is Leah Harvey's Salvor Hardin. After playing a vital role in Foundation seasons 1 and 2, Salvor sacrificed herself to save Gaal in season 2's final episode 'Creation Myths'. Foundation's universe has the potential to bring people back from the dead – we're looking at you, Hari – but, considering Salvor was cremated, she's officially dead and gone.
Other season 2 characters killed in the final two episodes include Ben Daniels' General Bel Riose, Dimitri Leonidas' Hober Mallow, Rachel House's Tellem Bond, and Sandra Yi Sencindiver's Enjoiner Rue. Don't expect this quartet to return, either.
Foundation season 3 possible plot points
Understandably, plot details are thin on the ground – and that'll remain the case until Apple says so.
For now, we can only speculate on what might happen in Foundation season 3. Our aforementioned season 2 ending explainer takes a look at the possible storylines and subplots that could make up its successor's narrative. You can read that article for more on what the season 2 finale may have set up.
Don't worry, though, we'll still give you an in-depth breakdown of what might occur below. Full spoilers for Foundation season 2 ahead.
Let's start with the Galactic Empire. Season 2's incarnations of its three Emperors – Dawn, Day, and Dusk, all clones of Cleon I – are no longer sitting on the throne (or thrones, if you will). Day suffocated in space and Dusk was killed by Demerzel. Dawn fled with Queen Sareth after Demerzel threatened to execute Sareth for her alleged role in the failed assassination of Day in season 2 opener 'In Seldon's Shadow'.
As we know, Demerzel was the one who hired the Blind Angels to make an attempt on Day's life. Day wanted to marry Sareth and father his own children, which would've ended the Cleonic dynasty. This plan went against the directives Cleon I gave Demerzel – remember, she's a robot – centuries earlier, which included maintaining that dynasty. Long story short: Demerzel planned to set up Sareth as Day's would-be murderer and execute her to preserve the status quo.
With season 2's Emperors deceased or on the run, Demerzel has been forced to decant new versions of all three clones – something she's never had to do before. It's unclear what short-term impact this'll have on the Empire, but, with the unflappable Demerzel to guide them, the new clones should be up and running in no time. That said, given season 3 may be set over a century later, we'll see new iterations of all three Emperors next time out, not the ones glimpsed in season 2's penultimate scene.
Read our exclusive Foundation season 2 coverage
- Foundation season 2 premiere review
- Foundation season 2 isn't trying to be Apple's version of Star Wars
- Power struggle: inside Foundation season 2's internal and external fight for supremacy
- Exclusive Foundation season 2 clip teases an intense space battle Star Wars would be proud of
That's not the only wildcard Demerzel has at her disposal. In season 2 episode 9, 'Long Ago, Not Far Away', the Vault-based version of Hari Seldon – you didn't forget there were two of him, did you? – tried to show Demerzel how to operate the Prime Radiant. Essentially a data storage device, the Prime Radiant contains all of Hari's psychohistory-based math, which is being used to help guide humanity through its darkest age yet.
The Prime Radiant also exists in a state of supposition, meaning it can be in two places at any given time. That means the living Hari (the one working with Gaal) also possesses one. Now, the other is, unfortunately, in Demerzel's hands. Once she can read Hari's math, she'll be able to manipulate it and attempt to stop Hari, Gaal, and the Foundation from bringing down the Empire.
Speaking of the Vault, 'Creation Myths' revealed that the mysterious 4D structure survived the destruction of Terminus. Not only that, it sheltered the world's population – i.e. those involved in the titular Foundation – from their planet's annihilation at the Empire's hands. The Vault-based Hari explained as much when the Vault picked up Brother Constant, who was the sole survivor of the Empire's Shining Destiny warship's own demolition. We're unsure when we'll see the Vault again, but we expect it to continue playing a big role in Foundation's overarching plot.
The survival of Terminus' Foundation will surprise the Galactic Empire, but that's not the only thing it'll have to contend with.
For starters, Dawn and Sareth's absconsion is a worrying prospect – Sareth is pregnant with Dawn's child, meaning their firstborn has a claim to the Empire's throne. With Foundation season 3 expected to jump ahead 150 years, it's more likely we'll see the child's next of kin make a play for the royal seat if this particular narrative is part of Goyer's wider plan for the series. In the second half of 'Foundation and Empire', the second novel in Asismov's Foundation book trilogy, the Empire is engulfed by civil war. This is a plot point Goyer could adapt for a showdown between Dawn and Sareth's bloodline and the Cleonic dynasty.
Elsewhere, Gaal and Hari's successful recruitment of the Mentalics, a race with psychic abilities, means the Foundation is stronger than ever. Add the Mentalics to the Foundation's seven planetary bodies, plus the Empire losing the ability to hyperjump – the genetically engineered Spacers are no longer enslaved by them – and the playing field looks much more level than it did in Foundation's first episode.
Hari, Gaal, and company shouldn't expect to walk all over the Empire now, however. As well as the tyrannical leaders' continuing grip on the galaxy, the future emergence of The Mule – a powerful Mentalic who begins conquering worlds in Asmiov's book series – could give rise to the Third Seldon Crisis.
These crises are fixed points in humanity's existence that determine whether the Foundation succeeds or fails. So far, the Foundation has navigated two potential calamities: surviving in the galaxy's outer reaches and bypassing a full-blown war with the Empire. The Mule looks like he'll pose the biggest threat – and that's saying something – to the Foundation's existence. To combat him, Gaal and Hari have entered cryosleep on the Mentalics' sanctuary of Ignis. That way, they can be reawakened when The Mule shows up and help lead the fight against him. The rest of the Mentalics will hone their abilities and learn about psychohistory in the interim 150-year period so they're ready to battle The Mule and his forces when the time comes.
Foundation season 3 trailer: is there one?
Unsurprisingly, no. Once a Foundation season 3 teaser is released, we'll update this section.
Will Foundation season 3 get a follow-up season?
Steady on, dear reader. Foundation season 3 hasn't been confirmed, so we're getting ahead of ourselves by thinking about a fourth installment.
If a third season is released and received as well as its predecessors, however, Apple would be foolish not to renew Foundation for a fourth outing. By the time a possible third season ends, the show would've only covered the first two main novels – 'Foundation' and 'Foundation & Empire' – plus the first half of the third installment, 'Second Foundation', in Asimov's book series. There are two prequel novels and two sequel books that expand on Foundation's unique universe, too, so there's plenty more ground for the TV series to cover.
Ahead of the first season's launch, showrunner David S Goyer (per Decider) revealed he had given Apple an eight-season outline for Foundation's TV adaptation. The show has deviated somewhat from the story told in Asimov's books so, alongside adapting parts from the wider source material, Goyer and company could tell a more complete narrative in the seasons to come.
As long as Foundation continues to draw in a big enough audience to justify its financial outlay, Apple should continue to bankroll its development. So, after Foundation season 3, we'd expect to see Goyer achieve his aim of delivering another five seasons' worth of prestige sci-fi television for us to escape into.