While most may think of HBO as the home of Westeros, Westworld, and westerns like Deadwood, the channel is also known for their Emmy-winning historical miniseries like The Pacific and John Adams. The latest entry into the genre is Chernobyl, a gripping recreation of the days and weeks after the accident at the nuclear power plant that threatened the lives of millions. The five-episode series caught the imagination of audiences just as it rounded into the finale, leaving fans clamoring for more. Will there be a Chernobyl Season 2?
Even as recently as a year ago, no one would ask such a question. HBO is well-known as the home of prestige TV, some might even argue they invented the genre with shows like Deadwood and The Sopranos. But it is also the cable channel that doesn't let series run too long, and never did sequels. If a show on HBO decided to do more, it made a movie, like Sex & The City did, or The Sopranos is currently doing. A "Limited Series" like Chernobyl was precisely that: limited to one run. There was no John Adams II: Quincy's Turn, and no The Pacific: Return To The Eastern Theater.
But times are changing. HBO's parent company, WarnerMedia, was recently bought by AT&T. And the rumor is the new plan is focusing on quantity, not quality.
Could there be a Chernobyl sequel? There are options, should HBO find themselves mandated to explore them. For instance, Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) lived until 1990, and, post-Chernobyl, he became the go-to guy in the USSR when calamity struck. Such a catastrophe occurred on Dec. 7, 1988, when the Spitak earthquake hit Soviet Armenia with a surface wave magnitude of 6.8, which caused most of the Soviet-era high-rise apartments, like the ones seen in Pripyat in Chernobyl, to collapse like dominos.
Despite Shcherbina's post-Chernobyl illness, he was assigned to handle the fallout. Proving that his time working with Legasov had an impact, Shcherbina demanded the USSR seek outside aid and admit to the level of destruction from the first. At his urging, Gorbachev asked the US for help for the first time since 1940. Now, that's not to say HBO would jump on such a story, but in terms of a sequel, it's one that would draw on the same cast.
But chances are any "sequel" to Chernobyl wouldn't actually be a direct sequel, either with the same actors, or focused on the same theme. Instead, what viewers should keep an eye out for is a completely different miniseries from the same creative team. Writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck have officially risen to the top of the heap when it comes to this year's Emmy futures in the Limited Series category. If HBO is looking for more content from them, the likely result is a pitch focused on a completely different story from recent history.
Fans might want a return to Pripyat and the 1980s era of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, they will probably have to content themselves with Google rabbit holes and History channel specials, at least for now.