The stakes and the anticipation are higher than ever for The Handmaid's Tale Season 6.
Created by Bruce Miller, The Handmaid's Tale is based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. The story revolves around a dystopia following a second American Civil War where a totalitarian society subjects Handmaids aka fertile women to child-bearing slavery.
In December 2020, Hulu renewed The Handmaid's Tale for a fifth season, with it premiering on September 14, 2022.
When Is The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 Releasing?
In September 2022, The Handmaid's Tale was renewed for a sixth season. The announcement came ahead of Season 5's premiere on Hulu.
The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruce Miller shared the following statement after the Season 6 renewal:
“It has been a true honor to tell the story of Margaret Atwood’s groundbreaking novel and chillingly relevant world, and we are thrilled to bring viewers a sixth and final season of The Handmaid’s Tale. We are grateful to Hulu and MGM for allowing us to tell this story, which unfortunately has remained as relevant as ever throughout its run, and are in awe of our incredible fans for their unwavering support, and without whom we never would have gotten to this point.”
After Season 5 ended its run on November 9, 2022, Hulu has yet to announce Season 6's official release date.
In November 2022, The Handmaid's Tale lead star Elizabeth Moss spoke with Elle to tease what lies ahead in Season 6 while noting that it will be a while before fans see anything new:
"It feels like it’s going to be so long until you guys get to see anything else. And I apologize personally for that, but every season we do gets bigger, and it takes longer to make every time. And because it’s the final season, we really want to make sure that it’s exactly what we want to do."
Interestingly, Madeline Brewer, who plays Janine in the series, claimed during The Graham Norton Show Series 30 New Year's Eve Show that Season 6 would be “coming in 2024.”
However, in February 2023, Bradley Whitford, who plays Commander Lawrence in the series, told Entertainment Tonight that filming for Season 6 won't start "until August" of this year, reminding everyone that "there's a lot of labor issues" in Hollywood that need to be solved:
"I just heard we're not going back until August. I don't know what the logistical reason for that is… As you know, there's a lot of labor issues that need to be solved in Hollywood."
Whitford wasn't wrong since the ongoing writers' strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) combined with the recently-begun actors' strike by the Screen Actors Guild directly impacted a plethora of productions across Hollywood.
Until the strikes are resolved, it's possible that filming for The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 won't begin until early 2024.
For reference, production for Season 1 took place from September 2016 to August 2017. There's a chance that the same length of filming could happen for Season 6.
That said, The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 could realistically premiere in 2025.
Is The Handmaid's Tale Ending With Season 6?
Alongside the announcement of its renewal, The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruce Miller confirmed in September 2022 that Season 6 is the show's final season.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Miller opened up about the show's ending, noting that all he thought about is its ending "since the beginning:"
“I’ve been thinking about the end since the beginning. I’ve been thinking about the end of this story since I read The Handmaid’s Tale [for] the first time. It’s one of those books that when you finish reading it, all you think about is the end. So in the end, story-wise, we’ve been able to stay pretty close to what we had thought, from our initial discussions and what Lizzy and I had talked about, and what Margaret and I had talked about.”
Moreover, it was also confirmed that Miller will not be the showrunner of The Handmaid's Tale Season 6, and he will be replaced by current writers and executive producers Eric Tuchman and Yahlin Chang.
In an interview with Digital Spy in November 2022, Miller hinted that the show will wrap storylines in its "own terms:"
"We're going to wrap it up on our own terms. It's something we never get with just the way the business is set up. And also, more importantly, not something everyone would give to the audience."
Miller also reflected on the novel's original ending:
"The book is so frustrating at the end, because the book just ends. And everybody's like, 'How could you, Bruce Miller… Who do you think you are, writing more?' I'm like, 'Oh my God, it’s all I've ever wanted to do, to write the rest.' Because it's like: what the hell happened?! Oh my God – it's the most infuriating ending."
Meanwhile, The Handmaid's Tale lead star Elizabeth Moss told THR in June 2021 that she agrees that there's always an ending in sight:
“I’m a big believer in that there’s a beginning and an end to every story. The book is about this one woman’s journey. It’s not about the whole war or the fall of Gilead. It’s about these people at this moment in time. I don’t think anything should ever go on forever. History shows that series tend to maybe not get so good, though there are exceptions. But, at the same time, I love playing her and I love being a producer and director on the show now. It won’t be an easy one to say goodbye to.”
Despite the fact that Season 6 will serve as the show's final bow, a spin-off series named The Testaments is already in development.
The upcoming spin-off is set to continue the world of Gilead, with Miller attached as its showrunner. The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.
The exact plot details of the spin-off are still being kept under wraps, but it is expected that some aspects of the storyline from the novel will heavily influence the series.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 Cast: Who Will Return?
These major cast members of The Handmaid's Tale from Season 5 are all expected to return in Season 6:
- Elisabeth Moss - June Osborne
- Yvonne Strahovski - Serena Joy Waterford
- Ann Dowd - Aunt Lydia
- O-T Fagbenle - Luke
- Max Minghella - Nick
- Madeline Brewer - Janine
- Bradley Whitford - Commander Lawrence
- Amanda Brugel - Rita
Who Will Not Return in The Handmaid's Tale Season 6?
Although the majority of the cast will return in Season 6, there are some actors who will not make a comeback in the final season.
Alexis Bedel is not expected to return in Season 6, considering that her character Emily was completely written out in the Season 5 premiere. During the installment, it was revealed that Emily went back to Gilead.
In May 2022, Bedel addressed her departure in an official statement issued to Entertainment Weekly:
"After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid's Tale at this time. I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast, and crew for their support."
Joseph Fiennes' Commander Waterford is also not expected to return after being brutally murdered in the Season 4 finale.
What Will Happen in The Handmaid's Tale Season 6?
The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 could juggle several storylines before reaching its climactic end.
In November 2022, Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn't expect a time jump will occur in Season 6:
"We don’t tend to jump very much in time. And it’s simply because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m like, 'What happens next?'."
At the end of Season 5, June and Serena were both inside a train that heading to Hawaii. Season 6 could explore the pair's newfound dynamic and where exactly they will end up.
Moreover, June and Nick's unfinished business is also set to be pushed to the forefront in Season 6, with former The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruno Miller noting, via Entertainment Weekly in November 2022, that they were unable to "think about anything" other than their love for one another:
"I feel like this is the most romantic Nick/June season ever because they spend the whole time trying to convince themselves that they don't need to be together. And by the end, they are not successful at all, they fail entirely. They don't even see each other in the last episode, and they're so in love they can't think about anything else."
Season 6 could also revolve around the ramifications of Nick and Luke's arrests during the Season 5 finale. It's possible that there will be bloody consequences for the pair's actions.
Meanwhile, Hannah's uneasy situation in Gilead and Commander Lawrence's Gilead 2.0 aka New Bethlehem could also be highlighted in Season 6.
Where Can I Watch The Handmaid's Tale Season 6?
The Handmaid's Tale is available to stream on Hulu in the United States.
Hulu is home to other incredible shows, such as Atlanta, Only Murders in the Building, Fargo, and Reservation Dogs.
Fans can also purchase the series on Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play Movies, Vudu, and the Microsoft Store.
Is There a Trailer for The Handmaid's Tale Season 6?
At this point, Hulu has not released an official trailer for The Handmaid's Tale Season 6 as filming hasn't begun due to the ongoing actors' and writers' strikes.
The first five seasons of The Handmaid's Tale are streaming on Hulu in the United States.