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Shadow and Bone season 2: plot, cast and everything else we know so far

Jessie Mei Li and Ben Barnes as Alina Starkov and General Kirigan in Shadow and Bone season 1
(Image credit: Netflix)

Shadow and Bone season 2 has been greenlit – but it'll be a while before the Netflix fantasy show returns to our screens

The streamer’s adaptation of the Grishaverse novels, which were penned by Leigh Bardugo, has been well received by fans and critics. That's unsurprising as we thought it made a great impression, and we now have confirmation that a second season is on the way. We're unsure, though, when that will be exactly.

While we wait for more concrete news on when Shadow and Bone season 2 is set to launch, what do we know about its next instalment?

The latest information drop comes from Bardugo, who has hinted that work is set to ramp up on season 2 over the next few months.

That's not all. Below, we dive into everything worth knowing about Shadow and Bone season 2 so far. We take a look at its potential release date, plot threads, new and returning cast members, how many episodes there will be and more.

It should be said, spoilers for Shadow and Bone season 1 and Bardugo’s novels follow. Turn back now if you haven’t watched the TV show in its entirety, or you don’t want plot points from the books spoiled. 

Shadow and Bone season 2 release date: 2022? 

The Crows – Jesper, Inej and Kaz – as seen in Shadow and Bone season 1

(Image credit: Netflix/David Appleby)

There’s no official release date for season 2 just yet.

Announced during Netflix Geeked Week – the streamer's first-ever Comic Con-esque virtual event – the cast of Shadow and Bone revealed the news of a second outing for the show. No details were forthcoming about when filming would begin, but it may be sooner than we might think, according to the series' showrunner.

Check out the official announcement below: 

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In a thread on his personal Twitter account, showrunner Eric Heisserer revealed that he had written a lot of (if not all) of the next entry's scripts already.

Heisserer seemingly finished penning season 2 around April time (before a second season was picked up by Netflix). If those pages don't require further treatments, filming may begin sooner than we previously thought, which may mean Shadow and Bone returns to our screens sometime in 2022.

Check out Heisserer's Twitter thread below:

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That appears more likely, too, given Bardugo's latest Instagram post. The author told her followers that she'd be taking a social media break over the next few months to work on, among other things, Shadow and Bone season 2.

Hopefully, much of pre-production will be sorted before the year is out so that principal photography can begin in earnest.

Ahead of season 1’s release, we asked Heisserer and Bardugo about whether they’d been told if season 2 would be greenlit. Heisserer said that we should “call Netflix and tell them to let us make it [season 2]”, while Bardugo added: “We don’t know how this will go. We haven’t planned [for it] and it’s really up to viewers and Netflix to see if we can execute [a second season].”

Heisserer’s vision for Shadow and Bone may include more than three seasons, too. While Bardugo’s first novels – Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising – make up the Grisha trilogy, there are plenty of other stories that can be incorporated into future seasons. In total, the Grishaverse contains a trilogy, two duologies, eight short stories and two companion novels, so “there's a lot of ground for us to cover,” as Heisserer told Collider.

Shadow and Bone season 2 cast: which characters are returning? 

Alina Starkov and General Kirigan during Shadow and Bone season 1

(Image credit: Netflix/David Appleby)

Again, there’s no confirmation on this front, but all of season 1’s major players should return:

  • Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov 
  • Ben Barnes as General Kirigan/the Darkling 
  • Archie Renaux as Malyen “Mal” Oretsov 
  • Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker 
  • Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa 
  • Kit Young as Jesper Fahey 
  • Danielle Gilligan as Nina Zenik 
  • Calahan Skogman as Matthias Helvar 
  • Zoe Wanamaker as Baghra 
  • Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya Nazyalensky 

As Shadow and Bone’s principal protagonists, Alina and Mal are certain to return, while Kirigan – who is still alive after he exited the Shadow Fold in the season finale – will also be back.

Kaz, Jesper and Inej, too, should be part of the season 2 line up. As in the Six of Crows duology, the Dregs’ story (more on this below) will line up with Nina and Matthias’, so we should see that trio link up with the latter duo. This was hinted at in season 1’s final episode, so expect them to join forces as they do in the novels.

As for which characters could make the leap from Bardugo’s book series to the live-action TV series, Heisserer revealed (per Collider) that there will be “one hundred percent more Wylan” in season 2. In the novels, Wylan Van Eck joins the Dregs as their demolitions expert for a job inside Fjerdan’s military stronghold known as the Ice Court.

Another character who could appear in season 2 is Nikolai Lantsov. 

In the books, Nikolai adopts the pseudonym Sturnhound and leads a pirate armada that aids the war effort for the kingdom of Ravka. Nikolai becomes a key ally of Alina and Mal’s, so his arrival in Netflix’s adaptation will be vital if the TV show predominantly follows Siege and Storm’s storyline in season 2. 

Heisserer teased Nikolai’s potential involvement in season 2 during a chat with Inverse, so he may be a new cast member when the next entry's casting announcements are revealed.

Shadow and Bone season 2 trailer: is there one? 

Archie Renaux as Mal Oretsov in Shadow and Bone season 1

(Image credit: DAVID APPLEBY/NETFLIX)

No, and there won’t be for some time. Filming hasn't begun yet, so it'll be months before one is available to watch.

Once a trailer or teaser is released, however, we'll update this section.

Shadow and Bone season 2 plot: what will it be? 

Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal Oretsov (Archie Renaux) share a tender moment in Shadow and Bone season 1

(Image credit: Netflix)

Season 2 should follow two concurrent stories from Siege and Storm and Six of Crows. With Alina and Mal going their separate ways to the Dregs following season 1’s finale, season 2 should continue their journey to new lands to keep Alina out of Kirigan’s reach.

As season 1’s finale showed, Kirigan has tapped into his Darkling powers and created new Fold creatures known as Nichevo’ya. Unlike the Volcra that inhabit the Fold, these monsters can move in broad daylight and will prove to be difficult adversaries for Alina and Mal to overcome.

Ben Barnes, who portrays Kirigan/the Darkling in Netflix’s TV show, has expressed interest in seeing season 2 “steer off” from the story in the books (per Collider) in a similar vein to how season 1 incorporated the Dregs into Alina’s arc. 

It’s unclear if Heisserer and the series’ other producers will do so, but it would be an intriguing twist on the source material if they did. It would give established fans some new content again, like season 1 did, but we'll have to wait and see if this request is granted.

The Dregs, meanwhile, are likely to team up with Nina in a bid to free Matthias, with the duo – and potentially Wylan – being key to Kaz’s plan to rescue Bo Yul-Bayur, an inventor of a drug that Grisha find addictive, from Fjerda’s Ice Court. Shadow and Bone season 1 has already utilized the Ice Court’s ‘impossible heist’ angle for the Dregs’ initial mission to try and capture Alina, though, so it’s possible that Bo’s rescue may be altered for the TV series.

Another arc that could be adapted from another Grishaverse duology – King of Scars – is Zoya’s. A supporting character in the Grisha trilogy, Zoya’s character is given a more prominent role in Bardugo’s second duology and elements of the story from these books may be incorporated into the TV show, as Bardugo teased in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

In the season 1 finale, Zoya was seen heading to Novokribrisk – the city that Kirigan destroys with the Fold – to search for her family. Should she find that they’ve perished, Zoya could team up with the Dregs again, as she does in the Six of Crows’ Crooked Kingdom novel, or add in parts of her story from the King of Scars book.

One thing we do know is how many episodes there will be in season 2. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Shadow and Bone will return with another eight-episode run.

It's unclear if this will only focus on Alina and Mal's journey, though, or if the Dregs and Zoya will also feature in some capacity (as we speculated above). We'll receive confirmation on this front closer to release or when a trailer arrives.

Shadow and Bone season 2: does it deserve another outing?

Members of General Kirigan's Grisha army as seen in Shadow and Bone season 1

(Image credit: Netflix)

Yes. While it doesn't have a following as big as other major fantasy series, such as The Witcher, Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, the Grishaverse still has a sizable and passionate audience. Its fanbase is only set to grow, too, as Netflix's adaptation introduces this world to new audiences.

There are plenty of directions that Netflix's adaptation of the Grishaverse can go as well. Like the streamer's live-action Witcher series, Shadow and Bone could potentially lead to spin-offs that delve into the wider universe and use Bardugo's source material as a base for this. Whether it's expanding on a pre-existing short story or creating entirely new content, Netflix can go in all manner of directions in and around season 2.

Tom Power

Hired as TechRadar's entertainment reporter, Tom can be found covering all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you can wrap your eyes around. He also produces original content including reviews, opinion pieces, and interview-led features with the world's biggest actors, directors, writers, producers and studios, which is always a fun time. Follow him on Twitter @thomp1987.