Blessed be the fruit, Hulu's award-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale is coming back for Season 4. The last time we saw June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss), she and the other handmaids of Gilead (formerly known as the United States of America) began planting the seeds of a rebellion meant to topple the Christian theocracy which has kept them down for years.
Emboldened, June worked covertly to help children and her fellow handmaids escape Gilead for the safe haven of Canada. While Season 3 ended on this hopeful note, June remains in Gilead, continuing to sow the seeds of rebellion. While the finale raised a lot of questions, fans will have to wait just a little while longer to find out what awaits June and her comrades as the Handmaid's Tale story continues. Here's what we know so far about The Handmaid's Tale Season 4, including the release date, which cast members are returning, and whether this will be the last season of the dystopian drama.
Why wait? Here are eight shows worth checking out if you love Handmaid's Tale.
When is The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 release date?
Hulu hasn't set a specific premiere date yet, but The Handmaid's Tale is now expected to arrive in 2021.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 will arrive later than previous seasons, primarily due to the Hollywood-wide production shutdowns in March. Seasons 1 through 3 premiered in either the spring or summer. Season 4 was expected to be released in Fall 2020 after it was renewed just weeks ahead of the Season 3 finale premiere in 2019.
Filming on the new season started on March 2 in Toronto, Canada. It was originally supposed to wrap in August, but the pandemic happened. Speaking with TVLine recently, Bradley Whitford confirmed that the cast was returning to Toronto to quarantine for two weeks and that they would begin filming Season 4 thereafter.
"Yeah, hardcore quarantine of two weeks. Like, you’re really not to allowed to leave your room for two weeks. So, somehow, I live in a world where I am getting more house arrest time than Roger Stone. [Laughs]"
With the cast resuming production and, assuming that all goes well given the pandemic, it's possible that The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 could be premiere by late spring/early summer 2021. Stay tuned for updates.
Is there a trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4?
Yes, but it's only a brief teaser. It's like the folks at Hulu didn't want people to forget that Season 4 was still happening, so the streamer released a minute-long trailer. Given that The Handmaid's Tale had only begun filming Season 4, most of the footage included is from Season 3. That said, it's notable that Nick is heard speaking with Commander Lawrence about June's legacy.
Check out the full teaser below!
Hulu will likely release an official trailer just one month ahead of a new season, as has been the go-to strategy in the past and there's no signs of that changing now. Stay tuned.
How many episodes will The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 have?
The new Season 4 release date window isn't the only big change coming to the award-winning Hulu show. Unlike previous seasons, which have had 13 episodes each, The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 will only have 10 episodes. When asked why the upcoming season would be shorter, The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruce Miller told IndieWire that the decision “was 100 percent creative," and went on to comment, "Some storylines just seem to shake out as a 10-episode story, in my eyes. It gives us a little more freedom because you can rely more on one propulsive element."
Just because there will be three less episodes in Season 4, it doesn't mean fans should read this as a sign of the show coming to an end or read into how the episode count will affect the story.
Which cast members of Handmaid’s Tale will return for Season 4?
For now, we can expect all of the key cast members to return for The Handmaid's Tale Season 4. This includes:
- Elisabeth Moss as June
- Joseph Fiennes as Fred Waterford
- Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Waterford
- Samira Wiley as Moira
- Alexis Bledel as Emily
- Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
- Max Minghella as Nick Blaine
- O-T Fagbenle as Luke Bankole
- Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Laurence
- Clea Duvall as Sylvia
- Amanda Brugel as Rita
As for new characters, while no major casting announcements have been made yet, we should expect some fresh faces to pop up along the way as the story develops. A comment from Moss made in an August 2019 Hollywood Reporter interview seems to imply new characters will be arriving on the scene as the Canada-set section of the story continues:
"We have six regular [characters] in Canada now … we spent the whole Season 3 with June in a new house with Bradley Whitford as Commander Lawrence. Obviously, June's going to need to find a new fucking place to live. I don't think she's going back to that house! It's an opportunity for a new location, a new world, a new part of the world to show and new characters."
So even though the main cast is very much set, there could still be a few casting surprises in store or, just maybe, a character we've only ever seen in a supporting/background role could rise up to become more integral to the story. Keep your eyes peeled.
What is the plot for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4?
It’s a safe bet the new season will pick up shortly after June secured the children’s safe voyage to Canada. Serena and Fred are still being held prisoner, and the story will likely reveal their fate. There was also that subplot about Nick possibly having lied about his identity and June’s future in Gilead.
In an interview, Whitford was asked whether Commander Lawrence would get pre-Gilead flashback scenes a la Aunt Lydia. Here's what he said:
"I would love that. I love seeing Aunt Lydia back in the day, and I find those flashbacks really moving and kind of often the most terrifying and relatable, unfortunately, part of the show."
It's not a confirmation that we'll see Lawrence's past, but it would be interesting. For now, everything is up in the air until more details about Season 4 are revealed.
Will The Handmaid’s Tale end after Season 4?
Not necessarily. While Hulu hasn’t confirmed the show will continue beyond Season 4, executive producer Warren Littlefield seems hopeful it could continue. The final season of the show — whenever that will be — could even tie into The Handmaid’s Tale spinoff series, The Testaments.
Here’s what Littlefield told TV Guide:
“We have not planned Season 4 to be the end, but we also look to Margaret [Atwood]’s book The Testaments and know that that story takes us 15 years into the future. We don’t see ending it in [Season 4], and I can honestly say to you, we don’t have a definitive out. But I think we want to keep the bar high, and it would not be a bad thing to leave the audience wanting more and then we could ideally shift into The Testaments.”
Miller made an interesting comment back in August 2019 to Vanity Fair after the end of Season 3: "When June dies, our guide dies, and our show dies." If anything, that comment is probably the most solid indicator to fans on when they can expect The Handmaid's Tale story to end for good.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 will premiere at some point in 2021.