Foundation season 3: everything we know about the Apple TV Plus show's return

Brother Day stands in front of his subjects on a platform in Foundation season 2, which precedes Foundation season 3
Lee Pace's Brother Day will return in Foundation season 3 if it's greenlit. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)
Foundation season 3: key information

- Officially confirmed in early December
- Filming reportedly began in May 2023
- However, showrunner David S. Goyer confirms "scouting and prep in the works"
- No trailer available yet
- 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

Foundation season 3 feels like a long way off at this point. The hit Apple sci-fi show was renewed for another season in December 2023, but it seems like it'll be many, many more months – maybe even longer? – before it debuts on our TV screens.

Why do we say that? Because, despite reports suggesting Foundation 's third season started filming in May 2023, showrunner David S. Goyer has hinted that's not the case. You'll have to read on find out why he's suggesting that the cameras haven't started rolling again on one of the best Apple TV Plus shows, though.

If you do read on – and we're confident you will – there's plenty more information and rumors for you to dig into. Below, we've outlined everything we know about Foundation 3 on Apple TV Plus, including its possible release date, confirmed cast, plot speculation, and more.

Major spoilers follow for Foundation season 2. Possible spoilers for Foundation's next outing and Isaac Asimov's books of the same name are also discussed.

Foundation season 3 release date speculation

Salvor, Hari, and Gaal stare out of a spaceship's cockpit into space in Foundation season 2

"Let's check the internet for news on Foundation season 3..." (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

It doesn't have a launch date, but Foundation season 3 was confirmed to be in the works in December 2023.

Speaking exclusively to TechRadar in June 2023, Goyer and some of the cast declined to comment on speculation about Foundation season 3's rumored renewal. Weeks before we spoke to Foundation's showrunner and cast, The Prague Reporter suggested principal photography had started in May.

However, a new Instagram post from Goyer – dated January 27 – confirms that location scouting and other preparatory work is ongoing. That indicates filming hasn't started at all, meaning The Prague Reporter is way off base with its claim. Alternatively, it could mean some of season 3 has been shot, and that Goyer and his fellow crew members are gearing up to film more of it after the 2023 Hollywood strikes temporarily halted its production.

However long Foundation season 3 is on the production line, it won't be with us in 2024. Speaking in a behind-the-scenes featurette on Apple TV Plus' YouTube channel, Goyer revealed one season takes two years to make before it's ready for release. If season 3's production progresses along a similar timeline, it won't arrive until early 2025. That's because, in Goyer's words, post-production takes a whole year to complete so, even if filming wraps this year, it'll be another 12 months before the show returns.

Foundation season 3 cast speculation

Brother Day and Queen Sareth stand side by side in Foundation season 2

Cassian Bilton's Brother Dawn will return, but Ella Rae Smith's Queen Sareth might not. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Major spoilers are incoming for Foundation season 2.

Here's who we expect to see in Foundation season 3:

  • 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
  • Alexander Siddig as Doctor Ebling Mis

The first six actors have played major roles in Foundation so far, so they'll definitely be back. Persbrandt's The Mule made brief cameo appearances in season 2, but he's expected to be one of season 3's villains, meaning he'll have a bigger role to play next time.

Other season 2 characters could feature next time out, including 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 explained article, season 3 will likely be set 150 years in the future. If Foundation features another big time jump, none of these characters are likely to be alive. 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.

Salvor Hardin looks shocked as she walks through a cave in Foundation season 2

Leah Harvey's Salvor Hardin died in the season 2 finale. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

One major character who definitely won't be back is Leah Harvey's Salvor Hardin, who sacrificed herself to save Gaal in season 2's final episode, aka '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. Harvey seemingly confirmed her time with Foundation was over in November 2023, too.

Other season 2 characters killed off in the final two episodes were Ben Daniels' General Bel Riose, Dimitri Leonidas' Hober Mallow, Rachel House's Tellem Bond, and Sandra Yi Sencindiver's Enjoiner Rue, so don't expect this quartet to return, either.

Lastly, we can expect new characters to debut next season. In a statement released alongside season 3's announcement, Goyer teased the arrival of "fan-favorites Bayta, Toran, Ebling, and Magnifico Giganticus". Deadline has already broken the news that Alexander Siddig (Shantaram) is one of the series' new regulars, but he won't portray one of these characters. Instead, he'll play Doctor Ebling Mis, a self-taught psychohistorian and alleged die-hard fan of Hari Seldon's.

Foundation season 3 plot speculation

Demerzel and an injured Brother Day stand in the ruins of a destroyed building in Foundation season 2

Demerzel and the newly decanted Brother Day have got a lot to contend with in season 3. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

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, so read that article for more on what the season 2 finale might have set up.

If you don't want to click away from this page, though, we'll give you an in-depth breakdown below. Full spoilers for Foundation season 2 ahead.

Eto Demerzel stands in a grand room with her hands clasped in Foundation season 2

In season 2 episode 9, we learned more about Demerzel's backstory, and how she's the Empire's shadow ruler. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

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, Dusk was killed by Demerzel, and Dawn fled with Queen Sareth after Demerzel threatened to execute Sareth for her alleged role in the failed assassination attempt on Day season 2's opening episode.

However, it was Demerzel 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 blood line. 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.

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, allowing it to exist in two places at once. That means the living Hari (the one working with Gaal) possesses one and, unfortunately for the Foundation, the other is in Demerzel's hands. Once she can read Hari's math, she'll be able to manipulate it and attempt to stop Hari and company from bringing down the Empire.

Brother Constant stares at someone over her shoulder in Foundation season 2

Brother Constant is alive and well, thanks to the Vault. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

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 plot point could be adapted 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.

The Mule walks towards an off-screen Gaal in a destroyed building in Foundation season 2

The Mule will surely be one of season 3's primary antagonists. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

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, though, looks like he'll pose the biggest threat – and that's saying something – to the Foundation's existence yet. 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?

A close up of a concerned Hari Seldon sitting down in Foundation season 2

That face when you realize a season 3 trailer won't be available for a long time... (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

No. Once a Foundation season 3 teaser is released, we'll update this section.

Will Foundation season 3 get a follow-up season?

Poly Verisof delivers an elaborate sermon in Foundation season 2

We wonder if Poly can conjure up a fourth season of Foundation for us. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

If Foundation season 3 is received as well as its predecessors, Apple would be foolish not to renew it for a fourth outing. By the time season 3 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, 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.

For more Apple TV Plus-based coverage, read our Apple TV Plus review, our guide on the best Apple TV Plus movies, or everything we know about Severance season 2.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

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