The Specific Way Empire Strikes Back Inspired Trollhunters Season 2, According To Marc Guggenheim

trollhunters season 2
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Netflix)

Season 2 of Trollhunters is slated to debut on Netflix this week, and viewers will get to see how the series picks up after the killer Season 1 cliffhanger that saw Jim (voiced by the late Anton Yelchin) travel to the Darklands all by himself, leaving his friends behind out of a fear for losing them. Fans have been waiting for almost a full year to see what happens next, and the wait is fortunately almost over. CinemaBlend recently spoke to Trollhunters executive producer Marc Guggenheim about Season 2, and he revealed this about how Season 2 was impacted by a certain aspect of Empire Strikes Back:

I don't want to go so far as to say that Empire Strikes Back was a point of inspiration because I feel like that's an overstated thing. Everyone says that. I will say that one of the things that really made an impression on me when I was 10 years old and watching Empire for the first time was how much darker but also how much funnier it was than A New Hope. I think humor makes drama more dramatic and drama is made a bit more compelling by humor. It was very much part of our design to make the season darker. If you're going to go to the Darklands, it's very hard to avoid making it darker. Also making it funnier is just more fun. We definitely referenced Empire Strikes Back a lot in the writers room as we were talking about it. Again, I feel like any sequel or second season of something, everyone's always a little bit inspired by Empire Strikes Back. It's very hard not to be.

Trollhunters Season 2 was specifically inspired by Empire Strikes Back in how Empire amped up both the humor and the darkness for Luke Skywalker and his pals. Marc Guggenheim's comments indicate that we should see some tonal similarities as the jokes are funnier and the dark moments even darker. Something tells me we won't see Jim lose a limb right before Gunmar reveals that he's secretly Jim's father a la Darth Vader, and I'm definitely guessing that nothing will set the stage for a reveal that Claire and Jim are secretly siblings in the third season. Trollhunters will clearly still go in its own directions, but aspects of Empire Strikes Back did affect the planning for the second season.

The Season 1 finale did really set the stage for more darkness in Season 2, and not just because poor AAARRRGGHH!!! seemed to be gone for good. Jim had promised Claire and his friends that they would all venture into the Darklands together to try and rescue Enrique; his decision to lock his friends out and open the gateway to the Darklands (in his admittedly awesome new Eclipse armor) took him in a much more grim direction. Even if he made his decision out of a desire to protect those he cares about, it was a bold and very dangerous move.

Also, as Marc Guggenheim said in our chat, obviously traveling to a place known as "the Darklands" is going to see an increase in darkness. The odds are pretty good that Jim will encounter creatures more dastardly than he ever came across in Trollmarket or anywhere on the surface, and it's entirely possible that he'll come to regret leaving his friends behind. Only a little bit of the Darklands appeared at the end of Season 1, but it was enough to reveal the scope and scale of the place. Judging by that first look, Jim likely won't have an easy time even finding Enrique, let alone returning him to his family all by his lonesome. At least we can count on an increase in humor!

Marc Guggenheim went on to reveal one of the greatest sources of humor in Season 2: Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead fame. Yeun voices the bully by the name of Steve, and Guggenheim said this about the character in the next batch of episodes:

That was something that really started from a place where you write towards the characters who you're having fun with and Steve and Eli were a lot of fun in Season 1, and we just started gravitating towards them. They are a large part of why Season 2 is funnier than Season 1. They threaten to steal the season.

Even if Jim has to deal with some more grim elements in Season 2, we can count on some laughs courtesy of characters like Steve and Eli. Trollhunters Season 1 really showcased Steven Yeun as a performer who can bring the laughs after his many years of very serious stories on The Walking Dead, and we can expect more of his comedy in Season 2. All things considered, it sounds like we're in for a season balancing fun and darkness a la Empire Strikes Back, and that can only be a good thing.

Trollhunters Season 2 will premiere on December 15 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix. There's still time to watch (or re-watch) the 26 episodes of Season 1 if you're in the mood for a binge. The show was just renewed for a third (and final) season, which means that there will be one more batch of episodes to come following Season 2. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more on Trollhunters! For what you'll be able to watch on broadcast television in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our midseason TV premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).