New “The Last of Us” Series sparks revived love for video game, characters


One of the game’s covers. (naughty_dog on Flickr)

Emily Gill, Staff Writer

Originally launched in 2013, The Last of Us was one of the most popular games of the time, selling over 37 million copies in the past nine years. This post-apocalyptic game features chilling descriptions of a world after an incurable epidemic, taken over by roaming Infected (what the fungus infected zombies are called) and a controlling government. Now, 10 years later, streaming platform HBO has produced a show based on the franchise, with new episodes launching every Sunday. Viewers should be warned, this show features gore and other violence which may be triggering to some.

The game and show both feature two main characters who trek across the wasteland of the dystopian United States, trying to fulfill their individual purposes without dying, getting captured, or bitten. The cast of characters have remained relatively the same from the game to the TV series.

 Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, is a stern no nonsense man who has been around since before the Cordyceps, the virus that took over the world. His young “cargo” (as he originally calls her) is Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, a girl who is struggling to find the group called the Fireflies and assist them in creating a cure. Over the series there is a strong bond developed between the two protagonists, establishing an emotional pull for the audience as they root for their safety and developing friendship. 

The difference between the show and the game is the show’s ability to follow the story without the work of repetitive game play as viewers can move through scenes faster without performing tedious tasks. We are allowed to see a much deeper side of each of the characters without having to cut away from the action of the game.

Joel throwing a brick to distract Infected, a common action used in the game. (naughty_dog on Flickr)

Every episode that has come out so far has a running time of around an hour, and has dove deeper into what happened at the start of the outbreak, and each character’s backstory. 

The show also features flashbacks through time. In the first episode, before even introducing the main plot, there is an interview snippet from the 60’s where two scientists are asked about apocalyptic phenomena. The second scientist reveals there is a type of fungus that can tunnel into flora and fauna, the fungus controlling their actions and eating them from the inside out to survive. He says this fungus cannot attack humans, but has potential to do damage to our bodies if the global temperature gets warmer. 

This scene is not featured in the game, but as with the other extra sections in the show, it adds even more development to the conflict of the story. Seeing the world before and after the outbreak provides a sharper contrast between how things used to be and emphasizes what was lost. 

Seeing the world before and after the outbreak provides a sharper contrast between how things used to be and emphasizes what was lost. 

The third episode features almost no screen time of Joel and Ellie, a risky decision as it is only the third installment of this series. There is a much different version of the story line, deepening the audience’s connection to two characters beyond their original shallow lore within the game series. We get to see strong gay representation as these two characters, Bill and Frank, meet and fall into love, uniting together and living a life. This is completely different from the game counterpart, a risky move, but gives these two characters a richer lore and does their story justice. This episode is heart wrenching as we watch these two men pursue what they weren’t able to without the world ending, a positive side to the dystopian life. 

The show brings around a new side of a series beloved by many, allowing the people who were not willing or able to participate in the game play before to fall in love with Joel and Ellie and their story. With the finale arriving this next Sunday, “The Last of US” on HBO is a strong recreation of the games that came before, and is definitely worth tuning into.