The Last of Us: An intense television adaptation of the acclaimed video game

Nine episodes gave audiences enough suspense for a lifetime

Too many people don’t understand the potential that video games have for the film industry. Even for those who don’t play many games, this form of media could open the door to success for many directors. Whether it is a movie or series, well-made adaptations like The Last of Us have proven to be largely successful because of their deeply-layered, emotional storylines and character development.

The story of The Last of Us follows two characters, Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie Williams ( Bella Ramsey) as they trek across a post-pandemic America in search of a group called the Fire Flies. The zombies of this series are unique because of their origins of an infection originating from a genetic mutation in fungi known as cordyceps. In the show, the cordyceps gain the ability to infect humans and control them, decomposing the body in the process. While it isn’t dangerous to humans, the game’s strain derives from a real infection known as zombie ant fungus, located in tropical areas. First announced in June 2020, The Last of Us became one of the most highly anticipated shows for the coming years. When the first episode, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness” was released January 15, 2023 on HBO Max, the massive accumulated audience determined the wait was worth it. Boasting a tremendous 4.7 million views in the first week, there was little criticism of the series. For week two, viewership improved, jumping to 5.7 million for the second episode. With the numbers and acceptance, it is widely believed that the show is the greatest adaptation of a video game ever made. Each week continued to pull in more viewers, and the finale was suspenseful mastery.

Neil Druckmann, director of the show and the primary writer of the original game, has been praised for a variety of cinematic elements, primarily the cinematography and the music score. The desolate and chaotic depiction of large American cities, such as Boston and Kansas City, puts the level of disaster into perspective. It was strangely realistic, with the Earth looking cleaner in a time where pollution is practically non-existent. The show also depicts the beauty of nature in a variety of hiking and long travel shots. Clips with deprecated, colorful scenery aren’t exclusive to the show, as the game originally established the theme and mood

Screen cap taken from episode 2, “Infection”, and off the internet from an article by IndieWire.

of the series. With development beginning in 2007, the first announcements for the original game were revealed in December 2011. Upon its release, The Last of Us became one of the best games of 2013 and is still remembered for its tremendously positive and emotional impact on the zombie/apocalypse genre. Selling 1.3 million copies in just seven days, it additionally became the second highest-selling game ever on the PlayStation 3 online store. Accompanied by dozens of 10/10 or 5-star ratings from top critics such as IGN, MetaCritic, Edge, and millions of positive reviews from players themselves, it was clear The Last of Us would remain culturally relevant for a long time.

Druckmann has spoken on the status of season two, announcing plans to stick with the second game’s script, despite the criticism it received upon release in 2020. The show has left an impression as large, if not larger, than the game, and it’s hard to believe that season two would actually receive negative reviews or comments. Ramsey stated that the second season has an estimated release date in December 2024. Until then, the audience must cope with Joel’s life-changing decisions in the series finale, decisions that altered the perspective of millions of viewers engrossed in the show’s universe.


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