The Last of Us show comes to HBO Max. How does it differ from the video game?


Photo provided by Netflix and Sony Interactive Entertainment

Many scenes from the show mirror scenes from the 2013 video game.

Lexiss Marajas, Staff Writer

On January 15th, the first episode of The Last of Us aired on HBO Max, bringing this 2013 Playstation game to life. Featuring two characters, Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (played by Bella Ramsay), this show tells a story of a post-outbreak world while a deadly fungus infection is spreading among the people of Earth. 

Although there are only six episodes of the show so far,this show has experienced writers behind the scenes. It was created by Craig Mazin, creator of the critically acclaimed miniseries Chernobyl, and Neil Druckmann, who was the writer and director of the 2013 game.

“As someone who has played the game and now watched the show, I can confidently say that Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have done an incredible job bringing the world of The Last of Us to life on the screen,” says Last of us Fan Michael Jay.

The Last of Us show is based on the game made by Naughty Dog, but there are a variety of differences between the game and the show. The major difference is that in the game, the point-of-view is locked onto Joel while the show shows the perspective of many different characters at once. 

“While there are certainly differences between the two, both the game and the show excel at delivering a powerful emotional story that leaves a lasting impact on the viewer and player,” said Jay. 

Another difference is it heavily prioritizes and expands upon the story. While the game needed to focus on the gameplay, the user interface, and such, the show could focus solely on the story. This leads to an expansion of the character development creating more sympathy and emotion towards them as well because the narrative focuses on the context and the backstory. 

“With no gameplay to worry about, the show could fully focus on telling a compelling story, and it did so brilliantly. I found myself sympathizing with characters I hadn’t in the game, which made the emotional moments hit even harder,” says Grant Perez (‘24).

Despite the many differences, the show has been faithful to the game regarding the story. For example, the first and second episodes, while it provided background to the characters, had pretty much the same layout of the story. For example, in episode two, Ellie has a conversation with Joel claiming to follow Joel’s orders by saying, ‘What you say, goes’ which was copied straight from the game. 

“The show’s attention to detail with each character’s development was impressive and made for a compelling viewing experience,” says Perez.

In addition, the setting and the atmosphere is very similar to the game. The set pieces, the costumes, and the CGI were very faithful to the game which shows the time and effort spent into making The Last of Us. From the decaying Kansas City to the ravaged streets of Boston, the set designers worked to try to replicate the post apocalyptic world from the video game.

“Even as a newcomer to The Last of Us franchise, I was completely captivated by this show and can’t wait to see what happens next,” says Last of Us Watcher Mae Wang.

The Last of Us show and the video game have their similarities and differences, but for the most part, both of them are respectful to each of their stories.