10 Ways HBO’s The Last Of Us Was Unfaithful To The Game
10 Ways HBO’s The Last Of Us Was Unfaithful To The Game
HBO's live-action adaptation of Naughty Dog's award-winning survival horror game, The Last of Us, has been praised as one of the best video game adaptations ever made. For the most part, the show was meticulous about getting the content of the game right, but a perfect translation between a video game and television will never exist.
Due to the different ways the two mediums tell their stories, a one-to-one recreation will never be possible. HBO was still faithful to The Last of Us game, but the network made a few changes. These deviations aren't always bad, as some of them enhanced the story.
This article mentions suicide
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10 No Spores
In The Last of Us game, one of the major mechanics involved dodging airborne spores that could cause infection. This meant that Joel would pull out a gas mask and put it on to travel through areas that were overloaded with spores. This limited the player's visibility and usually meant the Infected in the area were harder to fight.
This was the first change that game fans noticed. In the HBO show, there are no breathable spores to worry about. Neil Druckmann explained that while spores make for great game mechanics, they don't make much sense in real life.
9 The Cordyceps Network
The show's creators decided to expand on how the Cordyceps virus works, and somehow, HBO managed to make it more terrifying. The show explored viewers' understanding of the infection and explained that Cordyceps has created a "network" that connects itself to all of its hosts.
This means, if someone were to disturb a cluster of Cordyceps tendrils, it could alert dozens of Infected and bring them to an otherwise quiet area. The game didn't have this explanation, but it helped viewers understand just how bad the outbreak was.
8 Tess' Death
Tess' death was one of the biggest changes from the game. In the game, a Clicker bites Tess in the old museum, but she still tries to get Ellie to the Fireflies. FEDRA shows up, and Tess gives Ellie and Joel a chance to escape by distracting the agents, who then gun her down.
Tess's death in HBO's The Last of Us was worse. Rather than have a showdown with FEDRA, the group accidentally summons a hoard of nearby Infected, which is the first real showdown between human characters and multiple Infected. Tess blows up the building to kill the hoard just after an Infected "kisses" her.
7 Meeting Frank
In the game, by the time Joel and Ellie reach Bill's town, Frank is already dead. They don't know that yet, but eventually, they find Frank's body with a note for Bill. Frank was Infected and killed himself before he could turn. Players never got to meet Frank.
HBO's The Last of Us sought to correct this. Episode 3 explored Bill and Frank's romantic relationship – which was only implied in the game – and their lives together before their deaths. Frank is an empathetic and lovable character, which makes his death even more tragic. In the game, he kills himself because he's Infected. In the show, he kills himself because he doesn't want to be a burden on Bill.
6 Bill's Dead
In Episode 3, viewers see Bill and Frank's lives together, from the first day they met to falling in love to their death. When Frank decides to die, Bill chooses to go out with him, refusing to live without his partner. This is very different from the game.
In the game, when Ellie and Joel reach Bill, they spend an extended period of time with Bill traversing through the more dangerous parts of Bill's town. Bill looks for Frank while Joel searches for a car battery. Joel's time with Bill helps him realize that Ellie is his responsibility now, so he needs to get it together. When Bill and Joel part ways, Bill is still alive, though fans have theorized for years that he might've died soon after.
In the game, when Ellie and Joel meet up with Sam and Henry, the brothers are trying to escape a city that overthrew FEDRA and is hunting them. This group has no real identity – they just lure people in so they can kill outsiders and steal supplies. There's no face behind them, they just act as enemy hoards for the sake of gameplay mechanics.
HBO's The Last of Us corrected this by elaborating on how the group overthrew FEDRA after years of abuse. However, while taking control, they became even worse than FEDRA. The group hunt down Sam and Henry because Henry betrayed them to FEDRA to save his brother. Kathleen is the group's leader who will stop at nothing to avenge her brother. Giving this group a face and motivation made them even more threatening.
4 Sam Is Deaf
Sam is Henry's younger brother. In both the game and the show, Henry acts as Sam's guardian, and Sam is the only thing that matters to him. An Infected bites Sam, who then turns and tries to kill Ellie. Henry shoots Sam to save Ellie and shoots himself when he realizes what he has done.
HBO changed their story by making Sam deaf. Sam's lack of hearing created more intense atmosphere for the brothers, who were desperate to survive. Sam was even more reliant on Henry, but communicating through sign language meant that the pair could stay quiet in ways other survivors couldn't.
3 Confirming Fan Theories
HBO took the opportunity to confirm some fan theories that have been circulating since the first game. The Last of Us confirmed that the infection spread through contaminated food sources, like grains. It also confirmed that when Ellie didn't turn, she had to kill Riley.
The Last of Us also explained why Ellie was immune. An Infected bit Anna, Ellie's mother, while she was in labor. While Anna ha the virus, Ellie developed an immunity to Cordyceps because she was born with it.
2 The Fireflies Weren't Good
In both the game and the show, Joel's goal is getting Ellie to the Fireflies so they could produce a cure. The game shined a bright light on the Fireflies, always insisting that they were trying to fight for freedom because FEDRA was corrupt.
HBO's The Last of Us, however, didn't really coddle the terrorist group the same way that the game did. While the game allowed players to sympathize somewhat with the Fireflies, the show pulled back the curtain on the harsh reality of the group. The Fireflies were villains who were hurting the people they wanted to free. Rather than be better than FEDRA, it seemed like the Fireflies wanted to replace FEDRA.
1 HBO's The Last Of Us Lacked Infected
While HBO's The Last of Us had a few good episodes that emphasized the horrific nature of the Cordyceps infection, it seemingly forgot about the Infected. In the game, Infected were everywhere and constantly posed a threat, but this wasn't the same in the show.
The scariest Infected scene was Henry and Sam's episode where a sinkhole opens up, allowing dozens of Infected to fly out from underground, including the infamous Bloater. For a show about zombies, though, The Last of Us lacked Infected.
NEXT: 10 Things The Last Of Us Fans Loved About Episode One