“The Last of Us” claims the spot of best video game adaptation


@thelastofus on IG

Lydia Lutchman, Staff Writer

Based on the award-winning video game that came out in 2013, “The Last of Us” is a post-apocalyptic television series that began airing on Jan. 15 on HBO to its season finale on March 12. The show used the same writer and creative director from the game, Neil Druckmann, as well as musical composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

The series is set across various locations in the United States in 2023. A fungal infection caused by a deadly mutation of Cordyceps starts 20 years prior in 2003 and quickly becomes a widespread pandemic, infecting individuals and turning them into irrational zombie-like creatures with no cure or vaccine in sight. This results in the downfall of society and pushes the rest of humanity to find ways to survive, even if it means going to extreme, unlawful methods.

Construction worker turned smuggler Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) is tasked with taking 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the country to the Fireflies, a revolutionary group that opposes the martial law of the near future. Throughout their journey, they encounter circumstances that deepen their relationship, maintaining the audience’s interest for the entirety of the season. 4.7 million viewers from the United States watched the pilot in its first night of streaming on HBO Max, making it the second highest number of streams that HBO had since 2010.

As an adaptation of a beloved video game, the TV show iteration did not disappoint. Both Pascal and Ramsey embodied Joel and Ellie as strangers just trying to get through life but finding comfort–and almost family values–within each other. 

Supporting characters played by Merle Dandridge, Anna Torv, Gabriel Luna and Ashley Johnson are not overwritten by the main protagonists, but instead serve to push the plot forward, allowing other perspectives to be considered. Even if they are actively working against Joel and Ellie you might even feel empathetic towards their plights.

University sophomore Brooke Lyn Sicignano shared her thoughts. “The show is amazing! I’m an acting major… and let me say that all the actors are amazing, but the young actors hit it out of the park! I really hope that we will get to see them again in other works.” 

Sicignano continued, “I also like that they had the podcast where they would talk about the episode and the creation process and there are some easter eggs for the players of the game. When award season comes around again, I feel like ‘The Last of Us’ will clean up.” 

Craig Mazin, who co-wrote the script with Druckmann, is a huge fan of the game franchise. He ensured that Druckmann’s wishes of certain plot-points being included were directly executed. Inevitably, the show does take some creative liberty, but not to an extreme. It feels like a deviation from the game’s original mindset and further helps to enhance the viewer’s experience, providing those who have played the video game with a new image of what could pan out. 

University freshman Serenity Smith said, “What gravitated me towards watching [‘The Last of Us’] was my love for the games, but what keeps me to continue watching the show is that it provides new heart shattering bits the game doesn’t provide. [Episode three] left me with so much emotional baggage I haven’t picked it up since–though I am going to eventually. If you’re anything like me and you need to cry hysterically… to consider something good, you’ll love this show.” 

Smith expressed her admiration further, “Considering video game franchises usually do bad when they turn into a show, I am incredibly happy that my favorite franchise turned out better than previous ones.”

A fan-favorite aspect of the show is its nonlinear timeline, relying on flashbacks to truly immerse the audience and set the scene for the events to come. It even goes as far back as the ’60s and as far away as Indonesia in just the first two episodes. “The Last of Us” is not just another zombie apocalypse show that solely relies on terror to keep its audience hooked. The show is so acclaimed because it mixes in slice-of-life points, themes like found family and portrays relatable yet hopeful characters even in the face of an unrecognizable future. With the show being renewed for a second season, “TLOU” fans are excited to see what the next season has in store for the franchise.