Is the Last of Us TV show based on a video game?

By Nicholas James


Jan 20, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

The Last of Us TV show has been wowing new fans and experienced aficionados of the brand alike, but for the inexperienced, is the Last of Us based on a video game, and what are the differences between it and the show?

The Last of Us on HBO Max has debuted to wildly positive reviews from both fans and media critics alike. The post-apocalyptic drama follows Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, on his mission to escort a young girl named Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, west across what remains of the United States. Many viewers will be veterans of the property and have already spent dozens of hours avoiding FEDRA, raiders, and more, but some might wonder, is the Last of Us based on a video game? Here’s what you need to know. 

Is The Last of Us based on a video game? 

The Last of US TV show on HBO Max is based on the Last of Us video game, an action-adventure game released by developer Naughty Dog in 2013 and published by Sony Entertainment. In the game, the player plays as protagonist Joel and undergoes the same journey of escorting a young girl across the crumbling remains of the United States. The Last of Us video game also got a sequel in 2020 in The Last of Us Part II, giving plenty of material for further seasons of the show. 

The first season of the Last of US TV show on HBO Max covers the events of the 2013 first installation in the series. This game explores Joel, a father who loses his daughter in the outbreak of the fungal pandemic that causes the zombie-esque apocalypse in which the game is set, and his journey of trying to escort a young girl who is immune to the Cordyceps fungus that causes the horrifying transformation into unthinking “Infected.” It’s a heart-wrenching and character-driven narrative set against the backdrop of a crumbling society torn apart by the fungal infection. 

What’s different between the Last of Us video game and the TV show? 

So far, after the first episode, it seems that the Last of Us TV show will be taking the vast majority of its inspiration and plot points directly from the games, but with some added scenes and storytelling that will still be new to previous viewers. What works for an action-adventure game’s pacing doesn’t always work for a dramatic television show, and new scenes establish the world and tone that doesn’t detract from the original narrative.

As an example, the first episode includes a cut-away to a young girl arriving in the FEDRA-protected city of Boston from the infected wilds before she later appears as a corpse that Joel disposes of during his day labor. 

It can be assumed that many small changes will be made to better fit the narrative of the game into the format of a TV show rather than an interactive video game. For the most part, the show seems to be incredibly accurate to the original video game.


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