If you have always dreamt of shooting zombies in the face and are looking for antidotes to save humanity, you are welcome to lead the pack in the dystopian hellscape of The Last of Us video game!
Released in 2013, the video game is a quintessential zombie thriller with a touching backstory. It follows Joel, a drug smuggler tasked with transporting a teenage girl called Ellie to the Fireflies. Ellie carries a gene that immunizes her against the deadly zombie fungus and is humanity’s only hope for creating an elusive antidote.
The recent HBO Max series based on the video game is ongoing, and it is apparently completely faithful to its source material. Hard to believe, right? Same here!
But despite that, there are differences between the two. The makers had to make a few changes here and there because of the shift in medium.
The differences between The Last of Us video game and series include a shift in the timeline from 2013 to 2003, Joel’s relationship with Tess, and the absence of spores as a medium for transfer of the fungi among others.
So, let’s look at the differences between The Last of Us video game and the show.
1. The Show Starts 10 Years Earlier than The Game
The video game starts on September 26, 2013, when the pandemic hits Austin for the first time. After showing a snippet from Joel’s past, the game flashes 20 years forward, and the rest of the game takes place 20 years later, in 2033.
The show takes the liberty of playing around with events before 2013. It starts with a television conversation in 1968, where people talk about the possibility of a fungal outbreak in the future.
The story begins in 2003, shifting the timeline ten years in the past. The show also has a jump in the timeline, which takes us to the year 2023 instead of 2033.
2. Show Highlights Joel’s Time in the Quarantine Zone
Joel’s time inside the quarantine zone is shown briefly in the game. We don’t see the chemistry between Joel and Tess developing.
The most significant difference has to do with Robert. In the game, Tess and Joel execute Robert because he sells their weapons to the Fireflies.
In the show, Robert is already dead. Tess and Joel go after him for smuggling their car battery, but they find him dead. This leads to their encounter with Marlene, who forms a big part of the plot later.
3. Spores Are Harmless in the Show
The biggest difference between the show and the game is the absence of fungal spores in the show.
In the video game, the deadly fungi spread via spores. It becomes a massive problem for Joel, Ellie, and the other characters, as a single careless breath can possibly end their lives. We see them wearing industrial masks for most of the gameplay.
Due to aesthetic or practical reasons, the makers thought of eliminating fungal spores as means of transmission in the series. However, in this version, parasites and the bite from an infected person are the vectors for transmission.
4. Joel’s Reason for Leaving the Quarantine Zone
In the video game, Joel and Tess leave the quarantine zone because Robert has sold their weapons to the Fireflies. Marlene informs them that the Fireflies will return the guns if they safely escort Ellie to them.
In the series, Joel’s main reason for leaving the quarantine zone is his brother Tommy. In the game, Tommy joins the Fireflies, which causes a big rift between the brothers.
The show hasn’t explored the relationship between the brothers yet, but we know that Joel is looking for him.
5. Tess’ Ultimate Sacrifice
In the video game, Tess and Ellie are both bitten by the zombies, but only Tess gets infected. This further proves that Ellie is immune to the fungi.
When they go to the Capitol Building, they discover that the military has killed the Fireflies, and they have surrounded the place. Tess forces Ellie and Joel to run away and find Tommy so they can connect with the Fireflies.
Tess tries to distract the military as much as possible so that the other two can escape. She is finally shot, and Joel sees her dead body before turning away and eloping.
In the TV show, the group reaches the Capitol Building to find that the Fireflies are dead and infected by someone. Tess tries to devise a plan to transport Ellie, but Joel wants to return to the quarantine zone.
That is when Tess reveals that she has been bitten and can’t travel any further. Just then, a Firefly wakes up from the dead, and Joel shoots it down, which wakes all of them up.
Tess orders them to run while she tries to distract the monsters. She uses gasoline and grenades and blows them up, including herself. She sacrifices her life so that Joel and Ellie can escape.
Apart from these major ones, the two have many finer differences. But, that is expected because the mediums are entirely different and it is impossible to copy a video game word by word and make it into a series.
According to THR, Bill and Frank’s story will also be different in the show compared to the video game. But that will be featured in episode 3, and we have no confirmation of it yet.
Finally, people will always like one iteration over the other. But this shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying both!
As awesome as that episode is, there are going to be fans who are upset by it. To me, the story we tell is authentic to the world. It’s authentic to the themes that we’re talking about.Neil Druckmann
6. About The Last Of Us
The Last of Us is an HBO TV series adaptation of the award-winning video game of the same name originally developed by Naughty Dog.
It is set in 2033, as a fungal infestation plagues humans, turning them feral and blind before finally finishing them off. The series follows Joel’s journey to escort an immune 14-year-old Ellie to the Fireflies, who hope to study her to procure a vaccine.
The cast comprises Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, both famed for their roles in Games of Thrones, along with Gabriel Luna, Merle Dandridge, and Nico Parker. The show was renewed for season 2.