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Six Things We Just Learned About HBO’s The Last Of Us TV Show

The Last of Us is expected to premiere on January 15. Can it finally shed the curse of video game adaptations?

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Pedro Pascal stars as Joel in HBO's adaptation of The Last of Us.
Screenshot: HBO / Kotaku

The Last of Us TV adaptation is expected to arrive in just over a week on HBO. While the show is expected to remain faithful to the source material, there’s always room for a few surprises. A new piece in The Hollywood Reporter explores the long, winding road leading up to the show’s premiere on January 15, revealing some new trivia about the production and the show itself.

News of The Last of Us’ TV adaptation broke all the way back in 2020. Since then, a number of trailers have come and gone, showing off scenes that look remarkably close to what we first saw when the game landed on PlayStation 3 back in 2013. The show’s producers haven’t been shy about generating hype, with showrunner Craig Mazin praising the plot as “the greatest story ever told in video games.” During last year’s Summer Game Fest, the game’s director, Neil Druckmann, described the HBO show as “the most authentic video game adaptation yet.” We’ll have to wait until January 15 to see if these claims hold true, but for now some recent interviews reveal more than a few tidbits for those looking to deepen their TLOU knowledge.

While The Hollywood Reporter’s piece covers a fair bit of ground, here are some of the most interesting facts about The Last of Us and the road to its HBO adaptation:

  • Neil Druckmann once pitched The Last of Us’ premise to George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) as part of a college assignment in 2004; the acclaimed director “didn’t like it,” and chose another student’s idea instead
  • A movie adaptation of The Last of Us was in the works with Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, the 2000’s Spider-Man trilogy), but with demands to make it more like World War Z, Druckmann lost interest in moving forward
  • Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) were considered for the role of Ellie in the upcoming HBO adaptation
  • There was concern, with Pedro Pascal on board, that TLOU’s plot would feel too similar to The Mandalorian’s “Mando and Baby Yoda” vibe
  • Pedro Pascal needed to get permission from The Mandalorian’s producers to work on TLOU
  • Though the HBO show will cover all the events of the first game, we should expect some significant changes
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The Hollywood Reporter, it seems, spills a few of the beans on some of those changes. Though it teases some “radical changes to the game’s story that will shock and perhaps challenge fans,” it does indicate that we might be introduced to Ellie in a slightly different way than what we saw in the 2013 video game. While the original game introduces her along with Tess, who hands her off to Joel, Ellie is expected to be introduced to viewers in the HBO show as “a prisoner chained in a room for weeks, worried about what comes next.”

HBO’s The Last of Us arrives after many years of troubled video game adaptations. That said, other works like Netflix’s The Witcher and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, though not exclusively video game adaptations themselves, have been successful. The recent Sonic movies have also managed to live up to expectations for many, as did 2019’s Detective Pikachu. TLOU’s HBO show may yet achieve a milestone in such adaptations, but pop culture around video game adaptations is very different from what it was in the 2000 and early 2010s.