One of the main compliments heard throughout the first season of The Last of Us is how faithful the adaptation of the game was to the source material. From the reconstruction of the sets to the entire construction of certain things, a lot of things felt like they were taken directly from the game and put into live action.
However, this does not mean that the HBO it didn’t take some liberties to change certain points of history and the very personality of its heroes when taking this universe to another medium. Under the supervision of the creator of this plot in video games, Neil Druckmann, we saw many changes that changed both the dynamics of some events and gave new depth to dialogues and events.
Some of them were more obvious, but others went unnoticed by a large part of the public – which only proves how much these changes served to show how much a good adaptation only comes to enhance what is already good. Therefore, check out 8 differences between the series of The Last of Us and the video game.
Attention! This text contains spoilers for the entire season of The Last of Us!
8. Functioning of the fungus
The first major change in the series is the most obvious and we’ve even talked about it here before. The Last of Us it greatly affected everything related to the fungus responsible for the outbreak and which ended humanity as we know it. Starting with the fact that the plot went deep into the biology of the cordycepsin their behavior and in their own origins.
In the game, the fungus works in much the same way as a zombie virus or any other invisible threat that turns people into monsters. It has its nuances, but nothing too in-depth — contrary to what HBO presented.
In addition to making the cordyceps much more apparent, with the filaments coming out of the mouth of those infected and making it clear how the contamination happens, the series showed how the fungus takes over the victim’s body. The games suggest something along these lines by showing the different levels of infection, but the series showed that people are literally moldy inside and this generates a new impact.
Not to mention that the opening episodes where we see scientists discovering the mutation and the terror it causes them serves both to explain how the disease spread so quickly and also to show that the end was inevitable.
7. No spores
Even in this change in the behavior of the cordycepsthe adaptation of The Last of Us made some changes that generated a lot of complaints from fans even before the series premiered, but that no one paid much attention to after the episodes aired. It is the case of the lack of spores.
In games, there are areas where the fungus has spread so far that the entire environment has been taken over by spores, forcing characters to wear gas masks in order to get around. But this ended up being left out of the plot for an obvious reason: if this really happened, these spores would have spread throughout the world and no one would escape it.
Thus, the solution found by the series was to ignore this detail of the games and create a new dynamic for the infected. That’s when the script established that the cordyceps has physically spread across some areas and that all infected within that perimeter are connected. It’s something that generates a new kind of menace and urgency, as well as explaining how they always know where to find Joel and Ellie.
6. 2023 alternative
Another change that we mentioned earlier is the chronology of events. In the original game, the outbreak of cordyceps takes place in 2013 and the events of the main plot take place two decades later, in 2033.
But the showrunner of the series, Craig Mazin, said he believed that this idea of a story set in the future takes away the impact and urgency of certain events. That’s why, The Last of Us on HBO had a significant change in its calendar and all the events that we see take place in an alternative 2023.
It may seem like just a detail, but it’s a change that should have more severe implications in season two.
5. Background for Henry and Sam
Although they only appeared for two episodes, the participation of the brothers Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard) in the series is much more complex than in the games. In the plot of the games, they are just two survivors who cross paths with Joel and Ellie and who help them for a while. In practice, they are two people who end up taking a ride with the heroes because they are going the same way.
The series was concerned with giving a little more depth to the duo, placing them not only as survivors, but also as fugitives. The brothers’ story is linked to the popular uprising that took place in Kansas City and which put an armed militia in power.
This whole story of Henry being an informant for the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) and helping to kill the rebel leader to get medicine for Sam was created for the show and made everything even more interesting.
4. The people against FEDRA
Incidentally, none of this plot involving the revolution in Kansas City is present in the game. In fact, Joel and Ellie don’t even go to town in the game. The entire sequence involving the looters’ trap takes place in Pittsburgh and just boils down to a bunch of criminals preying on passing survivors.
Thus, HBO was keen to give a new look to this piece of The Last of Us to convey a message that was not in the original: when there is no liberation, the dream of the oppressed is to become the oppressor. In this way, the population that suffered horrors at the hands of FEDRA agents establishes a government that is just as tyrannical.
3. Ellie is much tougher
There is no doubt that Bella Ramsay has spectacularly brought to life the Ellie we know from games. However, there are some subtle differences both in her interpretation and in small details of the script that make the series version of the character a lot tougher than her game counterpart.
The most obvious of these takes place in Jackson. The whole sequence in which the girl walks through Jackson next to Maria (Rutina Wesley) in the series makes it clear how much she is not interested in anything the woman has to say and it opens wide in her eyes how much she is disgusted with being there.
A little further on, when she hears Joel asking Tommy (Diego Luna) to take her to the Fireflies, this is another divergent point that gives much greater weight to the adaptation. In the games, she gets angry and runs away from the camp, which leads to a whole stretch of searching for the girl full of infected.
Already in the series, Ellie swallows the tears and does not hide her disappointment with Joel. Instead of running away, she agrees to leave without her partner and makes her hatred felt in her eyes. At the same time, it generates one of the best scenes in the entire adaptation: Joel realizes the mistake he made and asks the girl to choose who she wants to go with — and she immediately replies that it is with him.
2. Bill’s story
Perhaps the most beautiful change that The Last of Us did throughout the season, the story of Bill (Nick Offerman) is proof that even a script so acclaimed in games can be improved when taken to another medium.
Instead of just bringing him as a crazy survivor that Joel and Ellie meet at a certain point in their journey, the series explored the character’s entire past to bring a message that enriched the script too much – much more than being the guy who gives the car for the heroes.
Thus, we see how this survivalist who always had an aversion to humanity was transformed when he found someone to spend the apocalypse by his side. It is from meeting Frank (Murray Bartlett) that we understand his change in behavior and worldview.
In addition to rendering very beautiful scenes and with a beautifully written script, this whole plot only enhances Joel’s own journey, paving the way for him to undo his defenses and become more and more fond of Ellie.
1. Ellie’s immunity
The great revelation of The Last of Us on TV was why Ellie was immune to cordyceps, information that was never presented in the games. As shown in the final episode, the protagonist’s mother — played by the same Ashley Johnson who plays the character in the game — is attacked by an infected shortly after giving birth and before cutting the umbilical cord.
Although the idea that the mother’s organism produced such rare antibodies and passed them on to the baby in a matter of seconds doesn’t make the slightest sense, we accept it. Especially because it is the answer to the question that the games never brought and opens up new possibilities for the franchise as a whole.
For that very reason, it seems right to say that the origin of Ellie’s immunity is the most daring change that the series has proposed. It remains to be seen what the producers plan to do with it for the future.
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