The Last of Us Series


Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us show are shown in The Last of Us. Photo via HBO.

Audra Gullquist, Editor-in-Chief

On Jan. 15, HBO released the first episode of “The Last of Us”, an adaptation of the video game developed by the company Naughty Dog. Both versions follow the main characters Joel and Ellie as they try to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The video game version of “The Last of Us” came out in 2013 and sold 1.3 million copies within the first week of its release. HBO’s new series seemed to live up to the hype built around the game, by breaking a HBO record with 837 million minutes watched within the first week of its premiere. 


The first episode begins with a flashback to the year 2003 in Austin, TX. It shows single father Joel, his teenage daughter Sarah and his brother Tommy during the discovery of the new fungi that is turning people into vicious zombie-like killers referred to as the “infected.” Although the start of this pandemic took place in 2013 in the game, the producers of the series changed the date. They did this so that the rest of the series could take place two decades later in the current year 2023, instead of in 2033 when the video game took place. 


In this dystopian society, clickers and military dictatorship have torn the world apart. It is very much a “kill or be killed” world that they live in. Teenage Ellie, who is played by Bella Ramsey, has an immunity against the fungus that has taken over their world. The rebel group known as the “Fireflies” see this immunity as a key to their survival, thus leading them to capture Ellie. Joel, who is played by Pedro Pascal, runs into Ellie and the Fireflies while he is on the search for his missing brother, Tommy, who is played by Gabriel Luna. Joel has become a smuggler in this new society and agrees to smuggle Ellie across the walled city of Boston. The Fireflies give Joel supplies to find his brother, in exchange for Joel’s service. However, a cross-country journey in this dystopian world is bound to go terribly wrong, which it definitely does.


Ellie has grown up in this harsh world. She is extremely tough and knows how to survive and protect herself from others. Her edgy personality causes Joel and her to start off on the wrong foot. However, as the show continues the two grow inseparable. Ellie gives Joel a reason to once again be hopeful and Joel gives Ellie a sense of security and protection that she has never felt before. 


Film adaptations of video games have a generally bad reputation. However, fans have declared that The Last of Us goes against all odds and destroys the stigma around these adaptations. The game has been praised for its diversity among the characters and it is clear that the series has kept the same morals. The series gained a massive amount of positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Reporter, Rebecca Nicholson, who works for The Guardian wrote “I loved its balance of horror and heart. It burrows under the skin and refuses to leave.” The series also received an astonishing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. 


Due to the booming success of the first season of the show, HBO has already renewed the show for a season two. Since the video game is split into two parts, fans are predicting that HBO will only produce two seasons. With such high popularity, the team will most likely have more creative freedom and accommodations due to a high profit made off the first season. The nine-episode first season is available on Hulu and HBOMax. So, grab some snacks and maybe some tissues, and watch as Joel and Ellie grow together in a ruthless world!

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