The Last of Us is the latest video game to be turned into a TV show, in case you didn’t already know. The only thing that’s strange? It stays pretty close to the original story. But even though most of it is the same—we’re talking frame by frame—there are still some differences because the story has moved to a new medium and become its own thing.
Fans of the game might be surprised by some of the changes. Some things might not seem that important at all. No matter how much you know about The Last of Us or how much you don’t, you probably want to know more.
Here are the biggest differences between the video game and TV show versions of The Last of Us.
Video Game: The game starts on September 26, 2013, when the outbreak happens overnight in Austin, Texas, where Joel lives. After showing Joel’s past, the rest of the game is set in 2033, 20 years later. That means that in the series, everything that happened up until September 26, 2013, is canon.
TV Show: The first thing you see on the show is a 1968 TV talk show about the possibility of a fungal outbreak in the future.
Joel’s birthday is September 26, according to both the video game and the TV show. The TV show, on the other hand, moves the outbreak back 10 years to 2003 and then to 2023.
Joel’s Time in The Quarantine Zone:
Video Game: Joel’s Time in the Quarantine Zone This time isn’t very long, so you don’t get to see much of what he does with Tess or how they interact. The biggest change has to do with Robert. In the game, Joel and Tess go after him when they find out that he sold some of the Fireflies‘ guns that were meant for them. Tess kills him after questioning him.
You see more of Joel’s life in the Quarantine Zone up to the present day on the TV show. He and Tess try to find Robert because he sold the car battery they were going to use to get out of the Quarantine Zone. But Robert is already dead, so they run into Marlene.
Video Game: In the game, a form of the virus called “Spores” that spreads through the air is a big problem for both Joel and the players as they try to stay alive. In the games, the fact that Ellie can breathe in spores helps Joel accept that she is immune to the virus.
TV Show: In the TV show, there are no spores, so Ellie’s immunity isn’t proven until she gets bit and doesn’t get sick. In this version, parasites do exist and are one of the main reasons why the virus spreads.
Reason for Joel’s Leaving:
Video Game: Joel and Tess decide to leave the Quarantine Zone partly because of Marlene, but mostly because they want to get their weapons back from the Fireflies, which she says they can do if they safely bring Ellie to the capitol building.
TV Show: Joel’s main reason is that he hasn’t heard from his brother Tommy in a while. In the games, Tommy joins the Fireflies, which drives a big wedge between them and makes them stop talking to each other. We don’t know why Joel and Tommy broke up in the show, but we do know that Joel is looking for Tommy.
Video Game: Tess tells Joel that their luck has run out and that she is now infected. This shows that Ellie is immune because her bite has already been treated. When they go to the capital building, they find that the military has killed the Fireflies and surrounded the whole place. Tess tells Joel and Ellie to leave because she is infected. She tells him to go find Tommy because he can help them get in touch with the rest of the Fireflies.
Tess tells Joel and Ellie that she will do everything she can to keep the military from helping them so that they have more time. She kills two soldiers before being shot down, and Joel turns away after seeing her dead body.
TV Show: When the group gets to the capitol building, they find that the Fireflies are dead. Someone who got infected killed them. Tess tries to think of another way to get Ellie to safety, but Joel wants to give up and go home. Then Tess says she’s been bitten and can’t go any further. When one of the Fireflies wakes up and tries to attack them, Joel shoots it down, which wakes up the rest of the group.
Tess tells Joel to take Ellie to Bill and Frank’s house to keep her safe and help “Make Things Right.” Tess decides to stay behind and tries to get Joel and Ellie’s attention by blowing up the building with gasoline and grenades. As the last of the infected start to take over the building, Tess tries to start a fire with her lighter. After a few failed attempts, she finally gets a spark going. She then drops the lighter, which causes the building to blow up while Joel and Ellie watch from the outside.
The Backstory of Bill and Frank:
Video Game: Bill is still alive when we meet him in the video game, but his friend Frank was infected and killed himself by hanging himself before the virus took over. When Joel and Ellie get to Lincoln, we meet Bill.
As he talks to both of them and calls Frank his “Partner,” we learn more about their past. Frank got upset with Bill’s behavior and tried to leave, taking some of Bill’s things with him. But on his way back to his hiding place, he was bitten, and he killed himself before he got sick.
Bill and Joel find Frank’s body when they go to a nearby house to look for supplies. Joel finds the note, and the player can decide whether to give it to Bill or not. If they do, Bill will read it and get angry about it “So you feel that way? So, you’re screwed too, Frank. Fuckin’ idiot.”
Later, a smuggler’s note shows that Frank called someone to try to sneak him into the Boston Quarantine Zone, where he wanted to go. He didn’t make it, of course.
TV Show: The Hollywood Reporter says that Bill and Frank’s story is different and will be told in episode 3 of the TV show.
Murray Bartlett will play Frank, and Bill will be played by Nick Offerman. Frank is not dead, which is the biggest surprise. This was hinted at in episode 1 when Joel used a code and Tess told Joel to go to Bill and Frank’s.
Neil Druckmann, who co-wrote and co-created the episode, told The New Yorker, “As cool as that episode is, some fans are going to be upset by it.” “The story we tell is real, in my opinion. It fits with the ideas we’re talking about.”