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The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

In this special dedicated to The Last of Us we want to analyze the main differences between the game and the HBO TV series, which ended just in the last few days: Ellie and Joel’s journey is not quite the same

The Last of Us franchise began with a first video game, dated 2013, which arrived at the end of the seventh generation of consoles on a PlayStation 3 which with difficulty managed to keep up with the technical, graphic and aesthetic masterpiece fielded by Naughty Dog. The game was then remastered for PlayStation 4 in 2014, bringing with it a Remastered that still brought some aesthetic improvements and a fixed 60fps framerate, thanks to the reference hardware upgrade. All of this was obviously followed by a sequel, The Last of Us Part II (here you find our review) and a real remake of the first chapterarrived in September 2022 and entitled The Last of Us: Part I (here our review), a title that makes us understand the company’s intent: to give greater cohesion to the franchise.

From the game to the TV series: the main differences between the “two” The Last of Us

Finally, HBO acquired the rights to make a TV series out of it composed of eight episodes and starring Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Narcos, Game of Thrones) and the very young Bella Ramsey. The series aired exclusively on Sky and streamed on Now TV and was recently renewed for a second season, many details of which are yet to be discovered.

And hence the point of this special. Anyone who has seen The Last of Us TV series and hasn’t tried the Naughty Dog video game (and vice versa, why not) you are surely wondering what are the main differences between the two media. Well yes, there are and they are not even few. In this article we are going to list ten, the most basic in our opinion, which can guide those who have not experienced both media in what is now becoming, to all intents and purposes, an expanded universe. Of course they will be there spoiler concerning the plot of the first The Last of Us, which coincides with the first season of the TV series. So if you don’t want to receive any kind of preview, we advise you to stop reading here. Let’s begin!

The Prologue and the Flashbacks | The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

The differences in terms of narration already start from the prologue. In the TV series, especially in the first episode, there are many flashbacks that introduce the transmission of Cordiceps between humans, which is completely absent in the game. In the first hours of the game, in fact, Sarah and Joel find themselves directly infected in the living room, specifically the neighbor, if they do not learn anything directly from the media or in any other way. They are then forced to flee, with Tommy, Joel’s brother to arrive at the tragic end of the prologue, with Sarah’s death at the hands of a soldier.

They are therefore absent, in the video game, all scenes starring Sarah the day before the disaster struck. Furthermore, in the TV series, the two are not attacked in the house by the neighbor, but it is Sarah who goes to the house next door, where she discovers that the elderly neighbor has killed everyone because she is infected. In short: two very different incipits which, however, unfortunately, both lead to the definitive separation between Joel and his daughter.

The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

The Spores and Tess’s Death | The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

Among the “protagonists” of the video game of The Last of Us we also find the Spores, which represent the main method of human-to-human transmission of Cordiceps disease. In various contexts, Joel is forced to use a gas mask to move to places particularly full of spores in the air. Which, of course, Ellie must not do, as she is completely immune to the disease. In the TV series, the spores have been replaced by the filaments that come out of the mouth of the infected, as well as from the roots that connect them to each other.

Another of the differences between The Last of Us game and TV series concerns Tess’s death. No, unfortunately it is not saved in either media, it simply happens in a completely different way. The basis is the same: Tesse is bitten on the neck by an infected and she therefore decides to sacrifice herself to let Ellie and Joel continue their journey. However, if in the video game she is killed by being shot in the back by a firearm, in the TV series she herself decides to blow herself up together with all the other infected who had infested the place.

The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

Bill, Frank and Kathleen | The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

The third episode of the series of The Last of Us wanted to tell the tragic love story between Bill and Frank: two men in love who reach their deaths before Joel and Ellie arrive, who then meet neither. In the game, the story of Bill and Frank is completely different. First of all, Bill is still alive when the two protagonists reach his house (which, too, is completely different in structure, much more rudimentary). Furthermore, it is never explained whether the two were really together. Bill defines Frank as his “partner”, without specifying in what sense (whether romantic, professional or practical). Furthermore, by exploring well the house where Frank is found hanged, one can also find a letter from him in which the man he admitted that he never put up with the “partner” and that he was trying to leave after stealing his car battery. In short: not exactly a great love story.

Another completely different story is that of Kathleen. In this case, however, we are talking about a completely original and exclusive character from the TV series. Played by Melanie Lynskey (The Shield, Dr House), Kathleen leads a band of hunters who strand Ellie and Joel in Kansas City. The woman is looking (in the sense that she is just hunting them) for the two young brothers, Henry and Sam, because she considers the eldest responsible for the death of her brother. We don’t tell you how Kathleen’s narrative continues, but we can anticipate that she is a really well conceived, written and interpreted character.

The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

Sam and the David Community | The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

Going back to talking about the two brothers, especially Sam, in the TV series the child is represented as smaller than Ellie and deaf-mute. In the game, however, he is the same age and does not have any kind of disability. Also, in the video game Ellie she doesn’t know that Sam has been bitten, she unfortunately discovers it when she wakes up one morning. In the TV series, however, it is the child who shows her the wound, and she Ellie tries to heal him using her immune blood. Failing.

As for David’s cannibal community, however, in the game all the introductory part in which the man is seen preaching is absent and the orphan girl is also absent. Another difference, in this sense, also concerns the death of David. In the game, as Ellie comes crashing down on her dead body in a rage, she is stopped by Joel. In the TV series, however, she stops by herself and meets Joel as she leaves the cafeteria.

The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

Joel and Anna’s Wound | The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

In the video game, the wound that Joel gets at the University and which leads to the Winter Chapter is much more serious, as he is pierced by an iron pole after falling from a considerable height. In the TV series his survival, considering the conditions in which Ellie and Joel lived, is made much more realistic, because the man is injured by stabbing himself with a broken handle of a baseball bat. Much more believable.

Finally: Anne. Anna is introduced in the last episode of the TV series, Ellie’s mother. In the flashback dedicated to her, the reason for Ellie’s immunity to blood disease is also explained in broad terms. In the video game, Anna’s character is never shown.

The Last of Us: the main differences between game and TV series

And now… towards the second season!

These were the main differences between the TV series and The Last of Us game. Let us know what you think of the series in the comments below stay tuned with us at for all the news on cinema and TV series!

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