HBOMax’s The Last of Us is a Game Changer (No Pun Intended)

By Zahra Siddiqui

As a longtime fan of The Last of Us games, I was wary of the announcement of the show adaptation, even after the perfect casting of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey was revealed. 

There are few, if any, faithful live-action adaptations to video games, and I would’ve preferred the game to remain the only piece of media for the franchise if the alternative was a poorly-made attempt at a cash grab. 

Though my concern wasn’t unfounded, it was ultimately unnecessary. 

Because the show was created after the second game, it was allowed to add a level of foreshadowing for the second game that the first game didn’t completely have. I’ll avoid going into spoilers here, but the themes of loss, sacrifice, revenge, and violence are very prominent in the second game and are well-woven into the show.

With every episode that was released, the show continued to prove that it knew to avoid the major mistakes that several other adaptations before it have made. 

It managed to stand strongly on its own by not making any assumptions that the audience is made up only of fans of the game. At the same time, it gave game fans original content that added depth to the already-beloved world and characters.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey also elevated the performances of Joel and Ellie even further from the great heights that Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson took them. 

While Baker established a very brutish and hardened Joel, Pascal took it a step further and added a layer of desperation and softness underneath it all. And while Johnson succeeded in making the audience want to protect Ellie just as much as Joel did, Ramsey brought that to life completely. 

The Last of Us succeeds in its character writing for both our main duo and for the side characters that were written to make the audience feel that these are real people. 

Because the game allows the player to interact with the world in its own unique way, the show gives intriguing side plots that allow the viewer to interact with the world as well. 

It portrays that though there are mindless and bloodthirsty monsters in the world, they’re not a point of concern for the main characters or for the audience. 

The other characters, the other people – the ones that make deadly decisions because of the world they live in – are the focus of how inhumane the world has become.