How HBO's The Last Of Us TV Show Will Change Things Up From The Video Game

joel and ellie in the last of us video game

If there’s one thing fans have learned from video games over the years, it’s that they can be difficult to adapt for the big or small screens. However, things seem to be moving right along for HBO’s adaptation of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. The critically acclaimed franchise has a very passionate fanbase that’s probably curious as to how close the show will be to its video game counterparts. Well, Neil Druckmann, who directed both games and serves as an executive producer on the show, has revealed that the show is going to change things up a bit.

Neil Druckmann has been working closely with The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin to deliver the upcoming drama series. When Druckmann recently spoke IGN during SXSW 2021, he explained that aspects of the property had to be altered in order for it to smoothly translate to the serialized TV format:

Things sometimes stay pretty close. It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium. For example, in the game, there’s so much action you have to have to train the player about mechanics. You have to have more violence and more spectacle to some degree than you would need on a TV show because you don’t need to train people on how to use a gun. So that’s something that’s been really different, and HBO’s been great in pushing us to move away from hardcore action and focus more on the drama of the character. Some of my favorite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them.

It may be a bit jarring for some fans to see the changes made within HBO’s The Last of Us, but the logic Neil Druckmann offers makes sense. There are some aspects of video games (particularly pacing and certain moments of action) that just don’t lend themselves to TV or film. One could make the argument that the reason many video game adaptations do not succeed is because some try to replicate these elements.

During the interview, Neil Druckmann also seemed to confirm that the first season of The Last of Us will be an adaptation of the original game. So one can imagine that we’ll explore how Joel and Ellie first met and how they first made their way across the disease-ravaged country.

Since The Last of Us was first announced to be in development, the creative team has made it a goal to assure fans that the show won’t deviate too far from the source material. Craig Mazin previously stressed that he and his team are not looking to undo any of the story Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley created. Instead, he hopes to “enhance” it for fans.

Neil Druckmann, Craig Mazin and co. seem to be handling The Last of Us with a considerable amount of care. The project has assembled some major talent both in front of and behind the camera, so it’ll be exciting to see the post-apocalyptic world come to life on screen.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.