How HBO's The Last Of Us Is Shaping Up To Be Its Biggest Show Since Game Of Thrones

Ellie in the passenger seat, Joel driving the vehicle

Fans of the hit Naughty Dog video game series, The Last of Us, have had an interesting last couple of years. We got the somewhat polarizing, The Last of Us Part II back in 2020 after years of only having the first game, and then we also received word that we would be getting an HBO series based on the hit property. Well, we now have word that HBO’s The Last of Us is shaping up to possibly be its biggest show since Game of Thrones.

For those who don’t know, The Last of Us video game is about an outbreak in America that transforms people into weird, fungus-like creatures. The lead character, Joel, is traveling across the U.S. with a teenage girl named Ellie who may or may not have the cure living inside of her body. We know the show will change some things up from the game, but we also now know that it will have a massive budget.

Part of the show will be shot in the Town of Fort Macleod in Alberta, Canada. And in an article from CTV News, President Damian Petti from the Alberta chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union (Or just IATSE 212 for short), had this to say:

The Last of Us which commences photography this week is indeed a monster. It has five art directors and employs an army of hundreds of technicians. It has had six months of prep and shoots [in Alberta] for 12 months. I cannot confirm the official budget numbers but will say it is likely the largest project shooting in Canada.

This is actually very surprising to me. Yes, most of the shows on HBO are typically smaller projects when compared to the fantasy beast that was Game of Thrones, but I definitely didn’t think that The Last of Us show would be some massive production. I actually thought it would be more like a stripped-down version of AMC’s The Walking Dead, since the games are more of a mixture of creatures called clickers and human villains. In fact, humans are typically your more dangerous foe in the game. But no, this show is apparently going to be massive with a hefty price tag that blows most shows out of the water. In the same article, President Damian Petti, had this to say:

This project well exceeds the eight figure per episode mark, so there is a multiplier effect on our economy in terms of its impact. There are hundreds of related businesses benefitting from the plethora of work.

Now, hold up. Did you just hear that? “This project well exceeds the eight figure per episode mark...” Eight figures is at least ten million dollars ($10,000,000), and this show will "well exceed" that amount PER EPISODE. By Season 6 of Game of Thrones, episodes were costing upwards of $10 million to make, so yes, by this admission, The Last of Us will be among if not HBO's biggest show since Game of Thrones. But I honestly can’t even fathom what this show will be like now that I know it’s going to be so expensive to produce. Game of Thrones was about dragons and warring kingdoms. As a fan of The Last of Us, I can tell you with confidence that the video game series is on a much smaller scale than the fantasy juggernaut.

Oh, and speaking of Game of Thrones, The Last of Us series will have a Game of Thrones alum in Bella Ramsey who played the young noblewoman, Lyanna Mormont. She’ll be in the lead role as Ellie. The Mandalorian star, Pedro Pascal, will be playing Joel.

I actually don’t know if I’m more or less excited about the HBO show now that I have a gauge of what it’s going to cost. I loved the first The Last of Us game because it was a deeply personal story about a grieving father and his relationship with a teenage girl who he protects as if she were his own. Will this HBO show be more about the monsters than the pulsing, beating heart of the series, which was always more about relationships? Only time will tell.

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.