The Last Of Us: Why The Change To Bill And Frank's Storyline Was The Best Decision

Frank at piano with Bill in HBO's The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

I’m pretty sure at this point, it’s not that much of a surprise to know that I love the video game adaptation, The Last of Us. 

From the moment it was announced back in 2020 to the first trailer that came out, to the premiere episode, I was on board for this adaptation, as the game (and its sequel) meant so much to me. When I first heard that Episode 3 of the show would be taking one of the biggest deviations from the game and diving deep into Bill and Frank’s backstory, I was excited. 

The episode premiered, and I’m still not okay – in the best way. I was eager to see what the writers of the show brought to the table, and I was given what I hoped for and more. Here is why that change was absolutely necessary and the best change that could have happened. 

And obviously, big spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 3 down below. 

Nick Offerman in The Last of Us.

(Image credit: HBO)

Bill Gets A Far Richer/More Detailed Backstory

So, in The Last of Us video game, we aren’t really given much on Bill. We do get to play alongside him as we search for a car battery to get across the United States in, but we aren’t given much about who Bill is as a person – just that he’s a grouchy older man who doesn’t play well with others. 

But, in “Long, Long Time,” we are given so much backstory on Bill, which makes me honestly have a lot more respect for him than I ever did in the games. We see how much of a survivalist he was before the world went to crap, and it’s the main reason how he stayed alive for so long on his own. I had so much respect watching him build up his town and making his traps because now, it feels like it’s less about him being paranoid (like he was in the games) and more about him being resourceful. 

I would go into Bill and Frank in this section but I won’t get that heavy yet. I just need to shine a light on Bill a little more. 

Bill sitting outside having wine in HBO's The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

Nick Offerman's Bill Is Much More Likeable

First off, all the praise to Nick Offerman for his portrayal of Bill. The whole The Last of Us cast is fantastic, but Offerman knocked it out of the park. I’ve seen him in so many other roles but this is, by far, one of my favorites of his. 

Casting Offerman was such a killer decision, because he made Bill so much more likeable. I’ll be honest, he was not my favorite character in the games. He was gruff and had such an attitude that I would always just look forward to getting past his section on every replay. He was a thorn in my side for the longest time. 

However, seeing Offerman as Bill made him so much better. He has great comedic timing and even though he was playing a dramatic character, he was able to still deliver some truly hilarious lines, making him that much more likable. And, he delivers in the dramatic moments, as well, especially those last few minutes where we see the two of them together, preparing for the end. He did such an amazing job. 

Murray Bartlett in The Last of Us.

(Image credit: HBO)

The Show Really Digs Into Who Frank Is As A Person

I have to say, one of my favorite things about this episode was that we actually met Frank. A soft spoiler here, but in the video game, we never actually meet Frank. In fact, Joel didn’t even know who he was (which we’ll get into later), but in this episode, we are given a whole story about who he is as a person. 

He’s such a bubbly ray of sunshine. He is quite literally the light in Bill’s life and we see how Frank didn’t want the end of the world to stop him from enjoying his life. He goes out of his way to make sure the home they live in is nice, try to make friends with people, make trades so they could have fresh fruits and vegetables and to make their lives better. 

It’s much different from just seeing the bitter letter that we read from Frank in the game, where he tells Bill that he “hated his guts.” It makes me truly care for their love and for his character as a whole. 

Bill and Frank in The Last of Us.

(Image credit: HBO)

Bill And Frank's Beautifully Tragic Love Story Is Perhaps The Last Of Us' Happiest Ending

The Last of Us is a sad freaking game. It really is. There’s so much death and despair that sometimes, I question why I consider it my comfort game – but then again I love all kinds of games that deal with those dark themes, like God of War and Ghost of Tsushima, so it’s not that surprising. 

However, we were never given that tragic love story we were given in the show. We saw Bill’s reaction to finding Frank’s corpse in the game, but we were never given this long story between the two of them. And yet, their love story, even though it ended in death, is one of The Last of Us’ happier endings. 

I won’t spoil anything, but the fact that we not only saw them love each other through thick and thin, and literally until death, is rare in the world of The Last of Us. They went out on their own terms, regardless of what anyone else said. Bill even told Frank that he was Bill’s purpose – and he was satisfied leaving this world as long as he got to leave it with Frank. 

That is so tragically beautiful that I’m pretty sure I cried for hours on end after, because they went out together. They happened upon each other in a dying world, and made the most of it, before giving it one final middle-finger and going out together, because the idea of living in this world without the other was just too much. 

While I do lament the fact that we never got to see Ellie and Bill’s shenanigans like we do in the game, this was just so much better. I’m glad they went this route with Bill’s death, rather than the game version.

Bill and Frank with Tess and Joel in The Last of Us.

(Image credit: HBO)

It Allows Fans To See Just How Close Joel And Tess Were To Bill And Frank

This is something I just need to talk about for a moment because Joel and Tess being actual friends with Frank and Bill was something I didn’t know I needed to see. 

As mentioned before, Frank was never even known to Joel, ever. In this episode, though, we see that the two couples had met pretty frequently for trades – and would dare even call each other friends. Well, Bill would go against that, because he said he “hated” Joel in his letter, but he still cared about Tess, giving Joel his whole collection of weapons. 

This is a huge change from the game, but a welcome one, because it shows that even though Bill was pretty set in his ways, he had changed enough throughout the course of his relationship with Frank to give his life to someone else who would need it more. Not only that, but you really see the change in Joel, realizing that he not only lost Tess, but also Bill and Frank in a matter of days. 

Obviously the loss of Tess is harder, but it still means a ton to Joel, which is a great change. 

While The Last of Us is still airing (you can find out how to watch The Last of Us with our guide), I can only wonder what other changes they might make to the series that will impress fans. But for now, this was the best alteration they could have made – and I will fully support whatever else they do going forward. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.