“You have no idea what loss is,” a grim-faced Pedro Pascal tells Bella Ramsey in what became a moment where cinema mirrored a video game perfectly. This was the celebrated high of the seconds-long debut teaser for The Last Of Us, a namesake TV adaptation of the mega-hit PlayStation 3 game. Judging by the few scenes revealed, the series seems promising and, hence, has all the fans excited.
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It’s the golden age of video game movies and a great time for movie-going, binge-watching gamers. In recent years, we’ve received a Mortal Kombat movie, a Sonic The Hedgehog sequel, a Halo TV series, and more. There are still several video game-based film and TV projects in the works, ranging from an all-Japanese Ghost Of Tsushima movie to a Chris Pratt-starrer Mario animation.
Among the lot, The Last Of Us TV series — set for an HBO Max release in early 2023 — is arguably the most anticipated one right now. That’s thanks to the 2013 game’s huge fanbase, and the favorable reception of the show’s sneak peeks so far.
The Last Of Us video game featured a precocious drama element which was uncommon in the industry back then. The familiar human connections, the desperation to survive, and the ambiguous morality of actions, as a whole, deliver a cinematic experience akin to movies.
Given the game’s story-driven nature, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of fodder for The Last Of Us TV series to feed on. Moreover, certain powerful in-game moments hold great potential for evoking emotions even stronger in the live-action format. In this article, we’ve picked out such dramatic, movie-friendly moments that would captivate viewers if executed well. Obviously, spoiler alert for those who haven’t finished the game yet.
Pivotal “The Last Of Us” moments to watch out for in the TV series
1. Joel loses everything on a fateful night
The heartwarming tone set by the father-daughter moment early on in the game doesn’t last long. As the night goes on, the hysteria around the Cordyceps virus outbreak peaks as infected patients start their rampage. Soon, this forces the protagonist Joel and his daughter Sarah to leave everything behind and run for their lives.
After escaping zombie-like hordes, Joel and Sarah bump into a military person instructed to shoot infection suspects on sight. When Joel tries to dodge, a stray bullet hits Sarah, kills her, and robs his father of everything he holds dear. This is the culmination of how Joel’s life changes for good overnight.
2. Joel & Tess learn about Ellie’s unique condition
Making new friends is hard when you find out they have been keeping big secrets. You can almost feel the growing doubt entrenched in this scene where Joel and Tess discover Ellie’s unique condition. Although infected, Ellie claims she is immune to the effects, which include turning into an aggressive zombie. She explains all this while a cautious Tess has her at gunpoint, elevating the tension surrounding this moment to another level.
3. Tess reveals her infection and sacrifices herself
When the trio finds out the Fireflies assigned to take Ellie to a lab where her immunity could be used to create a vaccine are all dead, they don’t know where to go next. They are in a state of disappointment and indecision when Tess suggests Joel take Ellie to his Firefly brother Tommy’s place as he would know where to take her.
But since Joel is reluctant and unsure about this, Tess decides to present the best argument to him. Catching everyone off-guard, she reveals her infection wound from the encounter earlier and highlights how it’s already worse than what Ellie has had for weeks. As enemies approach the location, Tess chooses to die fighting — and allow Joel and Ellie time to escape — rather than turning into an infected zombie. This is the last we see of her.
4. Ellie saves Joel’s life just in time and breaks her duck
Sometimes, survival instinct brings out what people thought they never had in the first place. To Joel’s relief, Ellie undergoes this self-discovery at the right place and at the right time. While separated from the girl, Joel faces off with a hunter who overpowers him and tries to drown him to death. This tense situation builds up like a crescendo until the struggle comes to a halt with a loud bang.
The next moment, we realize that Joel has narrowly cheated death, courtesy of Ellie not obeying the former’s orders to stay put, getting hold of a nearby gun, and shooting the hunter. This marks Ellie’s first kill of many to come. A violent but justified action, it showed how innocence is transient in a world constantly fighting to survive.
5. Sam gets infected, and Henry loses his will to live
After Fireflies member Henry and his younger brother Sam join Joel and Ellie, the journey gets slightly better for each of them. However, good things don’t last in the dystopian world of The Last Of Us.
One night when Ellie goes to check on Sam, they get into a deep conversation and share their biggest fear with each other. During this warm and personal scene, little did anyone realize what was really on the cards. When he’s alone again, the young boy sits down, visibly upset. To everyone’s dismay, he then rolls up his pant sleeve and reveals his infection mark.
Fast forward to the next day, Sam starts turning and attacks Ellie. The risky feeling during this skirmish skyrockets when Henry shoots the gun right out of an alarmed Joel’s grip, preventing him from reacting. But, seconds later, Sam’s brother realizes what he must do and shoots his infected brother to save the girl. Shattered by his deed, an emotional Henry blames it all on Joel and threatens him before shockingly taking his own life.
6. Joel changes his mind and sticks with Ellie
Upon meeting his Firefly brother Tommy, Joel convinces him to escort Ellie for the rest of the journey, taking into account his better understanding of the region. When Ellie finds this out, she is beyond annoyed, thinking Joel sees her as a liability to be done away with. And, on a reckless whim, she abruptly leaves the safe house.
Following a long search, Joel catches up with Ellie, and they go back and forth on the former’s intention. As Joel points out that going ahead with Tommy is for her own safety, she tells him not to worry about her that much. Going a step further, she brings up his daughter and implies that losing Sarah doesn’t mean he should now be overly protective of her.
If the intensity here wasn’t high already, Ellie’s words further spark a heated reply from Joel, who tells her she has no idea what loss truly means. The girl argues, “Everyone I’ve cared for has either died or left me.” She adds that parting ways would only make her more scared instead of doing the opposite. Although Ellie’s remaining journey seemed set to be with Tommy, a pleasantly surprising change of heart at the last moment results in Joel choosing to accompany Ellie himself.
7. Joel gets fatally wounded, leaving Ellie in disarray
After an assailant jumps on Joel, the two engage in a scramble which leads to them falling off from a height. Unfortunately, our protagonist lands on a metal protrusion that impales and gravely injures him. This sudden and unexpected accident is where players are certainly taken aback. With the threat of the attackers still there, the situation gets beyond alarming from here onwards.
At this point, the game messes with our anxiety on two different levels. Firstly, players become increasingly doubtful about Joel’s survival. Secondly, there’s reasonable concern about Ellie’s welfare while Joel is out of action. Despite the toll that this moment takes on those watching, the story gets even more interesting as we prepare to see how the teenage girl manages to get out of this adverse position.
8. Ellie hacks David to his end
While Joel is still recuperating, Ellie crosses paths with David, the leader of the same cult responsible for his precarious condition. Soon after this wary encounter, things escalate as the cult members track the duo’s hideout. After Ellie distracts the group away from where she’s keeping Joel, a chase takes place. At the end of this, David finally captures the girl and takes her hostage.
The next scene comes out of nowhere with its graphic and stomach-churning revelation. We find out that the cult is a cannibalistic one and that they may not have the best intentions for a captive Ellie. After the girl rejects David’s proposal to join his community, he plans to enforce the same fate on her as the cult’s other victims. But fortunately, Ellie breaks out of there and makes a run for her life.
Ultimately, Ellie faces off one-on-one with David, and they get into a game of hide-and-seek with lethal consequences. The unmissable frantic aura of this level doesn’t calm down until the very end. Just when it seems a livid David has got hold of the girl again, she barely manages to grab his machete and retaliate. In a cathartic act of vengeful rage, Ellie hacks the villain repeatedly to finish the whole thing.
9. Joel finds out the Fireflies’ true plan for Ellie
How far do you go for the “greater good”? Apparently, Fireflies leader Marlene and Joel have vastly differing opinions about it, as we uncover in this scene. Even after making it through a perilous journey, our main protagonist’s respite is short-lived as he finds out what the Fireflies there have planned for Ellie.
Joel gets beyond upset when Marlene resolutely tells him they would have to sacrifice the girl’s life in a surgery to proceed with developing the Cordyceps vaccine. In an ironic turn of events, the place where Joel wanted to take Ellie safely becomes the most unsafe place for her on Earth. For the players who tagged along up to this point, it’s a hugely shocking turnaround that is sure to translate its vibe well into the TV series.
10. Joel’s sinless lie to Ellie
Post the climax in which a bloodbath ensues at the Fireflies HQ, the two are back on the road, heading toward a safe house. That’s when Ellie, who was knocked out all this time and doesn’t know what transpired, questions Joel about the events. In a testament to Naughty Dog’s immaculate story-weaving, at this stage, even the players share Ellie’s inquisitiveness. That’s because, near the end, when Marlene confronts the protagonist the game skips forward and leaves us on a cliffhanger about how he got through that decisive moment.
As Joel reminisces, we learn that when Marlene tried to convince him again — as a last resort — after failing to stop him from retrieving Ellie, he shot and killed the Firely leader. However, while explaining it to Ellie, he buries the truth and tells her that they were simply not looking for a vaccine anymore. He backed this up by falsely claiming they already had other Cordyceps-immune people who couldn’t help in vaccine research either.
Obviously, Ellie isn’t really convinced by his answer and ponders what the truth may be. A while later, she brings this up to Joel again. Recounting those she has lost to the virus, she implies waiting for her turn to give in to the disease. Replying to this, the protagonist assures Ellie that none of it is her fault and that she should not resign to the dire scenario but fight to survive. He continues, “No matter what. You keep finding things to fight for.”
Finally, she expresses her doubts about what Joel told her and asks him to swear if everything he said happened was true. As a moral dilemma briefly passes through him, he shuns his honesty in exchange for a peaceful and sinless lie. Firmly, he tells Ellie, “I swear.”
The Last Of Us TV series has it all to pull this off
With Neil Druckmann, the director of the original game, and Craig Mazin of Chernobyl fame working together, The Last Of Us TV series definitely holds great promise. It’s only a matter of a few months before we find out what Naughty Dog and HBO have been cooking for us.
Tell us which in-game moment you are looking forward to seeing the most in the TV adaptation in the comments below. And, of course, watch out for the clickers.