All differences between The Last of Us game & TV show

How do they weave this tale?

For very good reason, fans of either The Last of Us' video game or TV series adaption or both have taken to social media nearly every Sunday night to tell whoever will listen to all about the latest episode of one of their favorite stories. While they tell the same story, because they are different mediums, they naturally tell the story in slightly different ways. Here are all the differences between The Last of Us game and the TV show.

What are the differences between The Last of Us game & TV show?

Some differences are direct changes from the video game adaptation to the TV show, while others are more of an expansion of what was already established. A bit of warning, we've ordered these differences by TV episode order. The farther down the list you go, the more likely you will encounter spoilers.

Spores and Tendrils

One of the first differences between the two versions was revealed prior to the first episode of the TV show airing. In the game, the infection that causes the pandemic is spread by fungal spores, making the agent airborne. There were frequent stages in the game that would require Joel to wear a mask to prevent infection. In the TV series, this was changed to prevent actors from having to wear a mask, which would hinder their ability to convey the story via facial expressions. Instead, Cordyceps is spread by contact only and creates creepy tendrils that connect all of the infected in a satisfyingly horrific way.

When the Cordyceps pandemic took place

In the video game, the Cordyceps pandemic hit in 2013, approximately the same year that the game was released. Most of the game then took place in a post-apocalyptic version of 2033. In the TV series, this was shifted. The Cordyceps pandemic struck in 2003, placing most of the story's events in 2023. This change would presumably help the viewer feel closer to the events and ask, "What if this really could happen to us?"

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FEDRA members are humans too

One of the natural advantages of a TV show adaptation is more time to expand on characters and their motivations. In the video game, FEDRA is a simpler, antagonistic organization. The TV series can flesh out their motivations more, particularly the rank-and-file members. Showing responses to situations like an infected child turning up at the gates of a QZ, or catching your drug dealer out of bounds, humanizes them, even if their responses to these situations seem abhorrent.

Bill's role in the story

In the game, you encounter Bill, a survivalist living in his own self-built compound in Lincoln. The gameplay largely centers around avoiding traps in his protective domain. You can briefly learn about his partner, Frank, who has already died by the point you encounter Bill. In the TV series, Bill and Frank's relationship is fleshed out over an entire episode highly praised on social media. Here again, the TV adaptation's natural focus on fleshing out characters and their relationships, rather than immersing a player in an experience, plays to its advantage here. One other big change: Bill is dead when Joel and Ellie reach Lincoln in the TV series.

Going to Kansas City

The TV series takes Joel and Ellie much farther away from the East Coast during a key point in the narrative. In the game, they are ambushed by a group of "hunters," still a renegade group that overthrew FEDRA, while passing through Pittsburgh. For the TV series, this event is pushed further into the Midwest, in Kansas City. Kathleen, the leader of this group of Hunters, is also a new addition. Fans of the game series will recognize Henry, who we met briefly at the end of episode four.

Looking for more of our coverage of The Last of Us? Check out The Last of Us Part 1 PS5 Remake – What are the Differences? here at Pro Game Guides.

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About the Author

Mom, gamer, writer. I got hooked on fantasy lands in childhood, during my first trip through Hyrule. I've been to Pallet Town, Whiterun, and Novigrad. Currently traveling through Sumeru. My travel partners include my husband, two boys, and our dog, Ellie.
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All differences between The Last of Us game & TV show

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