“The Last of Us”: An Infectiously Impressive Adaptation


Olive Gaetz ‘25
Staff Writer

Adaptations and remakes have been all the rage in Hollywood over the past few years, occasionally bringing new life to beloved stories but more often killing nostalgia stone-dead. Now every movie musical has a James Corden cameo and CGI has replaced classic cinema magic. No one is scrambling to Netflix to watch a half-assed new season of Gilmore Girls.

They simply lack the enthrallment of the originals, relying on new technology and modern buzzwords to keep their audience mildly amused. Who would have guessed that a video game adaptation could completely bypass the usual disappointments we have come to expect?

The Last of Us is a third person shooter game that came out in 2013, followed by its equally-beloved sequel in 2020. The game follows Joel, a stoic middle-aged father, as he traverses a zombie-infected apocalyptic United States in search of a mysterious organization called The Fireflies. He’s tasked with safely delivering spunky 14-year-old Ellie, who carries a burden that could determine the fate of the entire human race.

Alongside incredible graphics, music, and a very novel take on the classic zombie trope, The Last of Us has remained incredibly popular mainly due to the heartfelt relationship between Joel and Ellie. In addition, this game has challenged the usual lack of queer representation and unsexualized female characters in video games, making gaming a more approachable hobby for communities that are often left out of this type of media.

In spite of the disappointment audiences expected to face, The Last of Us has come out guns blazing from the very first episode, pleasing both original and new fans alike. The purpose of a series adaptation is to bring new elements to the original piece and introduce a wider audience to the story, especially when people may not have access to the original game.

That being said, there’s also the balance of trying to adapt an entire game to a shorter format without short-changing original fans. Though there certainly have been changes, such as adjusting the time period from 2033 to 2023 and eliminating spores as a potential threat of infection, for the most part the TV show remains very loyal to the original game. Some fans have even created show-to-game comparisons revealing nearly shot-by-shot remakes of some of the most beloved cutscenes.

The show also manages to replicate the greenish-gray color scheme and apocalyptic design of the game, upholding the nostalgia for original fans while still bringing the world to life in a new way. Even the “clickers,” the infected mushroom-like zombies that now roam the Earth, are somehow even more disturbing than in the game, a commendable achievement on the creators’ part.

One major point of contention over the new TV show, however, is the casting. As usual, countless social media users have been quick to complain about Bella Ramsey’s role as Ellie, mainly on account of her not looking exactly like the character.

Trying to find an identical actress to a videogame character who also suits the age range and talent required for the role is not only unnecessary, but also borderline impossible. Straight from the first episode, it’s clear that this Ellie has the same fighting spirit, wit, and courage as the original Ellie. Ramsey’s own touch gives the character a new dimension.

Even better, they casted a queer actor to play Ellie which is often a factor discounted in Hollywood. In doing so, they’ve upheld Ellie’s identity as a queer character. All-in-all, Ramsey has done an incredible job so far and seems to have great father-daughter chemistry with Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel. It will be exciting to see what else they bring to their roles as the season progresses, especially as their characters’ relationship unfolds.

As a big The Last of Us fan, I’m excited to say there’s truly nothing I would change about the TV show so far. It stays true to the original source material, is absolutely breathtaking to see on-screen, and also is approachable enough for new fans to dive right in without any previous knowledge of the videogame. Though it remains to be seen if they can keep this up through the first season, so far The Last of Us is one of the best on-screen adaptations ever made.

Image Source: HBO

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