10 Differences Between Episode 1 Of The Last Of Us And The Game

Sarah waves her hand threw a sprinker while Lee speaks with Joel during their drug deal in HBO's The Last of Us

After years of anticipation, The Last of Us has finally made the jump to live action through HBO’s The Last of Us. It was well worth the wait as critics and fans have been raving about this retelling of Joel and Ellie’s cross-country journey in a world plagued by a fungal outbreak.

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The first episode of HBO’s The Last of Us, titled “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” recreates the emotional introduction of the original game and hits all the right emotional notes. While much of HBO’s The Last of Us‘ first episode is faithful to its award-winning source material, there are notable differences between the HBO show and the game.

10 The Cold Open Talk Show Interview Is New To The Show

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From its opening seconds, it’s clear that HBO’s The Last of Us is not a true 1:1 adaptation. The show version begins with a cold open of a talk show in 1968. The host of the show has two epidemiologists for guests as they discuss the threat of a potential future pandemic.

One of the guests isn’t afraid of a viral pandemic, as science has the means to eventually control it. He instead instills fear in the audience of hypothetical fungal infections for humans. This opening does well to set the stage for the world viewers are going to be introduced to while serving as exposition for why this later outbreak occurred.

9 The Show & The Game Are Set In Slightly Different Time Periods

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Joel standing in a crowd of people after the time jump in HBO's The Last of Us.

Every year on September 26th, Naughty Dog celebrates “Outbreak Day.” This is the day the outbreak began in The Last of Us universe. Naughty Dog uses this day to celebrate The Last of Us by sharing news and featuring fan art and cosplay.

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This day remains consistent between the show and the game. However, the years each version is set are different. Joel and Sarah’s fateful day occurs in 2013, which is the year the game was released. The show, however, sets this day in 2003. This means that Joel meets Ellie in 2023, which is the year the show first airs.

8 The Show Depicts The Morning Of The Outbreak

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Joel and Sarah eat breakfast in HBO's The Last of Us.

The video game version begins with Joel coming home from work and Sarah giving him his birthday present. The show expands on this further by starting when Sarah wakes up that morning. Viewers are introduced to both Joel and Tommy through a morning birthday breakfast filled with fun family banter.

Tommy offers Joel some construction work to do, which Joel reluctantly agrees to despite protests from Sarah. He promises a disappointed Sarah to bring a cake home so they can celebrate his birthday before he and Tommy drive Sarah to school.

7 The Show Spends More Time With Sarah

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sarah running her afternoon errands in HBO's The Last of Us.

Much like the video game, the early stages of the show focus on Sarah. Given that her tragic demise is just around the corner, players and viewers need to grow attached to her to maximize the emotional impact. While the video game version does a fantastic job of this already, the show spends more time with Sarah.

Viewers get to see Sarah at school before following her to a watchmaker, so she can get Joel’s watch fixed. It’s at that watchmaker that viewers initially see the early franticness of the developing outbreak with police sirens in the background and Sarah being rushed out by the watchmaker’s wife.

6 Sarah Spends Time With The Neighbors

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Danny and Connie Adler along with Nana in HBO's The Last of Us

Before leaving for school, Sarah is roped into spending time with the neighbors and helping them out after school. The Adler family is unique to the show version and is composed of Danny and Connie Adler, Connie’s elderly mother, and their dog Mercy. Sarah helps Connie bake cookies while doing homework and watching over Connie’s mother.

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Before leaving, Sarah looks through the Adlers’ DVD collection and picks out a movie to borrow so she can watch with Joel when he gets home. This scene is how viewers get their first look at an Infected in Connie’s mother. At night, Sarah is led to the Adlers by a scared Mercy to find that Connie’s mother has fully turned and killed Connie and Danny.

5 Joel’s Reintroduction & Tess’ Introduction Are Earlier

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tess speaking while being held by Robert and his men in HBO's The Last of Us

After Sarah’s tragic death, fans are reintroduced to Joel 20 years later. Prior to this introduction, viewers see an injured boy approaching the Boston Quarantine Zone to set the stage for the present world. The boy, however, is infected and was killed by FEDRA soldiers via injection. Joel is seen working to burn infected bodies with an emotionless look on his face, including the boy’s, showing viewers just how cold he’s become since losing Sarah.

Tess is introduced by being held by Robert after she was jumped by Robert’s men. Robert is afraid of Joel and fears Tess might tell him that he sold their car battery to another seller. A Firefly attack damages the building they were in, and an injured Tess is held by FEDRA overnight under suspicion she may be a Firefly.

4 Ellie’s Introduction Is Different As Well

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ellie sits on the floor while chained up in HBO's The Last of Us

In the video game, Joel and Tess are introduced to Ellie at the same time players are. In the show, Ellie is introduced a little earlier. Ellie is chained up in an apartment. Ellie was bitten, so there were understandable fears from the Fireflies that she might turn.

Marlene, played by her video game voice actor Merle Dandridge, believes that the discovery that Ellie’s immunity could lead to a cure. Ellie is surprised to learn that Marlene is already familiar with her, even being the one to leave Ellie in the care of the FEDRA orphanage. While their history is consistent with the game, this interaction is new for the show.

3 Joel Meets Ellie Under Slightly Different Circumstances

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Joel and Tess stand over Ellie as Marlene proposes a deal in HBO's The Last of Us

In the game, Joel and Tess travel to Robert’s location on a wharf. Unlike the show, Robert sold off Joel and Tess’ weapons as opposed to a car battery. Joel and Tess chase Robert. Upon catching him, Tess kills Robert. In the show, Joel and Tess are led to an apartment building where they find Robert already dead.

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Robert’s deal with the Fireflies went south, leading to a big shootout that kill numerous people dead and injured Marlene. From there, Joel’s fateful meeting with Ellie sticks closely to the source material with the exception of Joel and Tess already being at Ellie’s location as opposed to Marlene leading them there.​​​​​​​

2 Joel Is Planning On Visiting Tommy

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tommy during the outbreak in HBO's The Last of Us

Much like the game, Joel and Tommy later grew at odds with one another after Tommy joined the Fireflies. However, in the show, Joel still keeps tabs on his brother, a notable difference from the game.

Joel frequently checks with a radio caller to send and receive messages from Tommy. When Tommy stopped replying, Joel starts to formulate a plan to leave the Boston QZ and travel to Tommy’s location in Wyoming. The car battery Joel was hoping to get from Robert was meant to help Joel get there by vehicle.

1 Joel Had A Smuggling Client In A FEDRA Solider

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Joel hands Lee drugs in HBO's The Last of Us

After Joel finishes his work for the day and gets paid his rations, Joel meets up with a FEDRA soldier. This FEDRA soldier, Lee, exchanges ration cards and homemade cigarettes for drugs. Lee is an original character in the show. Joel, Tess, and Ellie encounter Lee at the end of the first episode as he catches them trying to escape the Boston QZ.

The assault weapon-wielding Lee gets the trio on their knees so he can test whether they’re infected. Ellie, who is, breaks out of it and injures Lee who points his gun at her. Joel, who no doubt sees the parallels between Lee and the soldier who killed Sarah, beats Lee to death.

NEXT: 10 Things The Last Of Us Show Should Change If HBO Adapts Part II


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