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All the references, winks, differences and similarities of Episode 1 of HBO’s The Last of Us

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This post contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for HBO’s The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part I.

The premiere of HBO’s The Last of Us series is a resounding success. It has only been released Episode 1 and it is already among the best adaptations of a video game. Things have to go wrong a lot in the remaining eight episodes in order not to become the best adaptation in history.


The criticism of The Last of Us can be divided into two blocks: the fidelity regarding the original video game and the choice of Bella Ramsey to play Ellie. Some people think that the series is too faithful and that they should have chosen another actress. When it is not faithful, because it is not faithful and when it is, because it is. As for Ramsey, he has captured Ellie perfectly.


And that’s exactly what we talk about in this post! Differences and similarities, references and winks of HBO’s The Last of Us with respect to the original game.


References, winks, differences and similarities of HBO’s The Last of Us

The Episode 1 of the series The Last of Us spans from the day of the outbreak until Joel, Tess and Ellie escape Boston, including their run-in with the guards who guard the perimeter of the walled city.


The series goes much deeper than the game into the Foreword (almost half the episode), showing us what life was like for Joel and Sarah before the outbreak. Also, add some scenes like the initial interviewwhy Joel is not at home when Sarah wakes up (she went for Tommy) or the arrival of the dying child in Boston to enrich the universe The Last of Us.


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The rest of the episode is pretty close to what we see in the video game. The events are essentially the same, but we have many more dialogues and additional scenes They give context to everything that happens. All these additions feel very good and expand the story we knew.

  • Cordyceps, the fungus that causes humans to become zombies in The Last of Us, reproduces by tendrils. In the original game he does it by spores. This change was made so that the cast would not have to spend too much time wearing gas masks.
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Antiheroes like Joel from The Last of Us will always have a place in our hearts: an inner struggle as old as humanity.

  • The wardrobe of the series it is extremely similar to the clothing worn by the characters in the video game. The colors and tones do not always match, but the style remains the same. The hairstyles and beards they are also similar. Ellie wears the same Converse, that’s the level.
  • The voices in Spanish They are the same in the video game and in the series.
  • The game starts in 2013, while the series starts in 2003. You can appreciate the details in the photo by George W. Bush at school, the mobile phones and other electronic devices. Joel is born in 1967 in the series and in 1981 in the video game, which means that he is 55 and 51 years old respectively during the main plot.
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  • The scene where Sarah gives the watch to Joel has been recreated almost to the second, introducing exact phrases like when Sarah tells Joel that she sells “hard drugs“. Joel doesn’t respond with “help pay the bills” and in the series the clock is repaired instead of boughtbut in essence it is the same scene.
  • The movie Curtis and Cyper 2which Sarah borrows from her neighbors (the Coopers in the game and the Adlers in the series) to watch with Joel, is a reference to some posters in the game showing Curtis and Cyper 4. Also, Ellie tells Dina in TLOU Part II that she is thinking of inviting Joel to see the same movie.
  • The runaway home scene of Sarah, Joel and Tommy is traced to the video game, almost shot by shot. We are facing one of the most faithful scenes of the episode. The accident It is not caused by a crash at an intersection (they avoid it), but because a commercial plane crashes very close.
  • During the escape after the accident, Joel and Sarah are separated from Tommy not because the latter stays to hold a door (game), but because a car does not let him pass. Tommy is carrying a hunting rifle and not a revolver. The scene of the zombie running after Joel and Sarah conveys the same terror.
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  • The Sarah’s death scene at the hands of the soldier it is just as harrowing as it is in the game. There is only one difference: Joel is grazed by a bullet in the series.
  • The Boston Quarantine Zone It’s incredibly well recreated, even down to the detail of the Fireflies’ graffiti. In the series we can see it with much more life, even crowded in many streets where there are stalls. The currency is the same: ration cards. Barters are also made.
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The documentary you must see after the first chapter of The Last of Us is not on HBO, it is on Netflix

  • The episode is divided into two frames: on the one hand, Tess and Joel with the problem of an unfulfilled delivery of merchandise. The series shows how Tess is beaten up and is only mentioned in the game. On the other hand, Marlene, Ellie and the Fireflies plan to escape by bombing and attacking. Both plans intersect.
  • And speaking of Marlene, Merle Dandridge she is the only actress to play the same character in both plays.
  • Marlene manages to connect with Ellie when she mentions Riley Abel. If you don’t remember her, Riley is Ellie’s friend in The Last of Us Left Behind DLC.
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  • Joel hides his equipment and weapons behind a piece of furniture in both works, but it is not exactly the same: in the series it is found under some planks of his apartment and in the video game in a boiler room or warehouse.
  • The robert’s plot against Joel and Tess changes. In the video game he is killed by Tess, while in the series he is killed in a shootout against the Fireflies… the same shootout as hurts marlene and forces her to make a deal with Joel and Tess to take Ellie away.
  • In the series, Joel was already planning to go abroad before making the deal with Marlene because Tommy, her brother, hasn’t answered the radio in a while. In the game, Joel and Tommy stop talking due to their ideological differences with the Fireflies. In the series they have these differences, but both keep in touch.
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  • The Joel and Tess relationship in the video game it is friendship, business partners, while in the series it seems a lot deeper and more affective. We see that Tess sleeps in the same bed as Joel and hugs him.
  • When Joel and Tess find Marlene injured, before the deal, Ellie tries to attack Tess with his razor in the game while in the series Joel disarms Ellie and step on the razor so that he does not take it.
  • Joel and Ellie’s “killing time” scene, when Joel goes to sleep and Ellie looks out the window, is another of the most faithful of the series. Same phrases are used, including when Ellie says to Joel: “you babble in your dreams“.
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  • During the same scene, Ellie picks up a music book and finds a piece of paper with the letters B/F and a code based on numbers: 60, 70, 80. Following this, Ellie asks Joel: “Who are Bill and Frank?“, making a reference to both characters in the game. The code is based on songs from those years: the message varies depending on the year of the song played.
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The opening of HBO's The Last of Us was going to be a reference to the game, but it was so boring that they went for a much better version.

  • At the end of Episode 1 we can see a panorama of downtown Boston, which has been recreated exactly as it appears in the video game. In this same scene, you can see a Clicker (bottom left area) on a rooftop. And if you sharpen your ear, you can also hear the characteristic sound of it.
  • And speaking of the sound of the Clickers! Misty Lee and Phillip Kovats, original sound creators of these terrifying enemies, they appear in the credits as “Female Clicker” (read) and “Male Clicker” (Kovats).
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The origin theory: flour, cordyceps and cookies

Finally, fans of the series have begun to theorize how the cordyceps outbreak started. We know that the fungus is not transmitted through the air by spores, but by tendrils. The new theory maintains that this decision is consistent within the universe of the series.

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The Cordyceps manages to reach the whole world thanks to flour (via Reddit). The news of the series indicate that the first incidents occur in jakarta, where one of the largest flour factories in the world is located. This would make sense of most of the prologue, during which the following events take place:

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  • Sarah makes pancakes for Joel with eggs because there is no flour left. He makes her promise to buy before she goes home.
  • The Adler, their neighbors, offer cookies to Sarah and Joel before leaving. They both refuse. Sarah promises to go later to make more cookies.
  • Sarah visits the Adlers in the afternoon to bake cookies. We can see the old woman, the first zombie of the serieseating bits of cookies.
  • The old woman have a seizure after eating the cookies, when Sarah is there, she catches the movie Curtis and Cyper 2. Sarah takes the cookies, but they don’t eat them because they contain raisins.
  • Joel forgets to buy the Pie because he has to put in overtime. There is no cake. They dodge the bullet again.
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Conclution: flour contaminated with the fungus. All this theory is supported by the events of Episode 1 of The Last of Us and several uses of the word “crumbs” by Neil Druckmann during various interventions in a podcast:

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By the way, there are many small details. I don’t want to spoil the audience, but what I will say is that the more observant will be rewarded because little crumbs have been planted and will reward them later in interesting ways.

These are all the references, winks, differences and similarities of Episode 1 of HBO’s The Last of Us! What awaits us in Episode 2? How much will it cover? What other changes will we see regarding the game?



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