Hopefully following in the footsteps of the likes of Game of Thrones and Chernobyl, The Last of Us is set to be HBO’s next big release.
With so many great moments in Naughty Dog’s 2013 release, The Last of Us is the perfect game to be adapted to the small screen. From fantastic characters, engaging stories and an apocalyptic setting, The Last of Us could sweep the nation like never before.
Zombie stories are hardly new. But The Last of Us is so much more than the typical horror/survival story; behind all its action there’s heart. Emotions are fully heightened, and the bond between Joel and Ellie truly drive the whole narrative.
There’s so much great material for HBO to work with, and so expectations are high. But we have seen many video game adaptations fall short in the past. We’ve put together a list of 10 things we hope the crew will pay attention to when producing The Last of Us HBO series.
Warning: spoilers for The Last of Us follow. But come on, it’s been seven years. Play it already.
1The choice of actors is key
This may seem a pretty obvious idea, but Joel and Ellie are not easy characters to play. They both have their own difficult backstory, unique motives and deep emotions. For The Last of Us adaptation to work, the right cast is absolutely vital. These characters have to be perfect in order to create empathy between them and the viewer.
This could also be an opportunity for HBO to do something different. Some of the Game of Thrones cast look different to their descriptions in the novels. And Netflix certainly took a different direction with The Witcher. Either way, the cast is vital for The Last of Us, even if they don’t look quite like the Ellie and Joel we know.
2The bond between the two leads
At the core of The Last of Us is the relationship that forms between Joel and Ellie. Of course the setting and situations they’re in drive the plot forward, but these two characters make the game what it is. Their growing bond is beautiful, and it’s key to The Last of Us‘ entire story.
This is something HBO has to ensure in The Last of Us adaptation. Of course, two great actors are so important in achieving this, but the writing has to be perfect too. The audience needs to see the growing relationship between Joel and Ellie for the plot to truly work.
3A stark atmosphere
From the incredible opening of The Last of Us to the heartfelt ending, it’s a story that is amplified by its surrounding atmosphere. The post-apocalyptic world is harrowing and frightening. Each character has struggled to survive in this new environment.
Whether it’s the music, the lighting or the setting itself, everything needs to play into creating this new reality. The audience needs to see that this is the world we live in, but it’s not the one we know.
4Moments to remember
The Last of Us is made up of poignant and important moments. Whether it’s a simple conversation between Ellie and Joel about what an ice cream van is, or the wonderful moment when Ellie finds a giraffe, they’re key moments that stand out in the game.
These light-hearted moments are in stark contrast to the constant fear and danger The Last of Us‘ world revolves around. Seeing them play out make Ellie and Joel seem much more human, and makes their bond grow even more. It’s important that the HBO series captures the magic of moments like these, even if an actual giraffe might be a tall (lol) ask.
5The inclusion of Sarah
The beginning of The Last of Us is traumatic, but it’s the perfect introduction for the game. While playing as Sarah (Joel’s daughter) the events of the outbreak unfold and the player gets to see this through the frightened eyes of the 12 year old daughter.
Sarah’s death is a powerful moment. Not only does it set the tone for The Last of Us, it also reveals that the infected aren’t the only beings to be afraid of. This is something that has to be included in The Last of Us series. It’s such a powerful and important moment, one that’s key to understanding Joel as a character.
6Ellie and Joel changing over time
Neither lead character stays the same throughout The Last of Us. After the opening scene, Joel is a hardened and rough character. Understandably, he rarely shows any positive emotions, but this develops throughout the story as his relationship with Ellie evolves.
In the same way, Ellie changes throughout The Last of Us too. She begins as a hardened teenager who has learned to cope with her difficult environment. The closed-off teen becomes much more open throughout the story, and much of this is down to her bond with Joel. Both characters have to grow throughout the series.
7High on fear
Despite all the heartwarming moments with Joel and Ellie, and all the strength shown from the two, at its roots The Last of Us is a survival/horror game. Whether it’s the setting, the infected, or other non-infected humans, almost every scene in The Last of Us has been designed to create tension and fear.
The Last of Us includes some jump scares, but the majority of the fear comes from the overall atmosphere. Hopefully HBO builds on this and manages to create a constant sense of fear through their use of story, characters and setting.
8Inclusion of minor characters
The Last of Us is built around the story of Ellie and Joel, but there are so many more great characters included in the game. Each surviving character has their own story to tell, and getting to see some of these explored in greater detail in the TV series would be excellent.
Take Sam and Henry, for example: two brothers who become seriously impacted by the Cordyceps infection. Sam and Ellie quickly build up a rapport (mainly because they’re close in age), but when Sam becomes infected his older brother is the one who has to kill him. Henry then kills himself, in what is a highly shocking and emotive scene. Minor characters like these add so much to The Last of Us.
The Last of Us may include many heartwarming moments, but it’s never long until danger and violence take over. Whether it’s the infected or other survivors, combat becomes an absolute must. These moments are tense and dangerous, and push Ellie and Joel to their limits.
What makes The Last of Us really stand out is how sparse weapons and ammo can be. This makes the fighting even more dramatic and dangerous. These moments create a lot of tension, and must be adapted well in the HBO adaptation.
The Last of Us is one of the most iconic games in recent history. So many gamers love what Naughty Dog has created, and want the HBO series to be a true reflection of that. But as we’ve seen with the Netflix Witcher series, changes can be made to original ideas and concepts – and that doesn’t necessary have to be a bad thing.
Sure, the last season of Game of Thrones (which wasn’t based on any novel as they hadn’t been written yet) may well be controversial. But if HBO has learned from that, there’s so much potential for new content and new ideas in a Last of Us adaptation. A few well-chosen surprises could place even the most die-hard fans on the edge of their seats.