The Last of Us (TV series)

Last updated

The Last of Us
The Last of Us TV logo.svg
Genre
Created by
Based on The Last of Us
by Naughty Dog [lower-alpha 1]
Written by
  • Craig Mazin
  • Neil Druckmann
Starring
Theme music composer Gustavo Santaolalla
Opening theme"The Last of Us"
Composers
  • Gustavo Santaolalla
  • David Fleming
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes3
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Greg Spence
  • Cecil O'Connor
Production locations Alberta, Canada
Cinematography
  • Ksenia Sereda
  • Eben Bolter
  • Christine A. Maier
  • Nadim Carlsen
Editors
  • Timothy A. Good
  • Mark Hartzell
  • Emily Mendez
Running time46–81 minutes [2] [3]
Production companies
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Studios
Release
Original network HBO
Picture format
Audio format Dolby Atmos [lower-alpha 2]
Original releaseJanuary 15, 2023 (2023-01-15) 
present (present)

The Last of Us is an American post-apocalyptic drama television series created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann for HBO. Based on the 2013 video game developed by Naughty Dog, the series is set twenty years after a mass fungal infection caused by a mutation in the genus Cordyceps , which sparked a global pandemic. The infection causes its victims to transform into hostile, cannibalistic creatures resembling zombies. The series follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. Guest stars include Nico Parker as Joel's daughter Sarah, Gabriel Luna as Joel's younger brother Tommy, Merle Dandridge as resistance leader Marlene, and Anna Torv as Joel's smuggler partner Tess.

Contents

The Last of Us, said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, was filmed throughout Alberta from July 2021 to June 2022. It is the first HBO series based on a video game, and is a joint production by Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Naughty Dog, the Mighty Mint, and Word Games. The first season consists of nine episodes written by Druckmann, who wrote and co-directed the original game, and Mazin. The score was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed for the game, and David Fleming.

The Last of Us premiered on January 15, 2023. It received acclaim from critics, who praised the performances, writing, production design, and score; several called it the best live-action adaptation of a video game. Across linear channels and HBO Max, the series premiere was watched by 4.7 million viewers on the first day—the second-biggest for HBO since 2010—and over 22 million within twelve days. In January 2023, the series was renewed for a second season.

Cast and characters

Main

Pedro Pascal by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Bella Ramsey at the 2022 TIFF Premiere of Catherine Called Birdy (52358884151) (cropped).jpg
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey portray the lead characters, Joel and Ellie. [6] [7]

Guest

Episodes

No.Title [75] Directed by [76] Written by [77] Original air date [75] U.S. viewers
(millions)
1"When You're Lost in the Darkness" Craig Mazin Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann January 15, 2023 (2023-01-15)0.588 [78]
In 2003, a mass fungal infection of Cordyceps sparks a global pandemic. Joel flees with his daughter, Sarah, and brother, Tommy; Sarah is killed by a soldier. Twenty years later, Joel lives in the Boston quarantine zone managed by the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA), working as a smuggler with his partner, Tess. When Tommy fails to contact them from Wyoming, they buy a car battery from a local dealer, Robert, but are double-crossed when he sells it to the Fireflies, a rebel group opposing FEDRA. Attempting to retrieve it, Joel and Tess discover Marlene, the Fireflies' leader, who begs them to take Ellie to the Massachusetts State House in exchange for a working truck. While sneaking out, the three are caught by a soldier who tests them for the infection, revealing Ellie is positive. Joel kills the soldier and Ellie claims to be immune.
2"Infected"Neil DruckmannCraig MazinJanuary 22, 2023 (2023-01-22)0.633 [79]
Two days before the outbreak, in Jakarta, a mycologist learns of the oncoming pandemic and advises the government to bomb the city to prevent it from spreading. In the present, Ellie explains to Joel and Tess that she is being transported west in hopes of being used to find a cure. Discovering that the path to the State House is swarmed with infected, they cut through a museum, where they are attacked by blind infected known as "clickers"; Ellie is bitten. They arrive at the State House but find the Fireflies dead. Tess reveals she was bitten, while Ellie's bite begins to heal, proving her immunity. Joel shoots an infected, which alerts the swarm to their location. Tess convinces him to escape with Ellie while she stays behind, blowing up the building and killing herself along with the horde.
3"Long, Long Time" Peter Hoar Craig MazinJanuary 29, 2023 (2023-01-29)0.747 [80]
Joel and Ellie heed Tess's final instructions and hike to meet allies Bill and Frank. Joel teaches Ellie about the government's execution of innocents during the early days of the outbreak. In 2007, Frank stumbles onto the compound of paranoid survivalist Bill, who takes him in. They begin a romance, sharing a love of music and food. Years later, Frank contacts Tess by radio and the couples enter a tenuous friendship. In the present, Frank is terminally ill and asks Bill to euthanize him after they marry. Bill, not wanting to live without Frank, kills himself as well. Joel and Ellie arrive some time later. They discover a letter Bill left for Joel, explaining that protecting Frank is what gave his life meaning after the outbreak and leaving Joel his supplies. Joel takes Bill's truck and sets out with Ellie to find Tommy.
4"Please Hold My Hand"Jeremy WebbCraig MazinFebruary 5, 2023 (2023-02-05)TBD
5"Endure and Survive"Jeremy WebbCraig MazinFebruary 12, 2023 (2023-02-12)TBD
6"Kin" Jasmila Žbanić Craig MazinFebruary 19, 2023 (2023-02-19)TBD
7"Left Behind" Liza Johnson Neil DruckmannFebruary 26, 2023 (2023-02-26)TBD
8"When We Are in Need" Ali Abbasi Craig MazinMarch 5, 2023 (2023-03-05)TBD
9TBAAli AbbasiCraig Mazin & Neil DruckmannMarch 12, 2023 (2023-03-12)TBD

Production

Development

Craig Mazin, MovieZine interview (cropped).png
Neil Druckmann, MovieZine interview (cropped).png
The Last of Us was created by Craig Mazin (left) and Neil Druckmann (right). Druckmann wrote and co-directed the video game. [81]

A film adaptation of Naughty Dog's 2013 video game The Last of Us was announced in March 2014, to be written by the game's writer and creative director Neil Druckmann; [82] it had entered development hell by 2016, [83] and the partnership ended and rights relinquished by 2019. [84] Due to the extensive development of a film based on Uncharted , another game series by Naughty Dog, Druckmann ensured specific plot points were included when negotiating a deal with film and television studios; he felt more closely connected to The Last of Us's creation and development than Uncharted's [8] and always wanted to be involved in its adaptation in some manner. [10] In 2018, writer and director Craig Mazin was approached by PlayStation Productions with a list of video games for potential television adaptation; he was disappointed to discover The Last of Us was being adapted into a film at the time as he felt television was a better fit. [84] A fan of the video game, having played it about twelve times, [85] [86] Mazin was introduced to Druckmann through Shannon Woodward, a mutual friend, in 2019. [84] Druckmann, a fan of Mazin's series Chernobyl , agreed with Mazin that The Last of Us required the length and pacing of a television series. [85] They pitched the series to HBO about a week after meeting. [84]

In March 2020, a television adaptation was announced in the planning stages at HBO, expected to cover events of the first game. Mazin and Druckmann were named to write and executive produce the series, while television producer Carolyn Strauss and Naughty Dog president Evan Wells were named executive producers, [81] and Gustavo Santaolalla, who worked on the games, the show's composer. [87] The show was announced as a joint production of Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Naughty Dog; [88] it is the first show produced by PlayStation Productions. [81] [89] It is produced under the company name Bear and Pear Productions. [90] [91] [92] Johan Renck, Mazin's collaborator on Chernobyl, was announced as executive producer and director of the series premiere in June 2020; [93] he dropped out by November due to scheduling conflicts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. [94] [95] HBO greenlit the series on November 20. PlayStation Productions's Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan were named executive producers, and Word Games a production company. [88]

In January 2021, the Mighty Mint joined production, and Kantemir Balagov was announced as the pilot episode's director. [96] He had been interested in adapting the game for years and was set to direct several opening episodes; [97] [98] in October 2022, Balagov said he left the project a year prior due to creative differences. [99] Rose Lam was added as executive producer in February 2021. [45] Pre-production in Calgary, Alberta, began on March 15; [100] Mazin arrived in May. [101] Ali Abbasi and Jasmila Žbanić were announced as directors in April. [102] In July 2021, the Directors Guild of Canada revealed Peter Hoar was assigned to direct, [90] followed in August by Mazin, [91] in September by Druckmann, [103] and in January 2022 by Liza Johnson and Jeremy Webb. [104] In February, Druckmann confirmed he directed an episode and felt his experience reinforced and reflected his experience in directing games. [105] After several months traveling between Calgary and Los Angeles, Druckmann struggled to fulfil obligations at Naughty Dog and returned home to advise remotely, feeling confident in Mazin. [8] The season's original ten-episode count was reduced to nine during production; [106] [107] the first two were combined after HBO executives felt the first would not compel viewers to return. [38] :22:27

The Last of Us is believed to be the largest television production in Canadian history, expected to generate over CA$200 million in revenue for Alberta. [108] [109] [110] Sources suggested the budget was between US$10 million and US$15 million per episode; [110] [111] The New Yorker claimed the series budget exceeded each of the first five seasons of Game of Thrones . [8] Calgary film officials felt Alberta was chosen for production partly due to the government's 2021 decision to remove its tax credit cap of CA$10 million per project. Canadian artists union IATSE 212 claimed the production led to a 30 percent increase in union membership and employment. [112] The production team included five art directors and hundreds of technicians. [110] The game's art director, concept artists, and environment artists provided feedback on costumes and sets. [13] Production designer John Paino referenced the video game but focused on references used by Naughty Dog during development. He created an image collage which included a photograph of reassembled chairs, which Mazin considered the show's mandate: "the built world is unbuilt and rebuilt". [113] Paul Becker choreographed the series, [114] and Barrie Gower was the prosthetics designer, responsible for the designs of the infected. [115] Elastic created the show's title sequence; Mazin enjoyed the idea of the fungus appearing beautiful despite its destructive nature. [116] :0:40 Visual effects studio DNEG, [117] supervised by Alex Wang, consulted with Naughty Dog's concept artists when creating the infected. [8]

On January 27, 2023, less than two weeks after the series premiere, HBO renewed the series for a second season. [118] The first season covers the events of the first game and its downloadable expansion The Last of Us: Left Behind (2014); [119] Druckmann and Mazin suggested a second season would immediately cover the sequel, The Last of Us Part II (2020), to avoid filler, [11] though Mazin felt it would require more than one season. [119] He does not want the series to overtake the games. [120] The writers ensured characters remained true to their developments in Part II in case the show received more seasons. [121]

Casting

Pedro Pascal (left) and Gabriel Luna (right) on set in Canmore, Alberta in November 2021 The Last of Us - Canmore set - Pedro Pascal and Gabriel Luna (cropped).png
Pedro Pascal (left) and Gabriel Luna (right) on set in Canmore, Alberta in November 2021

Casting took place virtually through Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [13] For International Women's Day on March 8, 2020, Druckmann confirmed several of the characters from the games would appear in the show, including Ellie, Riley, Tess, Marlene, and Maria. [122] On February 10, 2021, Pascal and Ramsey were cast as Joel and Ellie. [6] [7] Earlier that day, it was reported Mahershala Ali was offered the role of Joel after Matthew McConaughey turned it down; [123] The Hollywood Reporter noted Ali "did circle a role" in the show, but a deal was never formed. [7] Any actresses considered for Ellie for the canceled film adaptation—such as Maisie Williams and Kaitlyn Dever—had aged out of consideration by the time the series was in production, resulting in a reset of candidates. [11] The producers primarily sought actors who could embody Joel and Ellie individually as well as imitate their relationship. [73] :14:42 Pascal and Ramsey did not meet before filming began but found they had instant chemistry which developed over the course of production. [124]

Luna's casting as Tommy was announced on April 15, 2021, [125] and Dandridge was confirmed to reprise her role of Marlene from the video games on May 27. [32] In May, Classic Casting circulated a casting call for extras from Calgary, Fort Macleod, High River, and Lethbridge; anyone over 18 could apply, and those with vehicles from 1995 to 2003 were recommended. [126] It was announced Parker was cast as Sarah on June 30. [25] Pierce, Bartlett, and O'Neill's casting as Perry, Frank, and Bill was announced on July 15, [56] followed by Torv's as Tess on July 22. [41] On December 5, 2021, Bartlett claimed Offerman would appear on the show in a role close to his; [127] two days later, Offerman was announced to be playing Bill, replacing O'Neill who was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. [54] On December 9, Žbanić revealed the casting of Greene, Miles, and Wesley. [128]

Reid's casting as Riley Abel was announced on January 14, 2022. [66] In February, Mazin distributed a casting call for a boy aged 8–14 who is deaf, black, and proficient in American Sign Language or Black American Sign Language; Deaf West Theatre confirmed this was for the character of Sam, who will appear in two episodes filmed in March and April. [64] In June, Druckmann announced Baker and Ashley Johnson would star in the series; [72] their character names were revealed in December. [71] Lamar Johnson and Woodard's casting as Henry and Sam was announced in August, alongside the official announcement of Greene and Miles as Marlon and Florence. [63] Lynskey's casting as Kathleen was announced alongside the teaser trailer in September, [60] while Shepherd's casting was revealed in the first trailer in December. [129] Wesley's role as Maria was announced on January 9. [65]

Writing

A post-apocalyptic drama, [130] [131] [132] the series was written by Mazin and Druckmann. [81] Druckmann was convinced Mazin was the ideal creative partner for the series after witnessing his passion for the game's story; [11] Druckmann referred to Mazin as the story's "co-parent". [133] Mazin said the series may represent a paradigm shift for film and television adaptations of video games due to the strength of the narrative, noting "it would only take [HBO executives] 20 minutes on Google to realize The Last of Us is the Lawrence of Arabia of video game narratives". [134]

Druckmann felt the most important element of adapting the game was to "keep the soul", particularly the character relationships, whereas the gameplay and action sequences were of minimal importance. [135] Mazin said the changes were "designed to fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance". [136] He said the series would avoid episodic storylines, such as random encounters not present in the original story. Content cut from the game would be added to the show, including one "jaw-drop" moment Druckmann described to him. [137] Druckmann said some scripts borrow dialogue directly from the game, while others deviate; some of the game's action-heavy sequences were changed to focus on character drama at the encouragement of HBO. [138] Druckmann said the series was taking the opposite approach to adaptation than the film Uncharted (2022); while Uncharted tells a new story with moments from the games to give "an Uncharted flavor", The Last of Us is a closer adaptation, allowing alterations such as changing character perspectives in a manner unachievable in an immersive game. [105] Unlike creating the games, Druckmann felt he was able to "unplug" from the characters when writing the show due to the immersive nature of video games. [8] The writers found the series an opportunity to delve into backstories of characters who the game otherwise ignored, wanting to better understand their motivations. [139]

Druckmann was open to changing any aspects of the games but always wanted a strong reason, [140] ensuring he and Mazin considered the impacts on events later in the narrative. [119] The game's outbreak takes place in 2013, while its post-apocalyptic narrative occurs in 2033; this was changed to 2003 and 2023, as the writers felt the story taking place simultaneously with the show's release was more interesting and real, and did not fundamentally change the story. [34] [141] The writers added the outbreak's origins to the series to ground the narrative; following COVID-19, they recognized audiences are more knowledgeable about viral pandemics than they once were. [142] Borrowing from an approach he had used in writing Chernobyl, Mazin began the series with a segment of a fictional 1960s talk show explaining the origins of a fungal infection, implying humanity knew of the potential risk for some time. [143] For the show, the writers removed spores as the vector through which the infection is spread in the games, replacing it with tendrils that form a unified, interconnected network, inspired by the idea of mycelium. [142] The writers felt the game's gas masks did not translate well into television and spores were not a realistic threat, and found replacing it with an interconnected network increased tension. [144] Visually, the fungal infection was inspired by jellyfish stings after Žbanić sent an image to Mazin during preproduction. [84] The writers avoided making "a zombie show", [142] acknowledging the infected creatures were ultimately a vessel through which the characters are pressured to make interesting decisions and reveal their true selves. [13] Rotten Tomatoes listed the titles of the first three episodes in December 2022, [145] and the fifth through eighth in January 2023. [146]

Filming

Filming took place in High River and Fort Macleod in July 2021, [147] [148] in Downtown Edmonton in October, [149] and in Canmore and Calgary in November. [150] [151]

The series filmed for 200 days, with around 18–19 days per episode, amounting to 2–3 pages of script per day. [84] Supervising location manager Jason Nolan began preparation work for the series in January 2021, leading a 115-person team that found and transformed more than 180 locations. [152] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cast and crew quarantined for two weeks after entering Canada. [18] Ksenia Sereda worked as cinematographer alongside Balagov, Mazin, and Druckmann, [153] [154] [155] Eben Bolter with Hoar and Webb, [156] [157] [158] Christine A. Maier with Žbanić, [128] and Nadim Carlsen with Abbasi. [159] Filming began in Calgary, Alberta, on July 12, [100] [160] a week later than originally scheduled. [161]

Filming in High River and Fort Macleod took place in July, [147] [148] replicating Austin, Texas, for the first episode, [162] [46] before moving to Calgary in August. [163] The Boston quarantine zone was constructed over several months near Stampede Park. [113] [109] [152] Balagov's work completed production by August 30; [153] he later left the project entirely. [99] Hoar's episode finished on October 5. [157] Around CA$372,000 was spent for a four-day shoot in Downtown Edmonton in October, [149] including at Rice Howard Way and the Alberta Legislature Building. [164] [92] Filming took place in downtown Calgary and Beltline later in October. [165] [166] [167] Druckmann's episode was completed by November 7. [155] In November, production occurred in Canmore, Alberta, [150] replicating Jackson, Wyoming, [168] and at Mount Royal University and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). [151] Žbanić's episode completed production by December 9. [128]

In January 2022, Northland Village Mall in northwest Calgary was decorated for production. [169] Filming took place in Okotoks and Waterton Lakes National Park in February, [170] [171] and Airport Trail in northeast Calgary saw closures for three days in March. [172] [173] Webb's episodes entered production in March 2022 [174] and continued until the end of principal photography in June. [175] Calgary was used to replicate Kansas City, Missouri in March. [176] [177] Production continued in Calgary in April and May, including around the Calgary Courts Centre, Kensington, and Victoria Park, [178] [179] [180] [181] and moved to Olds in late May and early June. [182] Production concluded in the early hours of June 11, [183] [175] two days later than originally scheduled; [100] [160] Additional photography took place in Kansas City on October 4. [184]

Music

Santaolalla and David Fleming composed the score for the television series; [87] [185] the former wrote its opening theme. [186] He said Latino viewers "will recognize touches" of his music, [187] and drew on his experiences in film and television, having composed the themes and some tracks for Jane the Virgin (2014–2019) and Making a Murderer (2015–2018). [187]

Release and promotion

To promote the show, Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Bella Ramsey, and Pedro Pascal presented Best Action Game at The Game Awards in December 2022. Best Action Game, The Game Awards 2022 (cropped).png
To promote the show, Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Bella Ramsey, and Pedro Pascal presented Best Action Game at The Game Awards in December 2022.

While the series was originally indicated to begin airing in 2022, [189] [190] HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys denied this in February 2022 and clarified it would begin in 2023. [191] [192] For The Last of Us Day on September 26, 2021, HBO shared the first image of Pascal and Ramsey in costume, [193] followed by the first still from the series at Summer Game Fest on June 10, 2022. [194] The first footage of the show was revealed in a HBO Max trailer during the premiere of House of the Dragon on August 21, 2022, featuring Pascal, Ramsey, Parker, and Offerman. [195] [196] The September 2022 release of The Last of Us Part I —a remake of the original game—was partly based on the potential to introduce show viewers to the games. [197] The first teaser trailer for the show was released for The Last of Us Day on September 26, 2022, featuring the first footage of Luna, Dandridge, Torv, and Reid, and confirming the 2023 release window and Lynskey's casting; [60] the teaser's music, "Alone and Forsaken" by Hank Williams, was featured in the game and used in one of its trailers. [198] The teaser received over 17 million views in less than 24 hours across Twitter and YouTube. [199]

Following leaks from Sky and HBO Max, [200] on November 2, HBO announced the series would premiere in the United States on January 15, 2023, and released the first official poster. [107] It is broadcast on HBO in the United States, and is available to stream in 4K resolution on HBO Max; [4] it is released on Binge in Australia, [201] Crave in Canada, [64] Disney+ Hotstar in India, [202] Neon in New Zealand, [203] and Sky Group channels and Now in Germany and Austria, [204] Italy, [205] Switzerland, [204] and the United Kingdom and Ireland. [204] [206] The first episode received its red carpet world premiere in Westwood, Los Angeles on January 9, [207] followed by theater screenings in Budapest and Sydney on January 11, [208] [209] and New York City on January 12. [210] A short clip of Joel and Ellie hiding from a Clicker was released on November 16 to tease the show's appearance at CCXP the following month. [211] Posters for eleven characters were released on November 30. [212] Dandridge, Druckmann, Luna, Mazin, Pascal, and Ramsey appeared on a panel at CCXP on December 3, [213] where the first full trailer was released, revealing the first appearances of Baker, Ashley Johnson, and Shepherd. [129] [214] Baker, Ashley Johnson, Pascal, and Ramsey presented at The Game Awards 2022 on December 8. [188]

In December, HBO announced Baker would host a companion podcast alongside the series, featuring Mazin and Druckmann. [215] In January 2023, Pascal and Ramsey were featured on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter , [11] while Pascal was on the cover of Wired . [9] HBO released the first behind-the-scenes featurette on January 6, [216] and several press outlets published interviews with cast and crew based on roundtable discussions from the previous month. [36] [119] [141] Ramsey appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! alongside a clip from the series on January 9, [217] [218] and on The Late Late Show with James Corden on January 10. [219] A season trailer was released after the airing of the first episode on January 15, [220] and a two-hour trial of The Last of Us Part I was made available for PlayStation Plus Premium members. [221] To promote the third episode, Bartlett appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on January 30, [222] and Offerman on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on February 1. [223] Pascal will host Saturday Night Live on February 4. [224]

Reception

Critical response

The Last of Us (season 1): Critical reception by episode

Percentage of positive critics' reviews tracked by the website Rotten Tomatoes [225]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Last of Us has an approval rating of 96% based on 204 reviews, with an average rating of 9/10. The website's general consensus reads, "Retaining the most addictive aspects of its beloved source material while digging deeper into the story, The Last of Us is bingeworthy TV that ranks among the all-time greatest video game adaptations." [225] Metacritic calculated an average of 84 out of 100 based on 41 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". [226] Several reviewers considered it the best live-action adaptation of a video game, [227] [228] [229] with GameSpot 's Mark Delaney saying it "feels like the beginning of a new era" for the genre. [186]

Anna Torv headshot (further cropped).jpg
Nick Offerman (42636140954) (cropped).jpg
Murray Bartlett (further cropped).jpg
The performances of guest stars Anna Torv, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett (L–R) were widely praised by critics. [2] [230] [231]

The cast's performances received widespread acclaim, with critics singling out the chemistry between Pascal and Ramsey for praise. [227] [232] [233] Evening Standard 's Vicky Jessop said the two "steal every scene they're in", [234] while Rolling Stone 's Alan Sepinwall called them "compulsively watchable and almost instantly endearing". [2] Empire 's John Nugent and /Film 's Valerie Ettenhofer referred to Pascal's performance as the best of his career, citing his ability to portray nuance and rare vulnerability. [230] [235] TechRadar 's Axel Metz described him as the "perfect real-world manifestation" of Joel. [236] Several critics found Ramsey gave the show's breakout performance for her balance of comedy and emotion, [2] [229] [237] with Time 's Judy Berman calling her "the show's greatest asset" [238] and IGN 's Simon Cardy applauding her for "making her mark" on Ellie, a character already considered iconic long before Ramsey's portrayal. [231] The performances of Torv, Offerman, and Bartlett were highly praised, [2] [230] [231] [239] with the latter two being described by Complex 's William Goodman as "career-best" [240] and by Inverse 's Dais Johnston as "Emmy-worthy". [241] CNET 's Sean Keane found Lynskey gave her character a "quiet menace" and called Shepherd's performance "charismatic". [242]

Reviewers praised the differences from the original game's narrative implemented by Mazin and Druckmann, [186] [237] [243] and some believed the scenes lifted directly from the game were among the weakest and led to issues with pacing. [68] [243] [244] Variety 's Daniel D'Addario felt the show relied too heavily on action sequences, [245] while TechRadar's Metz wanted more action. [236] IGN's Cardy wrote the series "often shines brightest" during its quietest moments. [231] Critics overwhelmingly considered the third episode the season's best, [230] [238] [239] and some named it among the greatest episodes of television overall. [229] [246] The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg felt it elevated the series to a new level, [3] and Empire's Nugent called it "moving, surprisingly romantic, and one of the finest hours of television in recent memory". [235] Some critics found the first episode well-made but too familiar, [2] [3] and /Film's Ettenhofer considered it the season's weakest. [230] RogerEbert.com 's Brian Tallerico found the final two episodes rushed. [247]

Several critics lauded the production design. [235] [240] Digital Spy 's David Opie wrote "every set feels like it was ripped straight out of the game". [239] Conversely, Slant Magazine 's Pat Brown felt environments appeared too manicured and carefully placed. [68] Inverse's Johnston praised the use of lighting to highlight the humanity of both the characters and creatures, and called the cinematography "something other video game adaptations could only dream of". [241] TV Guide 's Keith Phipps called the series "visually striking", [131] and IGN's Cardy wrote it "is often a sight to behold". [231] Santaolalla's score received praise, [186] [231] with CNET's Keane feeling it added "a yearning of sadness to the narrative". [242]

Ratings

The premiere episode had 4.7 million viewers in the United States on its first night of availability, including linear viewers and streams on HBO Max, making it the second-largest debut for HBO since 2010, behind House of the Dragon. [248] That figure increased to over 10 million viewers after two days, [249] 18 million after a week, [250] and 22 million within twelve days. [118] In Latin America, the series premiere was the biggest HBO Max debut ever. [251] The second episode had 5.7 million viewers on its first night, an increase of 22 percent from the previous week, the largest second-week audience growth for an original HBO drama series in the network's history. [250] By January 31, the first two episodes averaged 21.3 million viewers. The third episode had 6.4 million viewers on its first night, a 12 percent increase from the second episode and 37 percent from the first. [252]

In the United Kingdom, the video games increased their sales following the premiere: The Last of Us Remastered by 337 percent over the previous week and The Last of Us Part I by 305 percent, with both reentering the charts as a result. [253] The following week, Part I saw another 32 percent increase at retail, and Remastered 27 percent. [254]

Viewership and ratings per episode of The Last of Us
No.TitleAir date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
Ref(s)
1"When You're Lost in the Darkness"January 15, 20230.170.588 [78]
2"Infected"January 22, 20230.190.633 [79]
3"Long, Long Time"January 29, 20230.210.747 [80]

Notes

  1. The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Neil Druckmann was the writer and creative director, and Bruce Straley was the game director. [1]
  2. 1 2 3 4K UHDTV, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos are only available through HBO Max and some international partner services. [4] [5] The originating HBO TV channel does not have a 4K feed and is limited to 1080i HDTV and Dolby Digital 5.1.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Craig Mazin</span> American screenwriter and film director

Craig Mazin is an American screenwriter and film director. He is best known for creating the five-part HBO miniseries Chernobyl, based on the nuclear disaster of the same name in 1986. His work earned him two Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Limited Series. Mazin is also known for his extensive work on the comedy genre, namely Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, Superhero Movie, Identity Thief, and the two sequels to The Hangover Trilogy. He is also the co-creator and co-writer of the HBO series The Last Of Us, based on the video game of the same name, alongside the game's creator, Neil Druckmann.

<i>The Last of Us</i> 2013 video game

The Last of Us is a 2013 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Players control Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a teenage girl, Ellie, across a post-apocalyptic United States. The Last of Us is played from a third-person perspective. Players use firearms and improvised weapons and can use stealth to defend against hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated fungus. In the online multiplayer mode, up to eight players engage in cooperative and competitive gameplay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neil Druckmann</span> American video game designer

Neil Druckmann is an Israeli-American writer, creative director, designer, and programmer who has been co-president of the video game developer Naughty Dog since 2020. He is best known for his work on the Naughty Dog game franchises Uncharted and The Last of Us, having created the latter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pedro Pascal</span> Chilean and American actor (born 1975)

José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal is a Chilean and American actor. After nearly two decades of taking small roles in film and television, Pascal rose to prominence for portraying Oberyn Martell during the fourth season of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones (2014) and Javier Peña in the Netflix crime series Narcos (2015–2017). Since 2019, he has starred as the title character in the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian and since 2023, he has played Joel in the HBO drama series The Last of Us. He also reprised his Mandalorian role in the spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett (2022).

<i>The Last of Us: Left Behind</i> 2014 video game

The Last of Us: Left Behind is a 2014 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is a downloadable expansion pack to the 2013 game The Last of Us. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the game switches between two stories: the first, set three weeks before the events of The Last of Us, follows Ellie as she spends time with her best friend Riley in an abandoned mall in Boston. The second takes place during the "Winter" chapter of The Last of Us and focuses on Ellie's attempts to scour an abandoned mall in Colorado for medical supplies to heal Joel, who was gravely injured in an ambush, while dealing with enemies and reminiscing about her time with Riley.

Ellie (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Ellie is a character in the video game series The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. She is portrayed by Ashley Johnson through motion capture and voice acting; in the television adaptation, she is portrayed by Bella Ramsey. In the first game, The Last of Us (2013), Joel Miller is tasked with escorting a 14-year-old Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States in an attempt to create a cure for an infection to which Ellie is immune. While players briefly assume control of Ellie for a portion of the game, the artificial intelligence primarily controls her actions, often assisting in combat by attacking or identifying enemies. Ellie reappeared as the playable character in the downloadable content prequel The Last of Us: Left Behind, in which she spends time with her friend Riley. In The Last of Us Part II (2020), players control a 19-year-old Ellie as she seeks revenge on Abby for Joel's death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bella Ramsey</span> British actor (born 2003)

Isabella May Ramsey is an English actor. She is known for her breakthrough role as young noblewoman Lyanna Mormont in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones (2016–2019), and subsequent television roles as Mildred Hubble in the 2017 CBBC series The Worst Witch, the voice of the title character in the Netflix animated series Hilda (2018–present), and Jane Grey in the 2022 Starz drama Becoming Elizabeth.

<i>The Last of Us Part II</i> 2020 video game

The Last of Us Part II is a 2020 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. Set five years after The Last of Us (2013), the game focuses on two playable characters in a post-apocalyptic United States whose lives intertwine: Ellie, who sets out in revenge for a murder, and Abby, a soldier who becomes involved in a conflict between her militia and a religious cult. The game uses a third-person perspective; the player must fight human enemies and cannibalistic zombie-like creatures with firearms, improvised weapons, and stealth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Evan Wells</span> American video game designer

Evan Wells is an American video game designer and programmer, and co-president of Naughty Dog. Wells' first video game was at Sega, where he worked on ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, before moving to Crystal Dynamics in 1995 to work on Gex and Gex: Enter the Gecko. He was employed at Naughty Dog in 1998, working on several Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter titles before becoming co-president of the company alongside Stephen White in 2005; White was replaced the following year by Christophe Balestra, who retired in 2017. The two oversaw the release of the Uncharted series, and The Last of Us. Wells remained the sole president, overseeing the release of The Last of Us Part II, until Neil Druckmann's promotion to co-president in 2020.

<i>The Last of Us Part I</i> 2022 video game

The Last of Us Part I is a 2022 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. A remake of the 2013 game The Last of Us, it features revised gameplay, including enhanced combat and exploration, and expanded accessibility options. The single-player story follows Joel, who is tasked with escorting the young Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States and defend against cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus. The game includes the expansion The Last of Us: Left Behind, a single-player campaign following Ellie and her best friend Riley. The original game's online multiplayer mode is omitted.

Joel (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Joel Miller is a fictional character in the video game series The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. In the games, he is portrayed by Troy Baker through motion capture and voice acting; in the television adaptation, he is portrayed by Pedro Pascal. In the first game, The Last of Us (2013), Joel serves as the main protagonist and is tasked with escorting the young Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States in an attempt to create a potential cure for an infection to which Ellie is immune. He also appears briefly in the downloadable content campaign The Last of Us: Left Behind (2014). Joel is killed in The Last of Us Part II (2020) by a woman named Abby, whose father he had killed in the first game, prompting Ellie to seek revenge.

Abby (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Abigail "Abby" Anderson is a fictional character in the video game The Last of Us Part II (2020) by Naughty Dog. She is portrayed by Laura Bailey through motion capture and voice acting. A soldier of the Washington Liberation Front (WLF), Abby seeks to avenge her father's death by killing Joel Miller. Her alliances later become unsettled when she befriends two ex-members of the Seraphites, a religious cult with which the WLF is locked in a war. Abby is one of two main playable characters in the game, alongside Ellie.

Development of <i>The Last of Us Part II</i> Video game development

Approximately 2,100 people developed The Last of Us Part II over several years, led by the 350-person team at Naughty Dog. Sony Interactive Entertainment published the action-adventure game in June 2020 for the PlayStation 4. A sequel to the 2013 game The Last of Us, core development on Part II began after the 2014 release of The Last of Us Remastered. Neil Druckmann returned as creative director and writer, while Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau were selected to be co-game directors. After its announcement in 2016, the game was fervently promoted with press showings, cinematic trailers, and special editions. Its release date was subject to several delays, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The development reportedly included a crunch schedule of 12-hour work days and was slowed by the enormous turnover of employees following the development of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (2016).

The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror game franchise created by Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated fungus in the genus Cordyceps. It follows several survivors, including Joel, a smuggler who lost his daughter during the outbreak; Ellie, a young girl who is immune to the infection; and Abby, a soldier in Seattle who becomes involved in a conflict between her militia and a religious cult. The games use a third-person perspective in which the player fights against hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures with firearms, improvised weapons, and stealth.

Music of <i>The Last of Us Part II</i>

The music for the 2020 action-adventure survival horror video game The Last of Us Part II, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, was composed by musician Gustavo Santaolalla, with additional music composed by Mac Quayle. The original score album was released digitally alongside the game in June 2020, featuring the work of Santaolalla and Quayle. An additional extended play, Covers and Rarities, was released in September 2021, featuring five cover songs from the game and its marketing performed by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who portrayed Joel and Ellie, respectively. The game also received two single releases as vinyl records: one in June 2018 featuring music from the trailers, and one in the Ellie Edition of the game in June 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">When You're Lost in the Darkness</span> 1st episode of the 1st season of The Last of Us

"When You're Lost in the Darkness" is the series premiere of the American post-apocalyptic drama television series The Last of Us. Written by series creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann and directed by Mazin, the episode aired on HBO on January 15, 2023. It introduced the character Joel, whose daughter Sarah is killed during the chaos of a global pandemic outbreak caused by a mutated form of the Cordyceps fungus that turns its victims into bloodthirsty attackers. Twenty years later, Joel and his partner Tess set out to find Joel's brother Tommy and are tasked with smuggling the young Ellie in exchange for supplies.

Infected (<i>The Last of Us</i>) 2nd episode of the 1st season of The Last of Us

"Infected" is the second episode of the American post-apocalyptic drama television series The Last of Us. The episode was written by series co-creator Craig Mazin and directed by co-creator Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the 2013 video game on which the series is based. It aired on HBO on January 22, 2023. In the episode, Joel and his partner Tess escort the young Ellie through a biological contamination area in Boston to reach the Massachusetts State House.

Long, Long Time (<i>The Last of Us</i>) 3rd episode of the 1st season of The Last of Us

"Long, Long Time" is the third episode of the American post-apocalyptic drama television series The Last of Us. The episode was written by series co-creator Craig Mazin and directed by Peter Hoar. It aired on HBO on January 29, 2023. In the episode, Joel and Ellie travel to Lincoln, Massachusetts to find Bill. Flashbacks follow Bill over the course of twenty years as he survives in his town and meets his partner Frank. The episode's title is taken from the song by Linda Ronstadt, which plays an important role in the story of Bill and Frank.

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