The Last of Us gritty, raw story is vastly different than The Walking Dead

The Last of Us. Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO.
The Last of Us. Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO. /

Gamers have been vocal about their distaste for people who compare The Last of Us and The Walking Dead. It is difficult not to make comparisons as they are both zpoc stories that are adaptations, feature a strong male lead who has had a severe tragedy that profoundly affects his journey, and where humans are often more of a threat than the undead. But that is where the similarities stop. The Walking Dead is a fantastic series focused on the lives of a large group of survivors, but The Last of Us focuses on Joel and Ellie for reasons that will be revealed in the upcoming episodes.

Fans of The Walking Dead are curious about this new series as they seek to fill the void left by the conclusion of the series that ran for 12 years. It is no wonder everyone wants to compare these two series. Die-hard Walking Dead fans can even point out scenes in The Last of Us that remind them of scenes from TWD. 

While elements are similar in both series, overall, The Last of Us is a darker version of what life in the United States could be like after civilization falls. Fans of the game are pleased with the mirror image scenes that follow the game to a T, and new fans are intrigued by this brand-new story.

This article contains spoilers for the premiere episode of The Last of Us.

The Last of Us series

The Last of Us follows a smuggler named Joel, played by the extremely talented Pedro Pascal. Joel is driven by a tragedy from his past, which, 20 years after the fall, still plays a vital role in his life. He and his partner Tess (Anna Torv) encounter Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a colorful, sassy teen who will be their next cargo and needs to be escorted across the US.

The beginning of the episode focuses on the world in 2003, before the outbreak, and eventually sees a 20-year time jump, bringing the story current. This is a departure from the video game that began in 2013. Showrunner Craig Mazin told Insider the reason for this change: “I just had this thing where if I’m watching a show and it takes place 20 years in the future from my time now, it just seems less real, I’m just less connected.”

While fans of The Walking Dead will surely love this series due to the apocalypse setting, the differences will have fans saying, “this will never take the place of TWD.” And that is accurate, as that isn’t the point of this series. The Last of Us has an amazing story of its own to share that will give another, more frightening look at how an outbreak could occur. The Walking Dead never reveals the origin of the virus, but the cold opening of The Last of Us gives it away right off. This scene, and the fact that we just endured the chaos of a real pandemic, makes this story hit much closer to home.

Overall the first episode did a fantastic job setting up this story for people who have never played the game. The cliffhanger ensures that viewers will return on Sunday, Jan. 22, for the next episode.

The Last of Us official podcast is a fantastic look at the current episode with showrunners Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the game creator and host Troy Baker, who played Joel in the game.

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