The Last of Us TV Series Debuts to Near-Perfect Reviews

The Last of Us TV Series Debuts to Near-Perfect Reviews
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Movies based on video games don’t have the best track record, but TV shows based on video games still have a relatively clean slate.

There’s an endless number of video game adaptations coming down the pipe, including big-name projects like Amazon’s Fallout series and Netflix’s BioShock movie. Though none may be more anticipated than HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us.

The Last of Us TV show was announced ages ago, with filming taking place in Canada over a full year. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming series.

The Last of Us TV show: Australian release date and time

the last of us hbo
Image: HBO Max

It’s been confirmed that The Last of Us will premiere on January 16, 2023.

The episode count consists of nine (very expensive) episodes in the first season that will drop at 1:00 pm AEDT on Mondays each week. The finale will air on March 13.

The Last of Us will debut on Binge here in Australia, which is home to all things HBO-related.

After what seems like years of this series being in development, this release date suddenly feels very soon. If you need me I’ll be enduring and surviving until January 16.

Who’s involved?

the last of us tv show

The Last of Us and The Last of Us 2 are beloved games, so meddling with them in any way would be quite a risk for HBO. However, there are a few positive signs that this adaptation is a good one.

For starters, The Last of Us game director and Naughty Dog co-president, Neil Druckmann, is on board as an executive producer. There’s pretty much no one else in the world who knows The Last of Us games like Druckmann, so it’s in safe hands there.

He’s also working with a long-time fan of the games and award-winning Chernobyl writer, Craig Mazin, who we know can write a damn good TV show.

The series has hired relatively unknown directors so far. Kantemir Balagov (Beanpole) is helming the pilot episode and Jasmila Zbanic (Quo Vadis, Aida) and Ali Abbasi (Border) are also taking episodes in the series. Liza Johnson (What We Do In The Shadows), Peter Hoar (Daredevil) and Jeremy Webb (The Umbrella Academy) will also reportedly helm episodes as will Druckmann.

Gustavo Santaolalla, who gave us The Last of Us’ excellent soundtrack, will also be back to compose music for the show.

HBO itself has a strong track record of producing high-quality genre shows, including House of the Dragon, Westworld and Watchmen. Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions are backing the series behind the scenes.

Will the TV show be different to the games?

the last of us bloater
Screenshot: HBO/BINGE

Many fans can attest to the fact that The Last of Us games are already very cinematic, in terms of acting, narrative and visuals. So, translating this into a TV show shouldn’t be that hard, right?

This is the plot synopsis:

The story takes place twenty years after modern civilisation has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.  

That sure does sound like The Last of Us.

Neil Druckmann revealed in an interview with IGN that the first season of the show will cover the events of the first game.

Druckmann said things in the show will stick pretty closely to the game for the most part. However, some things will differ greatly due to the differences between mediums.

“Some of my favourite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them,” he said.

Craig Mazin also confirmed at CCXP22 that there will be many familiar moments and lots of new surprises for fans.


Should there be another season of The Last of Us we can assume that will take us into the events of Part II. Given there’s a five-year time gap between games that leaves plenty of room to expand upon those lost years in the TV show.

The first official image from the show was released on The Last of Us day in 2021 and, as you can see, things are looking pretty game-accurate.

The Last of Us TV show: Clips and Trailers

The first teaser trailer for The Last of Us was released, aptly, on The Last of Us day in 2022, which is marked on September 26 to honour the day the pandemic broke out in the game.

The trailer shows us very accurate depictions of many iconic scenes in the game, including our first glimpse at the horrifying infected.

I will die for them.

A second longer trailer was revealed at CCXP and this one hits you in all the feels. It gives us a much better look at some iconic locations from the game (the arcade!) as well as a fresh look at the infected including runners, clickers and a terrifying bloater.

This trailer also really sold me on Bella Ramsay and Pedro Pascal as Ellie and Joel.

A clip showing Bella Ramsey’s phenomenal performance as Ellie was also released on the Jimmy Kimmel show recently.

You can see the first poster art for the series below.

The Last of Us TV show: Cast

the last of us tv show
Image: HBO/Binge

Joel and Ellie are incredibly popular and well-written characters. They were portrayed by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson in both video games, but neither actor will be carrying on their character in the TV show (although they both will appear in the series in different roles).

Instead, we have Game of Thrones stars Bella Ramsay as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel.

Ramsay seems to be a perfect fit given her breakout performance as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones basically stole the show. She was able to bring both fire and vulnerability to her role and we’re sure to see her take more of that to the role of Ellie.

Pascal has similarly spent plenty of time shepherding a young companion across the galaxy in The Mandalorian so we know he can pull off the reluctant dad role.

We also know that Joel’s brother, Tommy, will be played by Terminator: Dark Fate star Gabriel Luna and Tess will be portrayed by Fringe’s Anna Torv. Nico Parker is playing Sarah, Joel’s daughter.

Nick Offerman is playing jaded survivor Bill while The White Lotus star Murray Bartlett guest stars as his partner Frank, who we never actually met during the events of the game.

Lamar Johnson stars as Henry and Keivonn Woodward plays his younger brother Sam – two survivors Joel and Ellie meet on the road. Graham Greene will be Marlon and Elaine Miles is Florence. Rutina Wesley is also involved as Maria, Tommy’s wife.

It was also announced that Storm Reid (Euphoria) will play Ellie’s best friend Riley, which means we’ll see the events of Left Behind covered in the show as well.

Some actors from the games have also managed to make the jump to The Last of Us on HBO.

Jeffrey Pierce, who’s known as Tommy in the games, will simply play Perry, who is apparently a “rebel in a quarantine zone”. Meanwhile, Merle Dandridge is reprising her role as Marlene, aka the leader of the Fireflies.

We also finally know who Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson are playing, with Baker appearing as a member of David’s group (David is played by Scott Shepherd), and Johnson appearing as Ellie’s mother, Anna, who is another character we never met during the events of the game.

One of the new characters the HBO adaptation will introduce is Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, who is a ruthless leader of a rebel movement in Kansas City.

You can see the cast in character in the poster series below.

If you want to get up to speed before the new series releases you can play The Last of Us Part I and The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation.

What are the reviews saying?

the last of us tv show trailer

In good news for fans, The Last of Us is receiving rave reviews from critics and sits at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing. It certainly seems to have broken the video game adaptation curse.

The Wrap’s review praised the TV show’s faithfulness to its source material saying, “the team has done an excellent job of sticking close to the source material while also breathing life into new characters along the way, creating an engaging and refreshing rendering of a popular genre story.”

Decider had nothing but good things to say about Ramsey and Pascal:

“The talent in both of these leads is simply staggering. Both Pascal and Ramsey are able to communicate years of pain, hope, and fear in a single look.”

io9’s review also pointed out how good the series’ writing is saying it “isn’t too concerned with the zombies,” and “the show is at its best when it’s focusing on the little things. Life’s small miracles, seen through the prism of this dynamic relationship.”

Will there be a second season?

eb games black friday
Image: PlayStation

It’s been confirmed the first season of The Last of Us covers the events of the first game, so what about The Last of Us: Part II?

The second game takes place five years after the first and is much larger in terms of size and scope. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have said that they would only be interested in covering the story of the games, so don’t expect more seasons for the sake of it.

However, when it comes to adapting TLOU: Part II, Mazin told Collider they might need more than one season to get through it all:

“The story that remains, that continues forth in the work that Naughty Dog’s done on the second game, is a lot. Probably the amount of remaining story would take us more than a season to tell. But definitely, I don’t see this as something that runs on and on and on.” Mazin said.

The Last Of Us Part II was an epic sequel, so here’s hoping we’ll see HBO’s adaptation of it at some point.

If you’re looking for more on The Last of Us TV series stay tuned because we’ll be publishing episodic recaps of the series each week!

This article has been updated with additional information.


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