The Last of Us is What All of Us Needed

The TV adaptation of beloved video game The Last of Us was a surprise smash hit. Why did this happen and what does it show about the video game adaptation industry?


The vast pipeline of popular video games to forgettable movie and TV show remakes is as pervasive as it is endless. From the dull six TV shows and movies belonging to the Halo franchise to the three monotonous Lara Croft movies, video game TV and movie remakes remain an easy return on investment to producers and forgettably commonplace to audiences.

However, since The Last of Us HBO Max series was announced, it has, to much surprise, captivated audiences with zealous excitement and nervous anticipation. It can be assumed this is primarily due to The Last of Us Part II, the continuation of the much beloved first part of the game series, severely underwhelming die-hard fans. Therefore, the main question on people’s minds since its 2020 release was whether or not the series could recover. The answer was, and still is, yes, thanks to the unexpected and enormous triumph of The Last of Us TV series.

The show brought together long-time lovers of the games and new viewers itching to watch a show as fantastic as this one.

The Last Of Us Part I video game cover. Foreground: Ellie, deuteragonist. Background: Joel, protagonist.

Since the show’s official announcement the creators have made it clear that they’re 110% dedicated to satisfying both lovers of the game and cinema connoisseurs. That is evident in the sheer star power of the cast, most notably: Pedro Pascal (Narcos, The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones), Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones, Hilda, Catherine Called Birdy), and Nick Offerman (21 Jump Street, Parks and Recreation, Gilmore Girls). Furthermore, the show remained extremely faithful to the game through its excellent pacing and attention to detail. For instance, Ashley Johnson (who voiced Ellie in The Last of Us parts I and II) played Ellie’s mom in The Last of Us TV series. Her gut-wrenching performance proved to all audiences just how groundbreaking this series was. It brought together long-time lovers of the games and new viewers itching to watch a show as fantastic as this one.

Not only did the actors’ performances serve audiences a much-needed dose of talent, but the impeccable pacing also made the series easily digestible. While each episode differs in length, every action Joel and Ellie take is essential to their journey. In a world plagued by monsters, unnecessary conflict means death, so they do as little as possible to accomplish their goals. However, the show still maintains captivating storylines, tear-jerking moments, exciting adventures, and terrifying zombies that will haunt your nightmares. Any show that has me bolting my eyes shut in fear one moment  and sobbing the next is the antithesis of forgettable.

Joel and Ellie in episode 8 of the TV adaptation.

Unfortunately that is what the video game remake industry at large  has been plagued with: uninspired, lazy, and, at best, generic series and movies. That is precisely why The Last of Us not only saved its founding game franchise, but revived faith in the video game remake industry. Other notable successes include the Sonic the Hedgehog live action movies and the new The Super Mario Bros. Movie, both of which received rave reviews from fans. Clearly, The Last of Us has built up its original franchise, the video remake industry, and fan adoration for the game and the following productions.