The Last of Us episode 1 is now streaming for free — here’s how to watch

(L to R) Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel, navigating a museum, in The Last of Us on HBO
(Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

The Last of Us on HBO is one of the most popular TV shows right now, and after its critically-acclaimed third episode premiered yesterday (Sunday, Jan. 29) it’s showing no signs of slowing down. 

Don’t worry if you’ve been left behind. Now is the ideal time to jump on board The Last of Us hype train. That's because HBO has just made the entire first episode of The Last of Us free to watch on its own website. Just to reiterate, you don’t need an HBO account or HBO Max subscription to watch, The Last of Us episode 1 is streaming for free for all.  

Interested viewers in the U.K. will be pleased to hear it’s also been uploaded to Sky’s YouTube channel. Sky holds the rights to broadcast The Last of Us, and the show is also dropping weekly on its NOW streaming service. Likewise, neither a Sky or NOW account is required to watch The Last of Us episode 1 for free in the U.K.

The Last of Us is a huge hit

Just three weeks into its nine-episode run and The Last of Us has already become a juggernaut hit for HBO. It debuted it almost 5 million viewers in its first evening, which makes it HBO’s second-biggest TV show launch in more than a decade. Naturally, HBO has confirmed a second season already. 

The Last of Us is adapted from the best-selling video game of the same name and follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a gruff survivor in the post-apocalyptic United States, as he attempts to smuggle a young girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the ruins of the country. In our The Last of Us review we awarded the show a perfect score and said, “HBO's The Last of Us isn't just a front-runner for best video game adaptation ever. It's also a fantastic series about life in a post-apocalyptic world.” 

Across its first handful of episodes, we’ve been super impressed with its ability to both accurately adapt the original source material while also making well-considered changes that further flesh out the world of The Last of Us. Whether you’re a gamer or not, this is one HBO show that you absolutely need to be watching. 

Following in House of the Dragon's footsteps  

Allowing curious viewers the chance to enjoy the excellent first episode without having to fork out for an HBO Max subscription is certainly appreciated. But be warned, by the time the credits roll you’ll likely be signing up for an HBO account so you can continue to follow Joel and Ellie’s journey — this is definitely a show that grabs you right from the start. 

This is not the first time that HBO has made the pilot episode of a new flagship show free to watch either. The network employed the same promotional tactic with House of the Dragon last year. Clearly, HBO views this method as a good way of generating further interest in a new series, perhaps it'll do the same when Succession season 4 debuts in March.  

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.