The Last of Us HBO show is in for some big changes from the video game

The Last of Us
(Image credit: Sony Computer Entertainment)

Fans of The Last of Us should prepare themselves as the TV adaptation will deviate from the video game's high heartrate intensity. Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann has just confirmed the news, and it sounds like the series is going to drop a lot of the action. 

It's not a massive surprise, given the differences in the mediums. The Last of Us is brimming as much with action as it is with emotionally-laden narrative. However, that needs to come down a notch when being adapted for television or film. And it's not just the action that's in for tweak, with the dialogue, and even the character looks set to change. So be prepared to bid farewell to Joel's signature plaid shirt and jeans ensemble.   

Talking to IGN, Druckmann delves into possible discrepancies between the video game and the upcoming The Last of Us series on HBO

"Things sometimes stay pretty close. It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium," said Druckmann. 

In Druckmann's telling, since television is devoid of interactivity, there's less reason for shooting and other action sequences meant to add fun. 

"For example, in the game, there’s so much action you have to have to train the player about mechanics. You have to have more violence and more spectacle to some degree than you would need on a TV show because you don’t need to train people on how to use a gun. So that’s something that’s been really different, and HBO’s been great in pushing us to move away from hardcore action and focus more on the drama of the character. Some of my favorite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them."

The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal as been cast as Joel, while Game of Thrones' Bella Ramsey will play the part of Ellie. Druckmann is managing fan expectations on that front too, commenting that "As far as the superficial things, like should [a character] wear the same plaid shirt or the same red shirt? They might or might not appear in it, that’s way less important to us than getting the core of who these people are and the core of their journey.”

If you're married to the idea of seeing the actors cosplaying their video game counterparts, you're probably going to be in for a disappointment. On the plus side, Druckmann has teased the horrors that lie in store for the infected in the show, sharing that he's seen "the first prosthetic test for the Clicker and it’s awesome. It’s so rad to see this thing come to physical life."

Luckily, the essence of the story will remain true to the franchise. The first season will follow the path of the first game, and while they may not line up exactly, Druckmann stressed that "the philosophical underpinnings of the story" won't be going anywhere. 

He didn't go into further detail, wanting to avoid spoilers, but it sounds par for the course with adapting a video game for the small screen. Netflix did the same with The Witcher, and that was received well by fans and newcomers alike, so hopefully we'll see a similarly interesting take on The Last of Us when it finally releases on HBO. 

Shabana Arif

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, she's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies.