So, you loved The Last of Us and need The Last of Us season 2 right now, right? Well, first: same. The series, which adapted the hit PlayStation game of the same name, and looks to tell its sequel's story over multiple seasons, is one of the best HBO Max shows in a while.
And while we've found a good argument for waiting years for The Last of Us season 2, we understand that many will be rewatching the series and playing (or replaying) the games immediately. And that can only keep you busy for so long. So, we decided to amass a list of the best shows and movies to watch if you loved The Last of Us on HBO.
Some of these movies and shows deliver very similar stories of parents (or their surrogates) shepherding young ones across a post-apocalyptic landscape. Other shows on this list show alternate angles of life after the end of the world and the personal drama of how a catastrophe ruins lives.
Oh, and while you may expect some of the below suggestions, we're skipping the truly obvious stuff. So, no The Walking Dead. And we all know you can go watch Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in Game of Thrones (and stream more of Mr. Pascal when you watch The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4 next week), so don't expect those either.
Still, here are the nine best shows and movies to watch if you need to scratch that (non-infected) itch that The Last of Us gave you.
Shows similar to The Last of Us
If you loved everything about The Last of Us that felt a little different from the game, then you may want to see what the series co-creator Craig Mazin made that got him this gig. Chernobyl, one of the best HBO Max shows ever, is a grimy show about the people whose lives were forever altered by the April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Chernobyl hits those same utterly bleak tones as The Last of Us, especially with how Jared Harris' Valery Legasov deals with the unfolding nightmare. But the story of how he and Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) — two real people — worked to help the cleanup efforts before uncovering the rotting stench of negligence that led to the disaster gives you something different from The Last of Us. – Henry T. Casey
Watch on HBO Max (opens in new tab)
In a case of wild timing, Station Eleven is HBO's other series that takes place before, during and after a global pandemic — and it arrived in late-2021/early-2022. Just don't think it's too much of a coincidence with our own reality, as it's an adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel's 2014 novel of the same name. But while this series may have seemed "too soon" for some, we're always ready to champion Station Eleven.
Station Eleven doesn't offer the clicking monsters of The Last of Us or any infected. Instead, it focuses on a series of people whose lives were interconnected by a particular performance of King Lear in Chicago. Principal among these characters are Kirsten Raymonde (Matilda Lawler, Mackenzie Davis) and Jeevan Chaudhary (Himesh Patel), who were strangers before that day. And after the world goes to hell? Kirsten finds a place in a group known as the Traveling Symphony, and this group shows us the resilient nature of art — and how important it can be to humanity. – HTC
Watch on HBO Max (opens in new tab)
The Walking Dead meets Ferris Bueller’s day off may sound like an odd combination, but the fact that this dark comedy on Netflix only lasted one season still breaks my heart. Based on Brian Ralph’s graphic novel of the same name, Daybreak stars Josh (Colin Ford) as a seemingly stereotypical smart-aleck protagonist in a zombie-filled LA, but his too-cool-for-school persona doesn’t last for long.
Some of the pre-apocalypse flashbacks can be a bit corny, but Daybreak treads an impressive amount of new ground for the YA post-apocalypse formula with style and a wry smile. We are treated to multiple protagonists across the series who each have their own style of storytelling and it really works as a narrative device. It may not always have the tension of The Last of Us, but Daybreak has a banging soundtrack and slick presentation. – Andy Sansom
Watch on Netflix (opens in new tab)
Movies similar to The Last of Us
Children of Men
A lone man accompanies a young woman who may hold the key to the future of humanity, all while society tears itself apart around them. Sound familiar? That’s because Children of Men isn’t all that different from The Last of Us when you break it down, though flesh-consuming fungus is replaced by general infertility across the entire human population.
The plot of the film sees Theo Farn (Clive Owen) become the reluctant guardian for Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), the first pregnant woman in 18 years. Kee needs to be taken to a group of scientists who hope to figure out a solution to mankind’s inability to have children, in an increasingly hostile and dangerous world — particularly since Kee is an illegal immigrant in a fascist and xenophobic version of future Great Britain. Needless to say, like Joel and Ellie, the odds aren’t in their favor. — Tom Pritchard
Buy or rent on Amazon (opens in new tab), Apple (opens in new tab), Vudu (opens in new tab)
But what if that gruff worn down older man tasked with transporting an unruly young girl to sanctuary was a beloved superhero? Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), stars in this superb drama, as he's shepherding Laura (Dafne Keen) — a mutant girl with suspiciously similar powers. Laura is being pursued by Reavers, anti-mutant extremists who want to experiment on her. So it’s up to Logan to help her reach the Canadian border where she’ll be safe.
Matters are made more complicated by the aging Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) whose failing mind is prone to outbursts of deadly psychic energy. The Reavers also hold a captured Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a mutant with the ability to track the physical location of other mutants, meaning Logan and Laura’s journey is going to be far from easy. — TP
Watch now on Disney Plus (opens in new tab)
A Quiet Place Parts 1 & 2
Parents protecting children in the apocalypse is definitely a cottage-industry of TV and movies, as seen by the success of the A Quiet Place movies. And if you thought Ellie, Joel and Tess had to stay silent to avoid the Clickers, you haven't seen anything until you've experienced A Quiet Place. Lee (John Krasinski) and Emily Abbott (Emily Blunt) need to keep themselves and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) completely quiet, or else the mysterious beasts who can hear the smallest bit of sound will come running for them.
Amazing in theaters, when you have an entire audience quieting down to pay attention to every little creak — the Abbots can't even let a can crinkle the wrong way without fear of attack — and still great at home, A Quiet Place is the family-focused apocalyptic horror movie that might be the perfect thing to watch after The Last of Us.
While the first film sets up the situation and series, A Quiet Place Part 2 does a fantastic job of expanding the story. And expect more, as A Quiet Place 3, plus a spinoff, are happening.
Stream A Quiet Place (opens in new tab) and A Quiet Place Part 2 (opens in new tab) on Paramount Plus
28 Days Later
Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s 2002 zombie-esque thriller deserves a lot of the thanks (or blame) for breathing new life into the zombie genre — and popularizing the modern zombie tropes in the process. The movie follows Jim (a pre-fame Cillian Murphy), a bicycle courier who wakes from a coma 28 days after a viral epidemic swept across the U.K. and turned the infected into mindless rage-filled monsters.
After a few close calls, Jim is forced to team up with a small group of survivors (Naomi Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns), which may have you recall how Joel and Ellie banded together with Henry and Sam. The group travels from London to the North of England, in the hopes of salvation under the care of Major Henry West (Christopher Ecclestone). But a post-apocalyptic world is a dangerous place, and danger awaits. — TP
Unfortunately, 28 Days Later isn't streaming online — but it's available for sale on Amazon (opens in new tab) in various physical formats
Need more Pedro Pascal?
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Love Pedro Pascal's funnier side? Well, if you also love Nicholas Cage, you will love The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, down and out, content with his impending retirement. His last job is to appear at the birthday party of Cage-superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pascal) in Majorca. The problem is Javi is the billionaire head of an international arms trafficking cartel.
Cue Cage being recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Javi’s compound and locate the recently kidnapped daughter of a Catalan anti-cartel politician. Unfortunately Javi is nothing if not needy, and Cage has to keep him in the dark and oblivious to the actor’s bumbling attempts at espionage. With mixed success, as you mighty imagine. — TP
Watch now on Starz (opens in new tab)