I’ve loved The Last of Us game for 10 years — the TV show deserves to clean up at the 2023 Emmy Awards

Pedro Pascal as Joel in HBO's The Last of Us
(Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

The Last of Us is easily the greatest video game-to-TV adaptation of all time. That’s both a compliment and a bit of a diss. 

Prior to the HBO smash reaching our small screens, games had a disastrous run of trying to adapt to different mediums — I adore the late Bob Hoskins, but the early ‘90s Super Mario Bros movie is astonishingly bad. 

I’ve been critiquing video games since 2006; being one of the first people in the world to review The Last of Us on PS3 back in 2013 was the greatest professional privilege of my life. That plays a big part in why I love the TV show so much.

That, and it’s also just brilliant television.

Game of Thrones is not only the biggest TV phenomenon of my lifetime, it also provided a springboard for some of my favorite actors. Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal are both Thrones alumni, and they absolutely smash their roles as Ellie and Joel.

Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal are Game of Thrones alumni, and they smash their roles as Ellie and Joel"

I interviewed Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker when the PS4 redux The Last of Us: Remastered came out in 2014, and these fine performers clearly lived and breathed with their in-game characters. Almost 10 years later, it’s a pleasure to see Bella and Pedro redefine these iconic roles with the original actors’ blessings.

Season four of Succession is amazing; it deserves its 27 Emmy nominations. I struggle to think of a show that has nailed an ending quite like that last scene with Kendall brooding next to the Hudson River.

The last season of Better Call Saul is also wonderful television, but piggybacking on the success of Breaking Bad is less of an achievement than turning a decade-old video game into must-see appointment viewing... at least in my book.

For me, The Last of Us is the TV event of the year; one that deserves to clean up at the Emmys 2023.

The "Long, Long Time" episode is one of the best pieces of television that’s ever been produced. Cleverly building on the underserved character of Bill from the video game, producers Neil Druckman and Craig Mazin serve up a wonderful hour of TV that’s equal parts romantic and slightly depressing.

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The Last of Us Remastered

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

I was in the strange position of being in a WhatsApp group with friends who are relatively new to games and having to hold my tongue whenever a new episode of The Last of Us came out earlier in the year. They all thought it was a phenomenal story, but none of them had ever played the video game. Biting my lip before the David "stuff" and incredible giraffe moment was seriously tough.

There are several reasons why I think The Last of Us deserves all of the Emmys 2023 love. It’s a beautifully shot show with performances that thoughtfully expand on the fiction established in the game, and it also wisely reuses composer Guastavo Santaolalla’s peerless score. I don’t think we’ll see an adaptation of a game at this elite level for a very long time. 

For a medium that has always struggled for storytelling acceptance, the fact HBO’s The Last of Us not only honors but improves upon the game’s narrative is a huge deal. 

This was a project that could only fail in many people's eyes pre-release, yet it was tackled so well, almost every TLoU fan I know now prefers the TV show’s handling of the plot compared to the PS3 classic’s take.  

It's to the credit of everyone at both developer Naughty Dog and HBO that one of the best games ever is also one of the most respected TV shows of 2023. 

Looking back, we’ve come a long way since 1994’s utter car crash of a Street Fighter movie. 

Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.