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Eagle-Eyed The Last Of Us Fans Spot Joel And Ellie's Voice Actors In The Official Trailer

"The Last of Us," the third-person adventure game series from developer Naughty Dog that began in 2013, is finally getting its turn on the small screen. In advance of the show's premiere next month (via Variety), HBO Max released another official teaser that has fans more hyped than ever — for multiple reasons.

To start, the trailer appears to highlight the relationship between smuggler Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal), the playable protagonist in the first game, and his "cargo" — Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey), a girl who turns out to be immune to the brain infection that has turned America into a post-apocalyptic landscape. On top of that, the trailer uses the song "Take on Me" to evoke emotion in the viewers who know its significance in "The Last of Us Part 2" — a theme so powerful that it was even covered in The Washington Post back when the sequel released in 2020.

But the fan service doesn't end there. Some eagle-eyed watchers have spotted the actors who voice Joel and Ellie in the video games in the trailer, which is huge news for fans.

Actor Troy Baker appears in a split-second scene that's easy to miss

In the games, the role of Joel is voiced by Troy Baker, who is known for his voiceover work in many popular video games, including "Batman: Arkham Knight," "Bioshock Infinite," "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End," and "Far Cry 6." While it's unclear at this point which character he plays in the TV adaptation of "The Last of Us," he definitely appears to be in it. Twitter user @lmx_misael posted a screenshot of the scene in question. Around the 1:53 mark in the trailer, he's part of a group of men wearing coats and holding weapons in the snow. Blink, and you'll miss it. 

Some Twitter users, like @SarahFreer, speculate that this scene shows David's group of survivalist cannibals, who encounter Ellie in Colorado following the winter hunt scene. If the man in front of the group is David, then Baker — seen wearing a cap and a beard walking to the left of the central figure — could be playing a named character. "If that is David at the end ...Troy Baker is part of David's group!? Is he James!?" asked @jiro_Moriarty. Both characters are antagonists in "The Last of Us," other than the hordes of Infected that chase the protagonists around. 

If that's the case, and if the TV series stays true to the game's plot, Baker won't be seen for long in the show. Ellie, who almost falls victim to the cannibals, kills James in self-defense. "Can't wait to see him interact with Bella," @itsdacko posted.

Ashley Johnson may be appearing as Ellie's mom

The role of Ellie in "The Last of Us" games is voiced by actress Ashley Johnson, who may be better known among gamers for her participation in the "Critical Role" series. She, too, seems to be making a cameo in the TV version. In her case, it's a bit clearer which character she's playing — and fans have been speculating about the appearance ever since a leak over the summer. According to Twitter users like @TBrearleySmith and @ArklayEmbers, she's playing Ellie's mother, Anna. "You cannot tell me that Ashley Johnson isn't playing Ellie's mom, this feels so full circle," said Twitter poster @IconicNephilim.

In the trailer, you can see her face briefly in another moment that's easy to miss. Around the 1:33 mark, a woman is looking at her baby as if she knows what's to come. Twitter user @DomTheBombYT, after viewing this seeming confirmation of the news, wrote, "Ashley Johnson gave birth to the character Ellie in two ways."

The character is referenced in the game and is an important part of the timeline but never specifically shown. In the game, Anna is a nurse who dies just a day after giving birth to Ellie. She remains an important presence in Anna's life, though, having written Ellie a letter that the girl references later. Some Twitter users think that while her role may be small, Johnson's appearance could be extended through the addition of that letter. "There's a very real possibility that ashley johnson narrates anna's letter to ellie in the series. i'm not ready," noted @orphansmaker.

Given the short amount of time both characters received in the trailer and the roles those characters seem to play, it seems clear these are Easter eggs — but they're ones fans will appreciate when "The Last of Us" airs starting January 15, 2023.