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The Last Of Us Crew Is Forbidden From Uttering The Word Zombie On Set

Since "The Last of Us" premiered on HBO in January, it has made itself clear on at least two points. The apocalypse isn't going to pretty, and this is a show about human stories. Even when Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) aren't front and center, there's ample screen time devoted to compelling pairings, like Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) or Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard). 

While the show's undead, fungus-infested beings are terrifying, they're often considered as big a threat as the series' human villains, like Melanie Lynskey's Kathleen. The Infected, as they're known on the show, are simply another sad element to the desolated landscape of "The Last of Us." 

As it turns out, the creative team behind "The Last of Us" took numerous steps to ensure their vision for a human-centric story would take center stage. One of those steps, according to cinematographer Eben Bolter, was to ban any mention of the word "zombie" on set.

The Last of Us is not cliché zombie entertainment

In a recent interview with The Credits, cinematographer Eben Bolter revealed the word "zombie" was banned from set. 

"We weren't allowed to say the Z word on set," Bolter said. "They were the Infected. We weren't a zombie show. Of course, there's tension building and jump scares, but the show's really about our characters. The Infected are an obstacle they have to deal with."

Bolter, who worked on four episodes of "The Last of Us" Season 1, also insisted that the series is not your average zombie tale. 

"It's not a cliché zombie movie," Bolter said. "It's not Hollywood backlit where everyone's close-up is perfect. It's a world of organic, cinematic naturalism, and that's something I could just feel."

It's perhaps that naturalism that allows fans to connect strongly with the show's third episode, with many deeming it an Emmy-worthy piece of TV. It's also possibly the reason that the show's latest episode was more affecting for its final moments of human drama than for its unintentionally comic disposal of Kathleen. Whatever the case, it's definitely not dissuading viewers from turning in, as Episode 4 had the highest ratings yet.