Why David Is Scarier In The The Last Of Us Game Than He Is On The Show

Contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Season 1, Episode 8 – "When We Are In Need"

"The Last of Us" has emerged as arguably the most successful video game adaptation yet. With both critics and fans heaping praise on the HBO series and viewership increasing from week to week, it would seem like a winning formula for what Hollywood has been attempting since the '90s has been concocted at last.

As "The Last of Us" Episode 8 ("When We Are In Need") soldiered on to its grim conclusion, viewers met arguably the most terrifying character from the survival horror game in the form of David (Scott Shepherd). A cannibalistic cult leader and pedophile, David shows how deeply a man can sink into depravity in a world without rules, and he sets his eyes on Ellie (Bella Ramsey) when she's at her most vulnerable.

Still, there are certain elements that come alive when Ellie faces off with David in "The Last of Us" game that are hard to translate to a scripted TV experience, and they make the original version of this tense encounter that much more effective as a result.

Playing as Ellie in the game makes David much more frightening

The final encounter in the "Last of Us" game plays out similarly to what viewers will have experienced in the HBO adaptation: after escaping imprisonment, Ellie must hide from David as he stalks her through a burning restaurant. There is a key difference, however, and it comes from the immersion that video games are able to achieve. Being that you spend most of the game playing as the much stronger and more experienced Joel, it feels much more frightening when you step into Ellie's shoes for this portion of the narrative.

This vulnerability, of course, culminates in the final encounter with David. As the player, you can see the flames spreading throughout the dining room as David stalks around searching for Ellie. In a tense game of cat and mouse, you must try and avoid David while not letting him know where you are. Only by catching him off guard do you have a chance to do any real damage and save yourself from his evil machinations.

Furthermore, the room is peppered with broken glass and other debris that will give Ellie's position away to David if you're not careful. Since you know that David is bigger, stronger, and faster than you, the way the scene plays out in the game version of "The Last of Us" is much more tense and frightening, especially because if you screw it up, David will kill Ellie with a single machete strike. 

While the HBO adaptation remains an incredible feat, small examples like this show that there are certain aspects of gaming that are much harder to translate to the screen.