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HBO's The Last Of US - What We Know So Far

"The Last of Us" television series has been a long time coming, and there were several adaptations of the video game that failed over the last decade, paving the way for the upcoming HBO show. According to IGN, a movie based on the game was initially attached to Sam Raimi around 2013. There was also an animated short film that was scrapped (also per IGN), but now "The Last of Us" is getting the justice it deserves on one of the best networks in the business.

That doesn't mean this latest project isn't still a bit of a curveball. Video game adaptations have a spotty track record both on television and in movies. Who can forget the muddled "Warcraft" theatrical debut? Or the money bonfire that was "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within?" Even given the pedigree of the talent associated with "The Last of Us," fans of the original IP are likely awaiting the series' bow with qualified excitement. The positive here is this is the first time HBO has handled a video game adaptation, and the network rarely misses with its original programming. Here's everything we know so far about "The Last of Us."

When will The Last of Us be released?

HBO Max confirmed on Instagram that "The Last of Us" is dropping on January 15. The streamer's hands were somewhat tied, after they accidentally leaked the date on November 1. HBO Max features a one-minute sneak peek of the series, which mentioned the release date in its description (captured by Polygon), but shortly after the news spread, the date was deleted. Less than 24 hours later, the streaming giant officially released the January 15 date to the world.

Polygon also noted that those across the pond had a January 16 date on their platform, which is expected as movies and television series often debut internationally on different (but close) dates. Showrunner Craig Mazin revealed principal photography wrapped on June 11, but as of October 4, the show was still doing reshoots, per Kansas City's official Twitter page. The series will have nine episodes and air on HBO at 9 p.m. EST. "The Last of Us" will also be available on HBO Max in 4K.

What is the plot of The Last of Us?

The plot of "The Last of Us" is pretty well known at this point, primarily because it's based on the immensely popular video games of the same name. With four current games in its franchise, "The Last of Us" is full of stories that can substantiate multiple seasons of the HBO series. According to Variety, the drama will cover the events of the 2013 introductory game and possibly some of the most recent — 2022's "The Last of Us Part II."

HBO released a brief synopsis of the series, which aligns with what we know about the games. "Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival," the synopsis reads. HBO also clarified these events would take place 20 years after the destruction of modern civilization.

Who is starring in The Last of Us?

"The Last of Us" is led by Pedro Pascal, playing the tough and brooding Joel, while Bella Ramsey stars as young Ellie. The pair are found family and will see and experience things fans of the game likely dread watching play out on screen. Gabriel Luna also stars in the drama as Tommy, Joel's former soldier-brother. Merle Dandridge will also appear as Fireflies leader Marlene, which is an enjoyable casting as the actress voices the character in the video games as well. Also on the cast is Anna Torv, playing Tess, another survivor of the pandemic. 

HBO also notes the series will have a handful of guest stars, including Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, who are survivors far removed from the terror living in a remote town. Nico Parker will play Joel's teenage daughter Sarah while Storm Reid appears as Riley, Ellie's Bostonian best friend. "The Last of Us" additionally features Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard as brothers Henry and Sam, and Graham Greene and Elaine Miles, the Wyoming survivalist couple Marlon and Elaine. Plus, Melanie Lynskey of "Yellowjackets" fame will star as Kathleen, a revolutionary leader located in Kansas City (per the LA Times). And according to Collider, the HBO series will also feature actors from the "Last of Us" game itself — most notably Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who originated the roles now played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

Who is the showrunner of The Last of Us?

Fans of "The Last of Us" video game franchise should be excited, as Emmy-winner Craig Manzin serves as the showrunner for the new series (per The Hollywood Reporter). Manzin was also the showrunner of the widely praised "Chernobyl" limited series, proving he has what it takes to handle a high-stakes HBO project. Manzin also wrote the story alongside Neil Druckmann, the creative director of "The Last of Us" video games. Druckmann will also executive produce.

Three other noteworthy producers of the series are Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells (from video game developer Naughty Dog), and Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan of PlayStation Productions. 

"The Last of Us" will consist of 10 episodes, which are pretty split up among different directors. Ali Abbasi, Kantemir Balagov, Jasmila Zbanic, Peter Hoar, Liza Johnson, and Druckmann are all currently listed as directors on the show's IMDb page. For now, the only specific episode a director can be attached to is Balagov, who helmed the pilot, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Is there a trailer for The Last of Us?

There sure is, and it was a long time coming. The first teaser for "The Last of Us" dropped on September 26, 2022, and it's a doozy. Set to "Alone and Foresaken" by Hank Williams, the teaser is without dialogue but the tone is certainly set by the imagery and gut-wrenching scenes that are featured. Joel is definitely a hardened man, living in a world we cannot imagine. Ellie appears scared yet strong, and we see the duo together and apart, with the end of the trailer seeing them paired up as they journey across the country.

Also shown in the trailer is the dreaded clicker, a Cordyceps infectee who is long gone and in the third stage of the infection. It's about as terrifying as you'd expect it to be, and the series has perfectly captured its clicky sound as Joel and Ellie try to hide from one just on the other side of a wall. 

This teaser proves "The Last of Us" will get dark quickly and stay very loyal to the game, which has accrued a fandom of dedicated players.