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HBO's The Last Of Us - Everything You Need To Know

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"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" got 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."

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. After losing his daughter at the beginning of the viral Cordyceps outbreak, Joel (Pedro Pascal) spends twenty years toiling away until a startling new opportunity presents itself. Approached by a vigilante group called the Fireflies, Joel is asked to transport a young girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to a different Fireflies camp, and eventually, he learns that she has immunity to the Cordyceps virus.

The two travel across the United States, meeting several enemies and allies along the way, and though they're both apprehensive about trusting the other at first, they form a deep bond. When Joel is grievously injured, Ellie finds medicine for him and helps save his life; when Joel is faced with an impossible choice about Ellie's life, he gives up everything to save her. As the first season draws to a close, the two are on their own again, fighting to stay alive in a dangerous world.

Who stars 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 they see and experience things fans of the game probably dreaded watching play out on screen. Gabriel Luna also stars in the drama as Tommy, Joel's former soldier-brother. Merle Dandridge also appears as Fireflies leader Marlene, which is enjoyable casting as the actress voices the character in the video games as well. Also in the cast is Anna Torv as Tess, another survivor of the pandemic. 

The series is also stacked with guest stars, including Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, who are survivors far removed from the terror living in a remote town. Nico Parker plays 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 appears as Kathleen, a revolutionary leader located in Kansas City. The HBO series also features 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, with the two playing James (a cohort of Scott Shepherd's infamous villain David) and Anna (Ellie's mother).

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 Mazin serves as the showrunner for the new series (per The Hollywood Reporter). Mazin was also the showrunner of the widely praised "Chernobyl" limited series, proving he has what it takes to handle a high-stakes HBO project. Mazin 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. 

Will there be a Last of Us Season 2?

Based on the popularity of the game and the creative talent involved with the show — from actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey to showrunner/"Chernobyl" creator Craig Mazin — it should come as no surprise that "The Last of Us" was a smash hit right out of the gate. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the first episode was the second-most-watched debut of any HBO show in the past 10 years, and the numbers only got better with the second installment. Needless to say, HBO is pretty pleased with this development, as they renewed "The Last of Us" before the third episode even aired. 

According to Mazin and Druckmann in the aftermath of the Season 1 finale, they're all set to adapt "The Last of Us Part II," but they're going to stretch it out a bit more than they did with the first game. "No. No way," Mazin told Entertainment Weekly when asked if Season 2 would show all of "Part II." "It's more than one season," Druckmann confirmed.

Who are the directors for The Last of Us?

"The Last of Us" consists of 9 episodes, which were pretty split up among different directors. Ali Abbasi, Kantemir Balagov, Jasmila Zbanic, Peter Hoar, Liza Johnson, and Druckmann all helmed different episodes of the wildly successful season. Mazin and Druckmann will continue to lead the series in Season 2.

Mazin himself directed the pilot, and was followed by a murderer's row of excellent directors. Druckmann helmed the second episode, and Peter Hoar ("Daredevil," "It's a Sin," "The Umbrella Academy," and "Doctor Who") the third installment. "Downton Abbey" veteran Jeremy Webb took on the following two episodes, and Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić took on the sixth, with "Elvis & Nixon" director Liza Johnson following her. Finally, Ali Abbasi, known for "Shelley" and "Holy Spider," directed the season's final two episodes.

What is The Last of Us Season 1 rated?

The first season of "The Last of Us" is rated TV-MA, which should come as no surprise to those who have played the game. In the very first episode, when the Cordyceps outbreak happens, multiple people are brutally killed after turning into bloodthirsty mushroom monsters, and Joel watched as his daughter dies a bloody death in his arms. Things only get more violent from there.

At one point, a giant mushroom monster called "the Bloater" rips a man's head off in plain sight, and at another, a child is shot by his own brother before the brother turns the gun on himself. Violence aside, the show has plenty of profanity — Ellie, in particular, is never one to watch her mouth — and it's also just profoundly disturbing. At various points, characters on the show like Joel and Ellie have to make horrifying and upsetting choices, from outright murder to killing innocents to even killing somebody they love. Kids should probably not be allowed to watch "The Last of Us" unless they're extremely mature.

Where to watch The Last of Us Season 1

You can stream the entire first season of "The Last of Us" on HBO Max now, and you can also watch it on Hulu or Amazon Prime if you subscribe to HBO Max through those streamer. 

If you're browsing HBO Max and jonesing for something to watch after "The Last of Us" while you wait for Season 2, you've got a few options. For something equally bleak, you could turn on showrunner Craig Mazin's landmark series "Chernobyl," based on the real-life disaster. If you want to watch Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal in their breakout roles in a series where they never actually interact, they both appeared on HBO's smash hit "Game of Thrones" as Lady Lyanna Mormont and Oberyn Martell, respectively — and though both ultimately meet grisly ends, they're also both breakout characters who were beloved by audiences during their time on the fantasy series.