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Let’s break down HBO’s The Last of Us trailer

Yesterday, as part of The Last of Us day, we were treated to the first full trailer for the franchise’s upcoming HBO adaptation, starring Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

This trailer didn’t have any real dialogue between the characters (there were plenty of tense looks and some furtive Shh-ing), but it still offered an evocative picture of the world that HBO has created for its TV audience. You can see this trailer for yourself below.

The Last of Us HBO trailer.

Right off the bat, it is clear HBO has taken this adaptation seriously, with several scenes looking like they have been pulled straight from Naughty Dog’s video game series. There is a lot to unpack in the minute and half or so of footage, so let’s dive on in.

The trailer starts off with Joel in Boston. The streets here are weathered and battered, much as they are in the game, following the Cordyceps outbreak 20 years prior.

Details taken straight from the game here include signs enforcing curfews in place across the city and residents painting over a Firefly symbol while under the watchful gaze of Fedra.


Curfew signs in the HBO trailer.

Curfew signs in The Last of Us game.

Civilians paint over a Firefly sign and “look for the light” graffiti in the HBO trailer.

“Look for the light” grafitti seen in The Last of Us game, with Fedra’s militia presence.

The next image shown in HBO’s new trailer is of Joel’s watch, which those who have played the game will know is a gift from his daughter Sarah.

As you can see in the below photos, the cracks and bullet impacts are pretty much an exact replica of the game’s when placed side-by-side.


Joel’s watch in the show.

Joel’s watch in the game.

Moving a bit further on into the game’s story, scenes from the HBO trailer show Joel, Ellie and Tess (played by Anna Torv) hiding in the tunnels around Boston, much as they do in the game after being discovered breaking curfew by Fedra.


Joel, Ellie and Tess hide in the tunnels around Boston.

Joel gets Ellie and Tess out of the tunnels in the game.

We also get an accurate recreation of the game’s toppling tower block shown in the HBO trailer.


The toppling tower block can be seen as lightening strikes.

The same towers can be seen behind Tess in this shot from the game.

We also see that Ellie and Joel will make their way across America in part on horseback, as they do in the game.


Sharing a horse in the HBO adaptation.

Separate horses in the game, although they do also share a mount in some parts.

Another scene that has been recreated in painful detail is from the very start of the game, where players see Joel fleeing Austin with Sarah. This is a truly gut-wrenching moment in the game, and one I am sure will reduce me to tears once more on the show’s release next year.


Joel tries to get away in the car with his family as the outbreak begins.

Joel with his brother Tommy and daughter Sarah as they try to get out of Austin in the game.

Joel carries his wounded daughter, played by Nico Parker.

Joel carries Sarah from the car wreckage in The Last of Us game.

This next moment sees Joel clasping a distressed Ellie’s blood-soaked face in his hands in a desperate attempt to calm her down after a traumatic experience, and while it does not appear to be from the same exact location as the game, it does seem to be around the same time (I will not spoil anything here). Still, it captures the essence of Joel and Ellie’s relationship here perfectly.


A distressed Ellie is calmed down by Joel in the HBO trailer.

Joel calls Ellie “baby girl” as he calms her down in the game.

In addition to scenes from The Last of Us’ base game, the show is also adapting moments from its DLC, Left Behind.

In the shots below, we can see Ellie and her friend Riley (played by Storm Reid) spending time together on a merry-go-round, just as they did in the DLC.


Storm Reid as Riley in the upcoming TV adaptation.

Ellie and Riley in the Left Behind DLC.

This brings me onto all of the characters that we got to see in the new trailer. Along with Joel and Ellie, we also got to have a closer look at Anna Torv’s portrayal of Tess.


Anna Torv as Tess.

Meanwhile, here is Merle Dandridge as Marlene, in an almost exact replica of her outfit from the game.


Merle Dandridge as Marlene in the show.

Marlene in the game.

Gabriel Luna has taken on the role of Joel’s brother Tommy in the show. This moment appears to be the first time the brothers have seen each other in a long time, given the expression on Tommy’s face.


Gabriel Luna as Tommy.

We saw a brief clip of Nick Offerman as Bill in an earlier, channel-wide HBO marketing campaign, but yesterday’s trailer gave us another look at Joel’s cantankerous friend. This shot shows that HBO’s adaptation has included Bill’s penchant for traps, as Joel can be seen in a hole while Bill holds him at gunpoint.


Joel in a hole, Bill on a hill.

Finally on the casting side of things, we have a brand new character called Kathleen. She is reportedly a “ruthless leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City”, giving us more insight as to some ways the show will deviate slightly from the game. Kathleen is portrayed by Melanie Lynskey, whose other acting credits include Yellowjackets.


Kathleen is a new character portrayed by Melanie Lynskey.

Incidentally, if you are keeping track, you will recall an earlier casting announcement for Sam and Henry also mentioned that Joel and Ellie will meet up with the brothers in Kansas City rather than in Pittsburgh. The official release from this time stated that Sam and Henry are “hiding from a revolutionary movement seeking vengeance”, so this sounds like it could be Kathleen’s squad.

And, of course, I can’t leave you without taking a closer look at the trailer’s take on the series’ clickers, which look like they have been lifted straight from the game.


Aberzombie and Fitch.

The last moment from this trailer that I would like to draw your attention to is this one:


A last supper?

I’m not sure, but this dinner scene looks like it could be set before the events of the game, as everything seems to still be in good condition.

The small package seen in front of the charter on the right looks like it may have contained some kind of drugs, perhaps hinting that the couple holding hands in this image are choosing to have one last meal together as they know the apocalypse is coming and their end is nigh.

This show is going to break my heart all over again, I can tell.

The Last of Us is due to release sometime next year, although an exact date is yet to be announced.

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