The key to a good adaptation: The Last of Us review



HBO Max’s The Last of Us main character Joel and Ellie.

Hannah Bulgrin, Co-Editor-In-Chief

With the increase of story-based video games within the last 20 years the amount of video games that have seen a screen to stream adaptation. The only problem is that more often than not these adaptations… miss the mark.


Movies like Ready Player One, Assassin’s Creed, and Resident Evil often create hype before release but leave fans disappointed and unsatisfied leaving theaters realizing it was just a shameless cash grab. But recently there has been a shift in quality and streaming services have made their claim on the gaming community. The newest addition to this claim is none other than HBO Max’s The Last of Us adaptation. 


The story follows a middle aged man, Joel Miller, in a post apocalyptic world that has been overrun with “infected” individuals. When he’s introduced to a 14 year old girl, Ellie Williams, who seems to be immune to the fungal disease threatening the human race, he agrees to transport her across the country in hopes of finding a vaccine. 


When the news got out concerning HBO Max’s latest project the responses varied. Some fans were delighted to see arguably one of the best stories in gaming history come to the screen where others were worried the show wouldn’t do the game justice. Many adopted the attitude of “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” but after the first episode aired many changed their outlook.


From the first episode, the show expertly stayed true to the original plot of the game while also pulling in new elements like world building and character development that added a new depth. 


Characters that were already loved by fans were not watered down while lesser known characters were flushed out and added depth to the story. 


Episode 3, “Long, Long Time” features characters that were mentioned briefly in the game, Bill and Frank. In the game these characters were perceived as survival partners that had a mutual dependence on each other but the television show took a new meaning to the word “partners”. Episode 3 is centered completely around the love story between Bill and Frank in this “zombie ridden” world. While many enjoyed this representation and beautiful retelling, there were a handful of fans that felt this interpretation was not accurate to the original story. 


Although this episode created some controversy, the majority of viewers enjoyed this take. IGN reviewer, Simon Cardy describes this episode saying, “it beautifully tells a story of romance found in a seemingly hopeless place”. In my opinion, this is an example of what a good change to the plot looks like. It adds depth and character to a world controlled by disease and terror. 


Currently there are six episodes out and nearly five million people tune in every Sunday to catch the latest episode, making The Last of Us one of the most popular shows out right now. So be sure to check out this amazing adaptation!