The Last Of Us Will Cover The Entire First Game In Season 1, Season 2 Would Adapt Second Game

One of the biggest questions surrounding HBO's upcoming adaptation of "The Last of Us" is how much of the first season will be based on the original game of the same name. Many modern video game adaptations, such as "Uncharted," attempt to tell their own stories while using elements from the source material as they see fit. The trailers and TV spots suggest the "Last of Us" series will start out sticking closely to the original game's story, though it could easily branch off from there. In fact, the tale of Joel and Ellie's journey across the post-apocalyptic United States feels like something that could readily be stretched out to fill multiple seasons, if needs be.

With that in mind, it appears series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are intent on telling the story of the first "Last of Us" game as concisely as possible. The anticipation and expectations for the series leave little room for error— it makes sense that the creators wouldn't want to drag out the show and risk causing Joel and Ellie's journey to lose its emotional potency between seasons. The show's creators also seem to have considered how they would go about adapting the second "Last of Us" game, should the TV series last beyond a single season. Either way, their stated goal is to avoid including filler as much as possible.

Keeping it concise

In this age of IPs becoming shared universes that encompass both theatrical and streaming releases, it would undoubtedly be tempting to build an interconnected universe of series and spin-off shows of "The Last of Us." The world is undoubtedly ripe with potential, as both games released thus far are filled with collectibles that contain rich lore about the society and culture of a cordyceps-ruled landscape. There are so many potential avenues, from radical survival groups to religious sects that formed in the wake of the outbreak. However, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann spoke about their disinterest in focusing on something other than Joel and Ellie. "We have no plans to tell any stories beyond adapting the games," as Druckmann matter-of-factly put it.

THR's story also confirms something /Film previously reported in March 2021— that the show's initial season will cover the events of the first game. This news comes as a relief, as there was some concern that Joel and Ellie's journey across the country would get dragged out. Rewatching the series' trailers and TV spots, you can also spot elements from the later parts of the original game's story (which takes place in the winter). This, in turn, suggests the show moves at just the right pace to cover the main events of the first game without feeling rushed or dragging. 

When it comes to adapting "The Last of Us Part II," Mazin and Druckmann were understandably hesitant to confirm anything ahead of the show's premiere. They do, however, already have some ideas for how the game's plot would factor into a second season.

'Endings mean everything to me'

"The Last of Us Part II" takes place several years after the first game's events, and the controversial but critically acclaimed sequel definitely warrants a season of its own, should the HBO series prove successful and earn itself a renewal. For fans curious if HBO's "The Last of Us" would take a different route than the game and explore the years between "Parts I & II," Craig Mazin provided a cryptic answer to THR, simply saying, "I don't like filler."

"The Last of Us" has all the makings of a video game adaptation done right, with its emphasis on its characters and the story's pacing, instead of finding a way to build yet another cinematic universe. In the same interview, Mazin would best exemplify his feelings on world-building and continuations as exhausting. To the writer/director, it's all about a powerful and definitive ending:

"I don't have any interest in a spinning-plates-go-on-forever show. When it becomes a perpetual motion machine, it just can't help but get kind of... stupid. Endings mean everything to me."

While fans of the zombie genre may decide to check out "The Last of Us" for its post-apocalyptic setting and monsters, they'll stay for the beautiful and tragic relationship between Joel and Ellie. The father and daughter duo of the games will be the sole focus of the first season, and any future season focused on "Part II" will undoubtedly have plenty of intense material to work with. And even if the show doesn't get renewed, "The Last of Us Part I" has a potent ending that could easily conclude the series' first (and, in this scenario, only) season on a high note, if needs be.

"The Last of Us" premieres on HBO on January 15, 2023.