The Last of Us season 1

HBO’s adaptation of the popular post-apocalyptic video game The Last of Us has the potential to become one of the premium cable channel’s biggest new hits, and ever since the series was announced, fans have been wondering exactly how closely the show will hew to the events portrayed in the games. According to Neil Druckmann, the creative director for the Last of Us video games and the co-showrunner of the TV adaptation, the first season of the show will adapt the events seen in the first game, and viewers should expect to hear familiar dialogue lifted directly from the game. But they should also prepare to be surprised by some significant deviations.

In an interview with IGN from this year’s SXSW, Druckmann said that he and co-showrunner Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) “talked at length that season 1 of the show is going to be [the first game],” and that the key aspect for them was to translate the “philosophical underpinnings of the story” into this new medium.

“Things sometimes stay pretty close,” he explained. “It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium. For example, in the game, there’s so much action you have to have to train the player about mechanics. You have to have more violence and more spectacle to some degree than you would need on a TV show because you don’t need to train people on how to use a gun. So that’s something that’s been really different, and HBO’s been great in pushing us to move away from hardcore action and focus more on the drama of the character. Some of my favorite episodes so far have deviated greatly from the story, and I can’t wait for people to see them.”

It would be impractical for the writers to copy/paste the video game script into a TV format – not to mention boring for Druckmann, who I’m sure is embracing the challenge of recapturing what made his story and these characters so memorable in another form. Some fans may read that quote and walk away thinking HBO doesn’t want this to be an action-driven show, but as we’ve seen time and time again, unless the audience cares about the characters at the center of a story, no amount of action will be able to keep people truly engaged.

There’s more good news, too: Druckmann also stated that he “just saw the first prosthetic test for the Clicker and it’s awesome,” saying it is “so rad to see this thing come to physical life.” I wouldn’t take that as 100% confirmation quite yet that the Clickers are going to be prosthetic creatures in the final show because it sounds like it’s still early and they could end up deciding it makes more sense for them to achieve that effect using CG, but I’d love it if they were able to stick with this approach and give Pedro Pascal‘s Joel and Bella Ramsey‘s Ellie a tactile force to deal with as they traverse a zombie-infested country.

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