author: Kristian Smoszna
Deep Dive: HBO's The Last of Us vs. The Game - Tidbits, Details, Similarities and Differences
HBO's The Last of Us is filled to the brim with references and easter eggs from the game. Still, there are also differences between the two, which in many ways, however, make sense.
The The Last of Us TV series is doomed to success. The production, even if it does expand on some threads, is so true to the original that leaves fans of other games longing for an HBO show based on their favorite franchise. We've also published a graphical comparison of both productions, which is indeed impressive. Despite this fidelity, the series direction made it appealing to viewers who had never encountered the world of Joel and Ellie before.
The TV show invited new audiences to the story, but its creators haven't forgotten about the already established community of the game. So, the show brings something interesting even to the most ardent fans of the franchise. The show is full of many threads and details related to the game. Discovering all the references and differences, especially the smallest ones, is really satisfying.
We found a lot of nods to the players in the adaptation ourselves. There were also some inconsistencies, which, however, have very reasonable explanations. Below, we present some of the most exciting tidbits and references from the already famous HBO production.
Birthday card for Joel
An interesting detail is related to Joel's birthday card, which Sarah wanted to give to her father. In the prologue of the original game, we can see it right after the heroine wakes up – it rests on the cabinet in front of the bed. When the girl takes it up, she realizes that she forgot to give it to Joel the day before – now it's too late.
The creators of the series remembered about this card. In the scene where Sarah wakes up on the morning of September 26, 2003, it can be seen resting on the cupboard as the camera briefly pans across the girl's room. Importantly, Joel's daughter also forgets about it, because it's not among the gifts (the movie and the watch) that she gives to him in the evening. So, everything is in order.
The card is very recognizable and therefore there's no doubt that both instances show the same item. We can recognize it by the green dinosaur printed on it.
Pillows in Sarah's room
Sarah's room is colorful and feminine, but it looks a bit different in the show and in the game. The heroine's oasis in the series is slightly smaller than the one in the game, but in both cases, the main object is a large, wooden bed. Interestingly, the authors partially recreated the bedding, specifically the pillows, decorated with characteristic butterflies. There's no doubt that they were inspired by those we see in the game – they are practically identical.
It's worth emphasizing that the theme of butterflies recurs throughout the first episode. Another instance is when Ellie is brought to Joel's apartment before escaping from the zone. In both the game and the show, the girl spends her time staring out the window, but only in the show is there a butterfly toy hanging above the window. Details like this one happen very often.
Sarah Miller is a huge fan of the band Halican Drops. Her room is decorated with a huge poster, and she sleeps in the band's tee. The authors of the series dressed Nico Parker in an identical t-shirt, which we can see at the beginning of the first episode. But that's not all.
It's a multi-layered easter egg, which you can notice by looking at what's on the back of the t-shirt. There's a list of cities that were part of Halican Drops's tour. When we first launch The Last of Us, we can't quite make the connection yet, but those cities also include the ones Ellie and Joel will visit during their journey. Pittsburgh, Boston, Salt Lake City and Jackson are just four of them. The fifth is Colorado, though of course that's the name of a state, not a city. Boulder would be the correct city, since that's where the heroes end up during the adventure, but let's not be picky. Boulder is in Colorado, after all.
Finally, one more nice touch. Although Sarah's shirt in the series is tattered, the names of the locations remain legible. Same goes for the date of the tour – it is different than in the game. The action of the prologue in the original game takes place in 2013, which means Halican Drops went on tour in 2012. This regularity is preserved in the production of HBO, which is why the t-shirt bears the date 2002.
Roadside building on fire
During the night escape, the heroes drive past a burning building. In the show, Joel's brother notices Jimmy's farm being engulfed in flames. In the game, in turn, the building belongs to a certain Louis. You may wonder why the creators made such a minor change, but it does make sense. It has to do with the person who originally lived next door to the Millers.
In the game, Joel's neighbor is Jimmy Cooper. The only shows him once in a scene, and it is quite brutal. Jimmy, infected with and enraged by the cordyceps, bursts into the Millers' house at night, and the protagonist of The Last of Us, having no other choice, kills him.
In the show, Jimmy just disappears, and Joel's neighbors are the Adler family instead. Overall, it's a pretty cool change, especially since we can see the infirm old lady become a viable killing machine due to the infection. However, this doesn't change the fact that Cooper was thus disposed of. Therefore, we think it was solved in a different way. Jimmy was located on a farm outside the town limits. Following this lead, the change of the name cannot be accidental, and it makes sense.