13 Changes "The Last Of Us" TV Show Made To The Game, And 9 Things They Kept The Same

The first episode of HBO's The Last of Us is now out, and as a longtime fan of the games, I am super excited for a new fandom to get into the story of Joel and Ellie.

Joel in the TV series holding a flashlight
Liane Hentscher / HBO

You may have heard that the show is an incredibly faithful adaptation thus far, which is definitely true. But there are still some changes from the video game to the series — so here are some of the biggest similarities and differences:

Warning: Major spoilers for The Last of Us Episode One and some game play.

1.One change right off the bat is that the game begins in 2013, whereas the show starts in 2003. "I just had this thing where if I'm watching a show and it takes place 20 years in the future from my time now, it just seems less real," showrunner Craig Mazin told Insider.

Joel's daughter Sarah in the series smiling while she's sitting in front of a window with blinds
HBO

2.The opening of the show is different from the game. The game doesn't open with the news flashback explaining the fungal pandemic, or any of the details of the daytime on outbreak day.

Two men sitting together on a TV interview show talking about fungus
HBO

3.That's not to say that there aren't details about the nature of the pandemic in the game — one of the first things you can do in game play is pick up this newspaper that warns of "contaminated crops" and "admittance spikes at area hospitals."

A person holding a copy of the Texas Herald with the headline: Admittance Spikes at Area Hospitals!
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

4.You might be wondering why the game doesn't include anything about Sarah's day in school or with the neighbors. The answer is simple: You initially play as Sarah in the game, instantly giving you a personal connection to her. "We can't do that in a television show," Craig explained, "but what we can do is give you more moments with her alone."

Sarah in her bedroom in the game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

5.Following Sarah in the show does allow some clues about the imminent breakout to be dropped — like her classmate, whose hand is twitching in the school scene.

Student sitting in class in front of a desk
HBO

6.And this terrifying shot:

Sarah in a room with her back to her older neighbor, who's sitting in a chair and making a strange face
HBO

7.But the show and game versions of Sarah are incredibly similar — even down to their T-shirts.

TV series Sarah with a short-sleeved Halican Drops T-shirt
HBO, Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

8.Instead, the game opens with Sarah giving Joel the watch as a present. Plenty of the dialogue in this scene is exactly the same:

Joel and Sarah on the couch in the video game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

9.Joel and Sarah also don't watch Curtis and Viper 2 — which isn't a real movie — in the game. It's actually a fun Easter egg for The Last of Us Part II, where it's said to be one of Joel's favorite movies.

Sarah and Joel sitting on the couch in the series
HBO

10.The neighbor is the one to attack Sarah in both the game and the TV show — but in the former, a male neighbor named Jimmy crashes through their glass door.

Joel shooting neighbor in the game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

11.The introduction of Tommy is slightly different from game to show. In the game, he's the one to pick up Sarah and Joel — rather than needing to have Joel pick him up from jail.

Tommy, Joel, and Sarah in the game by a truck
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

12.The driving scene heavily references the game, even down to lines of dialogue.

Sarah in the backseat asking,
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

13.The attention to detail on shot-for-shot re-creations is astounding:

Tommy saying
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

14.Incredibly small detail, but it's the farm of "Jimmy" that burns down in the series — likely a callback to the infected male neighbor in the game.

A burning building seen from the car window in the series
HBO, Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

15.In both versions, Joel is the one to insist that Tommy not stop to help the family on the road.

In the video game, Tommy says
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

16.Game play switches from Sarah to Joel after the car crash. The ensuing events are heartbreakingly similar in both versions.

Joel holding Sarah in his arms in the TV series
HBO, Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

17.The opening of the time jump is handled slightly differently in the game. Rather than follow a child entering the quarantine zone, the game opens on Joel waking up with a gasp and Tess entering his apartment.

Joel in the game with
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

18.Joel and Tess do not do jobs for FEDRA in the games and solely get their ration cards through smuggling.

Joel asking "You got anything else?" and FEDRA soldier saying "Nothin' today"
HBO

19.It might be explored later in the show, but the game characters have to use respirators in certain areas, as the infection can be transmitted via spores in the air.

Two characters wearing respirators in the video game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

20.The sequence before Tess and Joel get to Marlene is different in the games. There, Joel tortures and kills Robert for selling their guns to the Fireflies, and there's no FEDRA middle man.

Tess and Joel in the video game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO

21.The introduction of Ellie is also fairly different. In the show, we see Ellie shackled and angry. Marlene is the one to untie her, which is possibly a reference to their first encounter in The Last of Us: American Dreams comics. Indeed, the first time we see Ellie in the first Last of Us game, she's trying to stab Tess and Joel and already has a close relationship with Marlene.

Ellie in the TV series
HBO, Naughty Dog / theRadBrad

22.The final sequence of the first episode is incredibly similar to the game, but since the FEDRA officer isn't a character there, it's two random soldiers whom both Tess and Joel kill. It's not explicitly linked to any trauma over Sarah.

Soldier holding a gun in the video game
Naughty Dog / theRadBrad, HBO