The last of us has come to an end, bringing Joel and Ellie’s epic journey across America to a dramatic, gory finale.
The HBO show has been wowing fans for weeks, and has particularly wowed those familiar with Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed game, which the show adapts with amazing accuracy.
In a press conference held prior to the release of the finale, showrunner Craig Mazin and the game’s co-creator Neil Druckmann spoke about the finale and why they never considered changing the game’s ending, even though it could be debatable.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The last of us Final.
The last of us has joined Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) as they journeyed across the perilous landscape of post-apocalyptic America after the globe had been torn apart by the Cordyceps brain infection two decades earlier.
Joel and Ellie were on a mission to find the Fireflies rebel group, where they hoped to meet doctors who would be able to develop a cure using Ellie’s blood since she is immune to the infection.
However, the finale ends in bloodbath when Joel learns that Firefly leader Marlene (Merle Dandridge) and the doctors can only create a cure for humanity if they kill Ellie, and Joel decides he has no one else he loves can lose.
Instead of sacrificing Ellie for the greater good, Joel kills everyone in the hospital and retrieves the teenager, unconscious from surgery. He later lies to her about the events. Instead of being honest, Joel tells Ellie that there were others who were immune like her and the doctors couldn’t find a cure, so she was no longer needed.
The ending ties in with the game’s, and even Ramsey warned fans it would be “massively” divisive, but Druckmann and Mazin were adamant, saying they never thought of changing it.
Druckmann, who also co-created the show, said: “No, not in this production. I think Craig was already in love with her, we had such little things that we considered like changing certain settings or just beats or blinds which I would consider superficial things but not big deviations.”
Mazin then added, “I don’t think so [Neil] Ever been the guy who said, “No, we have to do it the way it was in the game,” that guy was me.
“I’m a fan, right, and Neil has always been open to the adaptation process in the most intelligent, generous and flexible way, he understood what adaptation means.
“And it wasn’t like he was suggesting, ‘oh, we shouldn’t do the giraffe scene, or we should do it differently,’ or anything, it wasn’t. It was just me saying, ‘By the way, we’re going to do this exactly as it is. I do not care. We make it as close as possible, as close as possible [to the game.]’
“But you know the ending was never a question, that was the ending… as a player I got to the end, why would I ever want to change that? It’s great,” he added.
Druckmann agreed with Mazin, adding, “I think there’s a good opportunity to talk about the process, like if Craig came up and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about this other ending.’ I’m sure I would tense up a little at first and hear the pitch.
“But our process would be like, ‘OK, let’s discuss it. Let’s talk about what that is [would be].’ We would go through the whole season and say if we might have been working towards that other ending?
“And a lot of times we’d like to have these pitches like, ‘What if we made this drastic change?’ and we played it through the whole story and often the answer was, ‘Yeah, it doesn’t quite work or it changes too many things.’”
Mazin stated that as a team they were “not afraid” to make changes to the game’s story along the way, and he referenced Episodes 3, 5 and 6 when he added, “Obviously we changed a lot of things and my expression, which I used with Neil was a “radical suggestion” and sometimes it was “what if Sam was deaf?”. “Hey, what if Bill and Frank actually had a great relationship?”
“Sometimes we would play around with things because it’s important to give things a chance.
The last of us is now available to view in full on HBO and HBO Max.