What ‘The Last of Us’ Finale Kept & Changed From the Game

Pedro Pascal as Joel in Season 1 of The Last of Us
Spoiler Alert

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1 Episode 9.]If your jaw was on the floor for the last hour of The Last of Us, you’re certainly not the only one.

That gut-punch of an ending might’ve made you cheer, it might’ve made you cry, it might’ve made you sick to your stomach, or it might’ve left you wondering what the point of everything Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) was if she’s not, in fact, going to be the key to curing the cordyceps virus. No matter what emotions it stirred it you, it probably moved you. That’s all by design; The Last of Us, whether in video game or TV show form, relishes leaving the viewer with questions that have no simple answers. Here’s how the show’s ending compared to the source material.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in Season 1 of The Last of Us


As has generally been the case with The Last of Us’ initial season, the show sticks extremely close to the video game. Joel does the same thing in the game as he does on the show—once he learns the Fireflies intend to kill Ellie in order to use her brain as the cordyceps cure, he takes out the entire facility, Marlene included. And in the game as well, Joel takes Ellie back to Tommy’s settlement. Before they go inside, Ellie makes him swear that his lie—that the Fireflies stopped looking for a cure—is true, and he does. Right down to the dialogue, HBO’s The Last of Us stays true to its source material.

Certain beats differ slightly; in the game, Joel and Ellie are taken in by the Fireflies after she almost drowns, which doesn’t happen in the show. In the game, Joel kills both of the doctor’s assistants and then the doctor himself; on the show, he kills the doctor first and lets them both live. And Joel only uses his gun as he mows down the Fireflies’ facility; no Molotov cocktails, bows, or other weapons available in the game. The episode’s opening is pulled from other media in the universe, as Marlene (Merle Dandridge) and Anna’s (Ashley Johnson, who voiced Ellie in the game) backstory and Ellie’s birth aren’t part of The Last of Us.

By and large, though, The Last of Us adapts the heartbreaking ending in a near-identical manner. Right down to Joel talking about Sarah (Nico Parker) as they walk through the forest and Ellie mentioning Riley (Storm Reid), Tess (Anna Torv), and Sam (Keivonn Woodard), the show preserved the details that made the game so powerful. (The giraffes were in the game, too!) From here, we’ll have to wait and see whether Ellie ever learns the truth about what happened in the Fireflies’ facility and how she and Joel’s story continues in Season 2.

The Last of Us Season 2, 2025, HBO