The Last of Us: 8 biggest changes from the video game in season 1

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in The Last of Us Episode 9. Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO
Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in The Last of Us Episode 9. Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO /
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The Last of Us season 1 is at an end. After a harrowing journey across the post-apocalyptic United States, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) finally reached the Fireflies, only to receive a very different welcome than they expected.

While The Last of Us has forged its own path as a television show and become a bonafide hit for HBO, it also stands out as one of the best video game adaptations of all time. This isn’t just because the show adapted so many things of the game verbatim; there were plenty of changes as well. But those changes often served to expand the story in surprising and interesting ways.

Now that the season is over, let’s look back over the eight biggest changes the show made from the video game series.

The Last Of Us Episode 2
The Last Of Us Episode 2 /

1. Spores, tendrils, and the infected hive mind

The first change we need to discuss is one we knew about long before The Last of Us aired. In the video games, the cordyceps fungus is primarily spread in one of two ways: being bitten by an infected person or breathing in airborne spores. These spores populate certain areas of the game, requiring Joel to wear a gas mask to avoid infection.

The show did away with spores in season 1, instead giving its infected oral tendrils which snake their way into peoples’ wounds or orifices. It’s as gross as it sounds. The infected are connected by these tendrils in a sort of hive mind, which is another new addition for the TV show.

This changes a lot about how the infected function, as well as the nature of the threat they pose. Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have teased they “may have a plan” for how spores could eventually show up in future seasons, but for now it’s tendrils all the way.