Every actor from The Last of Us games who appeared on the show (and who they played)
The first season of HBO’s The Last of Us has been widely heralded as the best video game adaptation of all time, and with good reason. Over the course of nine episodes, the series covered the entirety of the beloved 2013 The Last of Us video game. Iconic moments were painstakingly recreated and easter eggs were plentiful, while changes both big and small improved on the source material to great effect.
But the reason The Last of Us is such an excellent adaptation goes beyond how faithful it is to the game, or even the quality of the show. The television series incorporates the DNA of the video game in a number of ways: The Last of Us game creator Neil Druckmann serves as a showrunner and director, much of the game’s music by Gustavo Santaolalla is carried over, and The Last of Us Part II stuntwoman Maggie Macdonald served as a stunt coordinator on the show, just to name a handful of examples.
But the most visible way these two versions of the story are connected are appearances by several notable actors from the game. “It’s not just about fan service,” showrunner Craig Mazin said of these cameos. “It’s a dramatic genetic connection between the game and the show. They needed to be there.”
Now that the season is over, let’s look back on all actors from The Last of Us video game who appeared in the HBO series. There will, of course, be SPOILERS.
1. Merle Dandridge (Marlene) as Marlene
Out of all the cast members from The Last of Us video games who appear in the TV show, Merle Dandridge is the only actor to play the same character. In both the game and TV series, Dandridge portrays Marlene, a leader of the revolutionary group called the Fireflies.
Dandridge appears as Marlene in both the season 1 premiere and finale. Marlene is the person who first sets Joel and Ellie on their journey. And when Joel and Ellie finally arrive at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Marlene is there to give Joel the terrible news that a cordyceps cure can only be made at the cost of Ellie’s life. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well for Marlene and the Fireflies.
The show also expanded Marlene’s role. In the premiere, we got to see how she acted as a leader of the Fireflies in the Boston QZ. Then in the finale, the TV show treated viewers to a flashback that revealed how Marlene took in baby Ellie after her best friend Anna (who we’ll be talking about later) was infected during childbirth.
Marlene is a very important character in the story of The Last of Us, and Dandridge’s appearance is one of the strongest bits of connective tissue between the game and show.