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The Last Of Us Show Has Less Action Than the Game for a Very Good Reason

Co-showrunner Craig Mazin talked about HBO's PlayStation adaptation starring Pedro Pascal.

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killer zombie with crazy head
A clicker on The Last Of Us.
Image: HBO

We’re only two episodes into HBO’s adaptation of The Last Of Us but as the season goes on, one thing is going to become abundantly clear: there’s less action on the show than in the video game.

This makes sense for a number of reasons. The big one is video games are an active experience. Players are making the action happen themselves and they’d much rather fight a zombie than walk down a street. Television, however, is a passive experience as the viewers let the story happen as they watch and, in that case, character and story become more important.


There’s another reason why action will be less prevalent in The Last Of Us TV show too, and it’s one that’s equally as logical, but maybe not as immediately obvious. “Games have healing mechanics and healing doesn’t work quite that way on television,” co-showrunner Craig Mazin told the PlayStation blog. “It’s just, we can’t crouch, bandage, you know, and be fine. So, violence has a different impact. Smaller bits of violence do a lot more damage, and the damage lasts much, much longer or permanently.”

It makes total sense, of course. Video game healing is total nonsense in reality, but completely warranted for the medium. But on TV, you can use violence to your advance. For example, in the most recent episode of The Last Of Us we saw Tess’ bite get worse almost in real-time, in comparison to Ellie’s, which healed. The opposing directions of those wounds actually helped forward the narrative as proof to Tess and Joel that Ellie is, indeed, immune. If Ellie or Tess had just gone into a menu and clicked a few buttons, that crucial piece of the story is lost. It’s a measured approach that Mazin says is applied to all the action throughout.


“When you have an action sequence, it should be singular,” Mazin added. “So, one of the things we talked about was the role of action in the show and our belief that we would appreciate the action moments more if they were each unique, separate and apart from each other, each one of them impacting the story directly in a very clear way and either being very small or very big.”

Head over to the PlayStation Blog to read more about action on The Last Of Us, including the design and sound of the infamous Clickers. And watch the current episode on HBO Max.

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