What is The Last of Us About?

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The Last of Us debuted in 2013, emerging as a PlayStation 3 exclusive title created by Naughty Dog, the masters behind the Uncharted franchise. It quickly became one of the most highly-awarded games in history, selling more than 1.3 million copies in the first week alone. Now that it’s a top-tier, record-breaking television series, more people than ever are wondering, what is The Last of Us about?

The Most Unique Apocalypse

The Last of Us tells the tale of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of an apocalypse brought on by the outbreak of a deadly fungal infection. In The Last of Us (2013), we’re introduced to a world torn to shreds by this infection, Cordyceps, which has ripped the human race to pieces and caused most of the population to become infected, mutated, and crazed.

Here’s the original premiere trailer from more than a decade ago:

It’s a unique basis for an apocalypse as it’s based on fact – Cordyceps is a real thing, and what it does to humans in The Last of Us, it does to insects in the real world. It’s an aggressive fungus that literally drains the life out of whatever it infects, taking over its host and compelling it to spread the infection.

In The Last of Us, Cordyceps infects humans to a great extent, and as the 2013 release is set around twenty years after the initial outbreak, so much time has passed that many victims of the Cordyceps infection have become hideously mutated.

Joel and Ellie are paired up out of desperate necessity. It’s revealed that the young girl, Ellie, is immune to Cordyceps – and may be one of the very few people that could be the answer to a cure for the infection. Joel is something of a mercenary character, essentially hired to protect Ellie as she travels across the fragmented wasteland of the United States, destined to reach a group that may be able to harness her immunity and create a cure.

Ultimately, Joel and Ellie form a bond that transcends simply being a set of eyes to watch the other person’s back. In some ways, their journey pushes them to become father and daughter.

The Last of Us Is Monumental

what is the last of us about

The Last of Us is a game fraught with intense, heart-pounding sequences, emotional sub-stories, and gruesome, show-stopping scenes of combat. It’s violent, and the environment is a harrowing look forward to what the world would become in the midst of a total breakdown.

In The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie are tasked with crossing much of the United States – and while we won’t spoil the story here, we’ll say that the entire journey is plagued by setbacks, ill fortune, loss, and heartbreak. In 2020, Naughty Dog expanded The Last of Us with a sequel, simply named Part II. It’s impossible to lay out the events of this game without spoiling it, but it served to expand the universe immeasurably, offering another award-winning experience to fans the world over.

Then, in 2023, The Last of Us’ TV series debuted on HBO. It quickly became one of the most popular shows that the broadcaster had ever put out, smashing viewership records with ease. It told the story of Joel and Ellie from a slightly different perspective, but it remained true to the source materials.

That was, Joel and Ellie still existed, Ellie was still immune to Cordyceps, and they still had to cross the United States to get help from a group, the Fireflies. Like the game, it’s a show riddled with intense, anxiety-inducing scenes, mutated, infected humans, and a harrowing but beautiful post-apocalyptic environment.

What Is The Last of Us About? That’s What.

It’s a relatively basic concept, but it’s delivered in such a masterful way that it has remained a solid franchise for almost a decade. There are plans to introduce a multiplayer-focused title as well as a third iteration in the series in the coming years, and Naughty Dog is working as hard as possible to make sure that the story and the universe of The Last of Us continue to deliver remarkable, incredible results.

For fans of a post-apocalyptic story, The Last of Us is near-unparalleled. In Part II, the concept of exploration was broadened and wider environments were offered up, but it’s a mostly linear franchise that travels from point to point at a punchy pace. It has slower, emotional scenes punctuated with heart-pounding action, as Joel, Ellie, and associated characters transition from a touching scene to a life-or-death scenario in the blink of an eye.

It’s genuinely terrifying, and the journey across a deadened, perilous United States is one that players will remember years after they’ve experienced it.

The Last of Us franchise is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC, in various states and editions.