The Last Of Us Characters Are More Morally Gray, Say Creators

admin2021January 7, 2023

Exclusive: The Last of Us creators discuss how they expand upon the already existing characters and created original characters for the HBO series.

The Last of Us co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin discuss how the series is able to shift perspectives and more deeply explore the characters in a way the original game couldn’t. The Last of Us video game is primarily told from Joel’s perspective, although it does shift to Ellie’s at some points. The television series is able to explore different perspectives more easily because it isn’t dependent on gameplay. This opens the door to more story possibilities with characters from the original game and new characters created for the HBO series.


During an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Druckmann explains how the series allows them to dig more deeply into characters beyond Ellie and Joel in a way he was unable to with the game. Druckmann also teases original characters created for the series, including a new leader for the Hunters, and how there are no real bad guys or good guys in The Last of Us. Mazin breaks down how the change in perspectives allows for a better understanding of each of the characters and their motivations.

You’re able to pivot between the perspectives with the series that you can’t really do in the game. Is there any particular character or storyline you were excited to explore more in-depth?

Neil Druckmann: That, to me, was part of the fun of diving back into this world and retelling the story. Exactly what you mentioned, the game is so much about getting you to connect with Joel and Ellie, which is why we’re so dogmatic of only giving you their perspective and no one else’s. I was very excited to go on these tangents and get to explore.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler, but one of the ones I was most excited for was David. And then another one that Craig came up with was the character of Kathleen, who was the leader of [survivors in the game known as] Hunters, and they take a slightly different role here.

Because I love the idea that there aren’t just good guys and bad guys. Everybody’s trying to survive; everybody trying to live life to the fullest way they can. But often, the goals are competing with each other. And that’s where the interesting things happen, and the different philosophies of how to survive or do the ends justify the means, speak to what the story is really about in new ways than we did in the game.

Craig Mazin: Yeah. I would just add that we didn’t have to fulfill a need that the video game had, which was to send NPCs at you. You have to kill a lot of people in that video game, but for us, violence was quite serious, and we didn’t want to numb people to it. When enemies come, it was important for us to ask the question, “Well, why are they enemies? What do they want?” They’re not just evil people. From their point of view, this all makes sense, and it’s justifiable, and that was an interesting thing to explore.

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Druckmann created the original game and the new HBO series is giving him a chance to fully flesh out the characters he crafted for the game including some of the smaller side characters. One character that can be more fully realized in The Last of Us series is Bill. In the game, Bill and the other characters are really only shown in how they relate to or impact Ellie and Joel. It is implied that Bill is gay, but never confirmed. The series can not only confirm it but also fully explore this outside of Ellie and Joel.

The Last of Us can show their stories independent of Ellie and Joel while still intertwining them with the series’ larger arc. The series can more fully flesh out how the outbreak has affected more than just Ellie and Joel. These perspective shifts allow a better understanding of characters who, in the game, are simply seen as bad guys because they are enemies of Ellie and Joel.

Players are introduced to a group of hostile survivors known as the Hunters in the game, and the series will show that they aren’t simply bad guys. The Last of Us will introduce new characters including Kathleen the leader of the Hunters. Fighting for survival makes it hard to have black and white characters living in the moral grey is the only real possibility because of the lack of resources and constant dangers. The Last of Us can more fully realize this world in a way that the game never truly could because it isn’t only telling the story through Joel and Ellie.

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