When HBO announced that they would be adapting The Last of Us—widely considered one of the greatest video games ever made—into a full-length television series—the reaction was excitement, followed by skepticism. The original game was already cinematic in its visual presentation and narrative scope. The gameplay was essential to its message, making the player complicit in the characters’ actions. The dialogue was already first-rate, as were the physical and vocal performances. Game developer Naughty Dog put its actors in motion capture suits to encapsulate the subtleties of every footstep and head turn.
The Last of Us video game was, in many ways, the culmination of interactive storytelling as an art form. How could television, a passive medium, capture what made the game so special?
And yet, the HBO series has been remarkably effective, not by rigidly adapting the game’s every narrative beat and set up, but by taking the thematic spirit of the game—the redemptive and destructive power of love—and changing the story, in ways big and small, to make that spirit more prominent. The show is still about Joel and Ellie. But it also has a more expansive view of the world they inhabit and the people they meet on their journey out west.
Every episode is dense with detail and visual callbacks from the video game. Here’s a list of all the trivia and Easter Eggs we have spotted in HBO’s The Last of Us, Season 1.