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If you’re feeling left out with all the chatter that happens on a Sunday night about HBO’s latest smash show, you might be wondering how to watch The Last of Us—the critically acclaimed, fan-lauded video game adaptation to ever grace our screens.
Based on the Naughty Dog/PlayStation exclusive from 2013 and brought to life on the screen by Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann and Chornobyl creator Craig Mazin, The Last of Us is set 20 years after a deadly fungal infection wipes out much of humanity. Pedro Pascal plays Joel, a weapons smuggler, who lost his daughter Sarah in the madness when the outbreak began. Bella Ramsey is Ellie, a 14-year-old who’s miraculously developed an immunity to the microbes that quickly eat away at its human host’s brain and “turn” them into what’s known as The Infected in a matter of days.
Together, Joel and Ellie must journey to the other side of the United States to the headquarters of a militia group, the Fireflies, who are working with doctors on a cure. It’s a story about survival but ultimately what humans do for love and watching the relationship evolve between a grieving father and a teen he’s vowed to protect is central to this story about this brutal and touching tale.
Since its premiere on January 15, 2023, The Last of Us has continued to smash viewership records, making it the second-highest debut since House of the Dragon with 4.7 million viewers. It built on that number by 22 percent the following week with an audience of 5.7 million. Ready to see what all the fuss is about? Here’s how to watch The Last of Us and where to stream one of television’s biggest shows right now.
The Last of Us airs episodically on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.
How can one watch The Last of Us online? The Last of Us is available to stream on HBO Max. HBO Max offers two plans: a $9.99 per month ad-supported plan and a $14.99 per month ad-free plan. Both plans also offer yearly subscriptions. The ad-supported plan offers a $99.99 per year subscription (which saves users about $20 from the monthly price) and the ad-free plan offers a $149.99 per year subscription (which saves users about $30 from the monthly price.) HBO Max’s ad-free plan is also available on Hulu for $14.99 per month.
How can one watch The Last of Us online for free? Read on for our tips and tricks to stream The Last of Us at no cost.
While HBO Max doesn’t have a free trial, customers can still try out the service for free via Hulu’s HBO Max free trial. The service allows users to try both Hulu and HBO Max for free for seven days, which is enough time to test out the site before subscribing. Just be sure to set a reminder to cancel your subscription before you’re charged. After the trial ends, the service will cost $14.99 to add HBO Max to one’s Hulu account.
If you’re an AT&T customer (or know someone who is), you may be eligible for a free HBO Max subscription. The first step is to check if your AT&T plans include a free HBO Max subscription. Eligible plans include: AT&T Unlimited Elite, AT&T Unlimited Plus, AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced, AT&T Unlimited Choice, AT&T Unlimited Choice II, AT&T Unlimited Choice Enhanced and AT&T Unlimited & More Premium. If you have one of these plans, you’re eligible for a complimentary HBO Max account. There are FAQs with instructions on how to claim your free HBO Max subscription here and here.
The cast of The Last of Us includes many familiar faces. Pedro Pascal, who you’d know from Game of Thrones and Narcos, Nick Offerman from Parks And Rec, Anna Torv who you’d know from Mindhunter and many others. Fans of the video games will also be pleased to recognize some of the IP’s original actors in new and old characters. Here’s the cast list of the main and recurring characters.
How did The Last of Us outbreak start? The disease that wipes out most of humanity in The Last of Us is a fungus—a mutated microorganism known as cordyceps, which actually does exist in real life, but it can’t infect humans. Yet, at least.
In the prologue to The Last of Us: Part I, you can find a newspaper that outlines the cause of the outbreak. In the video games, it was primarily caused by crops contaminated with fungus. People ate food with enough traces of cordyceps to become infected and lost their minds to it. The infection spreads either by being bitten by someone already infected or by inhaling airborne spores from dead infected that would fill the air.
The show has deviated from the game in that regard. The airborne spores that required gas masks to navigate are gone and instead, we have tendrils (which, by the way, will make your skin crawl from a visual perspective), potentially given the real-life COVID pandemic wherein a mask helps slow transmission.
Neil Druckmann explained to Polygon: “If we wanted to treat it realistically, and there are spores near, characters would wear gas masks all the time. Then we lose so much, which is maybe the most important part of the journey is what’s going on inside behind their eyes, in their soul, in their beings. For that logistical reason, we were like, Let’s find a different vector.”
He continued: “[We wanted] to feel like these things are interconnected. They can come out against us as a mass. But also how they pass it from one person to the other, it just became this really disturbing thing, which was like, Oh, this is delicious. We have to use this.”
Reviews, both from professional critics and everyday fans who have (and haven’t) played the video games are raving about The Last of Us. It’s got a 97 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has scored 9.4 out of 10 on IMDb. One viewer wrote: “A video game adaptation worthy of seeing! It just goes to show what can happen when you follow the source material, bring on the same people responsible for the success of the game, pour your heart into it, and have the original creator take the helm,” while The Guardian called it one of the finest shows you’ll see this year. “In tiny pockets, it dares to hope. I loved its balance of horror and heart. It burrows under the skin and refuses to leave,” the critic wrote.
This of course is a huge departure from what usually happens with video game adaptations, which have historically fallen way short of adequately translating interactive storytelling to passive. But Merle Dandridge, who plays Marlene in both the show and games, told StyleCaster she was blown away by HBO’s attention to detail, as well as their passion for staying faithful to the source material. “I get emotional just thinking about it because, with every script I read, I felt a moment where my entire spirit rose to it. I had several moments where I was like, ‘I can’t believe what I just read.’ Further down in the course of the show, for what was put on the page for Marlene, I could say I had a spiritual moment,” she said.
“This deep abiding gratitude for myself, for the character, and then also for the fans that understand some of the things they’re going to get to see on the screen that may have been a tiny footnote but a powerful cornerstone to the story. I remember walking to set one day and getting ready to shoot something that I had to emotionally prepare for because I knew it was going to be heavy. And I happened to walk into video village and watch the scene before me. It leveled me.”
There will be The Last of Us season 2, announced by HBO Max on Friday January 27, 2023. The streamer shared a snap of Joel and Ellie looking out on a wide landscape with the simple caption: “The journey continues”.
The Last of Us is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.
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