The Last of Us is the hottest horror series out right now, telling the story of a post-apocalyptic world plagued by a pandemic of Cordyceps infections. But, despite the TV series featuring the constant fight for survival in the face of undead humans turned Clickers, “zombie” was a banned word on the show’s set. However, the reason for said ban surprisingly makes a lot of sense.
While The Last of Us has plenty of thrills, the heart of the sci-fi series centres around The Last of Us characters, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal), as they travel across the US in hopes of developing a cure. During an interview on The Credits podcast, Cinematographer Eben Bolter revealed that it is this focus on The Last of Us cast and characters that led to the blanket term zombie being forbidden.
“We weren’t allowed to say the Z word on set. It was like a banned word. They were the Infected. We weren’t a zombie show,” Bolter explained. “Of course, there’s tension building, and jump scares, but the show’s really about our characters; The Infected are an obstacle they have to deal with.”
Bolter went on to reveal that, in his opinion, this human quality of The Last of Us story came from the thriller series source material, the 2013 videogame of the same name. Back in 2013, I remember telling everybody I saw, ‘You have to try this game’, but there were many people I knew who were never going to pick up a controller,” he said.
“What’s been great about this series is that now, I don’t have to pitch people anymore: “Trust me, it’s not just zombies.” My parents, for example, I can just tell them: “Watch the show.” And now they see what I saw when I first played the game, which is a beautiful thing,” Bolter continued.
For more information on The Last of Us’ zombies, here is our guide explaining Bloaters. You can also read our guides going over what is FEDRA, who are the Fireflies, and read our The Last of Us episode 5 recap.
For upcoming releases, check out our list of all the new movies heading our way in 2023.