In The Last of Us TV series, the outbreak of the pandemic that causes the apocalypse will take place in 2003, ten years before the one in the games. This means that the main timeline of the show will likely be 2023, twenty years post-outbreak. On-set photos reveal that there will probably be flashback scenes or a prologue set in 2003.
The reason for the change is not yet clear, but people are speculating that it will help the narrative work better, due to the lack of smartphones in 2003. This meant that information about the pandemic would not have spread as quickly and the government’s attempts to control the spread wouldn’t have worked as well. However, for those of us currently experiencing a pandemic in a more technologically-advanced world, we also know that this means that misinformation spreads more quickly.
The Last of Us game was released in 2013, the same year as the outbreak in the game’s narrative. The events of the game are sparked by an outbreak of a mutant Cordyceps fungus ravaging the United States, transforming its human hosts into aggressive creatures known as the Infected.
In the suburbs of Austin, Texas, Joel flees the chaos with his brother Tommy and daughter Sarah. As they flee, Sarah is shot by a soldier and dies in Joel’s arms. All of this prologue will now take place in 2003. Twenty years later (2033 in the games, 2023 in the show), civilisation has been decimated by the infection. Survivors live in totalitarian quarantine zones, independent settlements, and nomadic groups, leaving buildings and houses deserted.
Another reason that HBO may have decided to shift the timeline to a decade earlier is that they may be hoping that The Last of Us becomes a long-running series in the vein of The Walking Dead. If so, the narrative has plenty of time to expand into the future.
You can see a Tweet from NaughtyDogInfo about the time-shift here;
Fun fact: HBO’s The Last of Us will change its outbreak year from 2013 to 2003 meaning – the events of TLOU will take place in 2023 instead of 2033. I wonder why this change was made? 🤔#TheLastofUs #HBO pic.twitter.com/CdBy0QO6ML
— NaughtyDogInfo | News (@NaughtyDogInfo) February 1, 2022
The Last of Us is currently shooting, in a vast and hugely expensive production in Canada, so HBO are highly invested in the show doing well. Pedro Pascal plays Joel, Gabriel Luna plays Tommy and Nico Parker plays Sarah. Anna Torv plays Joel’s smuggling partner Tess and Bella Ramsey has the hugely important role of Ellie – the girl who Joel is tasked with smuggling and with whom he forms the central relationship of the game/show.
If you’re excited for The Last of Us TV series, check out our guide to the best zombie movies.