How HBO's 'The Last of Us' Preview Sizes Up Against the Beloved Games

An image from HBO's The Last of Us TV show has been revealed online and teases a very faithful interpretation of the original games.

The photo was uploaded to social media last night (Sunday, September 26), as part of the official The Last of Us Day 2021 celebration.

For those who do not know, this date commemorates the anniversary of when the Cordyceps infection reached critical mass in the universe of the popular video game franchise. It also happens to be the birthday of series protagonist, Joel Miller, as anybody who has played the first title's devastating cold-open will remember all too well.

Celebrating September 26 has become something of an annual tradition in The Last of Us community, with developer Naughty Dog often waiting until then to drop any surprise announcements and to release new content. Think of it a bit like the equivalent of Star Wars' May 4th event.

Historically, this occasion was known as "Outbreak Day" but, owing to the real-world COVID-19 pandemic, it has now been rebranded as the less problematic Last of Us Day.

New Image From HBO's 'The Last of Us' Revealed

While the celebration is usually focussed on the video games themselves, this year's event was a little light on major reveals. Fans were basically only really treated to the announcement of new merchandise - like a limited-edition statue manufactured by Dark Horse and a vinyl album featuring Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker performing songs featured in The Last of Us Part IIas well as a photo mode competition.

Instead, it was HBO that had to save the day, giving us our first proper look at the in-development The Last of Us TV adaptation. A production still was tweeted by the network on Sunday, accompanied by the caption "Look for the light", which is a reference to a slogan used by the in-game faction, The Fireflies.

Look for the light @HBO #TLOUDay

— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) September 27, 2021

So far, this is the only official glimpse that we have had of the show. It depicts the characters of Joel and Ellie (from behind) stood in the middle of a field overlooking a crashed airplane. While this moment does not have a direct analogue in either of the games, it is the kind of image that you come across all the time when you are exploring the post-apocalyptic landscape.

The world of The Last of Us is simultaneously bleak and beautiful, as you will often see the remnants of human civilization in places that have been totally reclaimed by nature. There are abandoned skyscrapers overgrown with vegetation, flooded shopping malls that are teeming with schools of fish, and city streets that are roamed by escaped zoo animals. The image of a plane crashed directly in the middle of a lush field, covered with vines, fits right alongside any of these scenes.

The Last of Us Remastered Screenshot
One of the most famous moments from "The Last of Us" sees Joel and Ellie overlooking a tower of Giraffes walking through Salt Lake City. Naughty Dog

As for the depictions of the characters themselves, while we cannot see their faces in the new photo their costumes look to be incredibly authentic here. Joel (played by The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal) is lugging around a taped-up backpack – which you use to store all your items in the game – and is also carrying his signature leather jacket.

Meanwhile, Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey, who you might recognize as the defiant Lyanna Mormont from the later seasons of Game of Thornes) is carrying around her backpack too, which is decorated with all the pins and badges that you see in the games. She is also sporting a red hoodie which might not be featured in any of the source material, but is the same color as her iconic jet-ski T-shirt.

The debut season of HBO's The Last of Us will adapt the first game in the series, in which a bereaved father - named Joel - must reluctantly escort a young girl - named Ellie - across a post-apocalyptic version of America.

In addition to Pascal and Ramsey, the show will also star Gabriel Luna (from Terminator: Dark Fate) as Joel's brother Tommy, Anna Torv (of Mindhunter fame) as Tess, and Nico Parke, who was last seen alongside her mother Thandie Newton in this year's Reminiscence.

Jeffery Pierce, who provided the motion capture and voice for Tommy in the games, will also have a role in the show. He will be playing an original character known as Perry.

Emmy-winner Craig Mazin (creator of Chernobyl) will be serving as showrunner for The Last of Us. He is writing all 10 episodes alongside the director of the original games, Neil Druckmann, who will also be helming at least one instalment.

The Last of Us TV Show
Image shows the first look at HBO's upcoming TV adaptation of "The Last of Us". HBO