The Last of Us showrunners reveal the "boring" original idea for the premiere’s opening

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us showrunners have outlined their original "boring" idea for the premiere’s first moments –  and why we got the surprising cold open instead.

While we eventually got a scene from a '60s fictional television panel involving epidemiologists debating the perils of a world-ending fungal infection, the first idea was based on a video from a BBC documentary.

"I pitched [the cold open] twice," Craig Mazin said on HBO’s The Last of Us podcast (opens in new tab). "The first time I pitched it, [co-showrunner Neil Druckmann] was like 'ehh' – or we can do the video. It’s Planet Earth, you can watch this beautiful demonstration of how cordyceps works (opens in new tab), how it takes over an ant. It tells you everything you need to know. What we decided to do was make our own video like that." 

Mazin said it was "interesting, but not necessarily compelling", with Druckmann being more brutal, describing it as "boring."

"It was a little boring to watch. It was a little bit like we’re in social studies class,” Mazin joked. "I had written this [other] thing early as if I had found a transcript of an old Dick Cavett from 1969. I remember showing it to Neil and he was like, 'This is a little weird.'"

Mazin continued, "We’re about 3-4 weeks away from wrapping… and I am not thrilled with this opening. I sent it to [Neil] again and this time he was like ‘ooh!’"

Discover when each episode is set to drop with The Last of Us release schedule. Then join us as we dive deeper into the first episode's biggest changes from the games.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.