Here’s what song was playing at the end of The Last of Us premiere – and why it’s so important

The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us premiere signed off with Joel, Ellie, and Tess heading out of the Boston QZ but, unbeknownst to them, a coded message was playing from inside the settlement. But what was the song playing at the end of the first episode? And what does it all mean? If you can’t get that earworm out of your head, we’re here to help – as well as looking ahead to what could be down the line for Joel and Ellie as they head west.

What song was playing at the end of The Last of Us episode 1?

In the final scene of The Last of Us premiere, the radio flickers on and starts playing a song that may be familiar to many of a certain vintage: ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ by Depeche Mode. But why that song? It all revolves around a scene from a few minutes earlier.

Towards the end of the episode, Ellie is put in a room with a radio and a catalogue of Billboard’s Number One Hits. It’s soon revealed that it’s being used as a codebook of sorts with songs from different decades referring to certain codes. The B/F on the paper also seems to suggest the people on the other end of the two-way radio are Bill and Frank, two people who will be familiar to game fans and are confirmed to appear later in the series. Bill is set to be played by Nick Offerman, while Frank is played by Murray Bartlett.

As shown by a scrap of paper in Ellie’s hands, anything from the 1960s means ‘nothing in’, 1970s is ‘new stock’ and 1980s – as Ellie ingeniously finds out by relaying the title of Wham’s 1984 hit ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go to Joel after he was asleep – means "trouble."

So, yes, Depeche Mode’s song – which only reached 63 on Billboard’s Top 100 in case you were wondering – is from the 1980s. Trouble.

Essentially, everything is likely FUBAR on Bill and Frank’s end – but the extent of the trouble will only become clear once they cross paths with Joel and Ellie down the line. ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, then, is shorthand to warn viewers that whatever is outside the QZ’s walls, it’s not going to be good.

The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO in the US and Mondays on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK. For more from the HBO series, check out our guide to the major Last of Us episode 1 changes from the games and a terrifying look at the Cordyceps fungus. Discover when the next episode is dropping with our Last of Us release schedule.

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.