The Last of Us episode 2: The biggest changes between the HBO show and the PlayStation game

Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us TV show
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Last of Us premiere may have expanded and elaborated on multiple moments from the PlayStation classic on which it's based, but The Last of Us episode 2 is relatively restrained in how much it changes from the game. 

As you’ll discover in our rundown of the major differences from the games to the TV show, however, 'Infected' still features a handful of story beats and deviations that could pay off down the line – and are well worth paying attention to.

From a completely original opening scene to a sudden change to the death of a major character, here's every change The Last of Us episode 2 makes compared to the games as Joel, Tess, and Ellie make their way through Boston.

Unsurprisingly, this article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 2, so proceed with caution if you've yet to tune in and don't want to know exactly what happens. All up to date? Well, let's get into it...

Day One in Jakarta

An 'Infected' from The Last of Us TV show

(Image credit: Netflix)

Much like the premiere, The Last of Us episode 2 includes a completely original sequence to flesh out some lore. Set in Jakarta in 2003, mycology professor Ibu Ratna is brought to a government building to examine a dead woman with a tendril in her mouth and a human bite on her foot.

This appears to be the show outlining the origins of the outbreak for the first time – which has led to one fan theorizing that flour is the key cause of the situation. Jakarta, for those wondering, is also home to the world's largest flour mill. The plot thickens...

Ratna realizes the futility of the situation and suggests to the government official that the best course of action would be to bomb the city to stop the spread of the infection.

While The Last of Us (and its sequel) refer to FEDRA and government units carpet bombing areas surrounding QZs after Outbreak Day, the HBO series makes explicit reference to the initial response. Not only does Ratna suggest an immediate bombing of Jakarta, but Tess also later reveals the craters in Boston were the result of a similar strategy.

Infection connection

Clicker in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

While there are clearly dangerous non-monster characters present in The Last of Us show, it seems to be focusing hard on the threat of the infected – and tweaking lore there, too. In episode 1, we learned that the Cordyceps brain infection was spread via tendrils, not spores as it is in the game, and in episode 2, Tess tells Ellie – and in turn, us as viewers – that the infected are actually... connected.

"The fungus also grows underground. Long fibers like wires; some of them stretching over a mile. You step on a patch of Cordyceps in one place, you can wake a dozen infected from somewhere else. Now they know where you are, now they come. You're not immune from being ripped apart," she ominously tells the bitten youngster. While she has yet to (and presumably won't) turn, Ellie is technically infected. Might this new information mean something in future episodes?

Tess, Joel and Ellie's first clicker encounter and flooded locations

The Last of Us HBO

(Image credit: Netflix)

Tess, Joel, and Ellie's trek through Boston is broadly the same as the game, heading from the streets to the museum, and then to the Capitol Building. There are a handful of minor changes to take note of, however. 

In the game, the trio encounter a clicker for the first time slightly earlier on their journey, not just in the museum. The show also cuts out FEDRA's presence entirely – most notably the section where you must avoid soldiers' searchlights to escape the outskirts of the QZ.

Among the sprinkling of tweaks only The Last of Us vets would notice, it's worth pointing out that much of their trip through Boston is set at night in the game. In the show, it all takes place during the day – with the episode beginning after Ellie wakes up.

The HBO series also conflates a series of moments from later in the PlayStation title, particularly the flooded interiors which don't really crop up until Joel and Ellie leave Bill in Lincoln.

In the show, Ellie also mentions she can't swim before Tess's death, whereas in the games it comes after. In a cute nod to the games' (over) reliance on water puzzles, Ellie simply walks through waist-high floods instead of Joel fetching a wooden palette to ferry her across deeper bodies of water.

Tess's death

Anna Torv as Tess in HBO's The Last of Us

(Image credit: Netflix)

In both the HBO series and the first game, Tess sacrifices herself in the Capitol building after being bit during the earlier assault by clickers in the museum. The end result may be the same, but the method of her death and the opposing forces she meets is very different in the show.

Instead of FEDRA soldiers rushing the building, it's a horde of clickers that descend on the main entrance. The clickers also perish in a fire after Tess douses the floor in oil and sets it alight. In the games, her death takes place off screen in a blaze of gunfire.

Tess's very final moment is also incredibly different. She is 'connected' to a clicker via the tendril – almost as if the fungus is 'kissing' Tess.

Tess tells Joel to go straight to Bill and Frank's

Nick Offerman as Bill in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

In The Last of Us game, Joel travels to Lincoln, Massachussetts, where his survivalist "pal" Bill lives, because he and Ellie are in desperate need of a car. Trekking out West is just not feasible on foot, and competent but cantankerous Bill is usually pretty reliable when it comes to supplies. 

After losing Tess in the Capitol building, game Joel finds a note near a corpse in the flooded subway. The letter reveals that the deceased, when they were alive, was set to meet a smuggler who'd sneak him into the Boston QZ. Later, when Joel catches up to Bill and asks about a vehicle, he and Ellie learn that the remains belong to Bill's former partner, Frank.

Towards the end of episode 2, however, right before she's about to sacrifice herself to a bunch of clickers, Tess urges Joel to take Ellie to Bill and Frank – and even suggests that he convince the pair of them to escort the youngster to the Fireflies while he carries on looking for his missing brother Tommy. This is a much more deliberate instruction to Joel, rather than a mid-journey change of plans and we'll be intrigued to see how it plays out in the Bill and Frank-centric third chapter.

Unlike episode 1, episode 2 only features one new character worth mentioning

Christine Hakim as Ibu Ratna in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

While The Last of Us episode 1 introduced a handful of new characters that didn't feature in the game, 'Infected' is a much more streamlined effort, predominantly centred on Ellie, Tess, and Joel. 

With that, there isn't really much time to welcome any fresh faces, apart from Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim), mentioned above. We're not likely to see her again but she sure makes an impact in the few scenes she's in.


The Last of Us continues on Sunday, January 29 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky and NOW the following day. To ensure you never miss an episode, keep an eye on our The Last of Us release schedule as the first season rolls out.

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.

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