The Last of Us episode 4: 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
(Image credit: HBO)

Following last week's slight departure from Ellie and Joel's journey out west, The Last of Us episode 4 centers entirely around the twosome as they find themselves facing new threats in Kansas City, a location not featured in the original PlayStation game. And that's not the only deviation from the source material across its 45-minute runtime.

Elsewhere, we get introduced to mysterious new character Kathleen (played by Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey) and learn more about what Joel's brother Tommy got up to before he ran away from the Boston QZ. Below, we delve into all that and more as we highlight the big changes between the series' fourth chapter and the source material.

Unsurprisingly, this article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 4, 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...

Kansas City location

The Last of Us episode 4

(Image credit: HBO)

Having pinched a car and a whole bunch of supplies from Bill's Town, The Last of Us episode 4 sees Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) continue on their travels to Wyoming. Midway, they pass through Kansas City, and get seriously waylaid when Joel crashes their vehicle during an ambush and they're forced to try and find another mode of transport. 

Kansas City doesn't feature in the game, but we can assume it was inspired by the section set in Pittsburgh. In the source material, hunters control the metropolis having overthrown FEDRA and the military, which resembles the events of the episode. Joel also crashes their car into a grocery store in Pittsburgh. Finally, at the very end of 'Please Hold My Hand', we meet Sam and Henry, too, two characters who Game Joel and Game Ellie cross paths with in the Pennsylvania spot.

Ellie kills a man

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

Technically, Joel strikes the killing blow on the bandit in Kansas City, but Ellie's first "kill" is still slightly different to the games.

In 2013's The Last of Us, Ellie shoots a man trying to drown Joel in a flooded hotel lobby. "I shot the hell out of that guy, huh?" she quips as she gets her hands dirty for the first time. In the show, she also saves Joel – this time shooting and paralyzing a man during an ambush. Joel, though, is the one to finish the job while Ellie heads through the crawl space and away from the brutal scene. So: same means, but a different location.

The HBO series also heavily hints that Ellie has killed before – something that isn't the case in the PlayStation game.

Sam and Henry being hunted

Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

In the game, Henry and his 13-year-old brother Sam are passing through Pittsburgh having fled Hartford, Connecticut. Like many survivors, they stopped in the city to scavenge supplies but find themselves getting ambushed by crooks and hunters who have taken over the location. 

In the show, they seem to have been based in Pittsburgh and are now on the run from ruthless rebellion leader Kathleen. While their appearances are pretty blink-and-you'll-miss-them in episode 4, we do glimpse Henry and Sam, played by Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Montreal Woodard respectively.

We don't actually meet them, unless you count episode 4's dramatic cliffhanger, but Henry is namedropped several times. At this stage, all we know is that Kathleen is after Henry because he gave up information about her late brother to FEDRA. We're bound to find out more very soon, given that Henry and Sam stumbled across a sleeping Joel and Ellie in the final moments of 'Please Hold My Hand'.

Tommy's backstory

Gabriel Luna as Tommy Miller in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

In episode 4, we get a peek into Tommy's history with Joel from 2003 onwards.

As Joel tells Ellie, Tommy is a "joiner". He tagged along with Tess's group for an indeterminate amount of time, then followed the Fireflies, having met the organization's leader Marlene. He later left their faction – though he and Joel are still on good terms. We also learn definitively that Tommy was a war vet who enlisted just before Operation Desert Storm.

The major diversion here from the games is that Joel and Tommy still speak after Tommy's split from the Fireflies. There, they have a period of around four-to-five years without seeing each other, with Tommy now living in Jackson, Wyoming. It's unclear if that's a location that will appear in the HBO series.

Episode 4 introduces a couple of new, original characters

Jeffrey Pierce as Perry in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

Kathleen is arguably the most interesting new character introduced in The Last of Us episode 4, but she's not the only one. Jeffrey Pierce, who voices Tommy in the game, stars as her gun-toting, beard-sporting right-hand man Perry, while Jon Getz plays a doctor Kathleen executes in her blinkered pursuit of Henry. 

Finally, Juan Magana brings bandit Bryan to life. Much like the doctor, though, he won't be in any future episodes...

The Last of Us continues on Sunday, February 5 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW TV the following day in the UK. Make sure you never miss an episode by checking out our The Last of Us release schedule and our breakdown of how many episodes are in The Last of Us.

For more from the series, check out our guide to the major Last of Us episode 3 changes from the games and a terrifying look at the Cordyceps fungus

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.

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