The Last of Us episode 9: The biggest changes between the HBO show and the PlayStation game

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

Well, that's it. The Last of Us season 1 has concluded, and it's safe to say that the HBO adaptation has gone over well with fans of the game and newbies alike. For the most part, it's been super faithful to the source material, lifting scenes, lines, and even some frames but, of course, there have been some tweaks along the way to better suit it to TV.

The finale only differs slightly from the game, as Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) finally make it to the Fireflies – and discover the group's true intentions with the latter. Hey, they even found time to squeeze the giraffe scene in. Below, though, we go into the latest installment's small changes from the game, from original Ellie actor Ashley Johnson's role to certain missing moments.

Unsurprisingly, this article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 9, so proceed with caution if you've yet to tune in and don't want to know exactly what happens. All up to date? Let's dive in...

Ashley Johnson plays Anna, not Ellie

Ashley Johnson as Anna in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

In both The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part 2, Ashley Johnson brings Ellie to life but in the show, she plays Ellie's mother Anna, a character we don't ever see in the games.

Episode 9, titled 'Look for the Light', opens on a heavily pregnant Anna running through the woods. Soon, she stumbles across a run-down farmhouse and holes herself up in there as she realizes she's in labor. As she sits down and starts to give birth, a runner starts snarling outside the bedroom door before eventually busting its way in. The runner and Anna get into a brawl, but the latter manages to overpower the infected and stab it in the head.

In the chaos, Anna realizes newborn Ellie has arrived – and she's been bitten on the inside of her thigh. In a desperate attempt to stop the infection spreading to the littlun, Anna cuts the umbilical cord before soothing Ellie. After the opening credits, the episode sees Marlene (Merle Dandridge) find Anna and Ellie in the house – and Anna orders Marlene to kill her and take Ellie to Boston.

Marlene hesitates but eventually does as Anna says, shooting her in the head off-camera. None of this happens in the game.

Joel's scar

Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

Attention: This section contains mentions of suicide, which some readers may find distressing. 

The Last of Us season 1 has been full of heartbreaking moments, from Sarah's death in the opening episode and Sam's turning to Joel's emotionally charged heart-to-heart with his brother over the latter's future fatherhood. The finale, however, features one of its most tear-jerking sequence yet, as Joel reveals to Ellie how he got a certain scar on his head. 

While wandering through an abandoned military camp in Salt Lake City, the pair spot a bunch of hospital beds, which leads Joel to admit that he was once sent to a place like it two days into the outbreak. When Ellie asks what was wrong with him, he points to the mark on his temple, to which she teases, "Ah, the guy that shot and missed?"

"I was the guy who shot and missed," Joel says solemnly. "There's no story. Sarah died, and I couldn't see the point anymore. That was that. I wasn't scared either, I was ready. I couldn't have been more ready. Then when I, when I went to pull the trigger, I flinched... Still don't know why."

"Time heals all wounds, I guess," Ellie says, but soon realizes she's mistaken when Joel interjects, "It wasn't time that did it."

"Well, I'm glad that that didn't work out," a sorrowful Ellie says to her new best pal. "Me too," he replies.

While Game Joel doesn't make the same concrete confessional, one separate moment has had speculating over the years as to whether he'd once attempted suicide. It sees Joel and Ellie stumble into a hotel bathroom and discover two bodies in the bathtub. Ellie suggests that they took the easy way out, to which Joel claps back, "There's nothing easy about it."

There's no water-heavy sequence in the show

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

While trekking to the Fireflies lab in Salt Lake City in the final stretch of the game, Joel and Ellie are forced to descend into some underground tunnels. Down below, they come across a whole bunch of infected and have to navigate the waterway wasteland by swimming, and walking across broken down vehicles and scaffolding. 

This whole section is omitted from the show and if we had to hazard a guess why, it's because it would've been too expensive and too time-consuming to recreate. Due to not having to make itself interesting via more action-based gameplay, The Last of Us can sidestep these to make way for more dialogue-heavy set-pieces that emphasize Joel and Ellie's emotional bond instead.

The Last of Us airs on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW the following day in the UK. Make sure you're up to date with our The Last of Us release schedule or 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 8 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.