The Last of Us TV show is scaling back the violence, says Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann

The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us video games may be lauded for its intimate storytelling in a world gone very, very wrong, but it’s the moment-to-moment violence that stands out. Heads are caved in, brains are splattered over walls, and the PlayStation series' grisly death animations have become notorious for the vivid detail in which it shows protagonists Joel and Ellie meeting their end before hitting game over.

The Last of Us TV show, which is hitting HBO, NOW TV, and Sky Atlantic this January, is scaling back on that violence – and for good reason.

“We need a certain amount of action, or violence, that we could use for mechanics so you could connect with Joel and get into a flow state,” show co-creator and Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann says of the video game in the upcoming issue of SFX magazine, which features Teen Wolf on the cover. "Then you would really feel like you’re connected with this on-screen avatar and you’re seeing the world through his eyes."

Druckmann continues, "But that doesn’t exist in a passive medium. One of the things that I loved hearing from [co-creator Craig Mazin] and HBO very early on was, ‘Let’s take out all the violence except for the very essential.’ That allowed the violence to have even more impact than in the game, because when you hold on showing the threat and you’re seeing people’s reaction to a threat, that makes it scarier. And when we do reveal the infected and the Clickers, you get to see what brought down humanity and why everyone is so scared."

The Last of Us is coming to Sky Atlantic and NOW TV from January 16 and on HBO in the US. You can read more on The Last of Us in the Teen Wolf issue of SFX Magazine, on newsstands from December 28. For even more from SFX, sign up for the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.

Freelance Writer

Tara is the NYT bestselling author (or co-author) of 30 movie and TV companion books including the upcoming official history of Marvel Studios. She's also a freelance journalist with bylines at print and online publications such as: SCI FI Magazine, Total Film, SYFY Wire,, Fandom, Fandango/, Fancast, Newsarama, Star Wars: Insider, Walking Dead Magazine, Star Trek Magazine, LOST: The Official Magazine, Alias Magazine, 24 Magazine, and She is also the U.S. Editor for the world’s premiere sci-fi/fantasy publication, SFX Magazine. She is the host and producer for SYFY Wire’s official podcasts for USA Network’s, Colony, HISTORY's Project Blue Book official podcast, and the Lost retrospective, Through the Looking Glass co-hosted with Maureen Ryan.

With contributions from