The Last of Us creators reveal Tess’s tragic backstory that didn’t make it into the show – or the game

Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) in The Last of Us episode 1
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us creators reveal they wrote a tragic backstory for Tess (Anna Torv) – but we’ll never get to see it. Spoilers for The Last of Us episode 2 follow.

"We wrote it, but we never shot it: it was a little bit of a backstory for Tess," Craig Mazin revealed on the HBO show’s official podcast (opens in new tab).

"Tess had a kid. She had a husband and she had a son, and they were infected. She had to kill them. She killed her husband, but she could not kill her son. She couldn’t do it. She locked him in the basement, where theoretically he’s still a clicker." 

Neil Druckmann, who also directed The Last of Us episode 2, added, "We had a cold open where the camera pushed on this door and you hear the pounding coming from this basement. Later, Tess would tell the story of how she couldn’t kill her son." 

Tess’s story, then, is even more tragic knowing what we now know about her past – and puts a mirror up to her relationship with Joel, who lost his own child after the outbreak.

Tess’s death, meanwhile, has not been warmly received by some fans of the games. The major change from the source material saw Anna Torv’s smuggler being ‘kissed’ by the tendrils of an infected person before her death. 

For more on how the show deviates from Naughty Dog’s classic, check out our guide to The Last of Us episode 2 changes. Plus, keep on top of everything coming your way with our rundown of new TV shows.

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.