The Last of Us creators explain why Tess' death was changed for the show

23 January 2023, 15:45

By Katie Louise Smith

The Last of Us co-creators explain why episode 2's major death was changed from the original game, and how it affects the HBO show moving forward. [Spoilers ahead!]

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After an intense opening episode, HBO's The Last of Us has already cemented itself as must-watch Sunday night TV.

The Last of Us episode 2 continued on with the story, as Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) set off on a dangerous mission in exchange for a car battery, with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in tow. What follows is an intense encounter with the infected, a shock reveal (for those who haven't played the game) and another huge death. (First Sarah's devastating death in episode 1, and now this!?)

However, the death in question is considerably different in the HBO show than it is in the original game. Co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have now explained why they decided to change it.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE LAST OF US EPISODE 2!

The Last of Us: How does Tess die in the games? Here's why her death was changed
The Last of Us: How does Tess die in the games? Here's why her death was changed. Picture: HBO

How does Tess die in the HBO series?

Tess’ death in the HBO comes at the end of the second episode. After a confrontation with the infected, Tess ends up getting infected herself as she's bitten earlier in the episode.

After revealing her condition to Joel and Ellie, she urges Joel to continue on with Ellie and uses her own bite as proof that Ellie is not infected.

The trio then end up getting swarmed by a huge group of the infected and Tess devises a plan to stay behind and help Joel and Ellie escape. As the infected enter the building and surround Tess, one of them locks onto her, walks over slowly and kisses her, allowing the tendrils of the cordyceps to weave into her open mouth.

She then finally manages to get the lighter working, setting the place on fire and blowing up the building with her and the infected inside.

How does Tess die in The Last of Us game?

Tess' death in the game is somewhat similar to the show, but the way in which she dies and who ends up killing her is completely different.

In the game, Tess gets bitten by the infected and reveals her wound to Joel. Like in the show, she then uses it to prove that Ellie is fine, and urges Joel to continue on with the teenager.

However, instead of being attacked by the infected and blowing herself up, Tess dies at the hands of FEDRA in the game.

The Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) manage to catch up with Joel and Tess, as they try to get hold of Ellie. Tess then stays behind and acts as a distraction while Joel and Ellie move on. Tess attempts to kill as many as possible, before dying off-screen. The gameplay shows Joel overlooking the lobby as it's confirmed Tess has been killed.

Tess is kissed by an infected before blowing herself up in HBO's The Last of Us
Tess is kissed by an infected before blowing herself up in HBO's The Last of Us. Picture: HBO

Why was Tess’ death changed for the show?

Speaking about the reasoning behind changing Tess' death for the HBO series, co-creator Craig Mazin revealed it's because they thought it wouldn't have made sense for FEDRA to be at the capitol building.

"Why would FEDRA even be here? What are they doing? There's nothing there for them to police, really. It didn't make much sense to me to have FEDRA all the way out there," Mazin said on HBO's official TLOU companion podcast.

"We wanted a chance to show a different result of being infected, which was not one of mere violence or horror, but rather a sick kind of community. Now, at the end, we had an opportunity to show how connected they were," he added, explaining the reason behind that horrifying 'kiss of death' and the fact that the infected are all part of a hive mind.

Additionally, co-creator Neil Druckmann (who also wrote the game) explained to Entertainment Weekly that Tess' encounter with the infected in the show illustrates that "these things don't have to get violent unless you're fighting them from spreading [the infection] further."

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