The Last of Us Timeline Change Explained

The Last of Us show’s timeline change was explained by creator Neil Druckmann and it is one of those things that there wasn’t a clear answer according to the creator.

The Last of Us Timeline Change Explained

The Last of Us Timeline Change Explained

Neil Druckmann, co-president of Naughty Dog prior to this has revealed that certain episodes of the upcoming adaption of The Last of US by HBO will “deviate greatly” from their main source material. But however, the timeline of Ellie and Joel’s on-screen adventure curiously has been tweaked also.

In the chronology of the game, the Cordyceps pandemic erupts in 2013, and with the main events of The Last of Us happening twenty years later. But however, in the HBO series, proceedings started in 2003, with the majority of the show’s story set in 2003 just as initially revealed by the promotional material of The Last of Us.

The Reason for the Change

Why the sudden change, one may ask? Well, according to Druckmann, the decision to set The Last of Us in 2003 was created to “help make the story more real”, with showrunner Craig Mazin feeling that TV shows can really benefit from taking place in familiar timelines.

And while speaking to TechRadar as a part of a roundtable interview ahead of the HBO Max debut of the show on January 15, Mazin explained: “[The decision to shift the timeline] was something I talked about with Neil very early on. It’s a subtle difference. But I have this thing about jumping into the future. I feel like, if I’m watching a show and the year is 2023, and the show takes place in 2043, it’s just a little less real. Even if I’m watching a show in 2023 and it takes place in 2016, it’s a little less real. So I thought it might be interesting to just say, ‘Hey, look, in this parallel universe, this is happening right now. This is happening this year.’”

Mazin also clarified that the decision to bring the timeline of the show forward had a tad bit impact on the nature-beaten aesthetic of the post-apocalyptic environments of The Last of Us. “Practically speaking, [the decision] didn’t change much other than giving us a slightly different palette of prompts and set design and car choices,” the creator of Chernobyl explained. “But interestingly, as we then go on through the series and keep finding new places and new relics of the old world, we keep coming back to that 2003 vibe. So it was really just about helping people connect a little bit more and nothing more than that.”

Druckmann Was Happy With the Preference of the Set

For his part, Druckmann was happy with the preference of Mazin to set The Last of Us in the present day, piggybacking on the response of his partner to say that “if it helps make [the show] more real, then it’s a worthwhile change.”

“It’s one of those things that there wasn’t clear answer for,” Druckmann stated. “We’d already moved so far away from 2013, so I felt like [the show] needed some kind of change, and I could tell how strongly Craig felt about making the bulk of the show present-day. It was one of those changes that didn’t feel like we were fundamentally changing what [The Last of Us] is about, so I bought into it.”


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