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Let's take a closer look at HBO's The Last of Us trailer, including Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson's cameos


This weekend, we got another look at HBO's upcoming The Last of Us TV adaptation.

I am a big The Last of Us fan (something you may have noticed), and have watched this trailer multiple times already. Now, for your pleasure, I have pulled out some of the little details that you may have missed on a first watch.

As a quick recap before we dive on in, you can see this trailer below. Please note, after the video I will be discussing points that could be considered spoilers for Naughty Dog's video game series. If you are keen to avoid these, this is your cue to head elsewhere.

"If you don't think there is hope for the world, why bother going on?"

The first things to bring to your attention are the previously-announced cameos from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who play Joel and Ellie in the original games.

This latest show trailer has given us a closer look at their characters and, rather touchingly, it is now confirmed that Johnson will be playing Ellie's mother, Anna Williams.

Ashley Johnson as Anna Williams (I have made this image brighter so you can see her face better).

Anna is a character we never see in the games, but thanks to in-game references, dialogue in Left Behind and the American Dreams comic series, we know a bit more about her character.

At some point she became friends with Marlene, and after the outbreak began she gave birth to Ellie. Anna died soon after Ellie was born, but before she passed Anna wrote a note to Ellie and entrusted Marlene to take care of her.

This note reads:


I'm going to share a secret with you, I'm not a big fan of kids and I hate babies. And yet... I'm staring at you and I'm just awestruck.

You're not even a day old and holding you is the most incredible thing I've done in my life - a life that is about to get cut a little short.

Marlene will look after you. There's no one in this world I trust more than her. When the time comes she'll tell you all about me. Don't give her too much of a hard time. Try not to be as stubborn as me.

I'm not going to lie, this is a pretty messed up world. It won't be easy. The thing you always have to remember is that life is worth living! Find your purpose and fight for it.

I see so much strength in you. I know you'll turn out to be the woman you're meant to be. Forever... your loving mother


Make me proud, Ellie!

The letter from Anna in The Last of Us (Page 1).
The letter from Anna in The Last of Us (Page 2).

Troy Baker will play James, who is one of David's men in The Last of Us. As a reminder, David runs a group of cannibalistic survivors.

In the game David, and by extension his gang, act as antagonists in The Last of Us' Winter chapter. Below you can see Baker's character to the left (as you look at the screen) of Scott Shepherd's David, along with an image of his in-game counterpart.

Troy Baker as James, with Scott Shepherd as David, in HBO's The Last of Us.
James with David in The Last of Us (video game).

According to IMDB, Baker will only appear in one episode of the upcoming show, while Johnson will appear in three.

As for David, here he is threatening Bella Ramsey's Ellie with a meat cleaver - yes, I can tell I am going to dislike him as much in the show as I did in the game.

Scott Shepherd as David.
David in Naughty Dog's video game.

This trailer also gives us a closer, and quite emotional, look at the show's focus on family.

Along with Pedro Pascal's Joel and Bella Ramsey's Ellie, we also see brothers Henry (played by Lamar Johnson) and Sam (played by Keivonn Woodard), couple Bill (played by Nick Offerman) and Frank (played by Murray Bartlett), as well as new characters Marlon and Florence, who are a "married couple surviving alone in the wilderness of post-apocalyptic Wyoming" (played by Graham Greene and Elaine Miles).

Below you can see these characters and, where relevant, their video game counterparts.

Keivonn Woodard as Sam.
Sam with Ellie in the game.
Lamar Johnson as Henry.
Henry in the game.
Nick Offerman as Bill.
Bill in the game.
Murray Bartlett as Frank.
The couple take on fire.
Graham Greene as Marlon.
Elaine Miles as Florence.

On the subject of family, this trailer also offers us a taste of how Joel and Ellie's relationship will develop over the course of the series. At the start, Joel tells Ellie she is not family, she is "cargo". However, as the trailer progresses the growing love between them is evident. "You might not be her father, but you were someone's," Henry comments.

Ellie asks if she is family.
Joel remains straight faced and serious as he tells Ellie she is cargo.

Now, this wouldn't be The Last of Us without us addressing the clicker in the room. Oh, and the bloater, runner and stalker. Yes, the four stages of the Cordyceps infection have now been shown off in their goosebump-inducing glory thanks to HBO's latest spot.

We saw two stages of infection in HBO's previous The Last of Us trailer - runners and clickers.

Runners are the first, and also weakest, stage of The Last of Us' infected enemies. In the games, they can swarm players in large numbers, but their attacks are quite sluggish. The second stage of the series' infection, however, creates enemies known as stalkers.

Stalkers are fast and deadly in Naughty Dog's games, and they look just as fast in HBO's show. Our brief glimpse of the stalker in the recent trailer shows the infected on all fours aggressively scurrying across the screen - and I won't lie, it terrifies me.

HBO's take on The Last of Us' stalkers.

Now for the fourth stage of the Cordyceps infection.

In an incredibly impactful shot, which incidentally rounded off the trailer, we see the series' bloater rising ominously from its fiery surroundings. This fire makes me wonder if this is the same scene as the image above with Bill and Frank, and if this means this is when Frank gets infected.

HBO's take on The Last of Us' bloaters.

I mentioned earlier that this trailer has a focus on family, and the love that comes with it. Well, it also provides us with a look at some of the humour that we can also expect.

As with the video games, especially Part 1, Ramsey's Ellie clearly has a playful sense of humour. The trailer shows us the moments after Ellie reveals her immunity to Tess (played by Anna Torv) and Joel.

Ellie shows her scar, proving her immunity.

While the adults discuss what to do with this new information, Ellie comments that the Fireflies were impressed that she hadn't turned into a monster, before the scene cuts to her jokingly starting to twitch as though she is about to transform.

She is stopped by a curt "don't" from Tess, and Ellie's a-dork-able awkwardness here made me smile.

Ellie pretends to transform.
It got awkward.

Next, I want to talk about scenes from the trailer that can be compared directly to the same scenes from the games.

Firstly, here is Ellie with Storm Reid's Riley in the photo booth (from The Last of Us' DLC, Left Behind).

Say cheese!
Ellie and Riley in the Left Behind DLC.

Secondly, here is Ellie crossing between buildings by walking along a plank while being escorted by Joel and Tess.

Ellie crosses safely in HBO's adaptation.
And the same moment from the game.

Next up, here are Joel, Ellie and Tess approaching the Capitol building in the show and in the game.

Joel, Ellie and Tess approach the Capitol Building in the show.
Approaching the Capitol in Part 1.

Lastly, I want to draw your attention to the militia group patrolling the streets in what I think is Kansas City.

The show's producers have previously announced that Melanie Lynskey will portray a new character named Kathleen, who will reportedly be a "ruthless leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City". I think these frames might just be showing that group in action.

Kathleen's group?
Kathleen herself (image from previous trailer).

The Last of Us' TV adaptation will debut on 15th January in the US, which makes for a 16th January launch here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Will you be watching?

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The Last of Us Part I


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About the Author
Victoria Kennedy avatar

Victoria Kennedy

News Reporter

Victoria developed a deep love for video games watching her brothers barrel their way through Goldeneye 007. She will unashamedly spout forth all sorts of niche Zelda lore to anyone who will listen (and even at times to those who won't), and makes the best pancakes you have ever seen.