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The Last of Us TV Show Reviews are in: What Did the Critics Think?

Pedro Pascal

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The Last of Us franchise is five days away from releasing its highly anticipated TV series on HBO, and those critics who got an early look are letting their voices be heard. The question is: did they like it?

Of course, the unique situation of reviewing a video game adaptation boils down to three possibilities: you’re either reviewing it as a lover of TV, a lover of video games, or both. While most of the reviews I’ve read so far seem to be from either of the two latter choices, it’s refreshing to read those from lovers of both TV and video games.

The show itself is said to be a faithful adaptation of the Sony series that includes two critically acclaimed games. The Last of Us 2 received near-perfect scores from most critics when it was released in 2020, and the original is already a classic.

But we want to know if the new series holds up to the road paved by the games. Can Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin and the video game’s director, Neil Druckmann, come together to make a true masterpiece? Let’s find out what the critics thought. WARNING: If you click through the links, be aware that many of these reviews contain major spoilers.

The Last of Us HBO

The Last of Us TV Show Reviews: Here’s What They Think

Entertainment Weekly: B-
“Right now, The Last of Us is less sensitive than sentimental, an end-times fable where the apocalypse is a bonding experience and guns are better anti-viral defenses than masks.”

Hollywood Reporter: No Rating
“The rushed pacing also pushes the brutality into voyeuristic sadism in certain installments, particularly the eighth, when the escalated body count loses all meaning and becomes, for want of a better criticism, the stuff of a video game rather than prestige TV.”

Rolling Stone: No Rating
“Among the many compliments I can give HBO’s The Last of Us is that it eventually made me forget that it’s based on a video game.”

TIME: No Rating
“The Last of Us is so skillfully, meticulously, and lovingly constructed—to call it TV’s best video-game adaptation would be to damn it with faint praise—that it was tempting to ignore the question that nagged at me throughout each episode: What’s the point?”

 

Mashable: No Rating
“The Last of Us artfully combines science fiction and horror to cook up genuine scares. Every dark tunnel may be crawling with the Infected, every loud sound invites an ambush — a highly stressful key mechanic in the stealth-based game. Yet as harrowing as the show can get, it’s impossible to look away. That’s in large part due to its post-apocalyptic beauty, which is both captivating and alienating.”

Polygon: No Rating
“…It’s hard to make a case for The Last of Us beyond its novelty as a video game adaptation. On its own, it’s one of dozens of zombie-filled wastelands that viewers can stream, from the U.S. and beyond. When you can choose your own apocalypse, it’s hard to say why anyone would pick this one.”

Daily Beast: No Rating
“Fittingly, given its harsh settings, the series’ violence is sudden, brutal, and final, and its moments of joy are all the more poignant for being muted and brief.”

 

IGN: 9/10
“HBO’s The Last of Us is a breathtaking adaptation of one of the most impactful stories told in video games and brilliantly brings Joel and Ellie’s journey to a whole new audience. Taking the essence of what made the original tale so enduring, it builds out the world of the game while also switching up some aspects to almost entirely stunning effect. Anchored by two outstanding lead performances from Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal, it delivers an enriching show for fans of the PlayStation hit, while also managing to stay welcomingly thrilling to newcomers.”

The 9-episode first season of The Last of Us premieres January 15th on HBO and HBO Max.

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Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at Joystiq's Massively.com, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and host of the Through the Aftermath podcast for over 11 years. He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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