The Last of Us Creators Debated Letting One Episode 5 Character Live

Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 5.The Last of Us showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann reveal they debated letting a character who does in the game live in the show. In The Last of Us episode 5, titled « Endure and Survive, » Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) escape the city with Sam (Keivonn Montreal Woodard) and Henry (Lamar Johnson). Like in the original video game, Sam is bitten on the leg after an altercation with an infected and turns the next day, which causes Henry to kill him and commit suicide.

Now, on the latest episode of The Last of Us Podcast, Mazin explains that he had almost let Henry live in The Last of Us episode 5, even after killing Sam by his own hands.

Reflecting how brutal of a moment it is in the game, Mazin and Druckmann recall their long conversations on how to approach this pivotal moment in the series while also revealing that Henry almost lived in the game. Check out what they said on the matter (via Winter is Coming), below:

Mazin: « I was really nervous about this ending. In the game, it was so shocking and so brutal. But I also knew, like… I remember the screen goes black, and then we move ahead, and it’s a different season. And I go [deep inhale], and I’m just breathing, but I’m watching [Joel and Ellie] in a different moment, a different time and place, and then I can keep kind of going. But we don’t let you keep going, we know we have to stop this episode. And so the question is, ‘Should Henry kill himself or not? »

Druckmann: « We had a lot of long conversations. I don’t know if we should get into the alternatives because people might get mad at us that there were alternatives. But… it’s almost an identical process to what we went through in the game, because in the game, initially, Henry didn’t die. But again, it’s like if you’re trying to reflect the worst possible outcome for a parent, I felt like we had to take it all the way to show, like, then you have nothing left. There’s nothing left. »

How Henry Surviving Episode 5 Would’ve Changed The Last of Us

As Mazin and Druckmann explain, handling Henry’s suicide in The Last of Us was a precarious situation for both the show and the original game. In the game, the character’s death is a turning point for Joel and Ellie, who first attached themselves to Sam and Henry until things worsen. While gamers do not see the aftermath of their deaths head-on, as compared to the series, which sees Joel and Ellie digging their graves, it still is an important moment that further develops their character arcs – especially near the end where Joel is tormented by sacrificing Ellie to the Fireflies for the greater good of human society or letting her live.

Letting Henry live in the show would’ve certainly been a surprising twist, but it’s one that may have also alienated audiences who have consistently praised the series for staying faithful to the original game’s main story while expanding on elements only briefly mentioned. The show does expand more on Henry and Sam’s arcs by giving them a flashback sequence that leads to their encounter with Joel and Ellie at the beginning of episode 5.

However, it doesn’t veer too much from what occurs in the game, and it’s part of the reason why the show is a hit among critics and fans of the original source material. While both The Last of Us video games have had their fair share of criticisms, letting Henry survive would’ve hampered Joel and Ellie’s character development while also dissatisfying fans of the game in the process. The impact is even more emotional when the following scenes show Joel and Ellie burying them before moving on to find Tommy (Gabriel Luna). Most changes from the original game have been an improvement for HBO’s adaptation, but in the case of The Last of Us episode 5, sticking to the game’s story was clearly the right choice.

Source: The Last of Us Podcast