This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us.
While we know that HBO’s The Last of Us series will make some changes to the original game’s story, recent set photos from the production of the upcoming show strongly suggest that it will still feature one of that game’s most shocking and impactful character deaths.
Before we dive into that, let’s make it clear that while we’re theorizing about the upcoming HBO series’ plot based on what happens in the games and what these set photos strongly suggest will happen in the show, it’s possible that those theories will prove to be right and that we might end up spoiling a potentially major moment from the upcoming show. At the very least, we’re absolutely going to spoil a major moment from 2013’s The Last of Us, so don’t read on if you haven’t played that game and intend to do so.
With that out of the way, take a look at these new photos from the set of HBO’s The Last of Us which appear to showcase the Jackson City location that plays a big part in both The Last of Us games:
There are a few more of these shots from the Jackson set floating around the internet, but the one thing they all have in common (besides the location, of course) is that they all prominently feature Joel, Ellie, and Joel’s brother, Tommy. A few of the shots and videos taken from the set even seemingly reveal the actress who will play Tommy’s wife, Maria.
In fact, the one major character you won’t find in any of those shots who would have certainly been introduced by the time that Joel and Ellie arrive in Jackson is Tess: Joel’s smuggling partner who we’ve previously seen in set photos from The Last of Us that focused on the show’s Boston Quarantine Zone locations.
Put it all together, and it really seems like Tess dies in the show by the time that Joel and Ellie arrive in Jackson. That obviously makes quite a bit sense given that, in the game, Tess is killed by soldiers before the group can escape Boston and continue their journey across what remains of the United States. The photos and footage above strongly suggest the show won’t alter that major plot point in any significant way.
In a way, the idea that Tess will still die in the show at around the same point that she does in the game feels like a given. Her death is a crucial part of the original game’s narrative and is honestly the moment that leads to Joel and Ellie really developing a relationship without Tess there as the link that binds them.
On the other hand, we still don’t know how far the series will ultimately deviate from the game’s story. It’s almost inevitable that the series will need to change or expand upon certain elements of the games (due to the difference in mediums alone), but it’s not clear how far the show is willing to go when it comes to altering one of the most beloved video game stories of all-time.
What these photos strongly suggest, though, is that The Last of Us series’ story will likely play out roughly as it does in the original game at least up until the point that Joel and Ellie reach Jackson. That isn’t to say that there won’t be a few minor changes and differences up until that point, but based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Tess’ death, and the fallout of that event, won’t be seriously altered.
What happens after that remains to be seen…