The Last of Us: How Tess’ Story Is Different In the Games

Written by on January 23, 2023

How Is Tess’ Death Different In The Last of Us HBO Show vs. The Last of Us Game?

In HBO’s The Last of Us, we watch in horror as Tess reveals to Joel and Ellie that she was bitten during the trio’s excursion out of the quarantine zone. All too aware of her eventual fate, she urges Joel to complete their assignment and escort Ellie. Shortly thereafter, she finds herself surrounded by infected. One of the infected even tries to give her what could most horrifyingly be described as a kind of “kiss” that will presumably complete the assimilation process.

Thankfully, Tess manages to hold off the infected long enough to trigger an explosion that consumes her, the infected, and a good portion of the Massachusetts State House. However, Joel and Ellie escape as a result of her sacrifice.

Many of the key details of Tess’ death are the same in both the show and the game. The location is (roughly) the same, Tess is bitten in both scenarios, and Tess makes it clear to Joel that she wants him to complete their assignment without her. In the games, though, Tess doesn’t take out a horde of infected before she dies. In fact, Tess isn’t killed by the infected (or an explosion) at all.

See, in The Last of Us game, Tess is actually killed by a group of FEDRA soldiers who have been pursuing Tess, Joel, and Ellie since they left the quarantine zone. Tess, aware that she has been bitten, urges Joel and Ellie to go on while she stays behind to deal with the FEDRA soldiers and buy the two the time they need to escape. While Tess fires at the pursuing soldiers in order to keep them occupied, she’s not able to kill all (or perhaps any) of them. Indeed, Joel soon sees the aftermath of Tess’ last stand for himself and confirms beyond any doubt that she was shot and killed by the soldiers during the conflict.

While that’s not a huge change in the grand scope of The Last of Us‘ epic narrative, it is a pretty notable minor difference that does alter the fate of a beloved character. So why did the show’s writers make that change? Well, I’m glad you asked…

Why Tess’ Death Was Changed For The Last of Us HBO Show

During an interview with HBO’s The Last of Us podcast, series co-creator Craig Mazin revealed that they decided to change some of the details of Tess’ death in order to address a plot inconsistency in the game and to ensure that the vital moment better fit some of the show’s reworked themes and details.

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