How The Last of Us Gave Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett's Characters a Better Ending

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett took center stage in the Jan. 29 episode of HBO's The Last of Us, also starring Bella Ramsey, Anna Torv and Pedro Pascal.

By JD Knapp Jan 30, 2023 5:22 PMTags
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As Linda Ronstadt says, we think we're gonna love this for a long, long time.

Fresh off the season two renewal news, The Last of Us continued its inaugural run with an instantly iconic third episode, which saw Bella Ramsey, Anna Torv and Pedro Pascal cede the show to Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett's unexpected soulmates.

"My first reaction to the episode was surprise," Bartlett revealed in a behind-the-scenes featurette for the Jan. 29 episode. "It was this unexpected, beautiful love story in this bleak world."

The episode, which heavily featured Ronstadt's "Long Long Time," detailed the 20-year love story between Offerman's Bill and Bartlett's Frank, set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic world ravaged by raiders and zombie-like clickers. And the already-emotional focus was all the more poignant as it's something players of the original 2013 video game didn't get to see due to Frank's early, off-screen death.

"Bill and Frank are kind of opposites, really, in terms of the way that they kind of operate in the world," Bartlett continued. "Bill's super practical and not emotional and Frank is the opposite of that." Offerman echoed his co-star's sentiments, adding: "Bill is a sad character, to me, when I just envision him in the world before Frank shows up."

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And in adapting the video game for the series, co-creator Neil Druckmann, who also wrote the game, explained why it felt relevant to make a major departure in unpacking Frank's life.

"My philosophy on the show has always been, when should we deviate and when should we come back?" he shared. "If it's kind of the same or worse, we stay where the game is. If it's better, we deviate."

In fact, Druckmann admitted, "This is probably the biggest departure between the game and the show."

As fellow co-creator Craig Mazin put it, exploring Frank's life allowed the series to unlock a new insight into Bill becoming the character fans know from the game.

"We talked about using Bill, because he's on his own, as a way to follow through time and see how things changed, within the context of a man," he said. "We knew from the game that Bill had a partner, his partner was Frank. In the game, Frank is already dead and I thought there was an opportunity to go a different way."

Mazin added: "I've seen this thing 200 times, and I still cry. That's those two guys doing it to me, no question. It's remarkable, that's the dream."

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