Bill and Frank's 'The Last of Us' Ending Was Originally Much, Much Different
HBO’s The Last of Us has certainly been praised for faithfully adapting its source material, but one minor change in Episode Three is the show's best decision yet. Featuring only two leading actors in Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, the detour of an episode focuses on two people who find each other—and fall in love amidst a global apocalypse.
Originally, the two men had a very different relationship than we see in the series, romance aside. In the video game, Bill (Offerman) is a survivalist who has spent his life gearing up for the end of the world. He and his partner, Frank (Bartlett), operate a small, secluded town that they’ve made their own. But after a fight, Frank leaves and things take a turn for the worst. He’s bitten by a horde of the infected, and later hangs himself so that the cordyceps infection doesn’t take him.
The show makes one small—but important—tweak in the third episode, amending the usage of the word “partner” to extend past a working relationship. Frank and Bill live in the town together as romantic partners, and they (mostly) have a lovely time surviving the apocalypse together. None of this fighting and hanging yourself nonsense. Instead, they have nice dinners with Joel, plant strawberries, paint, and build their own little oasis in the chaos. In the end, Bill and Frank go out their way—not a single infected mushroom zombie in sight.
“You meet Bill in the game as you're running through surviving, killing clickers, all the rest of it... this man hanging from the rafters is called his partner, Frank,” director Peter Hoar explained to Esquire. “And I remember when I played it, I didn't quite take that in. I didn't think partner. Oh, got to be his boyfriend. I just thought business partner… But I think it's such a relentless pace that you don't really take it in, or God, growing up as a gay man, sometimes I think those things are a trick and I shouldn't admit to seeing them, because someone will come along and go, ‘No, don't admit it. Don't catch him.’ So, I think I just went on playing the game... It's tiny, really, in the scheme of the game. But then [showrunner] Craig [Mazin] comes along and says, ‘I just want to explode that bit. I want to tell the story.’”
“I think [The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann] listens,” Hoar continued. “Neil understands his game. He understands his public. And I think he probably thought, I have opened some things for gamers out there, which maybe he didn't expect. And maybe he thought, Let's talk about characters you don't normally see, Bill being one of them.” Episode Three was, without a doubt, an amazing improvement for their story—and I’d take a whole spin-off series of Bill and Frank just living in their little town together any day of the week.
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