The Last of Us: Stage 5 Infection Explained

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There is no doubt that the infected are the most dangerous aspect of the world of The Last of Us, as they were responsible for the fall of civilization. The scarier part is that infected that are able to live long go through several stages of infection based on how long they have been infected. While Clickers, the third stage of infection, are some of the most dangerous, we know that the fourth stage is just as dangerous. But is there a fifth stage of infection in The Last of Us, and what is it?

Officially, there is no stage 5 infection in The Last of Us, but there are infection levels that can be classified as the fifth stage of infection. Shamblers are often considered the alternate fourth stage, but they might be the fifth stage. The Rat King, a special stage, can also be the fifth stage.

The thing about the infected is that they get scarier and stronger the longer they have been infected, and that’s why the world still struggles against them 20 years after the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) started. In that regard, Joel and Ellie have their hands full, especially because they have to contend with some of the strongest levels of infection. And it is possible that they could end up going up against the stage 5 infection.

Is There A Stage 5 Infection In The Last Of Us?

In the storyline of The Last of Us, one of the things that we know is that those who have been infected by the Cordyceps Brain Infection are only going to get stronger and scarier the longer they have been infected. This stays true to the nature of the Cordyceps infection that happens in nature as insects that have been infected longer tend to undergo several levels of physical changes due to the fungus.

Of course, we have seen some of the stages of the infection in The Last of Us, and the two most common are the Runners and the Clickers. The Runners are the most common, but we’ve also seen two Clickers in the show so far, as these were the ones responsible for infecting Tess. Runners are the first stage of the infection, while the Clickers are in the third stage of the infection.

Clickers are far stronger than Runners and are not as common due to the fact that a person needs to be infected for at least a year to turn into a Clicker. But we know for a fact that, as strong as a Clicker may be, they are not the strongest. That’s because Bloaters, the fourth stage of the Cordyceps infection, are stronger than Clickers. And from what we’ve seen in the trailer, we are set to see a Bloater sometime in the future.


While Clickers are incredibly strong and durable, Bloaters are on an entirely different level. But it takes years for an infected to turn into a Bloater, and that’s why they are very rare in the world of The Last of Us. But what comes after a Bloater? Is there a fifth level of infection in The Last of Us?

As of the moment, there is no confirmation whether or not there is a fifth level of infection in The Last of Us. The stage 5 infection is something that we have never seen in the games. Nevertheless, we are not dismissing the possibility that there is a stage 5 Cordyceps infection due to the fact that there are two other types of infected that are just as strong or even stronger than the Bloater.


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Of course, the Bloater is often considered the final stage of infection due to the fact that there is no true stage 5 infection in The Last of Us. But there is still a good chance that we will see one in future installments of the video game franchise or even in the future episodes of HBO’s live-action version of The Last of Us.

What Is The Final Stage Of Infection In The Last Of Us?

Officially, the Bloater is actually the final stage of infection in The Last of Us. But the thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that there are other stages of infection that aren’t necessarily level 5 but aren’t weaker than the Bloater. We can even say that these stages are just as dangerous or even more dangerous than the Bloater.

Often called the alternate fourth stage of the Cordyceps infection, the Shambler is a type of infected that can be found in wet places or in regions with high amounts of water. In that regard, if the Clicker is exposed to an area that tends to be quite wet, it will turn into a Shambler through time instead of a Bloater.

The existence of the Shambler was actually hinted at by Ellie during the events of episode 2 when she asked whether or not there are infected that can pop their heads open and shoot spores out of them. Joel and Tess gave each other a look as if they were implying that something could not exist. This implies that it is possible that they are yet to encounter a Shambler.

Of course, Shamblers are dangerous because they can shoot spores and release them to infect nearby people. While they aren’t as mobile or as strong as Clickers and Bloaters, the fact that they can infect people easier makes them very dangerous. And the difference here is that the fungal growth only partially covers their eyes, and that means that Shamblers can still see.


The second stage of infection that could quite possibly be the stage 5 infection is called the Rat King. Officially, the Rat King is not even a stage of infection as it was only a rare and special occurrence that happened once in the game. That means that it is a rare phenomenon.

What makes the Rat King unique is the fact that it is actually made up of several different infected that merged into one. The infected that make up the Rat King still retain their individuality. However, they all operate under one hivemind after merging, as they are now connected by the Cordyceps fungus. That means that the Rat King is just one huge infected composed of multiple Stalkers, Clickers, and a Bloater.


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In the game, it was suggested that the Rat King was composed of some of the first people that were infected in Seattle. They were trapped in one room, and that was what forced the Cordyceps fungus to merge all of the bodies into one 25 years after the infection broke out.

Of course, as a special occurrence, the Rat King is not part of the official infection stages in The Last of Us, considering that it could only happen if the conditions are right. Nevertheless, the Rat King is still a fearsome opponent that could appear in the series in the future.

So, with all that said, there is no true final infection stage that comes after the Bloater. While the Shambler and the Rat King are special cases that are just as strong or even stronger than the Bloater, we can’t say for sure that they are a level higher than stage 4.

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