What Disease Does Frank Have in The Last of Us?

old frank

Episode 3 of HBO’s The Last of Us allowed us to meet new characters in Bill and Frank, who both aren’t entirely new to video game fans but were given a deeper story in the live-action version. The one aspect of episode 3 that made it one of the best and most heart-wrenching stories in television history is the fact that Bill and Frank were lovers who, against all odds in a dog-eat-dog world, were able to find love and purpose in one another. Then again, things weren’t going to end happily ever after for them due to Frank’s terminal disease. So, what disease did Frank have in The Last of Us?

Frank’s disease was never mentioned in The Last of Us, but there is a good chance that it could either be Parkinson’s disease or cancer. The clue here is that Frank said that he was going to die soon and that, even before the Cordyceps outbreak began, there wasn’t a cure for his illness.

The fact that Frank was dying of a terminal disease was one of the things that made us understand that the time that he spent with Bill still had a limit. But it was also his illness that allowed us to see just how far one person would go for someone they loved, as Bill decided that his life would have no meaning without Frank in it. So, with that said, let’s talk more about Frank’s illness in The Last of Us.

What Disease Does Frank Have In The Last Of Us?

While he isn’t entirely a new character in the lore of The Last of Us, Frank was given a story in HBO’s live-action version. Of course, video game fans know that Frank was always the partner of Bill. Still, while Frank was only mentioned in passing in the game, he was given a deeper story and a larger role in Bill’s life in the live-action version of The Last of Us. 

In the series, Frank ended up getting caught in one of Bill’s traps as he was trying to find a way to get to the Boston Quarantine Zone after the previous QZ he lived in had fallen. Bill, a survivalist who had already prepared for the coming of an apocalyptic situation years before the Cordyceps outbreak, ran an entire town that was full of supplies and weapons but only had one single occupant—Bill himself.

bill alone

Though Bill was always distrustful when it came to other people and strangers, there was something about Frank that made him want to help him. That was when he allowed Frank to take a shower and eat dinner with him. After that, they had an intimate moment that led to Frank becoming Bill’s life partner in that town.

Bill and Frank spent years together as they lived in that town for nearly two decades. However, in 2023, which is the year when the main storyline of The Last of Us takes place, it was clear that Frank was no longer in top shape and that Bill, despite being hinted as the older and less active of the two, was the one taking care of him every day to the point that he even had to bring him to bed and push him around using a wheelchair.

It was clear that Frank was dying of a terminal disease that made him weak. In fact, it was this disease that made him decide during the tail-end of the episode that it was already time for him to die. But what disease did Frank have?

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Neither Frank nor Bill said the exact disease that Frank was dying from, but there are some indications that would point to the possibility that it could either be cancer or Parkinson’s disease. Of course, cancer is always a possibility because of the fact that it has always been associated with diseases that are incurable. But while cancer is a possibility, the facts point to Parkinson’s as the disease that Frank was suffering from.

The thing about Parkinson’s is that it affects the brain and causes irreparable damage to it over time. There are a lot of symptoms when it comes to this disease, but the most common ones are involuntary shaking, stiff muscles, and slow movement. Those are all some of the things that Frank was obviously suffering from as he needed Bill’s help to even move. And insomnia is also a symptom, as we saw that Frank did not even sleep through an entire night.

bill and frank

When Frank said that he wanted to have one last day, Bill told him that they could try to find a doctor together. However, when Frank said that there was no cure for this disease even before the time of the Cordyceps outbreak, that was when it became clear that he could be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which is still incurable in today’s real world.

The fact that Frank was suffering from a terminal illness is one of the things that make the world of The Last of Us so dangerous. While Cordyceps Brain Infection is still the illness that everyone wants to avoid, the fact is that there are still other illnesses that exist in the world. And the problem is that there are no hospitals or doctors that could treat these illnesses or find a way to cure what used to be an incurable disease.

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In Frank’s case, although Parkinson’s disease has no cure, it has treatments that could help ease the symptoms. The problem is that Frank didn’t have the luxury of going through those treatments due to the fact that he was living in a world where hospitals and doctors were so scarce that they hardly existed at all.

Did Frank Die?

While we all know that Frank suffered from a terminal disease, what we also know is that he died in the events of the series. But the best part is that he died on his own terms instead of letting his illnesses dictate his death. He told Bill that he wanted to die after spending one good day with him again, and that was what they did.

After Bill and Frank spent the day together doing some of the activities that they loved doing in their town, Frank was supposed to take suicide pills that would end his life in a manner that was peaceful and painless. However, Bill decided to join him as well because he always thought that his life’s purpose was to be there for Frank. And because Frank was about to die, he no longer had a purpose of dying.

As such, both Bill and Frank died at the end of the day after they both took the bills. They died in their bedroom in what we could say was a peaceful way for them to go out in a world where dying peacefully has become a luxury.

  • Ysmael Delicana

    Ysmael “Eng” Delicana is a writer based in Davao City, Philippines. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Ateneo de Davao University before continuing to teach part-time at the same university. While teaching was a fun gig, being a geek and a writer seemed to be his cal...