Why Was the Timeline of The Last of Us Show Changed?

For fans of The Last of Us, either the video game or the live-action series, it isn’t a secret that there is a huge time skip that happened in the storyline, especially between the start of the Cordyceps Brain Infection outbreak and the events of the main storyline. Of course, one of the things that fans of the video game noticed is that the timeline of The Last of Us TV show was changed. So, why was the timeline of The Last of Us changed?

The timeline of The Last of Us changed because the series creators thought that setting the series to the current timeline would make it more realistic compared to the original timeline in the games, which take place in 2023. This allows fans to relate to the series more because it takes place in the present.

Of course, there are a lot of different series that are post-apocalyptic in nature, and they have their own different timelines. In the case of The Last of Us, allowing fans to see that it takes place in the here and now would make it much more realistic and relatable. Then again, the outbreak in the show happened in 2003, which adds to the realism of the timeline. So, with that said, let’s look at why the timeline of The Last of Us was changed.

When Does The Last Of Us Show Take Place?

Regardless of whether you are a fan of the games or the series, one of the things you might have noticed at the start of episode 1 of The Last of Us was the fact that the timeline of the series takes place in the current time period. Those who are fans of the games would immediately see that the timeline took place in a different timeline compared to the storyline of the games. Of course, this makes things interesting as far as the series is concerned.

In the games, the start of the pandemic was in 2013. That was when the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) outbreak took place as it immediately ravaged the world and forced society to fall apart. After that, 20 years passed and Joel was now an older man. That means that the main storyline of the games takes place in 2033, which is ten years away from our current time period.

However, in the live-action series, the storyline starts off in 2003 when Joel and Sarah were living in peace as a father-and-daughter duo. That was when things went south for the entire world as Joel and Sarah had to leave their Texas home in the hopes of getting to a safe place. Nevertheless, Joel lost his daughter to a soldier that was ordered to shoot them on sight due to the possibility of them spreading the CBI infection. 

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In that regard, 20 years went by in a hurry as the storyline of the live-action adaptation of The Last of Us now takes place in 2023, which is the here and now. That means that the storyline takes place in the same year as the one in the real world right now instead of in 2033, which is the original timeline of the video games.

Why Was The Timeline Of The Last Of Us Changed?

As mentioned, the timeline of The Last of Us was changed as ten years were subtracted from the games. That means that, instead of taking place in 2033, the live-action series takes place in 2023, which is the current timeline in the real world. So, why was the timeline of The Last of Us changed?

We said that the video game took place in 2013 in the prologue and then in 2033 in the main storyline. As such, the series creators faced a dilemma because they could either stick with the original timeline or change it. And they decided to change it instead.

Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the co-creators of The Last of Us, had this to say in a roundtable interview:

“I have this thing about jumping into the future. I feel like, if I’m watching a show and the year is 2023, and the show takes place in 2043, it’s just a little less real. Even if I’m watching a show in 2023 and it takes place in 2016, it’s a little less real.”

In that regard, Mazin decided to move the prologue back to 2003 instead of sticking with the original 2013 timeline or allowing it to take place in 2023, which is the current timeline. This allows the series creator to craft a storyline that is more in line with our current timeline instead of forcing it to move forward. As Mazin said, he doesn’t like jumping into the future, and it is possible that he doesn’t like doing that because of how unpredictable the future can be.

As such, the series now takes place in the present real-world timeline of 2023 as this would allow fans to see that it could be a parallel universe that is set in the current timeline. This allows The Last of Us to become more realistic to fans that never played the video games but immediately jumped on the wagon to watch the live-action adaptation.

Allowing the series to start in 2003, which was when the outbreak occurred, also allowed the series creator to make it a storyline that isn’t about Covid-19, which we know took off as a pandemic in 2020.

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“We really didn’t want to make a show about Covid-19,” Neil Druckmann says. “We wanted to make something that’s more universal than that. Spanish flu was a big influence as far as how it affected people, how people died, how they became very segregated, how they became xenophobic, and their towns.”

As such, this allows the series to happen in the here and now without necessarily making it about Covid. That’s because the outbreak of the CBI in The Last of Us happened in 2003 and continued 20 years into the future, which is the current 2023 timeline. 

But that doesn’t mean that we are going to see references to our current timeline. That’s because society fell apart in 2003 in The Last of Us, and that means that we won’t be seeing anything related to social media or anything that is pretty much mainstream in today’s society. Think of The Last of Us as a series that happens in today’s timeline but is stuck in 2003 as far as its culture is concerned as society froze due to the outbreak of the apocalyptic CBI.

  • Ysmael is a self-professed geek that loves anything related to fantasy, sci-fi, video gaming, and anime. Spends his free time watching movies, TV shows and gaming, a lot.