The Last Of Us Cut Tragic Tess Backstory

The Last Of Us Cut Tragic Tess Backstory
HBO | Naughty Dog

Written by 

Tom Chapman


24th Jan 2023 13:06

Warning: major spoilers for The Last of Us ahead

Video game curse, what video game curse? Something is "clicking" between audiences and HBO's The Last of Us series, as Craig Mazin's live-action adaptation is already breaking records.

We're just two episodes into Season 1, and already we're wasting no time rattling through 2013's The Last of Us game. Sadly, that means we're already waving goodbye to some fan favourites.

We always knew it was coming, but with Fringe's Anna Torv adding another layer to the tough Tess from the video games, was anyone ready to see her off in Episode 2

What Was Tess' The Last Of Us Backstory?

So far, Mazin and co. have done a great job of splicing flashbacks into the current timeline of the apocalypse in 2023. As well as a flashback to Dr. Neuman (John Hannah) in 1968, Episode 2 opened with the origins of the outbreak in Jakarta.

However, it turns out our flashback to Joel and Sarah on Outbreak Day wasn't our only tragic arc of family fatalities. Speaking to The Last of Us Podcast, Mazin explained, "We wrote it, but we never shot it: it was a little bit of a backstory for Tess.

"Tess had a kid. She had a husband and she had a son, and they were infected. She had to kill them. She killed her husband, but she could not kill her son. She couldn't do it. She locked him in the basement, where theoretically he's still a clicker."

It sounds like chilling stuff, with Executive Producer Neil Druckmann adding, "We had a cold open where the camera pushed on this door and you hear the pounding coming from this basement. Later, Tess would tell the story of how she couldn't kill her son." 

Considering the impact Torv made in such a short space of time as Tess, her own backstory would've added another dimension. Importantly, none of this happened in the games, meaning it was another of the show's subtle deviations that are being praised across the board.

Let's Talk About THAT Kiss


While many are already championing live-action Tess over video game Tess, let's address the fungus-shaped elephant in the room.

Tess' heroic end saw her reveal to Ellie and Joel that she was infected, then stay behind to take out a horde of Cordyceps monsters. There was an uncomfortable moment when a male infected found Tess and then stuck its tendrils in her mouth.

In an era of #MeToo, some called out the scene as unnecessary, while others said it fit with the remixed source material and idea that all the Infected are connected via one hivemind.

Critics say it was an undignified end for Tess and that she was clearly terrified, but remember the theory she's tremoring because she's succumbing to her infection. Whatever you think, there's no denying it was an explosive farewell.

Summing up the thoughts of most, one fan concluded, "I don't know how I feel about Tess' death. I guess it’s more tragic, but going from her dying fighting (even taking down two soldiers) in the game to her just losing bodily autonomy and being 'kissed' by an infected… idk, unnecessary icky."

It's clear there was more to Tess story, with Joel saying "pass" when Ellie tried to pry into their relationship. Sadly, unless we get more flashbacks, it's the end of the road for Torv in The Last of Us. We'll add her to the list alongside Nico Parker (Sarah) of those we wish we could've spent a bit more time with.

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