The Last Of Us Series Banned From Using The Word Zombie

The Last Of Us Series Banned From Using The Word Zombie

Written by 

Tom Chapman


16th Feb 2023 11:31

When it comes to survival horror games, names like Resident EvilSilent Hill, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent ring true as defining entries. There's also a lot to be said for 2013's The Last of Us, which helped us reinvent shuffling zombies. Wait, though, we can't call them zombies.

Repurposing the word from Haitian folklore, the modern zombie we associate with brain-hungry munchers comes from George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead from 1968. Since then, we've seen TV, movies, games, and comics turn us into our own mindless zombies as we fork over cash for the undead genre.  

Why Was The Last Of Us Banned From Using Zombie?

The Last of Us Tess Infected
Click to enlarge

While the curse of video game adaptations once had us worried HBO's live-action The Last of Us would be another flop akin to Netflix's short-lived Resident Evil, it's surpassed expectations, smashed records, and become everyone's weekly water cooler series.

Like the games, those afflicted with Cordyceps are called Infected, even though casual fans might be inclined to call these mushroom monsters, zombies. Speaking to The Credits, Cinematographer Eben Bolter explained the crew were banned from using the word on the show's set.

"We weren't allowed to say the Z word on set. It was like a banned word," said Bolter. "They were the Infected. We weren't a zombie show. Of course, there's tension building and jump scares but the show's really about our characters; The Infected are an obstacle they have to deal with."

Referring to Ellie slicing open an Infected trapped under the rubble in Episode 3, Bolter explained, "She's scared, but then you see her grow in confidence, cutting open the Infected and looking at the fibers. Through that interest, you see what the Infected means in Ellie's own life."

Putting humans first and monsters second, Bolter concluded, "So [even in scenes featuring the Infected], it's character first and then just tell the story." Still, we imagine it was pretty hard not to call the Infected zombies.

The Last Of Us Puts The Walking Dead To Shame

The idea of building the story around mankind being ravaged by an apocalypse is one that was at the heart of The Walking Dead when it originally started. However, as the show went on, its cast ballooned, and many felt it was like a zombie that should've been put down long before its Season 11 finale.

The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin hasn't directly mentioned The Walking Dead, but with an interesting comment about having no "interest in a spinning-plates-go-on-forever show," it doesn't sound like he'll be making the same mistakes as the zombie series and its many overseers. 

Even though The Last of Us was only just renewed for Season 2, there are already hopes that 2020's The Last of Us Part II could span two seasons thanks to its sprawling story. Game Director Neil Druckmann promised there are no plans to go beyond the games, so after that, it looks like we're really done.

Make the most of The Last of Us while you can, because by the sounds of it, the hit series won't be around for too long. At least Mazin and Druckmann should be able to avoid zombie (sorry, Infected) fatigue.

Tom Chapman
About the author
Tom Chapman
Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.
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