“Why not just leave it as a game?”: Troy Baker Wasn’t Sold on Adapting The Last of Us as TV Series Before Neil Druckmann Had to Change His Mind

Troy Baker was sceptical about The Last of Us being adapted for Television

The Last of Us Show HBO
Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Josve05a and Kirilloparma

SUMMARY

  • Troy Baker's initial reservations about adapting the game into a TV show was a big concern back in the day.
  • Neil Druckmann's intervention changed the perception of people, as he reassured them that it's going to be a hit.
  • The collaboration between Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin gives hope that further game adaptations might become a reality in the future.
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The Last of Us has been people’s favorite for over a decade. The TV adaptation of the game was released in 2023, which enabled non-gamers to experience the world of The Last of Us. The show was co-created by Mazin and Druckmann, and was largely based on The Last of Us Part 1. Season 2 of the show is currently under pre-production.

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The success of The Last of Us proved to be beneficial for Fallout and many more game adaptations
Pedro Pascal, left, and Bella Ramsey, right, as Joel and Ellie for HBO’s The Last of Us Season 1

However, the Initial reaction to the idea of an adaptation encountered a lot of skepticism among the crew. Troy Baker believed that the purity of The Last of Us was embedded in the medium of gaming. He believed turning the game into a show/movie could cause blunders to the franchise, and wanted to maintain the purity of the game.

Neil Druckmann’s words changed the crew’s perception of the show

Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the game, convinced Baker otherwise. He said –

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Because I believe this story is good enough to get out to people who will never pick up a controller, and we need to bring this story to them.

Neil Druckmann first had the idea of turning the game into a movie back in 2014, but it did not materialize. In 2019, Drukmann met with Mazin and they connected instantly. HBO came on board as their distributor, with Pedro Pascal as their face for the main character.

Druckmann directs a cut out scene from the game
Neil Druckmann with the motion capture artists of The Last of Us Part II

His words motivated the crew and allowed them to look at the idea with a fresh perspective. Neil Druckmann came on board as the creative director for the show, which was released in January 2023. It opened doors to a wider audience, who would have never indulged in it had The Last of Us stayed merely a game. The show was well-received worldwide and received a lot of acclaim.

The response to the show changed Troy Baker’s perception

Baker was surprised to see how the show unfolded. He felt wonderful to see so many new fans discover the series long after the game’s initial release in 2013. Baker said –

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Everything has been surprising because none of this has been expected.

Naughty Dog's title keeps getting more fans.
Naughty Dog’s title keeps getting more fans.

Neil Druckmann’s creative genius and perseverance made the show possible alongside Craig Mazin, the creator of the show, along with Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, who play the part of Joel and Ellie, respectively.

Troy Baker himself appears in the show alongside Ashley Johnson, though they don’t play the roles they used to in the game. Baker plays the character of James, and Johnson portrays Ellie’s mother, Anna. The show has been a great collaborative effort between game developers and filmmakers, proving them to be two sides of the same coin.

Many games today are successfully being adapted into movies and TV shows, including Fallout, Uncharted, and Max Payne, among many more. Game adaptations are not new, and have been happening ever since video games incorporated storytelling as a strong tool to engage people in their worlds. At the end of the day, games are an audio-visual medium, and much more.

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Written by Anupam Lamba

Articles Published: 97

Anupam Lamba is an avid gamer and film lover. After completing his bachelors in Mass Communication he started working as a writer in the Indian film industry before his love for gaming made him venture into the lanes of Fandomwire and he started working as a gaming writer here.