HBO's The Last of Us changes Cordyceps origin for the better

HBO's The Last of Us isn't just a near-flawless adaptation of the source material, it's an evolution of the award-winning video games.

In The Last of Us video games, the Cordyceps brain infection originated in South America. Its means of transmission was through a bite, or by spores in the air. HBO's live-action adaptation completely removes the latter from the equation, which explains why Pedro Pascal's Joel isn't lugging around a gas mask.

hbo the last of us changes cordyceps origin
HBO's The Last of Us is a lot better off with the creative differences done to create a unique experience from the games.

The TV show's record-setting premiere episode hinted at this and the equally-successful follow-up that premiered earlier this week confirmed it. This subtle change makes HBO's The Last of Us scarier and more horrific and, in some ways, better than the source material.

The opening sequence of Episode 2 of HBO's The Last of Us confirmed the origin theories floating around since last week, as it documented the fungi's origin in Jakarta, Indonesia. The show features a mycology professor named Ibu Ratna, who claims it's impossible to develop a vaccine and that the only solution is to "bomb" the entire city to prevent it from spreading.

According to the show's co-creator, Craig Maizin, this was all Neil Druckmann's idea, telling Inverse that this one scene was the "scariest moment" for him.

That's high praise from someone who won awards for creating a miniseries based on a nuclear disaster.

Another significant change from the source material is the introduction of a hive mind of tendrils spreading across several miles. As the show explains, disturbing a live tendril can alert all the nearby infected and send them careening towards the affected area. By removing spores from the equation, HBO's The Last of Us raises the stakes for humanity as it effectively forces survivors like Joel and Ellie to be more mindful of every step they take.

HBO's The Last of Us is only two episodes in and it's already generating this much discussion.

hbo the last of us changes cordyceps origin
For the second episode in a row, HBO's The Last of Us has given us award-worthy opening sequences.

As fans eagerly await for each episode of the show's nine-episode run to premiere, it appears some are checking out the original video games. The Last of Us Part 1 recently saw a spike in sales in the United Kingdom, climbing up sales charts nearly six months after the re-release was launched.

This bodes well for the launch of The Last of Us Part 1 on the PC on March 3, which will be days before the penultimate episode of the show arrives.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.