The internet has figured out the reason for The Last of Us outbreak

Eagle-eyed observers of HBO's The Last of Us pieced the subtle hints together to come up with a very believable conclusion.


HBO's The Last of Us is based on Naughty Dog's award-winning video game franchise, The Last of Us. But, while it's done an excellent job adapting the first game, the show hasn't been afraid to take some creative liberties. Case in point, the first episode confirms the source of the outbreak and how it spread so quickly around the world, which is different from the way that the game tells the story.

internet figured out reason the last of us outbreak
You can leave it up to the internet to pick up on the little hints left by the showrunners in HBO's The Last of Us' debut.

As spotted by r/anagnost, the reason behind the rapid spread of the Cordyceps brain infection is one common household ingredient: flour.

If you don't believe us, we've summarized the very plausible theory in a few bullet points:

  • At the start of Episode 1, Sarah tells her father, Joel, that she couldn't make birthday pancakes because they've run out of pancake mix, which, as you guessed it, contains flour.
  • Tommy and Joel argue about where Jakarta is located in the world and Sarah corrects them that it's located in Indonesia.
    • Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is the world's largest flour mill
  • As soon as Sarah and Joel make their way out the door, their next-door neighbor offers them fresh biscuits.
    • Joel says no because he jokes about being on the Atkins diet.
    • The elderly Nana marks our first encounter with the infected and she's seen munching on said biscuits early in the episode.
  • Later on, Sarah gets home after getting Joel's watched fixed and hangs out with their neighbors, even helping Connie bake cookies. But, she doesn't eat any because the cookies have raisins.
  • Joel forgets to pick up a birthday cake when he gets home from a long day at the construction site.
  • Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin got cheeky in a post-episode podcast and told listeners to keep an eye out for the "little bits of breadcrumbs".
internet figured out reason the last of us outbreak
HBO's The Last of Us will introduce a new type of infected that isn't in the games.

Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are masters at the "show, don't tell" type of writing and this is a good example of that. The initial 30 minutes of Episode 1 might've been dedicated to setting the tone for the rest of the series, but the "little bits of breadcrumbs" also told us something that casual audiences might not have picked up on immediately.

Finally, it is proof that, while HBO's The Last of Us might tell the same story as the source material, it will make small but interesting changes to set it apart.

We're curious to find out what else Mazin and Druckmann have up their storytelling sleeves.

Now that this theory has gone viral, we can expect the viewership numbers for Episode 2 to blow up even more compared to Episode 1 as audiences comb through every detail.

internet figured out reason the last of us outbreak
HBO's The Last of Us will likely make similar deviations from the games going forward.

If you'd like to find out more about how the game goes, you can play The Last of Us Part 1 for free on the PlayStation 5 for a limited time or on the PC starting March 3.


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.
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