EXCLUSIVE: 'The Last of Us' co-creator Craig Mazin explains the impact of a real pandemic and how Cordyceps outbreaks are even more dangerous.
Craig Mazin explains how the 2020 pandemic affected The Last of Us series and why the Cordyceps pandemic is deadlier. The Last of Us is set in a world ravaged by a fungal pandemic that wiped out most people and has no known cure. Those infected by the Cordyceps fungus will not only die, but will be controlled by the fungus, turning into zombies called "Clickers". The original game was released in 2013, seven years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020. The public now has a better understanding of pandemics, although this series is about fungal pandemics rather than viral ones.
In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Mazin details how the 2020 pandemic impacted the series set before the fungal outbreak. They wanted to acknowledge the vast knowledge about epidemics that didn't exist in 2013, he explained. Mazin is sure to share how the Cordyceps outbreak in The Last of Us is far more dangerous than a viral epidemic.
Craig Mazin: Yeah, a little bit. We wanted to at least acknowledge that everybody knows about pandemics. That wasn't the case when Neil made the game in 2013. And we're all epidemiologists now. We're all scientists. We all understand how these things work. So we wanted to acknowledge that we were aware of that, and we also wanted to put it in context and say, "Look, viral pandemics come and go. They're terrible. But then they end." This is something different. Fungus is a funny word. It's much, much worse, and we can't stop it, and it was important to give the audience a sense that this was always there. It's been there for forever. It wasn't like nobody knew and then suddenly, blah, a Cordyceps! We knew. We knew and then a bunch of years go by, and then today is the day that the thing that that guy said would happen is happening.
How Real-World Events Enhance The Story of The Last of Us
The Last of Us series spent more time in the world before the Cordyceps outbreak. not only Allowing audiences to better understand characters before a crisis hits, while also allowing creators to show how the world is responding to the sudden outbreak. The creators of The Last of Us were able to show how quickly this outbreak and the immediate global devastation that followed. The last survivors showed varying degrees of infection, with some clickers apparently infected by fungi.
A real-world pandemic spread globally and had long-lasting effects that are still being felt around the world. Despite the devastating effects of the disease, it's not on the same scale as the outbreak in The Last of Us. While many people die from COVID-19 or suffer long-term health effects, many people survive and recover from infection. This wasn't the case when The Last of Us broke out, wiping out most of the population and making it impossible to survive once infected.
Although the outbreak in The Last of Us is fatal, even after death there are different stages of Cordyceps infection. The story mostly takes place years after the initial outbreak, but the series also showcases immediate impact of the outbreak. The fungus wiped out most of the world in an extremely short period of time as it spread across the globe within a few days at most. The world knows more about pandemics than ever before, and while The Last of Us acknowledges this, it also uses that knowledge to demonstrate the dangers of fungal outbreaks.