‘The Last of Us’ showrunners relished puncturing plot armor from the very beginning

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in 'The Last of Us'
Photo via HBO Max

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us premiere.

With the potential to become one of the most famous TV series of the past decade, The Last of Us has finally hit HBO Max, bringing one of the most awaited live-action adaptations of the year. The show delivers a retelling of the 2013 horror game franchise by Naughty Dog, and for those who may be well acquainted with the post-apocalyptic video game, some brutal scenes are bound to tug at your heartstrings.

From the very first moments of the pilot episode, the audience is introduced to Joel, Sarah, and Tommy. This not-so-average family undergoes a major loss in their midst when the father and daughter duo try to escape the parasitic infection that begins to spread all over the world. While trying to flee and avoid transforming into rabid zombie-like monsters affected by the fungus, Joel and Sarah are stopped by one of the soldiers tasked to avoid the plague from spreading. Sarah’s short life comes to an end when she is abruptly killed by that officer.

Although this will not be the first or last loss the audience will experience throughout this whirlwind of a series, Sarah’s sudden passing probably did not cross the mind of anyone watching the story for the very first time. However, writers and executive producers Mazin and Druckmann knew exactly what they were getting into, praising this unique storyline for its lack of plot armor ⁠— a ridiculously common trope in television nowadays.

“We’re so used to characters with plot armor,” Mazin told EW, “One of the great things that The Last of Us achieved was puncturing that plot armor in such a brutal and gorgeous and sad way.”

Sarah Miller’s sudden death punctuates the hearts of the audience, but most of all, she completely shifts the narrative for Joel’s journey. With the loss of his daughter and wife, Joel ought to continue striving for survival, overcoming the mourning and the trauma brought by the beginning of this apocalyptic scenario. Sarah was played by Nico Parker, and while you may not see her again as Joel’s daughter, her presence will undoubtedly be felt throughout the season.

The very first episode of The Last of Us is available to stream now on HBO Max.