‘The Last of Us’ theorists pull from the games and show to suggest the infection was a planned attack

Photo via HBO

The Last of Us‘ premiere surprised fans of the game by opening way back in 1963. This is decades before the events of both the game and TV show begin, where see a talk show in which the idea of a mind-controlling fungus is first raised. Fortunately, this nightmare scenario would only come to pass if the Earth’s temperature rose by a few degrees, and the studio breathed a sigh of relief. Oops.

This added context, together with other information we’ve learned later in the show, has led one fan to posit that the infection and subsequent downfall of society were engineered rather than a natural phenomenon:

Other posters in the replies may have pinned down the cause even more specifically based on clues in the first episode (so that’s why they spent so much time discussing cookies!):

There definitely seems to be some kind of food link in the show:

In addition, with the show’s pre-apocalypse scenes taking place in 2003 rather than the game’s 2013, there is post-9/11 paranoia about this being a terrorist attack. It’s also worth mentioning that the anthrax attacks would have taken place just beforehand, which was a case of using spores to infect people.

While it is tempting to say that unknown sinister parties are responsible for the apocalypse, there’s no actual evidence for it, the characters in the 2023 scenes wouldn’t have any way of discovering it, and it wouldn’t materially change their miserable circumstances.

We like the tweak that puts the blame on global warming giving the cordyceps fungus the evolutionary nudge that lets it flourish at a human body temperature, as it makes us the architect of our own demise. Plus, within the game and the movie it’s repeatedly underlined that the infected are just a symptom, and the really scary monsters out there aren’t clickers, they’re other people.

The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO.