Films And Series Like ‘The Last Of Us’ To Watch If You Liked HBO’s Post-Apocalyptic Show

In recent years, the trend of milking established franchises in films and also in series has become something of a tried and tested formula, with major money being injected into the entertainment industry, especially the streaming space. This has resulted in various mediocre shows, also sometimes ruining great franchises in order to churn out more content, lacking the excitement of seeing something of great artistic caliber. But HBO had always stood out from the rest, even historically, when they established the blueprint or masterclass for any television series, with the all-time great “The Sopranos” (TV Series 1999–2007). Even in today’s time, they have been one of the frontrunners in this sphere with recent greats like “Succession” (TV Series 2018–2019) and “Chernobyl” (TV Mini-Series 2019), although they have had some grand misses like the last season of the highly popular “Game of Thrones” (TV Series 2011–2019). Once again, they have successfully proved their mettle in long-format storytelling with “The Last of Us” (TV Series 2023–), based on the highly acclaimed and popular video game franchise.


Furthermore, until now, it can be easily said that HBO’s show is one of the best video game adaptations so far. But the ones who were aware of the talents that were behind creating this show may have seen it coming, as it is helmed by Craig Mazin (who previously made “Chernobyl”) as both the creator and writer, along with Neil Druckmann, who was one of the major figures behind the 2013 video game of the same name. Other than that, the show also had a highly talented pool of actors, which further boosted the quality of the show, turning it into a massive success both in terms of critical appreciation and popularity. This makes it a perfect occasion to make a list of recommendations that have a similar kind of essence. So, here is a list of films and shows to watch if you liked “The Last of Us” (TV Series 2023–):

The Thing (1982)

Even though the film does not feature any traditional zombies or ghost-like creatures, it, even today after 41 years, remains very fresh with its breathtaking and pathbreaking use of practical effects. “The Thing” (1982) is, without an iota of doubt, among the most nail-biting films of all time and perfectly ticks all the boxes of a great atmospheric horror film. Major credit should go to the brilliant direction of the legendary John Carpenter, who has remained relatively underrated but is nevertheless no less than an auteur (more like Jean-Luc Carpenter) and has constantly been a driving force with respect to filmmaking. Interestingly, the title “The Last of Us” perfectly fits with this film as it revolves around a group of researchers in the desolate backdrop of Antarctica, and amongst them lives a shape-shifting murderous alien.


12 Monkeys (1995)

Terry Gilliam remains one of the finest and most unique minds to ever grace the cinematic space, and this film is proof enough of that. He perfectly adapts in his own quirky way and extends his take on the brilliant and pathbreaking 1962 short “La Jetée” made by the visionary Chris Marker. “12 Monkeys” (1995) takes place in a world where a man-made outbreak has led to the near extinction of humanity and revolves around James Cole, played by Bruce Willis, who volunteers to go on a time-traveling journey in order to seek answers and find out the truth behind this outbreak. Gilliam perfectly brings forth a very energy-fueled thrust to the storytelling while at the same time complementing it with a very cold and bleak outlook. Furthermore, the film boasts of some of the finest acting showcases, mainly from Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, both of them delivering career-defining performances.

28 Days Later (2002)

The first few minutes of “28 Days Later” (2002) are just enough to get you hooked and are definitely among the scariest and finest opening moments in the history of cinema. This film works on each and every aspect, whether as a thought-provoking political allegory or also as an entertaining zombie film on the surface level, with some of the most terrifying-looking zombies. Here, the brilliantly layered writing of Alex Garland is perfectly brought out to the screen by Danny Boyle, who uses his trademark style to marvelously induce a very flashy and energized approach at the same time balancing with some really serene moments that are showcased beautifully with a sense of calmness, further making it stand out from the plethora of zombie-horror films. Furthermore, “28 Days Later” (2002) also shows ripples of the acting talent possessed by the then relatively nascent Cillian Murphy in a film that raises major questions and challenges the blind faith one may have towards the state and its armed forces, among other instruments of coercion.


Children Of Men (2006)

Set in a dystopic futuristic world of 2027 where human beings have become infertile and are, therefore, almost on the verge of extinction, this film is a pure showcase of the artistic vision and merit of a filmmaker like Alfonso Cuarón. This is a totally one-of-a-kind film that sheds light on humanity and also on human existence and showcases a glimmer of hope even in the darkest of times. “Children of Men” (2006) further becomes even more relevant in today’s world as human beings are constantly pushing the limits of nature to disastrous proportions that will in time threaten humanity. Other than that, this film is filled with marvelous scenes and sequences with a masterclass of technical prowess, especially that of Emmanuel Lubezki, who along with Cuarón tends to build on the exceptionally brilliant use of the visual language that transcends beyond mere words.

The Road (2009)

“The Road” (2009) happens to be a film that resembles many elements of “The Last of Us” (TV Series 2023- ) mainly  due to the central narrative revolving around a father-son duo, whose journey is set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world filled with blood-thirsty cannibalistic armed gangs. Based on the 2006 book of the same name by Cormann McCarthy, filmmaker John Hillcoat translates it to the big screen in a quite atmospheric manner that displays a bleak and barren world lacking any form of humanity, further enhanced through an effective use of the color palette, setting a very lifeless tonality. Although the film may not be a perfect one as it falters on some grounds, for the most part it remains quite an engaging watch with a very strong emotional core perfectly etched out by the chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee.


Train To Busan (2016)

This Yeon Sang-ho directorial is definitely among the finest zombie films, especially in recent times. Even though one may have heard the name of the film, as it is a relatively well-known one, those who have not seen “Train to Busan” (2016) should definitely go and have a look at it. The film is perfect at balancing the emotional core with the elements of horror as it is set against the backdrop of a zombie outbreak. Even though the plot is pretty basic and easy to follow, here lies its greatness, as through its sheer simplicity, it manages to tackle serious themes of class struggle in a very subtle yet effective way while at the same time being a very tender showpiece of a father-daughter story perfectly etched out by its brilliant cast of actors. Other than that, the “Train to Busan” (2016) boasts of exceptionally choreographed sequences, maintaining a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere and being inventive even though it is majorly set inside a train.

Kingdom (TV Series 2019- )

Unlike various other popular Netflix Originals, “Kingdom” (TV Series 2019-), even with the quality of binge-worthiness, still remains quite an overlooked and underrated show on a global level with the ripe potential to be another massive success story in the future. This Korean show is a perfect and layered blend of various genres, ranging from the historical period drama with political thriller elements to zombie-like horror. “Kingdom” (TV Series 2019–) at the same time boasts of being a massively intriguing watch as the show paints the canvas with broad strokes both visually and thematically, being a very nuanced take on society, gender, and class oppression with a very eruptive quality and brilliantly made sequences delivering upon the horror aspect.

Final Words

As one waits for the last few episodes of “The Last Of Us,” these above-mentioned films can be a perfect watch in order to just fill the weekly void. Other than that, Chernobyl (TV Mini-Series 2019) is a special mention in the list. It has been one of the most acclaimed and talked-about shows in recent history, and hence, it is mentioned as a bonus in order to understand the brilliance of Craig Mazin, who, in this limited format, perfectly brings out a brilliantly captivating narrative based on the real-life Chernobyl disaster. This is just an example of brilliant filmmaking that manages to recreate and reimagine the situations that too from a very gritty yet empathetic lens with highly detailed and layered writing, making “Chernobyl” rank among the bests of Television. So, if one has yet to experience this milestone of cinematic work, now may be a perfect time.

Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev has a major interest in watching various kinds of films, knowing about history, playing varied video games, and having a knack for politics. He is also a football fanatic. He is very opinionated but sometimes finds it difficult to express himself. Moreover, he has a piece of paper that people refer to as a degree in journalism and mass communication. At present, he is pursuing a Master's in Media Science while also trying out different activities to figure out which he does best.

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