‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 4: Easter Eggs, Video Game Differences And Similarities, Explained

The fourth episode of HBO’s frontrunner series “The Last of Us” hit the small screens today, and keeping up with the recent tradition, it has been yet another banger of an episode. Adapted from the Naughty Dog game of the same name, the series is progressing at a fast pace, and the last we saw of the survivors, Joel and Ellie, they were making their way to his brother after scavenging supplies from Frank and Bill’s house in the previous episode. Similar to each of the three episodes before this one, the episode differed from the source material in a few ways while also managing to sneak in a few blink-and-you-miss Easter eggs. Here are the major differences and Easter eggs that you might’ve missed in the episode, along with a few similarities that were left untouched.


The episode opens with Ellie in front of a mirror in a cabin, practicing loading and unloading the pistol she found in Bill and Frank’s house in Episode 3, showing she’s handy with a gun and knows how to use one. This is a call-back to the infamous 1976 film “Taxi Driver” where Travis Buckle pointed a gun at a mirror as well but Travis had machismo, Ellie has curious innocence. She walks out of the ramshackle place to find Joel siphoning petrol off abandoned cars, and he tries explaining the science behind it but isn’t very successful. Ellie takes out a joke book and starts reading puns as Joel listens, albeit exasperated. The scenes of handling the gun and siphoning petrol have been created for the show to show two things: – Ellie isn’t a child as her appearance would suggest, and Joel doesn’t have a way with words and isn’t very well read in physics, but he knows the way of the world, making him the perfect survivor in this forsaken world. Interestingly, Ellie’s joke book is a big part of her character from the game, and the first pun she reads is the same as the one in the game.

In the car, Ellie finds the same cassette that Joel loves listening to, and she also finds an adult magazine. The cassette plays the song “Alone and Forsaken” by Hank Williams, which is the name of the fifth chapter in the game, and also mimics the way Joel felt for a long time in life. This is taken directly from the game, and even the lines that Ellie and Joel exchange are exactly the same as the game, including the way she throws the magazine out with a farewell. After driving for a while, the duo stop in a forested area for the night, and they have a meal with the food they took from Bill’s place. As Ellie goes to sleep, Joel stands watch, and they resume their journey in the morning after Joel prepares coffee for himself. The section about resting for the night was created for the show to establish that Ellie and Joel are humans and need food and rest to survive, unlike the game where we find them eating only during cinematic cut-scenes.


After resuming the car ride, Joel talks at length about his brother Tommy and his thoughts about his younger siblings when Ellie asks about him. Joel goes into great detail to explain how his brother joined the army when he was 18, and the Fireflies after the apocalypse, and how Joel had to tag along to keep Tommy safe. We also get the backstory that it was on their way to Boston that they met Tess. This helps us answer the questions that Joel had passed on earlier in Episode 2, but the show invents this section to give us backstory, unlike the game. Joel doesn’t talk about Tommy or anything nearly as personal this early in the game and keeps his comments to rules Ellie needs to follow and the usual chitchat. However, they do borrow a part from the game where Joel asks Ellie to rest some more and she says that she’s barely tired, only for Joel to find her deep in sleep in the next scene. This has been recreated masterfully in the episode to show that Joel cares about her wellbeing already and that she’s still a child, despite her tough demeanor.

Joel and Ellie find the road ahead blocked after reaching Kansas City, whereas in the game, they were in Pittsburgh when they got turned around. In another quick-to-miss scene, we can spot the dilapidated remains of the Globe Cinema Hall, where “Underworld” and “Matchstick Men” were showing before the apocalypse brought time to a standstill. Both these films were released in 2003, thus it’s a nod to the realistic additions the show has claimed praise for. Soon after, they’re ambushed by a group that attempt to raid them, but Joel fights and kills them. Unlike the game, however, Ellie saves Joel from being strangled by shooting a man in the back, whereas we see her using a gun much later in the game to kill a man inside a hotel to save Joel from being drowned. Next, we meet the leader of the marauders of Kansas City who’ve overthrown FEDRA, and it’s a woman named Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) who’s looking for two brothers called Henry and Sam, because the former ratted out Kathleen’s brother to the FEDRA. She executes a doctor when she learns that the mortally wounded men, thanks to Joel, can’t be saved, and sends forces to hunt down and kill whoever is responsible.


Although we did have the marauders in the game, the introduction of Kathleen exclusively for the show gives them a purpose and a reason to be out there hunting for Joel and Ellie. Additionally, the backstory we get for Henry and Sam is much more detailed and fleshed out in the show. While they were just two brothers trying to survive in the game, in the show we know why they have a target on their backs. Interestingly, when Kathleen finds the attic where Sam’s Superman drawings throw light at the belief in hope in the darkest of times. Although Kathleen is created for the show, her existence helps present a more rounded story than the game. Did you notice the words “RUN” spray-painted on a bulldozer that the marauders were using? It’s a call-back to a similar bulldozer we saw in the game—an Easter egg that the showrunners included. A mystery that remains unanswered in the episode is what lies underneath the shaking cement that makes Kathleen want to lock the building down. Is it a Bloater – the grossest, biggest, and toughest infected that we’re yet to see – hiding underneath to burst out in the later episodes? 

While hiding out from the raiders, Joel shows Ellie how to use a gun properly, and she says that she has used a gun before. This has some similarity with the game because he does hand her a gun in the other media but demonstrating how it works is exclusive to the show. The show keeps a dialogue exactly the same as the game when Joel says that he knew about the ambush because he has been both ambusher and ambushed previously. Perhaps the most heartwarming scene of the episode, when Joel laughs boisterously with Ellie after she reads out another of the silly puns has been made for TV, because in the game, he’d chuckle at best. Finally, the circumstances under which they’re introduced to Henry and Sam is different in the show because Joel is jolted awake by Ellie to find Henry pointing a pistol at her and Sam pointing a revolver at Joel. While they did meet the brothers in a similar way where Joel and Henry fought after the former escaped from the marauders in the game, he’s ambushed by the brothers in the show.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

Latest articles