Neil Druckmann Explains Bill and Frank Changes on The Last of Us

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for The Last of Us episode 3

Last night’s third episode of The Last of Us is shaping up to be its most acclaimed yet, as online critical and fan reaction has been hugely positive to the side story of survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and his post-apocalypse love Frank (Murray Bartlett). But unlike so much of the show so far, which has stayed faithful to the game’s storyline, this was a departure. The game sticks to the perspective of the protagonists, Joel and Ellie, while this episode mostly stepped away, using them only at the beginning and end. And while the game has Joel and Ellie interacting with a bitter Bill after Frank’s death, the TV show changed that up quite a bit, with Ellie never even meeting Bill. Now, Bill and Frank live and die together, leading a beautiful life and death in a horrible world.

All of which met with the approval of the game’s original writer and TV show cocreator Neil Druckmann, who told Deadline, “If you were to ask me before I met [show cocreator] Craig [Mazin], would I be willing to take one of the most iconic characters from the game and change their fate? I would’ve been like, hell no. It’s got to be like it is in the game. And it’s like that for a reason. But at that point, I’ve been working with Craig on the first several episodes, and then we started talking about this one and what we could do with it. And there was just the idea of taking a break because the last episode was so intense, and we lost Tess. And then presenting a counterpoint of, well, we saw what you stand to lose and what do you stand to gain?”

He continued, “There was also taking advantage of a medium that’s very different from games that we could change perspective. We don’t have to stay with our two heroes the entire journey, and we don’t have to stay in the same time and location. We could actually jump around in time quite a bit. And that afforded me the opportunity to tell this kind of story. So, when Craig pitched it to me pretty fully, it evolved over time, but it was mostly there…It was so beautiful and moving and kind of hit the mark as far as speaking to the themes and increasing the stakes for Joel and Ellie in an interesting way.”

Do you approve of the changes to Bill and Frank? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: The Art Of The Last Of Us

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