The Last of Us TV show casts Joel’s daughter – so what does this mean for its plot?

The Last of Us
(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

HBO’s upcoming The Last of Us TV show has cast Joel’s daughter – and she’s an exciting newcomer. 

Nico Parker, best known for her role in 2019’s live-action Dumbo adaptation, has signed on to play Sarah, who first appeared in the traumatic opening scene of the celebrated 2013 survival game.

Parker will join the likes of Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Gabriel Luna and Merle Dandridge in the miniseries, which is expected to arrive on HBO Max in 2022. 

As well as her lead role in Dumbo, Parker has already appeared in another HBO series, The Third Day, and will be joining Hugh Jackman in the upcoming sci-fi mind-bender, Reminiscence (alongside her actual mother, Thandiwe Newton, too).

Given that we expect The Last of Us TV show to mirror the original game in terms of its timeline, at least, Parker will likely appear in a series of flashbacks, rather than acting alongside the likes of Bella Ramsey, who will play Ellie. That’s because her character, Sarah, dies 14 years prior to the game’s setting, after being shot by a soldier when fleeing her home with her father.

That doesn’t mean her role will be any less important, though. Throughout the game, Sarah’s memory simultaneously haunts and motivates Joel in his quest to bring Ellie to safety, so we’re likely to see Parker in much more than a simple bit part.

Will the show follow the game’s story? 

Recent comments made by the show’s writer, Neil Druckmann – who also penned the script for the Naughty Dog games – confirmed that some episodes will “deviate greatly” from the source material, though only in terms of their focus on drama over hardcore action.

That suggests The Last of Us TV show will borrow heavily from the original game, meaning we can likely expect it to tell the same (or similar) plot. 

Druckmann also revealed that, for himself and showrunner Craig Mazin, the “philosophical underpinnings of the story“ were the essential aspect they wanted to get right with the adaptation.

“As far as the superficial things, like should [a character] wear the same plaid shirt or the same red shirt?” he said. “They might or might not appear in it, that’s way less important to us than getting to the core of who these people are and the core of their journey.“

Pre-production for the show is currently underway, and while we haven’t yet had an official release date, we don’t expect to see Joel and Ellie’s small-screen debut until at least 2022.

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.