‘The Last of Us’ Creators Address Pleas for More Infected in Future Seasons: ‘You’re Not Playing It, You’re Watching It’

“It’s quite possible that there will be a lot more Infected later,” showrunner Craig Mazin teased

The first season of “The Last of Us” introduced viewers to a post-apocalyptic world where a fungal outbreak wiped out most of the human populace two decades prior. Survivors not only had to deal with the ever-present threat of Infected but also other humans vying for resources like food and medication.

In Season 1, particularly the latter half, those human threats came in the form of raiders, cannibals and even the Fireflies. That’s not to say there weren’t memorable scenes featuring Infected: Episode 2 gave us a horrifying “kiss” between an Infected and Tess (RIP), while the ground literally erupted with Infected in Episode 5, including a giant “bloater” that ripped a man apart with its bare hands.

Series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann spoke with TheWrap and other reporters last week to discuss adapting the game mechanics to the small screen, and how that informed the action and antagonists.

“So obviously, part of the adaptation process is trying to figure out how to take source material that was built around gameplay, and port over to a medium that is passive.” Mazin explained. “And a lot of the gameplay is centered on NPCs that you have to get around — either avoid or stealth kill or just confront head-on. That’s sort of your choices when you’re playing. And the NPCs were either raiders or cannibals, or FEDRA or they were the Infected. So there’s a lot of fighting. I don’t know what your ultimate kill count is in typical run of ‘The Last of Us’ [game], but it’s in the triple digits for sure.”

“We did at times have choices to make about how we wanted to present the Infected [on the show],” Mazin continued. “I will say that we don’t look — even though we were greenlit for a season of television, Neil and I felt like we can’t just make a season of television without considering what would come after. There is more of ‘The Last of Us’ to come and I think the balance is not always just about within an episode or even episode to episode but season to season.”

“It’s quite possible that there will be a lot more infected later,” Mazin elaborated. “And perhaps different kinds. But within the episodes that we were concentrating on, I think ultimately we generally stressed the power of relationships and trying to find significance within moments of action. And so there may be less action than some people wanted. Because we couldn’t necessarily find significance for quite a bit of it. Or a concern that it would be repetitive. After all, you’re not playing it; you’re watching it. And although a lot of people do like to watch gameplay, it needs to be I think a little bit more focused and purposeful when we’re putting it on TV.

“Yeah, just to echo what Craig is saying, which is like, we took a very high-level approach and looked at just the action across the board,” Druckmann chimed in. “And every piece of action, if you look at the show, has to move character in some way. If it doesn’t move character, and if it was only there for spectacle, then it was an easy cut for us.”

Fans will have to see if Season 2, which has ordered by HBO, will have more Infected and more action.

The complete Season 1 of “The Last of Us” is streaming on HBO Max.

Additional reporting from Lucas Manfredi