During its first season, HBO’s The last of us has repeatedly gone out of its way to honor the 2013 video game that inspired it. Not only did the critically acclaimed, post-apocalyptic series stay surprisingly true to its source material. but also includes references to the original The last of us that only longtime fans of the property could catch. From a child’s drawing on a wall to a certain needle in episode seven, The last of us has poked plenty of deep-cut Easter eggs during its first season.
The live-action series also has a handful of appearances by actors who participated in the Last of Us video games. Here’s what new fans of the show need to know about the cameos in question, including one actor’s important but easy appearance in The last of us Season 1 finale.
Note: This article contains spoilers for The last of us season finale.
Ashley Johnson as Anna
The last of us Episode 9 opens with a stunning flashback. The first few minutes of the season finale follow Anna Williams, mother to Bella Ramsay’s Eli, as she not only gives birth to her daughter, but also experiences the infected attack that led to her death. At the end of the tragic sequence, viewers finally know, among other things, how Ellie was born, how her mother died, and how Ellie’s immunity was (accidentally) created.
The series would be notable for those reasons alone. However, what new fans The last of us what she might not realize is that Eli’s mother, Anna, is played by none other than Ashley Johnson. The BAFTA-winning actress played Ellie in both original Last of Us video games, as well as the series’ 2014 DLC, Stay back. The last of us Creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin have repeatedly noted how important Johnson’s performance was to the creation and shaping of Ellie as a character, which makes her role in the HBO series as Ellie’s mother all the more poignant.
Troy Baker as James
In The last of us episode 8, Eli and Joel (Pedro Pascal) encounter a cult of religious fanatics turned cannibals led not only by the predator David (Scott Shepherd). but also his lethargic right-hand man, James. The latter character is played, specifically, by Troy Baker, who played Joel in Sony’s Naughty Dog and Last of Us video games. Unfortunately for him, Baker’s James doesn’t make it The last of us episode live.
Unlike Johnson, Baker’s role in the HBO adaptation of his The last of us he has no significant connection to the character he played in the original games. This does not appear in episode 8 of it The last of us less noticeable though.
Laura Bailey as Nurse Firefly
The season 1 finale of The last of us features the easiest to miss cameo of the entire series. Near the end of the episode, Joel enters the Fireflies’ operating room and proceeds to shoot the surgeon who was preparing to operate on an unconscious Ellie. The only other occupants of the room are a pair of Firefly nurses, including one played by Laura Bailey. Bailey’s name will be familiar to anyone who has played in the 2020s The Last of Us Part II as she played Abby, the supporting protagonist of this divisive sequel.
As players will attest, Bailey’s scene in the Season 1 finale of the HBO series will continue to be an important moment for the character she played The Last of Us Part II. It’s also worth noting that Bailey originally voiced one of the Firefly nurses in late 2013 The last of us. The actress, however, was replaced in the cameo role when Sony and Naughty Dog remade the game last year.
Jeffrey Pearce as Perry
In the fourth and fifth episodes, The last of us introduces viewers to not only the militaristic leader of Kansas City’s guerilla faction, Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), but also to her skilled and devoted second-in-command, Perry. What first-time viewers may not know is that Perry is played by Jeffrey Pierce, the actor who played Tommy, Joel’s brother, on The last of us video games.
Pierce is one of the few The last of us voice actors who had the chance to appear on the new HBO series (others include Johnson, Baker and Bailey); Only the next actor on this list, however, was cast as the same character in both the original Last of Us games and the current HBO adaptation.
Merle Dandridge as Marlene
In both originals The last of us and its HBO adaptation, it would be difficult to classify Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies, as a “cameo” character. This admittedly makes her inclusion on this list a bit of a cheat. However, in the spirit of this list, it’s important to note that Marlene is played in the HBO series by Merle Dandridge, the actress who also played Marlene when she was originally brought to life as a video game character.
Dandridge isn’t just the only original The last of us actor who played the same role twice, though. Thanks to the season 1 finale of the live-action series, she and Johnson are also the only members of The last of us video game cast sharing a scene together on the HBO show.
The last of us Season 1 is now streaming on HBO Max.