From Video Game to TV Series: The Last of Us’ Standout Soundtrack

Tunefind has been the internet’s best source for TV, movie, and video game soundtracks since 2005. A more and more common trend in the entertainment industry includes popular video games being adapted into movies and TV series. For example, HBO has done so most recently with the highly anticipated upcoming release of The Last of Us, set to premiere on January 15, 2023. 

“It may trade in despair, selfishness, and misery, but it’s also quick to lightly breathe on the embers of hope, redemption, and love that glow within its darkness.” – IGN

The Last of Us has been named one of the best video games of all time since it’s initial release in 2013. “It may trade in despair, selfishness, and misery, but it’s also quick to lightly breathe on the embers of hope, redemption, and love that glow within its darkness,” said IGN in their review of the game’s part 1. The game has been revered for its emotional landscape–a landscape that is undoubtedly underpinned by a moody and beautiful soundtrack. Luckily for fans and new audiences alike, the series score is composed by award-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who also created the musical soundscape for the video game.

The Last of Us

by Gustavo Santaolalla

from The Last of Us Soundtrack

The Beginning 

The development of The Last of Us began in 2009 by Naughty Dog, the company responsible for this interactive cinematic experience. The relationship between the two main characters, Joel and Ellie, became the focus, with all other elements developed around it. Actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson portrayed Joel and Ellie, respectively, through voice and motion capture and assisted creative director Neil Druckmann with developing the characters and story. 

“In a ravaged civilization, where infected and hardened survivors run rampant, Joel, a weary protagonist, is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of a military quarantine zone. However, what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal cross-country journey.” – Plot summary for The Last of Us by Naughty Dog

The Last of Us Soundtrack
Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us Part I, voiced by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. To be portrayed by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the HBO series.

The Fanfare

The game was released for the PlayStation 3 in June 2013. It received critical acclaim, with praise for its narrative, gameplay, visuals, sound design, score, characterization, and depiction of female characters. The Last of Us became one of the best-selling video games, selling over 1.3 million units in its first week and 17 million by April 2018. The game won year-end accolades, including multiple Game of the Year awards, from several gaming publications, critics, and game award ceremonies. 

The game wouldn’t feel like the cinematic adventure that it does if not for Santaolalla’s hauntingly isolating score. As users traverse the stories’ post-apocalyptic setting and heart-clenching plot line, Gustavo’s instrumentals amplify the vivid experience. Santaolalla received critical acclaim for composing the score, which was his first experience in the video game industry. In 2020, he returned to compose the music for its sequel, The Last of Us Part II. While the series will take new routes and include new music, it’s nice to know that Santaolalla is still making decisions about tone, composure, and nuance.

The Sneak Peaks

One of the most exciting features of the trailers for existing fans was the song selection, as both came directly from the video games. The song selection in the first trailer may give the impression that it was made to fit the series’ mood. However, that is not the case. The serene country music of ‘Alone and Forsaken’ fits beautifully, but it also parallels a scene from the first game. Perhaps this song will be featured in the series as it was in the game. 

Alone and Forsaken

by Hank Williams

from The Last of Us Soundtrack

It seems appropriate that the team behind the trailer used a music choice from the second game in the second trailer. Although it may seem like a strange decision for such a dark and serious series, the showrunners are clearly winking at the audience and emphasizing how much effort has gone into the video game adaptation. ‘Take on Me’ can be subtly heard through out the duration of the second trailer. Hearing ‘Take on Me’ could bring tears to the eyes of those who have played The Last of Us part 2, as it was featured in one of the emotionally pivotal scenes from the sequel.

Take On Me

by a-ha

from The Last of Us: Part II Soundtrack

The Last of It

Reviews for the HBO series have been largely favorable with it being called, “a TV masterpiece” and “the best video game adaptation ever made.” Audiences can tune in and see for themselves this Sunday, January 15th, 2023 when the first episode becomes available to stream on HBO and HBOMax. Be sure to check out The Last of Us on Tunefind to explore the series soundtrack and while you wait for the series premiere, check out the game page on Tunefind for some pre-airing inspiration.


〉Full list of songs featured in The Last of Us: part 1 soundtrack

〉Full list of songs featured in The Last of Us: part 2 soundtrack

〉Full list of songs featured in The Last of Us soundtrack

〉More music by Gustavo Santaolalla 

〉More music by Hank Williams

〉More music by a-ha

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