The Last of Us HBO Differences: Frank and Bill’s Story vs. the Games

You were my purpose.

by J.R. Waugh
The Last of Us Differences Show Game
Images: HBO, Naughty Dog

The Last of Us on HBO has released its best episode yet with episode 3, ‘Long Long Time’ and it didn’t even have to focus heavily on CBI or calamity falling on the world to do it. The story of Frank and Bill was lovingly reinvented for the small screen and viewers can’t get enough of its potent drama. However, it’s impossible not to notice the differences between the games and The Last of Us on HBO when put together, especially in the case of Frank and Bill.

Frank and Bill Had a Very Different Story in the Games Compared to the HBO Show

Image: HBO

While the core themes and drama of the games are strongly adapted for the screen, The Last of Us episode 3 on HBO took the most different take on Frank and Bill from the games. This is a case of artistic liberties, and it still pushed the story forward but took viewers off guard. It was an emotional tour de force and sold us on both characters, but in different ways from how it was shown in The Last of Us as games, such as:

Frank Never Properly Appeared in the Games

If you played The Last of Us Part 1, you might recall the story of Bill more clearly than that of Frank, his partner. You’ll also recall only finding out that he hanged himself, committing suicide before succumbing to the effects of CBI. Bill’s affection for him was all the same, and they were partners, but this was the first noteworthy key difference. But it was worthwhile, with an outstanding performance turned in by Murray Bartlett.

Frank Hated Bill’s Guts by the End

As revealed by a note left behind by Frank after his death, he grew to resent Frank and how he ran his town by the time of his death. The show it hints at this tension, but the two resolve these differences, by growing old together, getting married, and dying in each other’s arms. They were deeply in love, and it was one of the best love stories in recent years, even if they both passed away in a saddening manner. Speaking of which…

Bill Didn’t Die in the Games

Bill was never shown as explicitly alive after meeting with Joel in the games, but it was nothing like the note he left behind in The Last of Us on HBO, a different take that surprised some viewers. It was a decision he surprised Frank with when Frank, dying of illness, urged his partner to take his life via assisted suicide by overdose.

When Bill revealed that he had spiked the bottle of wine he used to mix in a lethal dose of pills so the two would die together, Frank was a mixture of angry and elated with the incredibly romantic gesture. Among Bill’s last words, reflecting on how Frank’s presence brought Bill satisfaction with his life, Bill powerfully said, “and you were my purpose.” The statement was so deeply romantic that their death didn’t even feel tragic anymore, with them happy to have found each other, and unwilling to see a life without the love of their lives.

Bill Didn’t Trust Joel in the Games

While Bill was not an enemy to Joel even when they parted ways, assisting Joel was more like settling debts than how their bond played out in the show. That was not a warm reception either, with him having a meal with Frank, Joel, and Tess while brandishing his pistol. But he also left his entire town and possessions to Joel, “or whomever” to collect, cheekily adding that nobody else would get past his traps. Joel knew the passcode to get in completely unharmed, which was also different from the games.

Their Entire Backstory Was Never Told Like This

Bill and Frank were encountered through the eyes of Joel, but The Last of Us on HBO presented Bill’s story squarely through his eyes as the last of the key differences from the games. It was wonderfully expressive and allowed the viewers to understand his impact on Joel in a different light. Bill, hardened and prepared to live alone against the world, saw his walls come crashing down when he met someone he would grow to love and protect. This would impact how Joel would see Ellie, a girl who strongly reminds him of his daughter, and would do so for a long time to follow.

The Last of Us premiered on January 15, 2023, on HBO and HBO Max, and will air weekly every Sunday. International viewers can catch this series on Sky Atlantic and Crave.

- This article was updated on January 30th, 2023