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The Significance Of The Song At The End Of ‘The Last Of Us’ Series Premiere

[This post contains spoilers for The Last of Us]

The trailer for HBO’s The Last of Us was set to “Take on Me” by a-ha. That song will eventually factor into the TV show’s plot, as it did in the video games, but it was another 1980s classic that had major implications on tonight’s series premiere.

After Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) gets tasked with smuggling Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of a quarantine zone, they take refuge in an apartment, where she discovers author Fred Bronson’s book, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. It’s an essential read for any pop culture fanatic, but in the universe of The Last of Us, it’s important for a different reason. Inside the book is a sheet of paper with a code scribbled on it below the initials “B/F,” standing for Bill and Frank: a 1960s song means “Nothing In,” a 1970s song equals “New Stock,” and a 1980s song, well, a 1980s song has a red “X” on the note.

“So, who is Bill and Frank?” Ellie asks when Joel returns to the apartment. He doesn’t respond, but she figures out the significance of an 1980s song by claiming that Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” played while he was napping. “Shit,” Joel mutters. It was a trick. “Gotcha,” Ellie says while cracking a smile. “’80s means trouble.”

The next time a song comes on the radio, no one’s in the apartment; Joel, Ellie, and Tess (Anna Torv) are on the other side of the quarantine zone wall. That song, which plays over the credits of the episode, is “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode, which came out in… 1987. Uh oh. There’s trouble coming. That’s bad news for Joel and Ellie but good news for us. We get to enjoy some Depeche Mode!