Zombies don’t exist in the world of The Last of Us. Well, maybe they do (it’s unclear if Joel is familiar with the works of George Romero), but the mushroom monsters killing everyone? Those are the Infected, not zombies. It’s an important distinction, so much so that cinematographer Eben Bolter claimed that “we weren’t allowed to say the z-word on set. It was like a banned word. They were the Infected. We weren’t a zombie show.”
The Last of Us is more of a giraffe show than a zombie show, but co-showrunner Craig Mazin claims he never banned the z-word. In fact, “I call them zombies all the time,” he said during a virtual press conference for the season one finale. “I don’t know what Eben was talking about. No, we call them zombies all the time because it’s funny.”
Maybe “zombie” is a slur among the Infected. They prefer “cannibal corpse.”
Later in the press conference, Mazin discussed the role the Infected will play in future seasons of the show. “I think the balance is not always just about within an episode or even episode to episode, but season to season,” he said. “It’s quite possible that there will be a lot more Infected later, 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.”
Bella Ramsey is excited for a different kind of action for Ellie in season two, if you know what I mean.