'The Last of Us’ finally adds Ellie’s favourite thing

A teen and a man sit beside a camping lamp in the dark looking worried.

If there's one thing that The Last of Us' Ellie values more than the one-liner humour of Will Livingstone, it's comics.

In episode 5, the HBO series finally included our teen protagonist's favourite thing, seeing Ellie (Bella Ramsey) connect with her beloved Savage Starlight comics. As Joel (Pedro Pascal), Henry (Lamar Johnson), Sam (Keivonn Woodard), and Ellie are escaping Kansas City through its underground tunnels, Sam finds an issue in an abandoned settlement kindergarten.

"No way! I love these!" exclaims Ellie, as they excitedly trade details over which issues they each own. "To the edge of the universe and back, endure and survive," they quote the comic's catchphrase together, as Sam teaches Ellie the sign language. The issue Sam discovers is Savage Starlight #6 "Accretion" — one of the titles both Ellie and Sam own, so they know it almost by heart — and can be found in the game in a crumbling hotel lobby bar in Pittsburgh (the HBO series swapped Pittsburgh for Kansas City for episodes 4 and 5).

In Naughty Dog's game, collecting this fictional series of sci-fi comics for Ellie isn't a survivalist necessity, it's just a rewarding, fun thing to do, as the tough teen can't get enough of the intergalactic adventures of protagonist Dr. Daniela Star amid the gloom. They're pure escapism from her bleak reality. Like Ellie's jokes, the comics scattered around dilapidated bedrooms, inside rusting cars, and sitting within drawers are a form of collectible in the game, and finding all 14 of them will earn you the aptly named "Endure and Survive" trophy, which is also the title of episode 5.

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In the series, creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin expand Ellie's love of comics to the character of Sam. In the episode, "endure and survive" becomes a sort of motto for the new foursome, despite the tragic circumstances for Sam and Henry ahead.

"What's that comic book say? 'Endure and survive?'" remarks Joel.

"'Endure and survive.' That shit's redundant," responds Henry in jest.

"Yeah, it's not great," replies Joel.

After the episode's major battle with the sniper, Kathleen's militia, and newly ripped Infected, Sam and Ellie get to be actual kids for a second, thwarting their guardians' request to go to sleep by gleefully continuing to read Savage Starlight. Sadly, their time is limited.

Unlike the game, the series will likely only use this moment for Ellie to connect with her comics, as narrative-wise it might prove too painful a reminder of Sam to revisit in future. But for a brief moment, Mazin and Druckmann both expanded the emotional significance of these collectibles for players and gave Ellie a glimmer of joy in the dark. "Endure and survive" is all anyone can aim for in The Last of Us, but for the most part, it doesn't work out.

The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max. New episodes air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.