Last of Us creators shot a very different ending for the game: a musical
Naughty Dog’s Survival-action Game (and Television Show): The Post-Apocalypse Last of UsThis is an bleak, hopeless ending. However, one of the games’ scrapped alternate endings provided hope and laughter.
In 2013, PAX Prime Seattle was the place to be. Last of UsNaughty Dog fans were guided by Bruce Straley, game director, and Neil Druckmann through the initial pitch. This gave them a sneak peek at the story and combat mechanics of the game. They also showed off a surprising alternate ending to the game that’s far less bleak.
[Spoiler alert: This post discusses the events of the ending of The Last of Us, both the video game and the HBO series.]
Straley and Druckmann presented a modified version of the ending to the game that made a playable sequence into an extended scene. An earlier version of this game ended with Joel taking Ellie to a hospital to study her rare gift. It was her immune system that nearly wipes out the entire planet. Joel discovers Ellie’s death from the operation that was to be done on her in order to find a cure. Joel reacts badly to the news, murdering the entire laboratory staff and running away with Ellie unconscious.
Naughty Dog recorded a session of motion capture from the take. It showed Troy Baker (Joel) and Merle Dandridge, both actors in both the HBO and video games, as they played the initial version of the scene. Joel and Marlene argue, and Joel captures Marlene, as she begs for her life.
Druckmann says Baker was a sloppy actor in the scene and dropped his replica pistol as he burst into a room. Druckmann claimed that he took Marlene aside to give her private instructions during one of his next takes. After speaking to Baker in private, Druckmann said that he would continue, regardless of what had happened. Keep going, regardless of whether he drops the gun or if something unexpected happens.
Baker ran back into the room. Dandridge began singing, and Dandridge belted out beautiful renditions of her lines. Even as Dandridge sang the lines “Raped and murdered! Raped and murdered!” Baker didn’t flinch, instantly improvising his own sing-songy version of the dialogue, momentarily turning the climactic scene from Last of Us into a Broadway musical. It was impressive that neither actor left their characters, and they completed the scene entirely in song.
Watch the above video to see this musical gag.
Read on for another possible reality.
Straley and Druckmann touched upon a different version of the story. Last of UsJoel’s friend Tess played the antagonist role. In an earlier version of this story, Tess’ brother is with Joel, Tess, Ellie and the rest of their group on the first leg. Tess’s brother, Joel instigates a fight with military personnel. Tess then blames Joel for the death. Joel and Tess leave and Tess starts to resent Joel. Tess then, along with a group, attempts to track down Joel.
Naughty Dog was planning to chase Joel’s gang into a ranch and capture them near the end. Joel helped Ellie escape. Tess would then torture Joel for information about Ellie’s whereabouts with the intent of finding her and killing the girl — “She knows you’re the only thing I care about,” Joel would have told Ellie.
Tess pointed her gun at Joel’s face, and then there would be a gunshot.
Ellie, during her escape, would have doubled back and seen that Tess was being tortured, then shot Tess. That’s what her gunshot players would hear.
You can also find other ideas to scrap. Last of UsEllie’s dog was also along. Naughty Dog displayed concept art of Ellie’s dog in her arms. However, there wasn’t any in-game footage.
Druckmann explained that they wanted to create a Naughty Doggy game with a real dog.
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