The Last Of Us Showrunner has revealed that there’s one element of the show that could actually happen.
Craig Mazin revealed that fungi, if not necessarily Cordyceps fungi itself, can theoretically infect humans, even human brains. He shared this statement in an interview:
“It’s real — it’s real to the extent that everything he says that fungus do, they do. And they currently do it and have been doing it forever. There are some remarkable documentaries that you can watch that are quite terrifying. Now his warning — what if they evolve and get into us? — from a purely scientific point of view, would they do exactly to us what they do to ants? I don’t think so. I doubt it. On the other hand, he’s right — LSD and psilocybin do come from fungus. What I told John was, ‘What we’re doing in this scene is telling people this has always been here.’”
The premise of The Last Of Us from as far back as when it was just a PlayStation 3 video game from 2013 was that a mutation of the Cordyceps fungus has mutated and started infecting humans.
So, maybe some The Last Of Us players don’t know this, but Cordyceps is a real parasitic fungi. It primarily grows on ghost moth caterpillar larva. Perhaps inspiring many a video game and science fiction writer, the fungi grows inside the body of its host and eventually kills it. After the killing, a fruiting stalk in the form of a mushroom grows on the caterpillar head.
Ironically, in the real world, Cordyceps are edible to humans. Instead of turning us to zombies, they are a popular ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cordyceps is still the subject of pharmacological research in the pursuit of making modern medicine.
Even if Cordyceps is useful to us in real life, the prospect of a virus that takes over a body physically to the point that it forms mushroom heads on top of it is obviously something that has been explored many times in other media. In video games the likes of Resident Evil and Parasite Eve have explored similar ideas. The 2016 Warner Bros film The Girl With All The Gifts makes a slight variance to this theme that clearly differentiates it from everything else.
In The Last Of Us, we see clearly the parallels to the situation of the current pandemic, but as we know, not everything has been predicted on a 1:1 basis. The world social order did not break down, forcing everyone to fend for themselves into small militias like The Fireflies.
In fact, countries shared vaccines and pandemic measures with each other, understanding the common goal of eradicating the pandemic would require cooperation. If it is true that not every entity and/or notable figure did their best to stop or end this pandemic, it’s still true that we had averted our worst fears from when it started.
It’s also true that the world now needs to seriously consider the possibilities of future diseases and outbreaks threatening humanity in the near future. We don’t know of any real life immediate threat from fungus infections for now, thankfully.
The Last Of Us TV show is currently airing on HBO. The Last of Us Part I was released on September 2, 2022 on the PlayStation 5 and will be released on March 3, 2023 on Windows.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter via Comic Book