At the beginning of The Last of Us, Sarah is treated as a main, even playable character, as if the game is betting that the player will mistake her for a child from marketing materials, and uses this to shock you when she suddenly dies. .
However, the game only lets you control Sarah for a few moments of calm before the storm, and she’s dead in less than 15 minutes. The HBO show is taking its time to step up the gimmick by effectively making Sarah the main character of the 2003 timeline in the first episode, spending tons of time with her before the mushroom apocalypse really hits fans. What’s more, playing Nico Parker makes Sarah an inherently likable character, which, combined with her massively extended screen time, makes her death a truly shocking moment if you’re unfamiliar with the story. Even so, Parker’s take on Sarah’s final moments is an absolute tear-jerker that manages to outshine the game’s already impressive counterpart.
Sarah’s death was instrumental in turning Joel into a rude misanthrope, which in turn is what makes his relationship with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) so intriguing. By simply putting more focus on Sarah, the series provides additional momentum from the start, while also laying a solid emotional foundation for the story to come.
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