Is Sam deaf in The Last of Us game?

Keivonn Woodard as Sam in The Last of UsHBO

Is Sam deaf in The Last of Us game? In Episode 5, we learn that Henry’s brother is deaf – but is this a change in the show, or has the character always been hearing-impaired?

In our review of Episode 5, we said it “delivers the crushing, cruel coda of Henry and Sam even more effectively than the game; a nightmare born anew and relived.:

The two brothers first appeared in the closing moments of Episode 4, standing over Joel and Ellie and holding them at gunpoint. They eventually work together to evade Kathleen and escape Kansas City.

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In the opening scenes, it became clear that Sam is deaf – so is he also deaf in the game, or is it a new detail for the show?

Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…

Is Sam deaf in The Last of Us game?

No, Sam isn’t deaf in The Last of Us game. In the show, he’s portrayed by nine-year-old Keivonn Woodard, who’s also deaf in real life.

In Episode 5, Henry and Sam can be seen using two forms of communication: sign language and Sam’s notepad, which he wears around his neck. He uses it in several scenes with Ellie, including the reveal that he was bitten in the suburbs.

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In an earlier interview with The Washington Post, Naughty Dog co-president and the show’s co-creator Neil Druckmann discussed how the best storytelling can be “just about reading a person’s expression.”

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“You know, one of the changes that we made for the TV show is we made Sam deaf,” he said.

“And it started from a place of just like, you know, a conversation I had with Craig. We’re like what if we could use less dialogue, but then it led to… that kind of constraint led to really interesting storytelling decisions that I would say in some ways make that sequence more impactful than it is in the game, at least for me. And I’m very curious to see how other people react to it.”

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Speaking to The Daily Moth, Woodard’s mother April Jackson said she constantly spoke with him “about how he was feeling and how he felt working with his team.”

“I had the expectations, of course, that him being Deaf, I was ready for barriers, and problems to happen, but that was not the case at all! I’m thankful we had such a great team that was receptive and motivated along with us. We were very fortunate to have that great team,” she added.

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In a message to the “Black deaf youth” and the “deaf community at large”, Woodard also said: “You don’t have to be afraid! Don’t be afraid to try it out. Because that’s what my parents told me – to not be afraid to try out.

“I was a bit afraid at first, but I went ahead and overcame that, auditioned, and got the role with The Last of Us! I was mind-blown.”

The Last of Us Episode 6 will be available to stream on February 19 in the US and February 20 in the UK. You can check out the rest of our coverage here and check out the trailer for the weeks ahead here.

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