The Last of Us Episode 1: What happens to Sarah?

Nico Parker as Sarah and Joel and Sarah in The Last of Us Episode 1HBO/Sony

The Last of Us Episode 1 introduces viewers to Joel’s daughter Sarah on Outbreak Day in Texas – so what happens to her, and is it any different from the game?

The Last of Us, the highly-anticipated HBO adaptation of the beloved video game, is finally here. In our review, we said: “From the outset of the story, it’s confidently handled, immaculately staged, and honors its sacred text.”

Players knew what to expect coming in, but the first episode has a brief prologue before that explored Joel and Sarah’s life before the Cordyceps pandemic; more specifically, the last day before the world was changed forever.

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While the episode doesn’t end with this segment, it’s incredibly significant for the story – so, here’s what happens to Sarah, and whether or not it differs from the events of the game.

The Last of Us Episode 1: What happens to Sarah?

Sarah is killed by a FEDRA soldier as she tries to escape Austin with Joel. Joel urges the soldier that neither he nor Sarah is sick, but the soldier is ordered to shoot them anyway.

When Joel, Tommy, and Sarah are trying to drive out of the city, a passenger aircraft crashes into the middle of the street, with the explosive debris causing their pickup truck to crash and topple over. Sarah appears to break her ankle, so Joel carries her the rest of the way.

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Joel and Sarah in The Last of Us Episode 1HBO

A blazing car separates Joel from Tommy, so they agree to meet at the river. As Joel tries to find a way out, he encounters a herd of newly infected runners, and one of them runs after them, thrashing and crashing into everything in their path.

They run through a restaurant, and when they emerge on the other side, the soldier shoots the runner, before turning his gun on Joel and Sarah. As soon as he fires his weapon, Joel throws himself and Sarah down into a ditch, and before he can finish the job, Tommy shoots him in the head with his rifle.

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Joel catches a rough graze, but Sarah took multiple bullets. Joel pleads with his “baby girl” to stay awake, but Tommy knows she’s not going to make it. At first, she’s desperately gasping for air and grabbing her dad, before passing away in his arms.

Is Sarah’s death different in The Last of Us game?

Bar a few minor details in their attempt to escape, Sarah’s death in The Last of Us show almost exactly mirrors the game.

It’s not a plane that causes their truck to crash, but another car, which the episode nail-bitingly teases in one near-miss. The runner chases after them for far longer in the game, but it all ends the same way: with the FEDRA soldier taking Sarah’s life, while also losing his own.

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In an interview with Inverse, Nico Parker admitted she’s never played the game, but she’d watched it “prior to me being in any way involved.”

“I used to watch people playing the game, I would watch just the silent gameplay and cry quietly to myself when I was younger,” she said.

“It gave me extensive nightmares, but I loved the plot. It always sounds like I’m lying, but I really did. I loved the plot. I love the characters. So I would just watch it, regardless of the extreme nightmares that it would give me when I was about eight.”

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The Last of Us Episode 2 will be available to watch on January 22 in the US and January 23 in the UK.

For more TLOU content, check out some of our below guides:

Joel & Tess explained | Sarah spoilers | Fungus threat is terrifying | The dog’s fate | Who is Marlene? | Why is Ellie so important? | Soundtrack choice | FEDRA & the Fireflies explained