The Last of Us Episode 3: Bill and Frank’s relationship explained

Bill and Frank in The Last of Us HBO showHBO

Are Bill and Frank gay in The Last of Us? Episode 3 is centered on the heartbreaking story of Bill and Frank, so let’s break down their relationship and how it comes to be.

The Last of Us Episode 3 takes a break from Joel and Ellie from the most part, flashing back to the start of the outbreak to tell the show’s best side story yet: Bill and Frank, two men brought together by fate.

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In our review, we said it “belongs in the same untouchable echelon as Ozymandias and Pine Barrens; it’s one of the greatest episodes ever committed to television, and pop culture history will renown it as such.”

Their time together unfolds over the course of 15 years, so let’s get into how they met and what their relationship became – all the way to the bittersweet end.

The Last of Us Episode 3: Bill and Frank explained

Yes, Bill and Frank are gay. They meet in 2007, and after some hesitance, they spend 15 years together happily in love, until they both choose to kill themselves rather than living without one another.

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Frank stumbles on the town of Lincoln in 2007. At this point, Bill has turned it into his personal encampment, surrounded by an electric fence and booby traps to kill the infected (and anyone else who tries to come in without permission). He falls into a ditch, but manages to persuade Bill to give him a hot meal and let him have a shower.

They bond over Linda Ronstadt, with Bill serenading Frank with ‘Long Long Time’, before they kiss and go to bed. For Bill, it’s his first time with a man, so Frank promises to start with “the simple stuff.”

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A still from The Last of Us Episode 3HBO

In 2013, they meet Joel and Tess for the first time after Frank communicates with Tess over the radio. Another five years later, they’re getting older but their love burns just as brightly. In 2023, it’s implied Frank has cancer, so he decides to have one last perfect day with Bill before swallowing enough pills to kill him in his sleep – all mixed into a delicious glass of wine of course.

And that’s what they do. They even get married, but there’s a late twist of the knife for the fans: Bill does the exact same.

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“This isn’t the tragic suicide at the end of the play,” he tells Frank.

“I’m old, and I’m satisfied, and, and you were my purpose,” Bill says. “I do not support this… I should be furious. But from an objective point of view, it’s incredibly romantic,” Frank says.

Bill wheels Frank through to their bedroom, and they die in each other’s arms – but crucially, this happens offscreen, so we’re spared from the horror of their demise. We get to remember the sweet stuff.

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Are Bill and Frank different in The Last of Us game?

Yes, but also not really. This is a fairly drastic deviation from the game, but only because we actually meet Frank. In the game, it’s also implied Bill and Frank were, though Bill avoids addressing if he’s gay.

That’s another major difference: Joel and Ellie spend quite a bit of time with Bill in the original story, with the trio working together to assemble a car. In the show, Bill leaves a working truck to Joel in his death note, along with the rest of his supplies.

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In the game, Frank left Bill on his own in Lincoln. Joel eventually finds his body hanging in a house where they take refuge – it seems he took his own life before he became infected.

In a letter to Bill before he died, he wrote: “Well, Bill, I doubt you’d ever find this note cause you were too scared to ever make it to this part of town. But if for some reason you did, I want you to know I hated your guts. I grew tired of this shitty town and your set-in-your-ways attitude. I wanted more from life than this and you could never get that.

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“And that stupid battery you kept moaning about – I got it. But I guess you were right. Trying to leave this town will kill me. Still better than spending another day with you. Good Luck, Frank.”

Whatever happened between the couple, they clearly didn’t end things on good terms, unlike the show where their disagreements and arguments are more playful and considered.

Bill also tells Ellie in the game: “Once upon a time, I had somebody that I cared about. It was a partner. Somebody I had to look after. And in this world, that sort of shit’s good for one thing: gettin’ you killed.”

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In an interview with The New Yorker, co-showrunner Neil Druckmann said: “As awesome as [Episode 3] is, there are going to be fans who are upset by it.

“To me, the story we tell is authentic to the world. It’s authentic to the themes that we’re talking about.”

Craig Mazin said their relationship represented the show’s focus on “outward love and inward love – the people who want to make everybody better, and the people who want to protect particular people at any cost.”

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The Last of Us Episode 4 will be available to watch on February 5 in the US and February 6 in the UK. You can check out the rest of our coverage here.

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