Review: The Last of Us Humanizes Libertarian Survivalists

Human bonds transcend ideology in the HBO series.


In HBO's The Last of Us, a handful of human survivors struggle to get by in a world overrun by formerly human, zombie-like monsters. It portrays its post-apocalyptic America as bleak and authoritarian, with a quasi-federal security apparatus, FEDRA, maintaining brutal control over the remaining population centers. Trade and travel are heavily restricted—the show presents the zombie apocalypse as a libertarian nightmare.

The third episode specifically can be understood as a vindication, or at least humanization, of libertarian survivalists, who are normally portrayed as cranks. The story follows Bill, a gun-nut bunker-dweller who mumbles rants to himself about how FEDRA is the New World Order. When an uninfected man named Frank falls into a trap Bill has set, he lets Frank into his home.

Over time, they fall in love, squabbling about gardens as well as politics: "You live in a psycho bunker where 9/11 was an inside job and the government are all Nazis." Bill retorts, "The government are all Nazis!"

In the show's world, he's right, but it's not his politics that make him sympathetic. His capacity to love and be loved, and the ways that human bonds transcend ideology, give him dignity.