The last two episodes of The Last of Us on HBO Max have brought Joel and Ellie to Kansas City. According to many viewers familiar with the place, the series did a much better job portraying Kansas City compared to previous attempts to replicate Boston.
The third episode of The Last of Us reportedly took place “10 miles west of Boston.” But many fans, including writer Stephen King, were quick to point out that the mountainous terrain that bordered Boston in the series was nowhere near accurate. Now, with the last two episodes of The Last of Us, the series has represented another iconic city in the United States much better.
For some The Last of Us fans, including Kansas City in the first place was a hard sell, given that Henry and Sam’s story in the original video game takes place in Pittsburgh. But, according to series directors Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann (via Inverse), they changed the story to Kansas City for production reasons.
The showrunners explained on The Last of Us podcast that filming locations in Canada looked more like Kansas City than Pittsburghwhich led to the decision to include Kansas City in the story.
The decision to trade to Kansas City has paid off
The decision appears to have paid off., as the series seems to do justice to Kansas City. According to Rebekah Valentine, IGN’s Kansas City expert: “Honestly, they did a great job. With all the bullshit about Boston not being correct, the map they drew of the freeways was basically correct, and I recognized a lot of landmarks from the center”.
Kansas City residents were also happy to see a post-apocalyptic version of the city’s amusement park, Worlds of Fun. As Joel and Ellie head into town, we see a shot of the Mamba, which is the park’s largest and most recognizable roller coaster. It was built in 1998, so it would still be fairly new when the outbreak hit in 2003.
However, it was not a perfect recreation of the american city. On the r/kansascity subreddit, a fan pointed out that a Kansas City landscape had been inaccurately modified in The Last of Us. According to the comment, the series added a highway in an aerial shot that doesn’t actually exist in real life. They did, however, point out the presence of some accurate Kansas City landmarks, such as the large AT&T building seen in one of the series’ wide shots.
Regardless of the accuracy of the city on screen, some fans pointed out that Joel and Ellie’s cross-country trip shouldn’t even have taken them through Kansas City. In TwitterMichael O’Bryan wrote: “People were mad at The Last of Us last week for the ’10 miles outside of Boston’ shot, but it’s 10 times more egregious that they’re driving from Boston to Wyoming and going for I-70 for some reason. You take 80 or 90 and you don’t even get to Missouri, let alone Kansas City.”
People were mad at The Last of Us last week for the “10 miles outside of Boston” establishing shot, but it’s 10X more egregious that they’re driving from Boston to Wyoming and they’re on I-70 for some reason. You take 80 or 90 and never even touch Missouri, let alone Kansas City. pic.twitter.com/EFVR1STmmL
— Michael O’Bryan (@M_BobRyan) February 6, 2023
The Last of Us Episode 5 premiered on HBO Max on Saturday, ironically, a few days before the Kansas City Chiefs played the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs ended up winning the game, making it a special weekend for Kansas City.
To find out more about The Last of Us, check out our breakdown of Henry and Sam’s history in the series.