Redefining Biological Horror: The Aesthetic Evolution of an Infected Body in HBO’s The Last of Us


  • Flavius Floare Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


horror, television, video game, body horror, adaptation


The post-apocalyptic genre has seen a resurgence in 2023 due to HBO’s The Last of Us, a television adaptation based on Naughty Dog’s video game of the same name, where the society has collapsed due to an infection that causes human bodies to gradually mutate and become violent. There have been debates on whether the infected humans should be called “zombies”, as the word was banned on the production set and the creative director of the video game has refused numerous times to use the word when labeling the infected bodies. In this article, I am taking a closer look at the infection presented in the series, its impact on the human body, the mutation and transformation that precedes it, and the question of zombification in relation to an existing and real-world infection, as in the case Cordyceps fungus. Moreso, I will discuss the validity of considering analyzing The Last of Us through the body horror filter, due to the exploration of an infection that happens in stages, and the different anatomical and aesthetical changes it provokes to the human body.

Author Biography

Flavius Floare, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

FLAVIUS FLOARE is researcher at the Faculty of Theatre and Film, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. His main area of research and interest is the psychological horror sub-genre and its exploration in contemporary cinema. Amongst his other interests, the video game is a source of research, due to the medium's proximity to film and horror.




How to Cite

Floare, F. (2023). Redefining Biological Horror: The Aesthetic Evolution of an Infected Body in HBO’s The Last of Us. Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai - Dramatica, 68(1), 125–140. Retrieved from