The Last of Us HBO: what happened to Marlene in the video game? Ending explained

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Merle Dandridge returned as Marlene in the HBO series explosive first season finale

The Last of Us’ first season has come to a dramatic conclusion.

Fans of the hit HBO series will be left debating the explosive finale. Based on the popular video game series of the same name, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey starred as Joel and Ellie.

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Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann brought the first video game’s much-talked about conclusion to the small screen on Sunday (12 March) night. Joel and Ellie concluded their journey to find the Fireflies but it soon took a dark turn.

Marlene, played by Merle Dandridge resuming her role from the games, featured heavily in the explosive finale. The ambigious ending is also sure to leave fans talking until The Last of Us returns to our screens for a second season.

The HBO series will adapt The Last of Us Part II for its future episodes. But what happened to Marlene in the games? Here is all you need to know:

Did Marlene die in the HBO show?

Merle Dandridge plays Marlene in the video game and TV seriesMerle Dandridge plays Marlene in the video game and TV series
Merle Dandridge plays Marlene in the video game and TV series | © 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. Al

The final saw Joel embark on a murderous spree through the Fireflies hospital in Salt Lake City in a bid to save Ellie’s life after discovering that the procedure to create the cure would kill her. It included gunning down the leader of the rebel movement Marlene.

What happened to Marlene in the video games?

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The series has been a faithful adaption of the original source material on the whole with a few divergences and differences to help it better translate to television. For the season finale, the same is very much true,

HBO’s The Last of Us covers the same story beats as the game in “Look for the Light”. After a jump in time following the conclusion of the David arc, the story jumped to spring as Joel and Ellie arrive in Salt Lake City.

Ellie becomes pensive as they approach the end of their journey - including during a memorable moment when after 10 plus hours of pressing triangle to boost her up to a ledge, she simply ignores the prompt.

The pair discover a giraffe before continuing on with their search for the Fireflies. After heading down into the city’s underground they face a horde of infected before nearly drowning.

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They are captured by the Fireflies and Joel wake sup in a hospital, Marlene informs him that Ellie is being prepared for surgery. He is told that in order to potentially create a vaccine, they will have to remove the infected part of Ellie’s brain - killing her in the process.

Unable to accept that, Joel escapes from his room and goes on a murderous rampage, rescuing Ellie from the operating table by gunning down the doctor preparing to operate on her. He is confronted by Marlenne and kills her, before putting the unconcious Ellie in a car.

Who played Marlene?

Merle Dandridge is the only actor to play the same character in the video games and the HBO series. Other actors from the source material have appeared in other roles throughout the nine episode run - including Ashley Johnson as Ellie’s mum.

Dandridge is a prolific actor, probably best known for appearing in television series like Sons of Anarchy and Station 19; she also previously starred in The Flight Attendant and Truth Be Told.

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