The Last of Us on HBO has quickly become one of the network's most popular shows of the last decade.
Every week, millions of viewers tune in to watch Joel (Pedro Pascal) navigate his way to safely transport 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to their desired destination. Featuring terrifying zombie-like creatures known as "clickers," the fictional premise has become twice as terrifying in a post-COVID-19 world. To such an extent, it raises the question of whether or not such a fungal infection exists in the real world.
Cordyceps is a yeast that was first discovered in a contaminated flour factory that was sold internationally. Cordyceps eventually controls its host's central nervous system, eventually – and completely – allowing them to be infected as many humans as possible.
The notion of cordyceps makes excellent television, but the real question is whether or not it exists in real life, because if it does, then, let's just say it'll become much harder to suspend our belief and enjoy The Last of Us during what's supposed to be our leisure time.
Is cordyceps merely a fictional creature, or does it exist in the real world?
The cordyceps fungus from The Last of Us isn't going to go around the bush and keep you in suspense. As a result, the show's co-creator and Neil Druckmann, who also directed the video game, claims that the cordyceps fungus was inspired by a Planet Earth BBC documentary.
The cordyceps fungus has about 600 variations in the natural world, although it has no record of it being able to enter the human body and survive. This is because the fungus has not evolved to withstand the human body's internal temperature, so technically we can't be harmed.
Now, we know what you're thinking: that sounds quite a lot like the opening sequence from The Last of Us, and you'd be correct. In the episode, Dr. Neuman (John Hannah) tells the television host (Josh Brener) that the fungus cannot live inside humans due to its inability to sustain our internal temperature. However, if the world warms up by many degrees, the fungus might nonetheless invade the human body.
The ongoing battle on planet Earth with global warming does not make arguments against a potential cordyceps outbreak seem less terrifying, but evolution is in our path.
According to his interview on New Rockstars, a cordyceps outbreak is "very unlikely." That is, at least in our lifetime or the lifetime of our great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents, and perhaps even longer.
So, for the time being, the show remains in the realm of fiction. However, when Stephen King's The Stand was released in 1978, it was also dismissed as fictional. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic proved its point completely correct.
As you watch new HBO seasons of The Last of Us, which premieres every Sunday at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT, you may think about it.