The Last of Us’ Best Scene Was Inspired By A Key Lord of the Rings Moment

The Last of Us's "Bloater" scene was inspired by the Moria sequence of The Fellowship of the Ring.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Updated

last of us

Shows and movies often take inspiration from or reference other movies. Some, like the Scary Movie and Scream franchises, pay direct homage and even parody, while others are more subtly influenced. According to a recent article from CBR, breakout HBO hit The Last of Us had at least one scene that drew inspiration from an unlikely source: The Lord of the Rings franchise. In the article, The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin notes that he was inspired by 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for one of his scenes in the season’s fifth episode titled “Endure and Survive.” It was the infamous Mines of Moria from which Mazin drew inspiration. 

The Mines of Moria were the underground remnants of a Dwarven kingdom made up of dark, foreboding tunnels. At one point in the film, the protagonists find themselves navigating these tunnels as they are attacked by a legion of orcs, a troll, and the infamous Balrog.

The scenes’ dark lighting and swarm of hideous orcs made it one of the most iconic and gripping ones from the film. Not many can forget the image of the film’s heroes surrounded by orcs emblazoned by Gandalf’s (played by the amazing Ian McKellen) shining staff or the epicness of Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog.

The Last of Us took inspiration from that scene and strove for similar dramatic gravitas. Although not frame for frame the same, the two scenes both feature a swarm of enemies that almost engulf a team of heroes, a dark, foreboding cinematography, and a feeling of desperation as the heroes try and survive a frantically distressing situation. They both hold weight in their respective universes and were executed excellently.

The scene is shot at nighttime and features the intimidatingly massive “Bloater” enemy and a swarm of smaller but still formidable clickers. In order for them to be as scary as possible, the scene features dark, ominous lighting, tight spaces, and a frenetic energy that really makes it feel like a scramble for survival. When the environment is set ablaze and the Bloater appears, it truly becomes an iconic moment within The Last of Us‘ first season.

The Last of Us is an adaptation of the 2013 video game of the same name and follows survivors Joel and the inexplicably immune Ellie through a post-apocalyptic United States that has been overrun by a fungal plague that infects humans and mutates them into zombie-like creatures. Hoping that her immunity is the key to a scientific breakthrough, the two travel across the country and lead a group of survivors against the creatures and troublesome bands of other humans. 

The Last of Us aired its first episode on January 9th, 2023, and its ninth episode and season finale on March 12th, 2023. It has proven to be one of HBO’s biggest hits. The series recently eclipsed the summer 2022 Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon in viewership and has officially become the platform’s most popular series since the original Game of Thrones.

Leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey actually both had roles in the Game of Thrones universe in addition to their roles on The Last of Us. Pedro Pascal played the charming Oberyn Martell while Bella Ramsey played the feisty young leader Lyanna Mormont.

The Last of Us has been critically acclaimed, as its first season has a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 9/10 on IMDB. HBO has already greenlit a second season, and Mazin has hinted that in order to cover the events of the video game’s sequel, The Last of Us Part II, he may need even more seasons.