The Last Of Us Now Is Purposefully Infecting The Internet

The Last of Us teamed with Google to create a fake cordyceps infection in browsers whenever anyone searches for the show.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

HBO’s live-action adaptation of the hit The Last Of Us video game series has been a streaming hit for the network, infecting audiences all across the globe. Now, according to a write-up in CBR, it appears as though the infection has spread to our computer and phone screens as well. In an excellent use of viral, or in this case, fungal marketing, the team behind The Last Of Us has utilized a feature in which a cordyceps fungus spreads across the computer screen when you search for the series by name.

The series, which is currently seven episodes into its nine-episode first season, has been taking audiences by storm while showing off the incredible acting talents of leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. Given that the show has been such a critical success, it seems obvious that millions of viewers have been googling The Last Of Us in order to learn more about the actors, the episode release dates, and the PlayStation games the series is adapting. Now Google users are in for a scare when the search yields results displaying a growing series of fungal tendrils like those controlling the zombified corpses within the show.

In The Last Of Us, a fungal infection takes hold of humanity, spreading into a full-scale apocalypse, forcing the remaining survivors to retreat into small encampments, roving bands of street gangs, and forced into a police state of Martial Law. The cordyceps fungus portrayed in the show is based on a real fungus that infects ants and other small insects, causing them to spread the infection amongst their colonies while propping their bodies up for sustenance. In reality, it is highly improbable for the cordyceps fungus to infect humans, but that didn’t stop the creative team behind Naughty Dog‘s hit games from coming up with one of the best dystopian post-apocalyptic futures in gaming history.

The Bloater, a fungal monster in The Last of Us

The Google attachment works by first presenting a small red mushroom icon at the bottom of the screen when The Last Of Us is searched. Preying on your curiosity, the screen becomes slowly enveloped with tendrils when you click on the mushroom. After repeatedly clicking the mushroom or pressing the enter key, the fungus spreads around your screen, completely blocking the perimeter of Google’s search results.

The stunt is purely visual and allows you to click on links and interact with the page’s search results while offering a share feature for social media. This is the latest in a recent trend of viral marketing stunts, such as the creepy smiling MLB patrons advertising the horror film Smile or the Pac-Man-type browser game that was recently released to promote Cocaine Bear. This strategy allows potential fans of the show to become engrossed in the vast world of The Last Of Us in a fun and interactive capacity.

The Last Of Us airs new episodes Sunday nights on HBO. But, given the show’s explosive growth in popularity, you likely already knew that. The infectious adaptation may soon take hold of everybody you know.