*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Last Of Us*

While the main focus of The Last Of Us is obviously on the relationships between its complex characters, you can’t talk about the games or HBO’s series without discussing the horrifying Infected.

The zombie-like creatures are one of the many threats that Joel and Ellie must face on their journey across America and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes depending on where they’re found and how long they’ve been infected for.  

But what are the various stages of Infected in The Last Of Us and what types of zombie-esque monsters are we likely to see in the series?

Types of zombie-like Infected in The Last Of Us explored

Throughout the opening few episodes of HBO’s The Last Of Us, we’ve only encountered a few variants of the different types of zombie-like creatures that exist in the world.

However, if the games are anything to go by, then viewers are set to meet some truly terrifying foes as the show progresses.

The Last Of Us © HBO | Liane Hentscher

Runner

Runners are the most basic type of zombie-like Infected in The Last Of Us as they have only recently come into contact with the Cordyceps fungus and therefore, they look the most human.

Depending on the age of the infection, they may have started to lose their hair, have discolored skin and bloodshot eyes. They are able to move quickly but their attacks aren’t as fierce as more advanced variants.

The Last Of Us © HBO | Liane Hentscher

Stalker

The second stage of Infected are stalkers, people who have been infected between two weeks and a year. They are stronger than runners but still have the ability to see.

Fungal growth is noticeably more advanced in stalkers, particularly around the eyes and shoulders and in some cases, is just starting to break through the skull on the path to evolving to the next stage.

In the game, stalkers are arguably the scariest Infected to face as they hide in shadows and latch onto walls to attack their prey at opportune moments.

The Last Of Us © HBO | Liane Hentscher

Clicker

Fans of The Last Of Us series had their first encounter with clickers in episode 2 as Joel, Ellie and Tess made their way through the Bostonian Museum.

Clickers have typically been infected for a least a year and as such, the fungal growth has progressed to the point where the skull has been completely split open and the eyes have been covered or fully destroyed, rendering them blind.

To compensate, this variant of Infected has developed a primitive form of echolocation to navigate and hunt, heard in the eerie clicks and shrieks they make.

The Last Of Us © HBO | Liane Hentscher

Bloater

Bloaters are one of the fiercest types of Infected players will come across in the first Last Of Us game.

They have been infected for a number of years and while they may be slow to move, they pack a devastating blow.

On top of that, the fungal growth has become so advanced that it has begun to form armor plating of sorts, making them difficult to kill, although they are vulnerable to fire.  

The Last Of Us © HBO

Shambler

Shamblers are a variant of Infected that players encounter in The Last Of Us Part II as Ellie explores Seattle.

Like bloaters, shamblers have been infected for several years but have evolved differently due to the watery environment of the coastal city.

In the game, they can expel spores from their bodies and when killed, they release a cloud of Cordyceps spores into the air.

However, as The Last Of Us TV series isn’t including spores as a means of transmission, it’s unclear whether shamblers will appear in their current form if and when a second season arrives.

The Last Of Us Part II © Naught Dog | Sony Interactive Entertainment

Rat king

And finally, the last type of Infected that players come across in The Last Of Us Part II is the rat king, a unique variant that developed in Seattle’s hospital, ground zero for the zombie infection in the city.

The rat king is formed of several bodies that have converged together over 25 years into an enormous mass of flailing limbs and fungal growths.

When damaged, its individual parts can break apart and attack alongside the main body, making the encounter in the game a truly horrifying one.

The Last Of Us Part II © Naught Dog | Sony Interactive Entertainment

The Last Of Us premiered on HBO and HBO Max in the US on Sunday, January 15, 2023, and followed a day later internationally, with UK viewers able to watch via Sky Atlantic and NOW.

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