The Last of Us has received almost universal critical acclaim since its debut on HBO in January, earning particular praise for its performances. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as an unlikely duo forced to trek through a zombie-infested wasteland together, and their chemistry has been singled out as one of the show’s greatest strengths.
Based on the 2013 video game of the same name, The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic drama set 20 years after a global pandemic, caused by a widespread fungal infection, has destroyed society and transformed infected hosts into hideously mutated creatures.
Pascal and Ramsey both had their breakthroughs on Game of Thrones, another HBO series. But they are just a part of the celebrated cast of The Last of Us, which also includes veteran actor Melanie Lynskey, fan favorite Nick Offerman, and recent Emmy winner Murray Bartlett, among others. Here’s where you might have seen The Last of Us cast before.
Leading the cast is Pedro Pascal’s Joel, a hardened survivor haunted by his past trauma and failure, who is smuggling a young girl, Ellie, out of a quarantine zone and across a pandemic-ravaged America. Pascal had his breakthrough role in 2014 as fan favorite Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. The next year, he was cast in a leading role on the Netflix series Narcos (2015-2017), portraying Javier Peña, the real-life Drug Enforcement Administration agent who investigated drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Since 2019, Pascal has portrayed the title bounty hunter in the Disney+ Star Wars–series The Mandalorian, of which Season 3 will debut in March. He reprised his Mandalorian role in the spinoff-series The Book of Boba Fett in 2022. Pascal has also appeared in films, including Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).
The other lead character, portrayed by Bella Ramsey, is Ellie, a defiant and headstrong 14-year-old orphan who is immune to the infection. Ramsey, 19, also first burst onto the scene in Game of Thrones, though she never shared any screen time with now-castmate Pascal on that show. Ramsey delivered a scene-stealing performance on GoT as Lyanna Mormont, the fiery and intelligent 10-year-old leader of House Mormont who, despite her young age, trades barbs with her fellow warriors and doesn’t shy away from the battlefield. She also starred in the television adaptation of The Worst Witch from 2017 to 2019, based on a novel series by Jill Murphy, and starting in 2018 was the voice actor for the title character in the Netflix animated series Hilda.
Meet the Supporting Cast of The Last of Us
- Murray Bartlett plays Frank, a post-pandemic survivor living with his love interest, Bill, in an isolated town. Bartlett appeared on the HBO shows Looking as Dom Basaluzzo, and as Armond on the first season of The White Lotus, which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award. He also portrayed Nick De Noia in the Hulu miniseries Welcome to Chippendales (2022).
- Merle Dandridge plays Marlene, the leader of a resistance movement called the Fireflies, which fights against an oppressive military regime. Dandridge has had an impressive Broadway career, appearing in such shows as Jesus Christ Superstar, AIDA, Rent, Tarzan, and Spamalot. She also starred in the first season of HBO series The Flight Attendant in 2020, and the ABC show Station 19 since 2021.
- Lamar Johnson plays Henry, who is in hiding from a revolutionary movement, along with his brother, Sam. Johnson is best known for his performance in the Canadian dance drama series The Next Step. He was inspired to become a dancer after watching the film You Got Served.
- Gabriel Luna plays Tommy, a former soldier and Joel’s younger brother. Luna portrayed superhero Ghost Rider on the television series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and played a villainous Terminator cyborg in the film Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).
- Melanie Lynskey plays Kathleen Goghlan, the leader of a terroristic revolutionary movement in Kansas City. The celebrated New Zealand actress made her film debut alongside Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures (1994) and has appeared in a wide range of mainstream and independent films. She also received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination last year for her role in the television series Yellowjackets.
- Nick Offerman plays Bill, a survivalist living with his love interest, Frank, in an isolated town. Offerman is best known for his role as Ron Swanson, the dour libertarian and breakout character from the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. He has also appeared in films including 21 Jump Street (2012), The Lego Movie (2014), and The Founder (2017), and shows such as Fargo.
- Nico Parker plays Sarah, the Joel’s 14-year-old daughter. The real-life daughter of actress Thandiwe Newton and director Ol Parker, Nico made her film debut in the 2019 live-action remake of Dumbo and appeared in the HBO miniseries The Third Day with Jude Law and Naomie Harris.
- Storm Reid plays Riley, an orphaned girl living in post-apocalyptic Boston. Reid made her acting debut in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave (2013) and earned acclaim for her leading role as Meg Murray in A Wrinkle in Time (2018). She stars alongside Zendaya in the HBO series Euphoria as Gia Bennett.
- Anna Torv plays Tess, Joel’s smuggling partner. Torv starred as FBI agent Olivia Dunham in the popular Fox series Fringe, which earned her a Critics Choice Television Award nomination. She also appeared in the Netflix psychological thriller series Mindhunter with Jonathan Groff.
- Keivonn Montreal Woodard plays Sam, a deaf child with autism who is fleeing from revolutionaries along with his brother, Henry. Woodard—who, like his character, is deaf—is making his first major acting appearance in The Last of Us.
How to Watch The Last of Us
The Last of Us season 1, which runs through March 12, airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET. Catch up or keep watching on HBO Max.
Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.