The Last of Us: Joel and Sarah Already Hinted at How Cordyceps Outbreak Was Spread

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We already know that cordyceps are behind the terrifying pandemic that turned humans into zombies in The Last of Us. But did the HBO live-action series adaptation also reveal how the parasitic fungi were spread in the first place? The first part of the premiere episode may have actually hinted at how Joel and Sarah managed to avoid infection.

In the first 33 minutes of The Last of Us Episode 1, we get to see Joel's life right before the zombie apocalypse. The story unfolds from his daughter Sarah's point of view and it follows how she goes out of her way to celebrate her father's birthday. Unfortunately, it was also the same day that the pandemic hits their community but through it all, they deduce that they are not infected.

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But how did Joel, Sarah, and Joel's brother Tommy manage to avoid getting infected? A Reddit post theorizes that they did this by avoiding flour, which is believed to be how the cordyceps was spread.

It's a plausible theory considering that Joel and Sarah seemed to go out of their way to avoid eating flour. For instance, Joel forgets to buy pancake mix and turns down the biscuits being offered by the Adlers. He also forgets to buy the birthday cake he promised and Sarah herself doesn't touch the cookies she baked with Mrs. Adler (which is understandable because she made raisin cookies instead of chocolate chip).

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Sadly, it looks like Joel was right about telling the soldier that they are not infected and that they should have been saved. Unfortunately, the soldier still shot them, effectively killing Sarah.

The first episode of The Last of Us is currently streaming on HBO Max. The second episode, which is titled Infected, will premiere on Sunday, January 22, 2023.

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Related: The Last of Us Co-Showrunner Explains The Relevance of Episode 1 Ending Song