Movie Reviews

The Last Of Us Episode 3 Thankfully Flips 1 Controversial Trope

Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for The Last of Us episode 3, “Long Long Time.” The Last of Us episode 3, “Long Long Time,” changed more than just game canon — it turned an entire trope on its head. The “bury your gays” trope has been prevalent in television, movies, and video games for decades, and while some recent media has tried to shake the trope, LGBTQ+ characters are still disproportionately meeting tragic ends. The Last of Us episode 3 invited audiences into Bill’s (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlet) apocalyptic love story, leaving behind the cordyceps-riddled streets of Boston for the lovely streets of Lincoln — population, two.

Bill and Frank’s story in episode 3 of The Last of Us is a major deviation from the game. While Frank’s story ended with his death in both the series and the video game, the events leading up to his passing are very different. Bill and Frank were originally very minor characters in the game, but The Last of Us episode 3 elevated them into something new. While The Last of Us episode 3 tells a beautifully poignant love story, the original story was fraught with pain, heartbreak, and betrayal, as Bill winds up all alone once again when Frank commits suicide to prevent himself from turning after being bitten.

Related: Joel’s Decision To Stash The Gun Should Make Game Fans Happy

Typically, the “bury your gays” trope revolves around using an LGBTQ+ character’s tragic death to further the story of another — typically straight — character. Queer characters are frequently reduced to being nothing but tokens or plot devices, with their deaths being used as stepping stones for straight characters to overcome instead of becoming characters in their own right. In an interview with GQ, co-creator Craig Mazin weighs in on the trope; “My feeling about that trope is that it’s really about gay characters dying so that straight characters can mourn them and improve their lives and move on.”

Bill and Frank’s story in episode 3 — though it still ends with death — turns the “bury your gays” trope on its head. Instead of their tragic separation, Bill and Frank got to love each other until their last moment. The tragedy of their ending was replaced with only love, where the pair got to die in each other’s arms. Bill and Frank’s deaths held meaning — unable to fathom being apart, Bill decided he would rather die alongside the love of his life. Instead of the fleeting characters they were in the game, Bill and Frank were fleshed out into real characters whose narratives served no one but each other.

While the shift in Bill and Frank’s story has little weight on the plot of The Last of Us, the episode holds so much weight. While Joel and Ellie are struggling to survive, The Last of Us episode 3 proves there is something that is still worth fighting for. Even in the pain of the apocalypse, Bill and Frank prove that love can still prevail. In a world where time with loved ones and growing old are gifts, Bill and Frank’s story means everything.

Episode 3 proves The Last of Us isn’t a cookie-cutter zombie show — while the change means little for The Last of Us‘ plot, it means a lot for the soul of the series. Episode 3 takes a step forward in loosening the grip that the “bury your gays” trope has over LGBTQ+ narratives. While queer characters are visible in media now more than ever, the quality of representation also matters; quantity alone isn’t enough. The Last of Us episode 3 not only gave weight to Bill and Frank’s love story — it put aside the plot and the protagonists to tell a beautiful story that needed to be told.

More: Bill’s Letter Foreshadows Joel’s Last Of Us Season 1 Ending

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