“The Last of Us” Finale Draws Huge Ratings as Season One Bests “House of the Dragon”
Now that the first season of The Last of Us has wrapped up, we can take a step back and marvel at not only the robust viewership numbers but what was the greatest video game adaptation (by a wide margin) and one of the most compelling new dramas on TV. Oh, and not for nothing, The Last of Us can make a credible claim for joining the pantheon of the greatest zombie stories ever put on the screen, thanks, in large part, to focusing so passionately on the relationship between its still human characters, specifically hardened smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal) and his “cargo,” the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey). Their journey and the complexity of their relationship as it slowly, painfully began to grow over the course of the season turned The Last of Us into one of the most satisfying new series of this year and years previous.
Now let’s take a quick peek at those viewership numbers. The season finale set another benchmark for the series, drawing a series high 8.2 million viewers across HBO Max and linear telecasts, based on Nielsen and first-party data, the largest of the season (the premiere drew 4.7 million viewers in January). This makes Sunday night’s finale audience a 75% increase in debut night viewing compared to the premiere. The premiere, by the way, was hardly a slouch.
The first six episodes of the series even bested another major new release for HBO, topping the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. The first six episodes of The Last of Us averaged 30.4 million viewers since the January 15 premiere, and there’s every reason to expect that once the final numbers are tallied, the last three episodes will not diminish those numbers. At 30.4 million viewers, that’s a touch more than the 29 million that House of the Dragon averaged in cross-platform viewers over its run in the late summer and fall of 2022.
The Last of Us‘s cumulative audience is the biggest for any HBO series since—you guessed it—the final season of Game of Thrones in 2019, which averaged more than 44 million viewers. Needless to say, The Last of Us has been a critical and commercial smash, and you can expect not just a second season but likely multiple seasons more.
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Featured image: Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO