The Zombie Fungus From ‘The Last of Us’ is Actually a Real Thing and People Are Freaking Out

For anyone who has been following The Last of Us, either since 2015 with the video game or more recently with the Pedro Pascal-led HBO show, there’s no denying that the universe, concept, and story are just as infectious as it is terrifying. Usually in zombie stories, the writers of the show, book, movie, or game are pretty vague about the reason that people are turning into zombies, focusing more on the action of the story versus the origin of the zombie apocalypse. However, TLOU has proven (once again) their superiority as a franchise by diving deep into the lore and the ‘how’ of the zombie apocalypse by tapping into real life possibilities. As it turns out, the zombie fungus that infects people’s brains and turns them into blood-thirsty, human-devouring monsters is actually a real thing and it EXISTS in real life. 


Naturally people are losing it. As it turns out, the terrors on screen of living things being devoured by a non-sentient life form with no cure or vaccine is completely possible. Cordyceps, better known as “mutant-ant fungus” is a common pathogenic mycelium that’s found in tropical rainforests. It exists and propagates as a parasite, latching onto their insect host and taking over their bodily functions in order to grow. The fungi essentially severs ties from the brain to the body, taking over physical functions in order to spread spores to other buggos.


Cordyceps have been around for ages obviously, but were made public knowledge when they appeared on Planet Earth, which showed a bullet ant getting completely overtaken by the fungus, sprouting a spore-producing mushroom from it’s head before killing it with horrific, explosive fanfare. Neil Druckman, the writer of The Last of Us (TV show and game) must have been inspired by that vivid horror, preparing himself to haunt generations of viewers and gamers alike with his real-world zombie-making nightmare. 


So thank you, Reddit, for enlightening us on more horrible things in nature that we can be irrationally afraid of. We’ll certainly be thinking of that every Sunday when we watch The Last of Us or whenever we’re playing the game. But at least we know for now, scientifically, that you’re safe from the zombie fungus as long as you’re not a bug… for now.