‘Last of Us’ fans question former President George W. Bush’s status in the apocalypse
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HBO’s celebrated TV adaptation of The Last of Us has provoked quite a few notable conversations online since it premiered in January: is Pedro Pascal the ultimate Dad? How many references to both video games — 2013’s The Last Of Us and 2020’s The Last of Us Part II — are there per episode? Are the Infected — the humans controlled by the Cordyceps fungi — actually considered zombies? How many times did you cry throughout the heart-breaking third episode? (I believe it was four, for me.) One conversation that no one was expecting, however, is what happened to George W. Bush?
One thing that has gotten lost in the shuffle of the topic du jour of reacting to each episode as they happen has been when the outbreak started. In the games, Outbreak Day — which serves as both the prologue to the game and the majority of the first episode of the series — took place in 2013, and the games hops forward twenty years into 2033. Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann (who also co-directed the original game) shifted the start of the outbreak by a decade into 2003, which of course means that Joel and Ellie are in a much different cultural landscape than they were before.
If the world ended in 2003, there would be no Shrekno Netflix, no iPhones or 3G or Twilight, but the fate of the President of the United States of America, one controversial George W. Bush, is less certain. A discussion on Reddit by u/Scipio555 asked what became of the Texan, prompting various responses both joking and serious in nature.
u/Beemo-Noir posited that Bush had died, not from being mauled by a clicker (a blind infected person who sees via sonar) but from one hurling a shoe at his face, a reference to a 2008 event where Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi threw his shoes at the president in protest. Other members believe that Bush remains blissfully unaware of any fungal outbreak and is living his days peacefully on his farm ignorant to the end of the world.
One Redditor, u/holiobung, goes deeper, actually finding a copy of Bush’s schedule in September 2003. Using this data, they can locate Bush’s possible location — which in this case was most likely Camp David, a military base in Maryland where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Although it’s very unlikely that Mazin and Druckmann have an answer for the fate of George W. (Dubya) Bush, my favorite theory ties into information they added to the narrative for the show. At the start of episode 3, Joel (Pedro Pascal) explains to Ellie (Bella Ramsey) that the Outbreak didn’t start by a single patient zero spreading the virus, but rather the Cordyceps found its way into flour and spread rapidly through baked goods , cereals, and pancakes. Considering Bush infamously choked on a pretzel and fainted in 2002, it’s possible he met a worse fate at the hands of the salty, crunchy treats that already tried to kill him once.