The approach to geography in The Last of Us is becoming a meme

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for The last of us episode 3

Movies and TV shows set in a certain part of the world are rarely shot there, something we mostly roll with. The last of us is no exception, with Calgary, Alberta standing for places like Austin, Texas, Boston, and many of the other places Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) will hit on their road trip across America, but a quick location check-in will suffice for raising eyebrows in part of the country.

In the opening minutes of “Long, Long Time,” Joel stops at a stream where he silently stacks some rocks on top of each other. As he gets up and walks away, a title card appears on the screen: “10 miles west of Boston.”

10 miles west of boston in the last of us

The Last of Us/HBO Max

The exact mileage of how far Joel and Ellie are from Boston probably doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of the episode. They start out of town and after seeing the love story of Bill and Frank (Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett) they reach Bill’s house some distance away. Most of this trek is accomplished off-screen.

But as pretty much anyone in the New England area will tell you, the part of the Canadian wilderness means “10 miles west of Boston” in TLOU doesn’t look like 10 miles west of Boston in our world. To find open woods with no people or buildings, you would have to travel more than 10 miles west of Boston or northwest of the city.

It’s the most granular nitpick and such TLOU‘s portrayal of Austin, in the first half of Episode 1, is the sort of thing that people who’ve never been there might not pick up, while it’s absolutely jarring to locals. It’s the kind of criticism that’s easily poked fun at, but usually isn’t a deal-breaker for viewers. But for an episode that’s almost universally loved, the Boston review of TLOU stands out in a wildly hilarious way.

Some played into the wrong mountain vibes TLOU spawned.

While others tended to make “10 miles west of Boston” look even more absurd than it already was.

But really, according to people who live or grew up there, they highlighted that TLOU has a massive shortage of abandoned Dunkin Donuts franchises overgrown with fungus and nature in the area where Joel and Ellie made a pit stop.

At the end of the episode, Joel and Ellie – who are now in Bill’s car – plan to drive to Wyoming to try to find Joel’s brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna). And while viewers aren’t sure where they might show up, get ready to see even more parts of the post-apocalyptic United States portrayed by Canadian locations.


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*Initial publication: February 1, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. CST

Michelle Jaworsky

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and television/film critic at the Daily Dot. Covering entertainment, geek culture and pop culture, she has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She lives in Brooklyn.

Michelle Jaworsky The approach to geography in The Last of Us is becoming a meme

Jaclyn Diaz

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