What disease did Frank have in The Last of Us show? Answered

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Image via HBO

The Last of Us on HBO hasn’t strayed too far from the source material when adapting the game for television, but the episode titled “Long Long Time” is the first significant departure for the series. The episode takes the portion of the game dealing with the character of Bill and pulls back the curtain on his life during the fall of humanity. Much of what defines him as a person is his ever-growing romantic relationship with Frank, a character that we never got to see alive in the game.

Toward the end of their emotional journey together, we come to find Frank slowly deteriorating from an ambiguous disease — but what was it exactly?

Does Frank die in The Last of Us show?

During the official HBO The Last of Podcast, writer and executive producer Craig Mazin specifically states that “we didn’t necessarily want to specify it for the audience. Frank’s condition in the show can be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or early Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), but it was a degenerative neuromuscular disorder.” Mazin further clarifies that diseases like this are rare, but also happen far too often to people as they age. Some uninformed viewers have tried to speculate that Frank had AIDS, but there is absolutely nothing displayed in the show to prove this farcical idea, and it’s clear that this is untrue based on the creator’s own words.

There are many prominent clues that showcase this as a degenerative disease during the episode. While Frank could run circles around Bill for most of their time together, he is suddenly and very shockingly confined to a wheelchair and struggling to do basic activities without Bill’s help just several years later. He mentions how there is no way to get an MRI in the apocalypse, and he can also be seen with shaky hands while painting his art. It is interesting to note that most of his early paintings are superb, but the ones shown during his deterioration have imperfections likely caused by unsteady hands.

Related: Do you need to play The Last of Us game before watching the show? Answered

In the games, Frank is already dead when Joel, Bill, and Ellie come upon his hanged corpse. He had left Bill after years of growing hatred and ended up killing himself to avoid infection. The show changes the narrative to showcase a fulfilled life in which both characters choose to end their lives together in old age, satisfied with finding purpose in one another. It is beautiful and poetic in a world where love and life often ends unceremoniously.