Ellie and Joel in The Last of Us TV show
Image via HBO

The Last of Us is HBO’s second-biggest debut since House of the Dragon

The Infected are no match for the White Walkers.

The Last of Us TV show is off to a huge start, as it was HBO’s second-biggest debut since 2010, with only House of the Dragon receiving higher viewing figures at launch. Expectations were high for The Last of Us going in, thanks to the amazing pedigree of the original game, and the show hasn’t disappointed, with the debut episode receiving positive reviews from both fans and critics.

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The first episode of The Last of Us has been a smash hit for HBO. According to Deadline, the debut episode received 4.7 million viewers across live TV and streaming via HBO Max. The only show to have beaten this since 2010 is House of the Dragon, with a first episode that received 9.986 million viewers. The last show to hit these kinds of numbers before House of the Dragon was 2010’s Boardwalk Empire, which had a slightly warmer receipt, with 4.81 million viewers for its first episode.

House of the Dragon might have had a lot more viewers at launch, but it was also riding the popularity of Game of Thrones. The negative reception to the final season of Game of Thrones led to concerns about whether fans were even interested in a prequel series, but the viewers turned out in droves. The Last of Us has still accomplished a great deal, as it didn’t have the same audience interest going in as House of the Dragon, but still brought in millions of viewers.

The challenge that The Last of Us faces now is to maintain and grow that audience. The Last of Us may have crashed HBO Max when it first dropped, but history has shown that audience interest can quickly dwindle after a series premiere. The positive reception to The Last of Us so far hopefully points to a positive future for the series, as it has the potential to escape the video game adaptation curse and become as well-regarded as its source material.

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Scott Baird
Scott has been writing for Gamepur since 2023, having been a former contributor to websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, Screen Rant, The Gamer, and TopTenz. A graduate of Edge Hill University in the UK, Scott started as a film student before moving into journalism. Scott covers Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy, Pokémon, and MTG. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.