bella ramsey in the last of us

Liane Hentscher/HBO

‘The Last of Us’ depiction of Boston lends itself to memes

It's a tiny nitpick with hilarious results.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 1, 2023

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 ever filmed there, something that, for the most part, we tend to roll with. The Last of Us is no exception, with Calgary, Alberta standing in 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 is having part of the country raising their eyebrows.

In the first minutes of “Long, Long Time,” Joel stops at a stream, where he stacks some rocks on top of one another in silence. 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 all that much in the grand scheme of the episode. They start outside the city, and after watching Bill and Frank’s (Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett) love story play out, they make it to Bill’s house some distance away; most of that trek is achieved off-screen.

But, as pretty much anyone from the New England area will tell you, the part of the Canadian wilderness standing in for “10 miles west of Boston” in TLOU looks nothing like how 10 miles west of Boston does in our world. To find open woods with no presence of people or buildings, you’d have to travel further west of Boston than 10 miles or go northwest of the city.

It’s the most granular of nitpicks, and like TLOU’s depiction of Austin in the first half of episode 1, it’s the kind of thing that people who’ve never been might not pick up on while it absolutely bothers the locals. It’s the kind of criticism that tends to poke fun lightly but is usually not a dealbreaker for viewers. But for an episode that’s near-universally beloved, the Boston critique of TLOU stands out in a wildly hilarious way.

Some played into the fake mountain vibes that TLOU brought forth.

While others leaned into making “10 miles west of Boston” look even more absurd than it already was.

But really, according to the people who live or grew up there, they highlighted that TLOU has a massive lack of abandoned Dunkin Donuts franchises overrun with fungi growths and nature around the area where Joel and Ellie made a pitstop.

By the end of the episode, Joel and Ellie—now sitting in Bill’s car—are planning to make their way to Wyoming to attempt to locate Joel’s brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna). And while it’s unclear to viewers just where they might show up, get ready to see even more parts of a post-apocalyptic United States depicted by Canadian locations.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2023, 3:00 pm CST