It’s just a little line, but it’s caused a stir among some. In the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister says to his sister Cersei at one point: “we’re the last of us.” Those few words carry special resonance for video game fans, who instantly saw a reference to Naughty Dog’s zombie survival epic The Last of Us —Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann did his part on Twitter by calling out the line. But is this just a coincidence or actually intentional?
A clarification, first. Some have been saying that Game of Thrones “quoted” The Last of Us, which it did not in any strict sense. The line in question would seem to be: “You know Ellie, we really are the last of us,” which is not actually in the game. It’s an old NeoGAF meme about an imaginary line and one that Druckmann appears to be referring to on Twitter. See an example below:
A screengrab from NeoGAF.
That doesn’t mean that the line couldn’t be a reference to The Last of Us, however, or even a reference to a NeoGAF meme about The Last of Us. An article in Wccftech, as well as — I know — a NeoGAF commenter, say that showrunner David Benioff confirmed that this was an intentional reference based on the fact that people keep saying that Jaime Lannister actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau looks just like Joel from the Naughty Dog game. Problem is, I watched the”inside the episode” video for the premiere, where Benioff does indeed talk about Cersei and Jaimie but doesn’t mention anything about The Last of Us. If there’s some other “director’s video” I’d certainly be game to see it, of course.
There are two genuine connections between The Last of Us and Game of Thronesthat might lend credence to the idea of an intentional reference beyond the meme that Coster-Waldau looks like Joel. For one thing, Maisie Williams has been cast to play Ellie in the upcoming The Last of Us movie. But the other, more important connection is that Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann has talked about how David Benioff’s novel City of Thieves was a major influence on the tone of the game. Since there’s no better way to flatter a semi-famous person that to compliment lesser-known work, I wouldn’t put it past the showrunner to drop a short little head nod into Game of Thrones. Maybe the two have met and talked about it, who knows?
On an essential level, it’s not difficult to imagine that that line could have made its way into the show accidentally. It’s a perfectly acceptable English phrase, after all. But it is a little bit awkward in everyday speech, and so it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that the line in there intentionally. Ed Sheeran’s presence in the episode alone should show that Game of Thrones is by no means above referencing other works in the modern world. Until I see proof of Benioff confirming this, however, I’m going to call this fun, but unlikely.