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'The Last Of Us' Showrunner Confirms Parasitic Fungus From The Show Is 'Real'—And It's 'Terrifying'

While the cordyceps fungus hasn't set its sites on humans just yet, the insect kingdom is another story.

Mutant creature from HBO's "The Last of Us"

Viewers of HBO's newest sci-fi horror action-adventure series The Last of Us have been wondering about the plausibility of a plotline involving a parasitic fungus that takes over the population and transforms humans into zombie-like mutants.

They just got an alarming answer from the series showrunner suggesting the human race was inevitably doomed.

The Last of Us is based on the popular video game played from a third-person perspective.

It takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where players defend themselves with weapons against hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus.

When the audience of the HBO series asked if the parasitic fungus controlling human hosts had any basis in reality, showrunner Craig Mazin who is also the creator of the five-part HBO miniseries Chernobyl, said bluntly:

"It's real."

You can see a trailer for the show here:

The Last of Us | Official Trailer | HBO

The show's cold open began with an epidemiologist, played by actor John Hannah, who appeared on a talk show set in 1963 and warned about the looming threat of a fungus that can infect and control humans if the spores evolved long enough to survive in a warmer climate, hypothetically due to climate change.

The host told the incredulous talk show host:

“Candida, ergot, Cordyceps, Aspergillosis—any one of them could be capable of burrowing into our brains and taking control of not millions of us, but billions."
"Billions of puppets with poison minds… and there are no treatments for this, no preventatives."
"They don’t exist, it’s not even possible to make them.”
"So if that happens, we lose."

You can see the cold open here.

Referring to Hannah's warning speech from the episode, Mazin told the Hollywood Reporter:

"It’s real to the extent that everything he says that fungus do, they do."
"And they currently do it and have been doing it forever."
“There are some remarkable documentaries that you can watch that are quite terrifying.”
Twitter users were left quivering.

A 2019 National Geographic article titled "How a parasitic fungus turns ants into 'zombies'," reported how researchers thought a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis:

"...infects a foraging ant through spores that attach and penetrate the exoskeleton and slowly takes over its behavior."

The article continued:

"As the infection advances, the enthralled ant is compelled to leave its nest for a more humid microclimate that’s favorable to the fungus’s growth."
"The ant is compelled to descend to a vantage point about 10 inches off the ground, sink its jaws into a leaf vein on the north side of a plant, and wait for death."

Mazin assured audiences:

Now his warning—what if they evolve and get into us?—from a purely scientific point of view, would they do exactly to us what they do to ants? I don’t think so. I doubt it."
"On the other hand, he’s right—LSD and psilocybin do come from fungus. What I told John [Hannah] was, ‘What we’re doing in this scene is telling people this has always been here'.”

Now there's some food for thought.