16 Best Movies Like The Last Of Us (2024)

Naughty Dog's The Last of Us is a modern gaming masterpiece that's taken the world by storm. Its emotionally engaging story causes players to feel for its lead characters and the rollercoaster of their journey together can leave a big hole in people's lives once it's finished. From the early success of the HBO series based on the games, it looks like the show is going to have a similar impact on the lives of fans of the franchise.

Some of the best movies like The Last of Us offer viewers character dynamics and post-apocalyptic action that can match both the most moving and the most exhilarating moments of the game. There are a lot of films that have set-ups that are similar to the one in The Last of Us, but it's helpful to have a guide to follow to find the best options in the extensive zombie genre.

The Rover (2014)

Available to stream on HBO Max

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Anyone who's looking specifically for brutal revenge movies that are like The Last of Us Part II should consider David Michôd's violent and unforgiving thriller The Rover. The film is a post-apocalyptic science-fiction story in the sense that Mad Max is, presenting a desolate world in which resources have become so scarce that human compassion has all but dried up.

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Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson lead the film as two men trying to track down a group of thieves across the Australian Outback for their own individual reasons, with the cold-hearted violence strewn across their journey never seeking to justify itself. The Rover is not a remorseless film, but it's better suited to fans of the most ruthless moments in the Last of Us franchise.

Logan (2017)

Available to stream on Disney+

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James Mangold's comic book movie Logan is generally considered to be one of the best in the genre by both critics and fans, which, similarly to the universal acclaim for The Last of Us​​​​​​, is in part thanks to its emotional father/daughter story.

At the time of its release, it marked Hugh Jackman's retirement from the role of Wolverine after a 17-year run as the character in the live-action X-Men movies from 20th Century Fox. He has since announced his upcoming return to the role in Deadpool 3, but the film remains an atypically grounded and character-driven superhero story that delivers a satisfying ending to Jackman's iteration of the character. With neo-Western elements running through it, the film's Oscar-nominated screenplay offers up plenty of insights into grief, stoicism, and many of the other core themes seen in The Last of Us​​​​​​.

The Survivalist (2015)

Available to stream on AMC+

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A much colder and more pragmatic kind of post-apocalyptic survival movie than is the norm, The Survivalist sees a young man surviving on his own thanks to his rigorous isolation and untrusting nature. When an elderly woman and young girl approach his small farm looking to earn his trust, he's forced to assess their true intentions and strike some kind of deal with them.

The harshness of the situation means that every character has to keep their cards close to their chest until they make their move, and it produces some thrilling moments of tension that fans of The Last of Us will appreciate even more than the setting.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

Available to stream on TruTV

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Set after a global health pandemic that's reduced humanity to next to nothing, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows a small group of survivors from the remnants of San Francisco as they are forced to form a shaky alliance with a burgeoning society of super-intelligent apes in order to try to repair a hydroelectric dam and restore hope for civilization. As there are young families on either side, cooperation is in everyone's best interest but old prejudices threaten to forever alter the fate of their two worlds.

With a strikingly similar environment to The Last of Us in certain spots, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has far more human drama than the usual cutting-edge effects-driven blockbuster whilst never compromising on its action and suspense scenes. Though it's the middle film in one of the most popular movie trilogies of recent years, it can be experienced on its own.

Monsters (2010)

Available to stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, Pluto TV, Vudu, and Redbox

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Set in a world that has seen large areas of Mexico become dominated by huge alien creatures that came to Earth from a crashed space probe, Gareth Edwards' famously high-concept/low-budget debut movie has a lot of impressive technical ingenuity on display. However, that pales in comparison to the odd, bittersweet, emotions in its story about a journalist transporting his employer's daughter to safety across the alien-infected zone.

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Though not so much of an action-adventure movie due to its budget, Monsters is packed with atmosphere to compensate. The unspoken feelings of its characters, reflected in the beautiful landscapes, make it a must-see for fans of The Last of Us' character-building treks through the wilderness.

The Battery (2012)

Available to stream on Redbox

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Writer and director Jeremy Gardner's micro-budgeted zombie movie The Battery follows two former baseball players as they survive a conventional zombie apocalypse together. Though it's a big-scale idea, the film taps into the independent roots that George A. Romero created with Night of the Living Dead and is accordingly character and dialogue driven.

It's one of the best movies like The Walking Dead because of its emphasis on the monotonous grind of post-apocalyptic living, but this also results in unusually naturalistic conversations, making The Battery also one of the best movies like The Last of Us. Fans of the games' most quiet and reflective moments are likely to get the most out of this experience.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Available to stream on Paramount+

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John Krasinksi's quietly crowd-pleasing sci-fi horror hit A Quiet Place depicts a world overrun by monsters that hunt purely by sound, with the last remnants of humanity seemingly content to live in silence. Krasinski stars as well as directs, playing the father of a family attempting to survive on a farm as they prepare for the arrival of a new baby.

Despite some flashy monster frights, the heart of the movie sticks to the kind of intimate family drama that fans of The Last of Us connected with so deeply in the Joel and Ellie dynamic. Whilst being one of the best jump-scare movies that multiplexes have seen in recent years, it's also a tearjerker that wants to tug at the viewer's heartstrings as much as it wants to make their pulse pound.

It Comes At Night (2017)

Available to stream on Showtime and Paramount+

Writer and director Trey Edward Shults produced his own distinct take on life after the apocalypse in his psychological horror film It Comes at Night, which focuses far less on the causes of the world's collapse and more on its results. Shults shows this through the severe paranoia and isolation felt by two families that have to coexist together in a secluded house in the woods.

Though bluntly effective with its action and horror, so much of what lingers after the credits for the film roll comes from what the audience doesn't see. As Last of Us fans know all too well, these ambiguous moments are often the cuts from the story that are felt the most deeply.

28 Days Later (2002)

Available to stream on Cinemax

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Danny Boyle's seminal revamping of the zombie apocalypse movie quickly became as essential to the genre as Romero's original Night of the Living Dead and played a huge part in elevating it to what it is today in popular culture. 28 Days Later follows a man who awakes from a coma into the already-collapsed United Kingdom and goes looking for some kind of safety, meeting various other survivors, some more benevolent than others.

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The apocalypse in the film, as the title implies, is a lot fresher than the one seen in not just The Last of Us but the majority of post-apocalyptic stories. However, this adds a lot to its overall authenticity, with the shots of the main character walking around a deserted London creating a sense of scale that's more commonly experienced in video games rather than movies.

The Road (2009)

Available to stream on Pluto TV, Redbox, Crackle, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video

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John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalypse novel The Road is a bittersweet experience made up of outstanding performances mixed with unrelenting horror and darkness. Viggo Mortensen leads the film as a father attempting to protect his son after the ecosystem collapses and takes civilization with it, creating an inhospitable world filled with roving gangs of cannibals.

Fans of The Last of Us' emotional drama should certainly place The Road at the top of their watch list. The brief moments of respite in the film's post-apocalyptic world are always preludes to harsh, complex, life lessons that have the power to stick with viewers for a long time.

Cargo (2017)

Available to stream on Netflix

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In Cargo, Martin Freeman plays the father of a young baby girl traveling through the Australian outback to avoid the worst of a zombie apocalypse. However, a string of mistakes leaves the man alone with his child and with only a short amount of time before he, himself, turns into a flesh-eating monster.

Cargo certainly goes for the approach of having the zombies in a zombie apocalypse be the least of people's worries, and it pays off in the form of the entire movie being anchored by Freeman's performance. The film also has a great turn from Simone Landers as an Aboriginal girl whose fate becomes tied to that of Freeman's character, evoking the dynamic between Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us​​​​.

Stake Land (2011)

Available to stream on Pluto TV, Tubi, Redbox, Peaco*ck, Crackle, and Amazon Prime Video

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Jim Mickle's vampire apocalypse movie Stake Land adds an uncommon level of restraint to a heavily stylized concept. The film revels in being a genre thriller but is often much more of a moody road movie in the spirit of Terrence Malick and follows a small band of traveling vampire killers.

The film centers on the cold relationship between a boy and the grizzled vampire hunter who saves him, with Nick Damici giving off very strong Joel vibes as the uncompromising surrogate father figure. Besides this, Stake Land is sure to win over many Last of Us fans with its slower and more mournful presentation of the Americana aesthetic.

I Am Legend (2007)

Available to stream on fuboTV

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This long-gestating adaptation of Richard Matheson's iconic sci-fi novel I Am Legend ultimately relied far more on Will Smith's talents as an actor than anything else, but that's really all that's needed to make an engaging movie.

Smith plays a scientist in the ruins of a desolate New York City who believes he may be the last human being alive in a world that's now overrun with vicious, vampire-like, creatures. I Am Legend's story loses many of its nuances in its translation to a blockbuster scale, but it also benefits a lot from the film's impressively-realized post-apocalyptic cityscape. Even if the main character's redemption arc goes against the novel, fans of Joel's more determined characteristics in The Last of Us may appreciate it more.

Bird Box (2018)

Available to stream on Netflix

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Susanne Bier's hit Netflix film Bird Box stars Sandra Bullock as a woman with two small children attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that's been overrun by a malevolent force that causes anyone who lays eyes on it to kill themselves. There may not be a zombie element in a conventional sense like there is in The Last of Us, but the film's emphasis on the trials of parenthood makes it very similar.

Like The Last of Us, the protagonist's physical journey mirrors their emotional journey towards accepting love in their heart for the children under their care and that dramatic factor makes the deadly stakes all the higher. There are also human threats working against the main characters, so the ever-present sense of danger is far from being entirely abstract.

Children Of Men (2006)

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

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Alfonso Cuarón's adaptation of P.D. James' novel Children of Men depicts a more muted apocalypse than most other post-apocalypse movies, one in which human beings have simply lost the ability to procreate. With no new lives coming into the world, humanity's bleak outlook for the future becomes increasingly lawless and violent. However, a man is given a slither of hope in this cruel world when he must protect a miraculously pregnant refugee.

Cuarón pulled out all the stops to make his vision of the end of the world feel all too real. Children of Men is a very emotional apocalypse story but also a very believable one because the world that the characters inhabit is largely based on situations and environments in current everyday life, making it a very tangible world. Fans of the immersive qualities of The Last of Us will find themselves getting sucked into these characters' struggles too.

Leave No Trace (2018)

Available to stream on Netflix

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Most of the best movies that are similar to The Last of Us revolve around characters who are in some kind of post-apocalyptic type of situation because–aside from the entertainment value–the setting heightens the intensity of the bond between the main characters. Leave No Trace, on the other hand, doesn't need the premise to tell an absorbing story about a father and a daughter surviving in the wilderness.

The film follows a war veteran who lives off the grid with his teenage daughter in a forest in Oregon, but their lives are clearly reaching an impasse that will lead to an inevitable and painful separation. It contains no action or science-fiction elements but in terms of parental drama, Leave No Trace is one undoubtedly of the very best movies like The Last of Us​​​​​​.

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16 Best Movies Like The Last Of Us (2024)
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