Here's What Really Happened To Frank In 'The Last Of Us'

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What Disease Does Frank Have In 'The Last Of Us'?HBO
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During episode three of HBOMax's hit series The Last Of Us, which is based on a video game, the point of view shifts from the present-day, where main characters Ellie and Joel are traveling to a friend's home, to a love story flashback for the couple who lives there: Bill and Frank.

The two men meet three years after the deadly fungal virus takes over the world. Frank has fallen into one of the traps set up around Bill's bunker in an abandoned town. Bill brings Frank back to his house, the two fall in love, and they spend the next decade together.

The majority of the episode gives viewers a fully fleshed-out and tear-worthy version of Bill and Frank's love story. But, towards the end, it becomes clear that Frank has an illness that affects his movement. Several scenes show Frank in a wheelchair, seemingly paralyzed with limited mobility in his hands. He has trouble standing up and walking, and Bill has begun to serve as his caretaker.

Naturally, these poignant scenes of the couple's final moments together have to lots of questions and guesses about what his condition could've been. Luckily, one of the co-creators of the show weighed in for some clarity. Read on for all the details.

Who is Frank?

Frank is introduced as a solo traveler trying to get to Boston. He finds himself in Bill's abandoned town and ultimately decides to stay. Later, Bill and Frank end up getting married.

On the show, Frank is played by The White Lotus actor Murray Bartlett.

Lots of viewers thought Frank had Parkinson's Disease.

Initially, people were convinced Frank had Parkinson's Disease.

The disorder affects the nervous system and can lead to symptoms such as hand tremors, slowed movement, stiffness, poor posture and balance, speech and writing changes, and difficulties with blinking or smiling, per the Mayo Clinic. All of these were symptoms Frank seemed to display in the episode, which makes sense why people thought it might be the disease affecting him.

Parkinson's can't be cured, but medications can help. This might explain why Frank was seen taking pills, painting with slow movements, and needing assistance getting in and out of bed.

Frank actually has ALS or multiple sclerosis.

After all that speculation, The Last Of Us co-creator Craig Mazin cleared things up on the official podcast for the show.

"We didn’t necessarily want to specify [the illness] for the audience, it was either MS or early ALS but it was a degenerative neuromuscular disorder," said Mazin.

“We thought it was really interesting to think, ‘Look, Bill is older and Frank can literally run circles around him, he’s healthier,'" he added. "And then we jump ahead a number of years and it’s Frank who’s been brought low by this disease and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

What causes ALS, and is there a cure?

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. About five to 10 percent of people genetically inherit ALS, while other diagnoses are likely the result of a combination of environmental conditions and genetics, per the Mayo Clinic.

The condition causes symptoms like difficulty walking, weakness in the legs and hands, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, muscle twitches, and cognitive behavioral changes, per the Mayo Clinic. It also destroys nerve cells, which can affect breathing as it worsens.

Unfortunately, the disease is fatal, and there is no cure.

What causes multiple sclerosis, and is there a cure?

Multiple sclerosis or MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system of the body, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be triggered by genetics or environmental factors.

Depression, pain, vertigo, bowel and bladder problems, weakness, vision difficulties, stiffness, numbness, and walking difficulties are some of the most common symptoms, according to the National MS Society.

There is no cure for MS. And while it's not considered fatal, it can lead to difficulties that can become fatal.

How is this episode different from the game?

*Trigger Warning: Discussions of suicide*

As his condition worsens, Frank decides that he's lived a fulfilling life, and is ready for death. He finally asks Bill to crush pills into his wine. After an argument, Bill agrees, but surprises Frank by also drinking the spiked wine. The two die together in bed.

However, that's not what happened in the video game. Bill is actually alive when Ellie and Joel make it to his home (unlike in the series, where they find Bill's suicide note). The game implies that Frank did not have a degenerative disease, but was actually infected by the virus and hanged himself. At that point in the game, Joel finds Frank's suicide note (addressed to Bill) which hints at a rocky and unhappy relationship, instead of the beautiful, happy love story viewers see on screen.

New episodes of The Last Of Us drop every Sunday night on HBOMax.

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