The Last of Us’ journey from video game to HBO series led to several changes. The spores were replaced with a massive fungus network, scenes were added to explain the origin of the outbreak, and new characters were introduced to make the action more cinematic.
But many elements remain untouched, and leaving the terrifying clickers alone was a no-brainer. The fungus-faced zombies were a huge threat to players, and now they’re just as scary for viewers. Here’s everything you need to know about the creepy critters... and how you’re going to see even worse down the line.
Clickers are one of the latter stages of the Infected lifecycle. The first step, runners, are the ultra-fast zombies we see in the horde at the end of Episode 2. The second stage, stalkers, are slower but more ferocious. The Infected that gave Tess that gross-yet-intimate kiss before she sacrificed herself was a stalker.
Clickers are best known for their grown-over faces, rendering them completely blind. However, they have incredible hearing, and their name comes from the clicking noises they make to navigate with echolocation.
However, this isn’t the powerful echolocation of a bat looking for its prey. Clickers can only “see” if someone is standing right in front of them, so hiding and being absolutely silent is usually the best course of action, as we saw Joel and friends exhibit in the museum.
The question of how long it takes to become a clicker is still unclear. The HBO series noted that it only takes a day at most to become fully infected after being bitten, which is faster than the game’s timeline. Could the progression of the infection be sped up too?
In the game, it takes a year for an infected person to become a clicker. Maybe HBO has shortened that timeframe, but there’s no evidence of that yet. When one’s trying to murder you, it doesn’t really matter how long a clicker has been a clicker. All that’s important is to stay silent and stealthy. Even a gunshot to the head just blasts off part of their overgrown noggin and makes them angry.
There’s only one stage of infection after clickers — the bloaters — that take years to develop, and we haven’t seen them in the HBO series yet. They’re likely looming in a future episode, and they make clickers look like kittens, but for now there’s plenty of time for Ellie and Joel to learn more about the clickers, one of the more grotesque forms of the Cordyceps infection.
The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max.