The Last Of Us Episode 1: What Does The Radio Signal Mean?

Warning: this feature contains spoilers for episode one of The Last Of Us. Don’t say we haven’t warned you…

We’ve only watched one episode of new show The Last Of Us and already we’re going down the fan theory rabbit hole.

The stunning series premiere more than delivered on the promise of being the best video game adaptation to ever hit our screens, and the climactic cliffhanger left us on the edge of our seats, wondering what trouble is about to come our way.


As revealed earlier in the episode, Pedro Pascal’s Joel receives cryptic radio signals, with songs from different decades all carrying their own specific warnings.

If a song from the eighties comes through the airwaves, this is the most drastic warning of all, alerting our grizzled hero that trouble is on its way.

Joel had already set off on his mission to sneak out Ellie when the episode ended, meaning he missed the final radio signal: Depeche Mode’s 1987 banger Never Let Me Down Again. But who sent the signal and what trouble does he need to be prepared for?

Bill’s Introduction?


One of the main characters Joel is allied with in the games is Bill, a survivalist who is here played by Parks And Recreation star Nick Offerman – he’s the most likely candidate for who is sending the radio signal.

Although it’s been confirmed that Bill won’t make an appearance until episode three (alongside Murray Bartlett as Frank, Bill’s partner who is getting a beefed-up role here), as a smuggler who helps send food, ammunition, and medicine into the quarantine zone, he would have developed a secretive way of communicating.

Also as a skilled inventor, he certainly has the powers to send secret messages across the airwaves without risk of detection – but what could he be warning about exactly? That’s the intriguing question as in this world there is danger everywhere.


It’s also worth noting that although in the games Frank is only seen as a corpse, here with the Emmy-winning Bartlett in the role, there will naturally be more to this character, so don’t rule out him sending the message either.

During the episode we get a glimpse at the piece of paper which has the code on it – above the details ’60 – nothing in, 70 – new stock, 80 – X’ are the letters ‘B/F’.

This could imply that these signals are only sent from Bill and Frank but nothing is confirmed, meaning someone else could be warning Joel…

Tommy’s Return?


It’s briefly referenced that it’s been two months since Joel last heard from his younger brother Tommy, with no update on his whereabouts in the 2023-set portion of the episode. Could he have been the one to send him a Depeche Mode message over the airwaves?

From the games, we know that Joel and Tommy’s relationship has soured considerably. Tommy was a Firefly for several years, but became disillusioned with the cause and ventured to Wyoming, starting a new life with his new partner Maria, a character confirmed to appear in this season although casting for the role remains unconfirmed.


It is in Wyoming where Joel and Ellie bump into Tommy again – but this backstory may have considerably changed for the series.

The siblings were in touch relatively recently within the show timeline, whereas in the game Tommy insisted he never wanted to see his brother’s “goddamned face again” after their argument, only bumping into each other years later.

Could their bond be close enough in this adaptation that Tommy is still warning his elder brother of dangers on the horizon?

Who Else Could It Be?


With some of the Fireflies aware of Joel’s mission (although most remain in the dark about Ellie’s identity), the signal might not be coming from any major character, but someone who is in-the-know enough to be aware that danger is on the horizon.

We’ll find out for sure in the coming episodes – look out for our weekly articles every Monday on Zavvi.

The Last Of Us airs every Monday in the UK on Sky Atlantic/NOW.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.