The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin has responded to criticisms of the infection's origin changing and revealed that spores might make an appearance in the future.
Prior to its release, HBO's The Last of Us looked like a pretty straight adaptation of the game, save for a select few characters having expanded roles. The first episode changed that perception a little, however, as the cause of the cordyceps infection has seemingly changed from spores to being spread by contaminated flour and then being passed along by tendrils emerging from the infected person's mouth.
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This has led to some criticism from fans who preferred the virus' original airborne danger instead of it permanently ruining cookies and sandwiches for Joel and Ellie. Although spores are no longer the focus, it seems that they still exist in this version of The Last of Us, as showrunner Craig Mazin told The Washington Post that we may still see them in the show's future.
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Mazin said, “It was less about ‘oh, the spores don’t work,’ because I have to say, you may see spores yet. It’s not so much that they can’t exist in this world. It was really more like, when a character is transmitting this to another character, what can we do that’s slightly different than just ‘chomp’?”
During the interview, Mazin also said that it's not "out of the question" for spores to appear in the show in some form, but that it won't be during its first season. If we get a second season of The Last of Us, it's possible that it comes back as another way for people to get infected.
That should be comforting to fans of the series, as spores do show up in quite a few iconic scenes, although mostly due to their impact on gameplay and signifying a huge horde ahead. One story-based scene that they'll need to be around for is in The Last of Us Part 2, when Ellie's mask breaks underground and reveals her immunity to Dina.