Not only Cordyceps can adopt the behavior of their hosts. Again, according to National Geographic, the Entomophthora muscae, translated from Greek as the metallic-sounding “fly’s insect killer,” is able to take over the actions of flies and get them to fly to the perfect height for spore dispersal, what she does, before then assuming a “death pose,” the perfect angle for the fungus to grow out of its corpse and spread more spores.
There is also the Massospora cicadina, which stuns its cicada hosts so severely that part of their abdomen falls off. The rest is similar to what other fungi do to their hosts: place it in an ideal climate to disperse spores, kill it, then take over its body and do it all over again.
However, the one thing that’s consistent across all of these cases is that the infection occurs solely through the spread of airborne spores, an element that was present in the games but was removed from the HBO show. While The Last of Us certainly did its homework, the part about infecting its hosts by biting it seems like a pure work of zombie fiction.
The Last of Us airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.