Yes, Sam is deaf in The Last of Us TV show. He uses ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate with his older brother, Henry, who is played by Lamar Johnson.
This is a deviation from the 2013 game, in which he wasn’t deaf but frequently spoke with his brother, Ellie, and even Joel.
Of course, this isn’t even the biggest deviation in the show. The Last of Us TV show has had multiple deviations, including entirely new characters and major plot changes.
Why Is Sam Deaf in The Last of Us TV Show?
Sam was made deaf in The Last of Us TV show as a way of making him rely on Henry even more than in the game. The change to make Sam deaf in the game came from showrunner Craig Mazin.
In the Inside the Episode video about episode 5, Neil Druckmann, the original creator of The Last of Us, stated that he wished he had come up with the idea to make Sam deaf.
Read More: The Last of Us Season 1 Episode 5 Cast – Every Actor & Their Role
Is The Last of Us Sam’s Actor Keivonn Woodard Deaf in Real Life?
Keivonn Woodard, who plays Sam in The Last of Us TV show, is deaf in real life. He worked closely with an ASL director named CJ Jones to help him with the role.
The Last of Us cast and crew, including Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, and Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel, learned ASL so they could speak with Woodard.
This is Woodard’s first role outside of playing a minor character in a 2018 film in which he played a deaf student.