The Last of Us: What are the four stages of the infected?

The Last of Us Episode 2
The Last of Us Episode 2 /

The Last of Us has hit our screens and our hearts in a vast way already. Whether you are a fan of the videogame or a fan of the genre, the series is taking HBO and the world by storm.

Gaming fans are well-versed in the universe, but newcomers still might have a ways to go before understanding the infection. There are four types of variations of the infected.

The level of phases depends on how long they have been infected. Here are the four types of infected in the universe of The Last of Us. 


The first and shortest stage of the infected are called Runners. They resemble what we know as a common-looking zombie and are the weakest of all phases.

Their eyes are bloodshot, and they appear in the most human form of the infected. They are known to travel in groups and have significant speed with their animalistic nature.

These stagnant creatures may not be agile, but they will dash at humans sometimes quicker than they can react. The infected transform to these stage within two days of being infected by the Cordyceps brain infection.

Though they may look human, they are easily spotted for their hunched appearance. There are aggressive and non-aggressive versions of Runners.

Their quickness is, of course, their strongest attribute but they are easy to take down when prepared. They have acquired no super strengths at this stage, and you can even strangle them if you don’t have a weapon on hand.

Even though there are some non-aggressive runners, the best move is to take them down because they have a habit of alerting further progressed infected like Clickers and Bloaters, who can cause much more damage if pointed in the right direction.


In the second stage of infection, we come across what are known as Stalkers. This Cordyceps infection can last up to a full year in these.

The name is just as simplistic as Runners. They hide behind their prey and wait to attack, rather than traveling in groups and find their victims out in the open.

Humans must stay aware and alert in quiet and dark places for these beasts. The infection is starting to set it on the head and face.

They can spot their victims from a distance because of the changes in their body. Their croaking noises can be heard from distances allowing it to give warning to those nearby.

Because of their hiding nature, they are at times imbedded into structures with fungus, but they are able to break free from it and attack.


The third stage are what are known as Clickers. It’s very easy to understand why when you see them and hear the clicking noise, they make.

So far, they have been the scariest in The Last of Us. After a year has set in these once human zombie-like creatures, they have an overgrowth of their skull.

The infection completely covers their faces and blinds them. Therefore, they rely on biological sonar (Echolocation).

If a human remains immensely quiet around Clickers, they can have a shot at getting away. But if a sound is heard from them, you have a tough task of getting out alive.

Clickers may not be able to see but they are more intelligent than Stalkers and Runners and much, much stronger. The only thing on their heads that are human-like is their mouths.

Because of the overgrowth of mold on their heads it takes several shots to get to the brain. Clickers have a form of bat radar.

They have superb intelligence and won’t easily give up on their prey. While they are hard to combat, they are relatively easy to outrun as they don’t have super speed.


In the fourth and final stage we have Bloaters. If Clickers were not disgusting enough, the Bloaters have even more fungal growth.

They carry so much growth that they are able to rip pieces off of themselves to throw at their targets. Ammunition is ineffective with these guys.

The best way to end them is through fire. I doubt we will be seeing too many of them on The Last of Us.

They are the rare phase of the infection but also the most dangerous. While they may be slow in nature, they are extremely strong.

They have so much fungal growth on their bodies at this point, that it acts like a shield of armor. Bloaters are especially hard to handle in one-on-one combat.

The most effective way to kill them is through fire according to The Last of Us Wiki. They are the most soldier-like creatures of the infected.

If that isn’t dangerous in itself, they have the colossal strength to tear humans apart. In HBO Max’s The Last of Us there will be an all-new breed of the infected revealed by The New Yorker.

It will be interesting and exciting to see how much Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin sway away from the games source material. There will always be fans disappointed by that, but I think it’s more entertaining for fans to embark on new adventures and new material.

The series gets better weekly, and the numbers are rising. The Last of Us has quickly become the “it” show of 2023.

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Watch an all-new episode of The Last of Us to see what happens next on Sunday 9PM ET on HBO Max.