When it comes to representation in video games, a lot of the time it’s incredibly tropey. It’s often a story about trauma, or coming out. So when a game shows people who are just a couple, it’s pretty big news.
That’s exactly what happened in The Last of Us, when Bill and Frank were shown as a pair of lovers. It was a glimmer of hope in an otherwise grim, post-apocalyptic world. Bill is an entertaining grump who helps Joel and Ellie in their journey, although it’s not entirely clear why he wants them to leave his town. It’s implied that he was once in a relationship with Frank, but that the two left on bad terms and he is now alone.
It’s also hinted that Frank died from the fungal outbreak. When Bill and Joel come across his body hanging in a house, it’s clear that Bill is upset by this. But he brushes it off, expressing his desire to live alone. It’s an interesting contrast to the way that the player can remark on his sex life in the safehouse, suggesting a gay subtext.
Jon Franklin, who plays Bill and Frank on the TV show, says that it’s important to show queer relationships that don’t end in tragedy or estrangement. That’s why he’s happy that the series took their story further, giving it a more full treatment than the game did.