Ending song meaning from The Last of Us Episode 1

Here's the meaning of the song on the radio at the end of Episode 1 from The Last of Us.


The Last of Us launched on HBO Max on January 16, 2023, with its first episode, and already there’s lots to dig into. One such detail is the radio in Joel’s apartment and the series of codes he used with his business partners Bill and Frank. In this guide, we’ll tell you about the meaning behind the song and explain the code.

What song was playing?

The song playing at the end of the episode was Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode. It was released on August 24, 1987. The release date is significant to the ending of the first episode of The Last of Us. I’ll explain below, but if you haven’t watched the episode yet you should do so before reading this guide.

Joel’s radio code

Joels radio code in the Last of Us HBO Max TV series
Courtesy: HBO Max

When Ellie first arrived at Joel’s apartment, she picked up a book called Number 1 Hits. When she opened the book there was a piece of paper inside that Joel used to receive messages from B/F (Bill and Frank). The code was as follows:

  • 60 - Nothing in
  • 70 - New stock
  • 80 - X

Shortly after finding the book, Joel laid down to rest. When he woke up, Ellie mentioned that there was a song playing on the radio called Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which was released in 1984. She did this to get a reaction out of Joel and figure out what significance an 80s song had in relation to the code. Joel’s reaction wasn’t good, which told Ellie that an 80s song over the radio was a signal from Bill and Frank of trouble. Ellie cracked the code, although it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

As the episode continued, Joel, Ellie, and Tess started out on their adventure. As the episode ended, we got a shot of Joel’s empty apartment, and the radio came alive with Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode. Given that this is an 80s song, it’s a message from Bill and Frank that there’s trouble. Unfortunately, Joel wasn’t at his apartment to hear this and had already headed out.

For more on The Last of Us on HBO Max, stick with Shacknews. We’ll be watching every episode and putting together helpful guides like this without spoiling the story.

Managing Editor

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He made his mark early in his career through guide writing and a deep understanding of editorial SEO. He enjoys putting in the work to create a great content, be it a wild feature or grinding out an in-depth collectible guide. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his articles.

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