Bill dies on Sunday’s episode, but he’s still alive in the game. Frank is never seen alive in the game.
Sunday’s episode is a complete expansion on Bill and Frank’s game characters.
The pair’s love story on HBO’s adaptation is a much richer and respectful adaptation of Bill than the version that’s glossed over in the game where his sexuality is merely implied, but never directly stated, and the relationship is depicted in a negative light.
In the game, Joel and Ellie seek out Bill, shown as a paranoid loner who speaks to himself, to help them fix a vehicle and carry on their mission. Frank, also Bill’s partner in the game, is only seen dead, hanging after committing suicide some time ago after an infected bit him.
In the game, we learn the two had a nasty falling out, resulting in Frank’s eventual death.
As far as we know in the game universe, Bill is still alive.
During a Zoom conversation with showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann in December, Insider asked why the show expanded upon Bill’s story in a significant way, giving him a happily ever after.
Mazin said that after two episodes filled with action and danger, there was an opportunity to take a breath in the story and show survival from a different vantage point.
“There’s this lovely thread that indicated this hint of a relationship between Bill and Frank in the game,” Mazin said.
He added: “I just suggested to Neil that maybe we pull that thread and we take it in a different direction in terms of the way it was depicted in the game, and use it to show the passage of time and use it to explore some of these themes that are so important to the length of the show, themes about what it means to love somebody, the different kinds of love, including a love that can be very protective and violent and dangerous, and how we could give these two men a win.”
You can watch our conversation with the showrunners on Sunday’s episode here.