Once upon a time, I had somebody that I cared about. It was a partner. Somebody I had to look after. And in this world, that sort of shit's good for one thing: gettin' you killed.
Background and early life
Little is known about Bill's life before the outbreak but he obtained mechanical skills at some point as he is skilled at repairing vehicles and building things from scraps. He also adapted to the new world and became a competent scavenger.
At some point prior to the events of The Last of Us, Bill and his partner Frank were the only survivors living in Lincoln, a town that was populated by an unusually large number of infected. However, at some point, Frank left Bill on his own and disappeared. To protect himself from the infected and the hunters, Bill constructed many barricades and traps.
He also had a smuggling arrangement with Joel and Tess in nearby Boston, smuggling supplies such as food, ammunition, and occasionally medicine into the quarantine zone. By the time the events of the game transpire, Bill owed Joel many favors, for unknown reasons.
Events of The Last of Us
Much to Bill's dismay, Joel and Ellie arrive at his safe house in the town of Lincoln, disabling many of his traps and alerting an overwhelming swarm of runners to their presence in the process. Bill subdues both of them, fearful that they have been bitten, although Ellie manages to break free of her restraints and beats Bill with a pipe. Joel quickly gets up and stops Ellie from causing further harm.
After a brief argument, Joel asks Bill for a car, with Ellie reminding Bill about the favors he owes to Joel. Bill says he does not have a working car, but there are car parts located in another area of the town. Bill begins to sharpen his machete, sarcastically saying Joel can have his food too. Ellie insults Bill's waistline, and he threatens the teenager. Joel calms Ellie down and returns to Bill, insisting the favors Bill owes him are worth the effort. With Joel having asserted he isn't leaving until he gets a car, Bill agrees to put together a car for Joel and Ellie, but tells them that once it is done, he owes Joel no more favors. Joel agrees to his terms.
They head towards a church that Bill has converted into an armory. On the way, Bill questions Joel's need for a car and briefly trades insults with Ellie, something Joel tries to stop. While killing a trapped runner, Bill asks where Tess is. Joel states that she is busy, leading Bill to think the pair have had a falling-out.
After defeating more infected, they reach the church. Bill sternly tells Ellie not to touch anything. While loading shotguns for him and Joel to use, Bill asks why Tess would allow Joel to accept such a suicidal mission. When Joel responds that Tess was the one who convinced him, Bill reveals his disappointment; having believed Tess was smarter than such. Bill begins to tell Joel about his partner Frank, trying to hide his homosexuality while doing so, saying he had to look after him. He finishes by saying that caring for someone "is good for one thing - getting you killed". Before he says more, he sees Ellie touching his comics. He shouts at her, reinforcing what he said before about not touching anything, but she replies with an obscene gesture, irritating him. He turns to Joel, saying she will get him killed. Having had enough, Joel interrupts him, asking if they can just "get on with it". Bill finishes loading the shotgun, tossing it to Joel and saying "Fine. Let's get on with it".
Before they leave, Bill gives Joel a nail bomb and teaches him how to make them. He tells him that they have to reach the local high school, as a military vehicle crashed there a while ago, with a new battery still inside. Bill jokes how he wanted to get it but decided against it, due to lots of infected being near there, but "Fuck it. Joel needs a car".
When they do reach the school, they find the battery in the truck is gone. With no other options, they force their way out the back of the school, having to kill a bloater - the strongest of the infected - to do so.
They manage to reach a house where they take refuge. Joel asks what the plan is but Bill replies that all their plans are gone, angrily insulting Tess while doing so. Joel goes to retaliate for Bill bringing up Tess, but Bill stops abruptly. Joel notices that there is a hanged corpse in the room. Joel asks if Bill knows the man. He does; its the body of Frank, Bill's former partner. He had hung himself after becoming infected, not wanting to turn into a monster. Despite trying not to let it show, Bill is saddened by his death. Joel finds a suicide note near Frank's body, in which Frank tells Bill that he hated his guts. Bill is taken aback by this, but again does his best not to let it show. He throws the note away after reading it.
They find a truck in Frank's garage which contains the stolen battery. He checks to see if it is working, finding the battery drained but the cells alive. Joel questions what he means; Bill replies that, if they get it started, the alternator will recharge the battery. Joel and Bill push it through the streets while Ellie tries to pop the clutch to get it working. She fails the first time, so Bill indirectly insults her. He and Joel proceed to kill several infected on the street but manage to make it to the top of a hill, where the truck actually starts to work. Hopping in the back, the pair signal Ellie to keep driving, since more infected are on the way. They safely make it back to Bill's church.
Bill makes Ellie stop the truck and goes to leave, Joel getting out to say goodbye. Both briefly remark that Ellie held her own against the infected, but Bill still believes Joel will die soon. Before leaving, he gives Joel a siphon hose so he can obtain gas from abandoned cars. Joel thanks him and expresses his sympathy for the loss of Frank. Bill asks if they're "square". Joel tells Bill that they are square; Bill no longer owes him anything. Bill then tells Joel to "get the fuck out of [his] town". Joel and Ellie do so, never seeing the man again.
Bill is later mentioned by Joel a few months later, when Joel and Ellie reach the University of Eastern Colorado. Joel states that the Fireflies could be using the infected as a form of defense, like Bill did.
It is unknown what happened to him after they left, though it can be assumed he is still alive given how he never goes near infected if he can help it and fortified the church and the nearby streets with several traps.
Events of The Last of Us Part II
Ellie mentions Bill to her girlfriend Dina five years later, while on their mission for revenge. Dina expresses disbelief at Bill having an entire town to himself. Ellie recalls Bill's traps and how Joel navigated his way through them.
Personality and traits
Bill is extremely paranoid and somewhat quirky - often carrying on conversations or playing chess with himself. When talking to other people he is extremely sarcastic. He is extremely vigilant with strangers, always inspecting them to ensure they are not infected. He is also quite hasty in making decisions, adding more to his uptight personality. His base is heavily protected with booby traps and mines that he crafts and arms himself.
It is implied that Bill is gay, due to the way he refers to his former partner, Frank. He says that, although he once cared about Frank, he decided it would be best to go it alone, fearing for his life. When Joel does arrive, he wishes him gone straight away, expressing a desire to live on his own despite how isolated he would be. Bill is saddened when they later find Frank's body but does his best not to show it, displaying his grim attitude of brushing things off, even saying "Fuck him" despite Frank once being his lover. Ellie steals a gay pornographic magazine from Bill's safe house, jokingly asking Joel, "Why are the pages all stuck together?", further enforcing the likelihood he was gay.
Bill is overweight and Ellie frequently insults him about this, telling him that he could afford to lose some of his food. Their witty remarks escalate further when, immediately before setting out into the streets of Lincoln to scavenge auto parts, he implores Joel and Ellie to "Stay right on my ass", and Ellie replies "Can't miss it." Ellie's sharp tongue displays how Bill is easy to anger, threatening Ellie several times for such, but is also willing to help pay off debts and assist certain allies, as seen in his eventual agreement to repair a vehicle for Joel if they can source the parts
Bill is extremely paranoid, shown by how he doesn't even trust Joel when he says he's not infected at first. It is also shown by how he talks to himself constantly and leaves notes to himself scattered around town. He keeps his mind off the infected by playing chess though since he plays by himself, this could just be another trait of his paranoid personality. His paranoia came from the disappearance of Frank and his isolation in the town filled with infected.
Skills and abilities
Bill is a skilled mechanic who knows how to repair cars and craft things with just scraps and spare parts. Perhaps the most impressive display of his crafting skills is his invention of the nail bomb. He uses these to set several traps around his town to kill infected and ward off intruders.
He is also skilled with a bow, using it to kill infected from a distance and in high areas. Despite this, he prefers to use a shotgun and his kukri knife for close quarter combat. With Joel assisting, Bill uses his shotgun to kill a bloater, the strongest type of infected. He also uses a 9mm pistol as well, notably when threatening Joel, though only uses it as his shotgun isn't on hand.
- Bill: "Yeah, sure Joel, go ahead, take my car. Take all of my food too while you're at it."
- Ellie: "By the looks of it, you could lose some of that food."
- Bill: "You listen to me, you little shit–"
- Ellie: "No, fuck you. You handcuffed me!"
- Bill: "But after this, I owe you nothin'."
- Joel: "That's fine, couple days from now we'll probably be dead anyway."
- Ellie: "So… why don't you fix one of these cars?"
- Bill: [sarcastic] "Oh, my god, you're a genius. I mean the whole time, why on earth hadn't I thought about fixin' one of these cars?"
- Bill: "What are you delivering? That little brat?"
- Ellie: "Haha. Fuck you too."
- Bill: "Alright… You gotta check the barricades again. You neglect the simple shit and now you're paying for it."
- Ellie: "Okay, well now he's talking to himself."
- Bill: "You know, as bad as those things are, at least they're predictable. It's the normal people that scare me."
- Bill: "Once upon a time I had someone I cared about. It was a partner. Somebody I had to look after. And in this world that sort of shit's good for one thing: gettin' ya killed. So, you know what I did? I wisened the fuck up. And I realized it's gotta be just me."
- Joel: "Bill what now?"
- Bill: "You're lucky you're still drawing breath. That was plan A, B, C, all the way to fuckin' Z!"
- Bill: "We square?"
- Joel: "We're square."
- Bill: "Then get the fuck out of my town."
- Bill uses a Kukri, a unique machete with a design that hails originally from Nepal.
- It is implied that Bill is also proficient with a bow. When Joel and Ellie spot an infected that was killed with arrows, Ellie asks if his friend was good with a bow, to which Joel confirms.
- Despite this, Bill is actually never seen with a bow in the game.
- Bill appears to be a fan of chess, as he has a chessboard in one of his safehouses and references Bobby Fischer, a world-famous American chess world champion and grandmaster.
- Bill's backpack is the model used for the Hunters in the multiplayer.
- Bill never finds out during the game that Tess is actually deceased. When asked, Joel just says that she is "busy".
- Bill is shown using a 9mm pistol during cutscenes, but in-game he uses a revolver. His pistol disappears once he gets his shotgun in the church. The 9mm returns in the cutscene when they drop Bill off at his safehouse.
- Like Joel, he believed Tess was smart enough to not want to commit to any sort of suicidal missions, but both were proved wrong when Tess revealed her intent of having Joel continue the mission for her.
- The moment when Bill sharpens his machete when confronting Joel and Ellie was actually improvised by Brown on the spot, initially not included in the script.
- According to Troy Baker and Neil Druckmann in the commentary for He was my partner, Joel and Bill's brief argument was improvised by Troy and Earl.