You're a fucking animal.
―Ellie to David, disgusted by his people's practices
The cannibals (also referred to as the Survivors) are an antagonistic group of survivors encountered twice in The Last of Us, first at the University of Eastern Colorado, then the town of Silver Lake. They also appear in the Colorado Mountain Plaza in Left Behind, and are mentioned in The Last of Us Part II.
Events of The Last of Us
The cannibals that are encountered by Joel and Ellie are led by David, who is aided by his right-hand man James. There are women and children in this group, unlike the Hunters of Pittsburgh or the bandits encountered in Jackson County. The group is based in Silver Lake and is reluctant to trust David's leadership, finding him to be incompetent in keeping them safe. Judging by a note found by Joel, they appear to have been cannibals for at least a year.
In the autumn of 2033, David sent some of his men to look for food at the University of Eastern Colorado, where they encountered and attempted to kill Joel and Ellie. When this failed, the surviving men informed David and James their friends were killed by "a crazy man" (Joel) and "a little girl" (Ellie).
A few months later, David and James encountered Ellie in the forest, but didn't realize who she was. They agreed to trade a bottle of penicillin and a syringe in exchange for a deer which Ellie has killed. James left to get the medicine, leaving David with Ellie. While waiting, David tried to get Ellie to open up to him, deducing she was doing this for the sake of one person, not a group like she had previously implied. After facing a large number of infected, David realized that Ellie was the girl from the university. James appeared and pointed his gun at her, only to let Ellie go when David talked him down.
A small group of the cannibals was sent to capture Ellie, finding her at the cabin where she was treating Joel, though they tried to kill her once they found out who she was. One even shot and killed Callus, Ellie and Joel's horse. Ellie was eventually caught by David and taken to their town.
Trying to convince her to join the group, David became deranged and furious when Ellie continually refused his advances and attempted to escape, injuring him out of spite and disgust for his people's cannibalistic ways.
When Joel recovered, he found a small group left at the cabins and killed all but two. He then tortured one of them to discover Ellie's location, then beat both of them to death. Joel tracked Ellie to the cannibal's town, where he finds strung-up corpses in a meat locker.
Ellie ended up escaping after killing James and tricking David into believing she had infected him with a bite. David told a woman to take the children to safety while David and the men searched for Ellie. As she eluded the group through a snowstorm, she heard them complain about David's leadership. Reaching a restaurant, she was cornered by David, managing to hide from him. The pair then engaged in a lethal game of cat and mouse, with Ellie stabbing him only for David to knock them both out. Coming to, David pinned her down. He nearly killed her, but ultimately died when Ellie hacked him to death with his own machete. Ellie then fled the town with Joel, leaving the remaining cannibals without a leader.
Events of Left Behind
Left Behind shows that a small fraction of the group did not return, but instead tracked the wounded Joel and Ellie to the Colorado Mountain Plaza, suffering many casualties from both Ellie, who was gathering medical supplies for Joel, and the infected residing in the mall.
One of them briefly wielded a bow before being killed by an infected. These cannibals also faced off against the infected and Ellie at the same time, though they eventually either retreated or were killed in the fight.
Events of The Last of Us Part II
While traveling to Seattle, Dina suggests to Ellie that the cannibal group ran by David may have been the ones to come after and kill Joel. Ellie dismissed the suggestion though, seeing no point in guessing given Joel crossed many people during the apocalypse.
Skills and strength
Through David's dialogue, it appears the cannibals can afford to waste certain supplies (apart from food) suggesting that they have lots of equipment. While they do not use armor, they have access to weapons such as pistols, revolvers, hunting rifles, shotguns, and occasionally bows. They also use hatchets, pipes, and 2x4s as melee weapons. However, it appears better equipment, like shotguns and rifles, are only used by scavenging parties that go out hunting for food and supplies. The town watch, by comparison, has most men armed with simple revolvers. However, when Joel finally arrives, some of the watchmen have equipped melee and heavier weapons. The group which tracked Ellie down at the Mountain Plaza mostly used pistols although some used Molotov cocktails, which were highly effective against the infected present in the area.
Their leader, David, is menacing, using a machete and a revolver, as well as having a high pain tolerance in combat, resisting being stabbed three times by Ellie. He also possessed a hunting rifle, but admitted that he wasn't a good shot. He was able to handle several infected alongside Ellie, even Clickers and a Bloater.
The cannibals are known for their cowardly nature, fleeing from a recently-recovered Joel despite outnumbering him, preferring to take him by surprise when possible. They are similar to the Hunters in power but lack numbers in most cases. Much like the Hunters, they either fear or distrust their leader. They are, however, more diverse as they have women and children in their group, making the group arguably weaker since not all of the members are suitable for fighting.
However, the group is well organized and are skilled trackers, an entire search party managing to locate Ellie on at least two occasions and captured her with David's help during the second search. They could even hold their own against several infected, something most other groups have been shown to either struggle with them even the military, who were overpowered by Stalkers despite being the best-equipped faction of survivors left. Their milksop character still persists despite this, as some run and hide rather than fight the infected directly, choosing to attack when the infected are a safe distance away. Also, while they tend to easily kill runners, they do have difficulty overpowering Clickers; while they can defeat them, the latter typically kills at least one of them before such.
Despite being generally weaker than most enemies, the young Ellie struggles to combat them directly, due to her inferior size and strength. It could be argued that this is why David was so difficult to defeat even though he only had a revolver. Compare him to Joel and he could be argued as being much weaker, despite his high pain tolerance. When Ellie does engage them in melee combat, they react in a similar manner as Clickers do for Joel, with them blocking her attack after two strikes and either putting her in a chokehold or punching her to the ground.
- Dialogue hints that David might not be the leader of the group, or it operates as a democracy. When he is talking to Ellie, he states that he has to convince the others to let Ellie in.
- However, a cannibal says that after they kill Ellie, they should have a town meeting, and put David's leadership up to a vote, implying democratic leadership.
- While it is heavily implied that the cannibals think nothing of killing others, they are a tight-knit group, displayed when a cannibal attacked Joel with a shotgun yelling "Those are my friends you killed, asshole!" The loss of their friends also made other cannibals disobey their leader David in an effort to avenge their deaths when they found Ellie; even James contemplated killing Ellie until David ordered him not to. This relationship contrasts with the Hunters, who seem to only begrudgingly work together.
- While children are not seen in the cannibal's community, an unused file actually contains a model for a "cannibal child".
- While not the first enemies shown in-game combating infected, the cannibals are the only enemies where the player can influence their encounters with them in the first game.
- By Any Means
- Owen, Michael and Sims, Kenny (June 14, 2013). The Last of Us Official Strategy Guide (Signature Series Guide ed.). Brady Games, p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7440-1458-7.
- "Lakeside Resort"
- "The Enemy of My Enemy"
- "Seattle Day 1"
- Meat ledger
- "The University"
- Hunters note
- Field ops log
- The Last of Us - Cannibal Child Found, YouTube, (Accessed 2018)
|Colorado||Drew Beckwith · Laura Brown|
|Fireflies||Marlene · Melanie · Riley Abel|
|U.S. military||Banks · Eugene Ellis · Larry Caulfield · Princess · Regan Francis · Sean Brendon · Winston Asher|
|Other characters||Anna · Callus · Joel Miller · Tino|
|Groups||Cannibals · Fireflies · The infected (Runners · Stalkers · Clickers) · Survivors · United States military|