When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light.
— The Fireflies' slogan
The Fireflies were a revolutionary paramilitary group featured in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II. They revolted against military oppression in numerous Quarantine Zones in the hopes of eventually restoring the US government, albeit, they fighting a losing war against FEDRA. Along this, the Fireflies were one of the few organized groups still searching for a vaccine for the cordyceps brain infection (CBI) and did whatever it took to accomplish it. The militia group was spread throughout the country, but their most recent main base was located at St. Mary's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Alongside the Fireflies, normal civilians from Quarantine Zones also rose up due to food shortages and Firefly agitation. When comparing the Fireflies to these unaffiliated rebels, the latter will typically possess greater numbers and are more brutal, but also less organized and more desperate. Marlene led the group since its formation until her death in 2034, even being dubbed "queen Firefly" by Joel.
After Joel escaped St. Mary's Hospital with Ellie, and any hope of creating a vaccine was lost after killing the group's only surgeon Jerry Anderson, the group's remaining members voted to disband the organization. However, during the events of The Last of Us Part II, it is rumored that ex-Firefly resistance groups were attempting to restart the organization.
Pre-The Last of Us
The Fireflies were founded sometime after the CBI outbreak in response to the US military's martial law placed on the Quarantine Zones such as Los Angeles. The group called for the return of all branches of government to end the military's rule and staged several attacks within the Quarantine Zones. Support from the public increased when soldiers executed at least six Firefly members. The Fireflies successfully defeated the military in several Quarantine Zones, notably in Pittsburgh, but their actions did not always have the desired results. In most uprisings, rioting citizens have done more of the fighting than actual Firefly members, leading to feuds that typically resulted in the citizens turning on their city's Fireflies after the revolt was finished, fearing a reign of oppression by the Fireflies, rather than the Military. The Fireflies lost control and were executed or forced to flee, allowing the citizens to take over, some adopting a "survival of the fittest" philosophy instead of trying to find a cure or build a better society.
For many years the Fireflies searched in vain for a cure to counter the CBI. Morale within the organization fell as vaccination tests continued to fail and the military began to hunt them down. They eventually set up their main research laboratory at the University of Eastern Colorado, some time after a group of students either left or died out. While there, they set up a guard post to maintain a log of who and what came in and to monitor the outskirts of the area as they set up their main research lab in the Science building. At some point, Tommy visited the lab when he was a Firefly, still believing it to be the Fireflies' main base even after leaving the group. A message on a Firefly's Recorder mentioned that they did have some success in trials with a passive vaccine in 2028, but apparently nothing came of this in the long run.
A few years before the events of the main game, given the presence of a Bloater, the Fireflies relocated their base from the University of Eastern Colorado to St. Mary's Hospital in Salt Lake City, as the safety of the science lab was becoming compromised by Infected attacks. Furthermore, a Firefly scientist became infected when a lab monkey carrying the infection bit him. Choosing not to go with the others, who left so quickly that they abandoned most of their medical equipment, he committed suicide after lamenting about his time as a Firefly.
Events of American Dreams
In Boston in 2033, the Fireflies were engaged in a shootout with the Boston military just outside the zone. Ellie and Riley came across the fight where the militia group were losing and Riley used Winston's smoke bombs to cover the group's escape. The Fireflies later found the two girls in the shopping mall and saved them from a couple of infected but took the girls prisoner. Marlene, who was among the group, ordered the girls be kept alive after recognizing Ellie.
After finding a smuggler's tunnel to hide in, Marlene later freed Ellie and Riley from their bindings. As Riley and Marlene argued over the former joining the group, the Fireflies were attacked by three armed smugglers. With minimal casualties, the Fireflies killed the smugglers and Marlene tested Riley's commitment. Marlene later directed the girls back to the QZ, though not before telling Ellie about her mother.
Riley eventually was allowed to join the Fireflies after following a member into an alleyway. There, Marlene greeted her, asking what took so long. She gifted Riley her own Firefly pendant and a handgun. The group in Boston initially planned to leave the city in the coming months after recruiting Riley but plans changed when three weeks before the events of The Last of Us, Marlene discovered that Ellie was immune to the disease after being bitten by an Infected and did not succumb to the fungus, unlike her friend Riley. This caused the group to reorganize so they could set up an operation to get Ellie out of the city as well, the girl becoming the group's key objective.
Events of The Last of Us
In the beginning of the game, the Fireflies are responsible for bombing a vehicle at a military checkpoint, which prompts Boston troops to lock down the streets. In preparation for getting the girl to their main lab, Marlene initially made a deal with a local smuggler named Robert to take Ellie to the rendezvous point at the Capitol Building outside the Boston QZ. The Fireflies made plans to quietly exit the city, but the military began to provoke them. The Fireflies became violent in response, and Robert himself was killed by Joel and Tess. After meeting with Marlene, they witness a squad of soldiers executing captured Fireflies. Later on, the pair agreed to take Ellie to the Capitol Building in return for their weapons that Robert had sold to the militia group, but the Fireflies they were to meet there had all been killed by the military, forcing them to flee. Unable to locate Ellie or the smugglers, the Fireflies were forced to conclude that their last hope for a cure was gone.
During the year, Marlene and a handful of the surviving Boston Fireflies retreated to Salt Lake City by March 23rd 2034. They reunited with comrades they hadn't seen in years, but they all were saddened upon learning of the death of the extraction team.
On April 28th, 2034, nearly a year after tasking Joel with Ellie, a Firefly patrol found the pair in the tunnels of the city on the way to the hospital. Ellie, having almost drowned, was being given CPR by Joel when the Fireflies knocked him out and revived her, then took them both to their main base. As Ellie had been taken away and prepped for surgery, the doctors told Marlene that they could not extract her fungus-infected brain without killing her. Marlene reluctantly gave the go-ahead, but when Joel heard of the operation, he killed his guard Ethan and proceeded to the operating room, killing or avoiding the Fireflies searching for him (player determined). Joel killed the head surgeon when he refused to let Joel take Ellie; the Fireflies vainly attempted to corner him in the pediatrics area, with Joel escaping in a lift. When Joel brought Ellie down to the parking garage, Marlene confronted him and attempted to convince Joel to hand over Ellie, as this is what Ellie would have wanted--to save humankind and create a vaccine. However, Joel, after making the decision that he would not lose Ellie, killed Marlene as he believed she would only come after them.
Events of Factions MP
In Factions, a group of Fireflies are attempting to steal a shipment from a group of Hunters, as securing the supplies will increase their chances of creating a cure for the CBI. The group stakes the camp out for 12 weeks, gaining as many survivors as they can while fighting groups of Hunters that attack them weekly. If the group succeeds in getting the shipment, they are one step closer to saving humanity. If not, the Hunters successfully repel and kill them, securing the supplies for themselves.
Events of The Last of Us Part II
Following the deaths of Marlene, Ethan, and the head surgeon Jerry Anderson at the hands of Joel, the surviving Fireflies became extremely demoralized. After years of suffering repeated defeats at the hands of the military, the deaths of the Firefly leadership, and the chance at developing a vaccine lost, a majority of the surviving Fireflies lost all hope in the group and voted to formally disband, officially ending the original Fireflies as a rebel militia.
However, according to a recording Ellie found after exploring the deserted St. Mary's Hospital in Salt Lake City, it is clear that a part of the Fireflies were opposed to disbanding, with many wanting to either go after Joel and Ellie to continue working on a vaccine despite Jerry's death, or to continue resisting the military and FEDRA as they had previously been doing. However, these appeared in the minority as the group formally disbanded by 2036. The Fireflies split off, going their separate ways, joining or forming different factions. Some, like Abby Anderson, Mel, Nora, Emanuel Alvarez and Owen Moore stayed together and joined the Washington Liberation Front. These were dubbed the "Salt Lake Crew" by the WLF's leader, Isaac Dixon. This group in particular were regarded as veterans among the Fireflies. Abby and her companions would go on enact their personal vengeance by killing Joel after they traveled to Jackson to take their revenge.
However, while disbanded, there were rumors that some former Fireflies had gathered in Santa Barbara to restart the group. Owen proposed the "Salt Lake Crew" join them prior to his death. Following the events of Seattle, Abby and Lev follow up on the leads and head to Santa Barbara in search of them. They eventually come across an old barracks in the basement of a house in the suburbs, 2425 Constance. They find a list of frequencies, and eventually make contact with a man over the radio, who questions Abby to make sure that she is indeed a former Firefly, and reveals to her that the Fireflies are at their base on Catalina Island, growing in number, having gathered roughly two hundred former members. He asks them to tell him their location and says that they will find them. However, as the duo leave the house, they are assaulted and captured by the Rattlers and brought to their base to work as slaves.
The Fireflies serve as the final enemies encountered in The Last of Us, and are appropriately the best trained, well equipped, non-Infected enemies encountered after the armored military. Most of the Fireflies at the end of the game wear body armor and helmets that help resist gunfire and also wield powerful, flashlight-equipped Assault Rifles that can drain Joel's health in a single burst if the player is not careful. Some even use El Diablos and Shotguns, ensuring the player faces difficulty at both short and long range. A select few also use gas masks.
In the beginning levels of the game, the dead Fireflies in Boston are seen without any armor or heavy weaponry. Some Firefly corpses are also discovered outside Boston, implied to have been killed by Infected; some of these possessed Molotov Cocktails and hunting rifles, but most were unarmed. This is ironic, as Marlene was in Boston with this group and, as the leader, one would have expected her to have high-powered weapons and elite guards, as opposed to the lightly-armed militia shown in Boston. However, the reason for their poor equipment may be that the Fireflies in Boston wanted to keep a low profile, or had difficulty transporting powerful weapons and body armor across the country.
The presence of body armor and high-powered weapons suggests that most of the members encountered at St. Mary's Hospital are actually elite Firefly soldiers, tasked with guarding their base of operations and overseeing the safety of the surgical team and Marlene, while the dead Fireflies seen in Boston were likely low-ranking rebels with inferior equipment. Evidently, the latter mostly failed in their attempts to fight the military, as almost all of the city rebels are captured or dead. They are seen to only pose a threat to the military when they do hit-and-run attacks, whereas those who engage the military in open combat are usually slaughtered. The Fireflies seem to know this; most of the Fireflies who bomb the checkpoint at the beginning of the game flee as soon as the guards open fire; those who stayed and fought were later captured and executed.
The Fireflies have done well against the military in other places though, notably Pittsburgh, where they joined forces with rebel citizens and successfully defeated the regime. Although, the Fireflies ultimately proved weaker than the rebels, who went on to slaughter the Firefly agitators once the military were ostracized.
- Avalon - Santa Catalina Island (active)
- Boston's Base - Boston (abandoned)
- University of Eastern Colorado - Denver Metro Area (abandoned)
- St. Mary's Hospital - Salt Lake City (abandoned)
- Big Sur's Base - Big Sur (abandoned)
- Los Angeles' Base - Los Angeles (abandoned)
- San Diego's Base - San Diego (abandoned)
The Last of Us
The Last of Us Part II
- Fireflies primarily wear yellow or green clothing, similar to the glow of real fireflies. However, some members wear brown clothing in Factions MP.
- Before they disbanded, the Fireflies were (after the military) the strongest faction in the post-apocalyptic America due to their high level of organization and access to heavy weapons and armor.
- Fireflies commonly graffiti their group's slogan, "Look for the light", in cities such as Boston.
- Their members wear Firefly pendants, which appear to fill the role of dog tags and can be collected by Joel.
- Before the game's release, Naughty Dog held 3 different contests to get the names of 8 winners from each contest on Firefly Pendants in the game. Contests were to make fan art, fan videos/trailers, and cosplay photos of the game.
- Joel and Ellie both have at least one known close affiliates with the Fireflies; Ellie's best friend Riley, her surrogate mother Marlene and Joel's brother Tommy were Fireflies.
- In the Pittsburgh chapter, Joel can find dead Fireflies in the freezers of a sandwich shop along with a note explaining what became of them after sparking an uprising in the city.
- ↑ Hunters
- ↑ Queen Firefly
- ↑ News broadcast
- ↑ Fireflies Note
- ↑ Student's Journal
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Snipers' Nest Log
- ↑ Firefly's Recorder
- ↑ American Dreams
- ↑ Left Behind DLC
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Marlene's Journal
- ↑ You Can't Save Her
- ↑ Factions MP
- ↑ The Last of Us: American Dreams: Issue 4
- ↑ Office Recorder, Lab Recorder
- ↑ The Firefly Lab
- ↑ The Quarantine Zone
- ↑ The Outskirts
- ↑ Final Attack Note
- ↑ Fireflies Note
|Main Characters||Ellie · Riley Abel|
|Supporting Characters||Winston Asher · Princess · Marlene|
|Groups||Survivors · The Infected · Fireflies · The Military · Smugglers|
|Fireflies||Marlene · Kerry|
|The Military||Winston Asher · Princess · Corporal "Dickhead"|
|Other Characters||Roberta Coen · Anna|
|Main Characters||Ellie · Riley Abel|
|Supporting Characters||Joel · Callus|
|Groups||Survivors · The Infected · Fireflies · The Military · Cannibals|
|The Infected||Runners · Stalkers · Clickers|
|Fireflies||Marlene · Riley Abel · Melanie|
|The Military||Winston Asher · Princess · Major Banks · Regan Francis · Eugene Ellis · Sean Brendon · Larry Caulfield|
|Other Survivors||Tino · Anna · Laura · Pharmacist|