The Last of Us Wiki
The Last of Us Wiki

When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light.
―The Fireflies' slogan.[1]

The Fireflies were a revolutionary militia group featured as an antagonistic faction in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II, and a playable faction in Factions MP. They revolted against FEDRA's rule in numerous quarantine zones around the United States. The Fireflies' ultimate goal was to restore all branches of the American government. However, they were largely unsuccessful in their war against FEDRA.[2] The Fireflies worked with several other post-outbreak paramilitary groups to combat FEDRA's oppression. However, these alliances had mixed results, with rioters tending to revolt against the Fireflies after FEDRA was usurped,[3] while the Washington Liberation Front remained amiable allies.[4]

The Fireflies were also searching for a vaccine for the Cordyceps brain infection (CBI) and did whatever it took to accomplish it.[5] The militia group was spread throughout the country, but their final main headquarters was located at St. Mary's Hospital in Salt Lake City.[6] Marlene led the group since its formation until her death in 2034, even being dubbed "queen Firefly" by Joel Miller.[7]

To identify members in their group, the Fireflies often wear yellow or green clothing, similar to the glow of real fireflies.[6][fn 1] Furthermore, to differentiate real members from spies, each member wears a pendant chained around their necks.[8][5] There are at least 318 officially registered Fireflies who were given a pendant.[9]

After Joel escaped St. Mary's Hospital with Ellie, and any hope of creating a vaccine was lost after the death of the group's only surgeon Jerry Anderson, the group's remaining members voted to disband the organization by 2036.[10] However, by 2038, ex-Firefly resistance groups were attempting to restart the organization at Catalina Island.[11]


Creation and war against FEDRA[]

The Fireflies were founded in the 2010s, shortly after the CBI outbreak. This was in response to FEDRA's military-supported coup d'état and subsequent suspension of most branches of the U.S. government, as well as the brutal martial law that was enacted in the quarantine zones, such as Los Angeles.[12] The group called for an end to the military's rule and staged several protests and riots in attempts to gain control over the quarantine zones. Support from the public increased when soldiers executed at least six Firefly members.[13]

By the 2020s, the Fireflies inspired civilians in numerous quarantine zones to rise up against the military, leading to rebellions in several cities in the United States. While rebelling, Fireflies commonly graffitied their group's slogan, "Look for the light", around the cities, mainly on building walls.[2] They successfully defeated the military in the city of Pittsburgh[14], but their actions did not always have the desired results.[3] 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.[3] 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.[15]

Elsewhere, the Fireflies also committed to a drawn-out campaign against the military stationed in the Denver QZ. Tommy Miller and Eugene Linden were placed in a Firefly terrorist cell within the city and launched bombing assaults on military checkpoints. Their cell leader also had them capture and torture numerous military personnel within the city. The actions they committed estranged Eugene from his wife and daughter, who saw his and the Fireflies' fervent fighting as a futile endeavor.[16] In the end, the campaign came to a standstill, and Eugene and Tommy left the Fireflies soon after to join a community living in Jackson, Wyoming.[17]

Searching for a cure[]

The Fireflies searched in vain for a cure to counter the CBI for many years. 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, sometime after a group of students either left or died out.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] A message on a Firefly's recorder mentioned that they did have some success in trials with a passive vaccine in 2028, but nothing came of this in the long run.[5]

A few years before the events of the main game, given the presence of a bloater,[18] 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.[5] 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.[21]

Events of Factions MP[]

Somewhere in America, a group of Fireflies attempted to steal a shipment from a group of hunters, as securing the supplies would increase their chances of creating a cure for the CBI. The group staked out the camp for 12 weeks, gaining as many survivors as possible while fighting groups of hunters that attacked them weekly. If the group succeeded in getting the shipment, they became one step closer to saving humanity. If not, the hunters successfully repelled and killed them, securing the supplies for themselves.[22][fn 2]

Finding an immune subject[]

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 was 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 to 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.[23]

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.[8] 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.[2]

Events of The Last of Us[]

A few weeks later, the Fireflies orchestrated a terrorist attack on a military checkpoint, bombing a vehicle, which prompts Boston troops to lock down the streets. The incident was a diversion to distract the military while Marlene worked to smuggle Ellie from the city. 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.[2] However, the Fireflies they were to meet at the Massachusetts State House had all been killed by the military, forcing them to flee.[24] Unable to locate Ellie or the smugglers, the Fireflies were forced to conclude that their last hope for a cure was gone.[24][1]

During the year, Marlene and a handful of the surviving Boston Fireflies retreated to Salt Lake City by March 23, 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.[1]

Defeat and formally disbanding[]

On April 28, 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 the Fireflies blocking his path. Joel then killed the head surgeon, Jerry Anderson, when he refused to let Joel take Ellie; the Fireflies vainly attempted to corner him in the pediatrics area, with Joel escaping in an elevator.[6]

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.[25]

Following the deaths of Marlene, Ethan, and Jerry at the hands of Joel,[6] 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.[10]

Attempts to re-form[]

Events of The Last of Us Part II[]

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 had formally disbanded by 2036.[10]

The Fireflies split off, going their separate ways, joining or forming different factions. Some, like Abby Anderson, Manny Alvarez, Owen Moore, Mel, and Nora stayed together and joined the Washington Liberation Front. These were dubbed the "Salt Lake crew" by the WLF's leader, Isaac Dixon, as these five had been stationed together in Salt Lake City before the group's collapse. This group in particular were regarded as veterans among the Washington Liberation Front, due to their high levels of experience, with many of the WLF's other members having respect for them.[4] Abby and her companions would go on enact their personal vengeance by killing Joel after they traveled to Jackson.[17]

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. They were eventually freed months later and escaped on a boat, bound for Catalina Island.[11]

Known members[]

Strength and equipment[]

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 soldiers. 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, Shorties and shotguns, ensuring the player faces difficulty at both short and long range. A select few also use gas masks.[6] Further, while not used during in-game encounters, they do possess semi-auto rifles.[25]

In the beginning levels of the game, several dead Fireflies are seen in Boston without any armor or heavy equipment.[2] Some Firefly corpses are also discovered outside Boston, implied to have been killed by infected; some of these possessed pistols, revolvers, Molotov cocktails and hunting rifles, but most were unarmed.[24] However, Marlene was in Boston with this group. One would have expected her, as their leader, to have high-powered weapons and elite guards, as opposed to the lightly-armed militia shown in Boston.

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 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 commit 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.[2]

The Fireflies have done well against the military in several other areas, notably the Pittsburgh quarantine zone, where the Fireflies used the civilians' discontent with food shortages and the military's authoritarian rule to orchestrate a fourteen month-long uprising against the military. During the uprising, the civilians did most of the fighting and were angry at the Fireflies for trying to control them even though they were fighting the military. Soon after the military was driven out of Pittsburgh,[15] the rebels turned on the Fireflies as well, driving them out and eventually resorted to hunting and killing outsiders who came to the city to survive.[3]

Behind the scenes[]

  • Before the first 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.
  • In The Last of Us Part I remaster, the Fireflies, including Marlene, were given Glock reskins for their 9mm pistols.


The Last of Us[]

Factions MP[]

The Last of Us Part I[]

The Last of Us Part II[]


  1. Note: this statement is true for The Last of Us game. However, in the remake, Part I, the Fireflies also tend to wear brown, black and blue colored clothing as well.
  2. Note: The outcome of this incident is player-determined