Background and early life
Sam and his older brother Henry lived in Hartford’s quarantine zone until the military abandoned the city. With their safety no longer guaranteed, they and a group of survivors moved on in search of a secure home. The group’s intention was to meet up with the Fireflies somewhere out west. On the suggestion of another person in their group, they venture into Pittsburgh for supplies. Their group scatters after being ambushed by the hunters who have taken over the city. Prior to splitting up, they all agreed to meet up again at a military radio tower just outside the city.
Events of The Last of Us
Meeting Joel and Ellie
Sam remained at his brother's side; the two managed to escape detection for a time by hiding in an abandoned office building somewhere near the hunters' lookout. He personally felt their group had perished but Henry tried to keep him positive. When his brother was overpowered by Joel in a fight, Sam trained his gun on the man, causing Ellie to stop Joel’s attack. He was hesitant to relax until his brother assured him that the newcomers were not hunters.
When Joel and Ellie agreed to work with them to escape the city, Sam apologized to Ellie for pointing his gun at Joel. Ellie dismisses the apology, saying she would have done the same in his situation if their places were reversed. Sam and Henry led the two down from the apartment into a toy store. They took cover from the armored vehicle searching for Henry and Sam’s party. As Henry began to explain their situation to Joel, he noticed Sam fiddling with a toy robot. Despite his protests, Henry lectured him that they do not take what they do not need. Frustrated, he dropped the toy and followed his brother and the others to the office building.
Just as Henry went inside, Sam asked Ellie's age. Ellie said she was 14, to which Sam quickly responded that he was also 14. Henry then jokingly said "You're 14?" to which Sam tried to say he was but Henry revealed he was not quite 14 yet. Once inside, Sam and Ellie ate berries, smiling while doing so. Henry mentioned how Sam had not done that in a long time. After Henry explained to Joel that he and his brother planned to escape during the night, when the patrols around the gate leading out of the city were at their smallest, they rested until nightfall.
Escaping to the sewers
Sam and Ellie kept their distance as they followed Joel and Henry. Henry and Joel killed the guards and created a distraction to get the gunmen down from the top of the gate. They succeeded, but were spotted by another patrol. Henry and Joel secured the gates behind them.
Sam and Henry scaled the truck first, then they helped Ellie up but the ladder broke. Henry hesitated to reach Joel, however as the armored vehicle began to break through the gate. Panicking, he ran away; though Sam was shocked by his brother’s actions, he followed suit.
Somewhere below the bridge, Sam and Henry spotted Ellie and Joel floating in the water. They rescued them from certain death and waited for them to recover. Ellie forgave them for their actions, but Joel attacked Henry and threatened to shoot him. Sam prepared to attack Joel, but his brother warned him away as he reminded Joel that Sam’s safety came first before anything else. After Joel backed down, Sam asked if his brother was all right. Henry assured him that he was fine and the two proceeded to search for a way off the beach. They found a storm drain that led into the sewers. Sam questioned if they can trust Joel, Henry replying they could. While traversing through the sewers, they learned a group of survivors once lived there. When they were attacked by a clicker, they all surmised the survivors succumbed to the Cordyceps brain infection.
Sam and the others managed to avoid detection from the clickers and other infected for a time. However, when Joel triggered a jerry-rigged door, he separated Sam from his brother and Ellie. The noise attracted more clickers forcing Ellie and Henry to run. On the other side of the door, Sam and Joel fought their way past a group of infected in their area. They came across an abandoned play and school area. Sam wondered why they were not able to keep the sewers safe. Joel was unable to give him an answer. Climbing up the ladder, they reunited with Henry and Ellie on the other side of the wall.
They ran, the infected close behind. They soon barricaded themselves in another room but were unable to move the obstacle that blocked the door to their escape. Sam crawled through an opening in the wall nearest to the door, alarming his brother and Ellie. He ignored his brother's demands and told him he's getting them out of the sewers. He removed the pipe from the door, enabling them to reach the top of the sewer system. Blocked again by a locked door, Henry helped Sam and Ellie through the window just above it. The two managed to unlock the door, allowing Henry and Joel to join them on the other side.
Crossing through the suburbs
In the suburbs, Sam asked how Ellie ended up with Joel. Ellie dodged the question slightly, telling him that a friend of hers needed him to take her to the Fireflies. As they continued through the suburbs, he and Ellie listened to his brother recount stories from before and during the outbreak; cookouts, the smell of food and the looting that proceeded when the infection began to spread. The two then found an ice cream truck, Sam telling Ellie what it did, Joel supporting his claim. They also found a set of darts in a house and proceeded to play a quick game. Although Sam scored the overall highest score, Ellie believed they tied, as her first dart scored higher than Sam's first dart but her second was lower than his. Joel and Henry discussed how, one day, Sam and Ellie would be able to be children all the time.
Near the outskirts of the neighborhood, they found a Firefly symbol and discussed how they would find them. To brighten the mood, Ellie took out her joke book and told several bad puns. Once done, Sam share one of his own which Ellie found amusing but "dumb". After reaching the last street to the radio tower, the four were attacked by a sniper. Joel moved to kill the sniper and the surrounding hunters while Sam and the others distracted him.
Eventually, Joel reached the house the sniper was in and killed him. Joel then took up the military sniper just as a second, larger group of hunters appeared from the end of the street. Sam, Henry, and Ellie moved forward and took cover behind a few cars and a washing machine. After Joel dispatched this group of hunters, a third one appeared along with the armored truck from the city. The group changed cover yet again, to avoid the attackers. As soon as Joel killed the last hunter on foot, one of the truck passengers began throwing Molotov cocktails at Sam, Henry, and Ellie. As he went to throw a second bottle, Joel shot him, causing the man to drop the Molotov into the truck, setting it ablaze. The vehicle then crashed into a nearby house as the passengers attempted to escape the blaze.
The relief was short-lived as two infected emerged from the house and attacked. Sam was scratched by a clicker before Joel could kill it with the military sniper though he did not inform the others. A large horde of infected then emerged from every direction. Realizing they could not kill them all, the group reunited in one of the houses and escaped the neighborhood, heading to the radio tower.
Reaching the tower and death
Later that night, Sam took stock of the food and supplies they scavenged on their journey. Ellie entered his room and tried to keep the conversation light, but Sam was suspicious of her reasons for seeing him. He then moved to a nearby window, looking outside. Ellie asked if he is all right and Sam answers in the affirmative. He asked her what she was scared of, but when she tries to make light of the question, he turned back to the window. She was then quick to tell him she was scared of being alone. He revealed he feared the infected, specifically becoming one of them. He wondered if they were still people underneath the infection, but Ellie was certain that they were dead. Sam doubted that they have "moved on with their families" as his brother put it and Ellie revealed she was not certain of the afterlife herself. Before she left, Ellie gave Sam the toy robot he picked up in Pittsburgh and suggested that he hide it. Once she was gone, Sam tossed the toy aside and sat down. He pulled his pant leg up to regard his scratch. By morning, he succumbed to the fungus.
The next morning, Ellie went in to check on him. Now a runner, Sam lunged at her in an attempt to kill her, forcing both of them through the door. However, before he could do any actual harm, Henry killed him with a bullet to the head. Upon doing so, Henry aimed his pistol at Joel, but then proceeded to kill himself out of grief.
Sam was later buried by Joel and Ellie at an unknown location. Ellie meant to leave the toy she stole for Sam on his grave, but forgot to and instead kept it as a reminder.
Meeting Sam profoundly affected Ellie later on in the game, having kept his robot toy with her throughout the rest of her journey. She even comments on how she should have said something different to him the day he died, deeply upset during the winter when out hunting. Ellie also mentions Sam as being a reason for her survivors guilt, as he died of infection, but she didn't despite being bitten.
Skills and abilities
Sam can assist the group in dire situations against hunters and the infected. Similar to Ellie, if a stalker is grappling Joel in the sewers, Sam can throw a brick to knock it off of him. Joel can also boost him up to high areas to retrieve ladders for him. Sam also helped the group by going through a vent and unblocking a gate from the other side, and served as a distraction to the hunters when Joel was going after the sniper.
Unlike his older brother Henry, Sam was rather pessimistic about their group being alive, being rather cold about it even when Henry tried to convince him otherwise. He also displayed it physically, appearing genuinely scared in most cutscenes, whereas Joel, Henry and even Ellie seemed more fearless.
Trying to be mature like Henry, he took inventory of how much food he and the others had found. He also greatly feared the infected, wanting to find hope in that there is more to the world than life and death, even though he doubted things like "Heaven" even exist.
Despite his pessimism, Sam still maintained his child-orientated traits, being attracted to playing with a toy robot undeterred by Henry's rule of "only tak[ing] what [they] have to". He also told jokes and played games.
However, after being scratched, his pessimism reached its extremity. He no longer cared for the toy robot Ellie managed to get him and isolated himself from the others, staying in his room alone for the night as he succumbed to the infection.
Due to the pair being brothers, Sam is greatly protected by Henry, though this has repercussions. Henry's protectionist attitude prevents Sam from being a child around him, unable to carry toys and be away from Henry's supervision if the man can help it, "sticking to him like glue" as expressed by Henry. This inadvertently rubs off on Sam, making him more mature at times such as when he takes stock of the food at the radio tower and tries to protect Henry when he is overpowered by Joel. It also makes him less confident, constantly worrying he is "fucking up somehow" because Henry is always coddling him to the point where he loses hope that he can survive the disease because of what Henry has always said about them; he will "move on" when as one, effectively dying.
Undeterred by this, he still wants to be with his brother, worrying about him when separated with Joel. He even displays concern, not liking the idea of leaving Henry alone to hold off infected while he and Ellie open a blocked door.
Sam's death had a great impact on Henry, who committed suicide after shooting Sam when he turned.
Although Sam doesn't interact a great deal with Joel, having been hostile to him initially, he soon feels safe around Joel, being protected by the man when separated from Henry. He also, like Ellie, asks Joel questions about the world before the outbreak, demonstrating a belief that he views Joel as knowledgeable.
Sam is pleased to have Ellie as a friend, able to spend time speaking to someone around his age and who also had lived their childhood in the apocalyptic world. He is able to forget about the troubles of the world around him, laughing when they try to catch blueberries in their mouths, tell each other jokes and play darts and football. Although Sam sees himself as scared most of the time, Ellie tries to compliment him, stating "we did good today, especially you".
He can also confess his fears to her and displays a sense of trust in her. When close to becoming a runner after being bitten, he tries to find solace and hope through Ellie, trying to get her to convince him that everything will be okay though he doesn't get the response he desired.
- Henry: "What's the rule about takin' stuff?"
- Sam: "It weighs like nothing."
- Henry: "The rule -- what is it?"
- Sam: "We only take what we have to."
- Sam: "Did Henry send you?"
- Ellie: "No. Why would Henry send me?"
- Sam: "To make sure I'm not fucking up somehow."
- Like Ellie, Sam never learned how to swim.
- He was born after the outbreak, therefore shares Ellie's detached view of what life was like before then.
- In the Sewers, when the player passes the nursery/school area after being separated from Henry and Ellie, Sam can remark that he used to draw a lot while looking at various educational illustrations in the room.
- There is an optional conversation later when Ellie and Joel are in Wyoming; Joel finds a small grave with a teddy bear on it and Ellie remembers that she forgot to put the "stupid robot" on his grave, Joel tells her to leave the past alone. Later, in the epilogue, Ellie mentions Sam when she refers to the people she cared about who have died from the infection.
- Furthermore, if Ellie examines the Sam's robot artifact when the player controls her, she will lament her final choice of words to him, saying "I was so stupid. I should have said something different to you."