Joel strangles a survivor.

Strangling is an unarmed attack in The Last of Us that allows Joel to stealthily grab other Survivors, Runners, and Stalkers and choke them out. While being strangled, they can also be used as human shields. It takes roughly six seconds to strangle an enemy, so there's a strong chance one can be spotted. Other survivors can also strangle Joel and Ellie, notably Henry and David.

Despite the considerable amount of noise made during strangling, for gameplay purposes strangling is considered completely silent by the AI, who do not react even if someone is being strangled right next to them, unless they see Joel doing it.

When strangling, Joel is rendered immobile, allowing people to see and attack him if he is in an open area. However, it depends on the route Joel takes; the more conservative route around the enemies or the faster and more efficient one through the middle, spacious area.

Ellie is unable to strangle opponents due to her small size and physical inability, so she uses her switchblade instead, frantically stabbing an enemy in the neck and chest which is slightly quicker and more effective than strangling, albeit moving the enemy forwards instead of backwards.

If Joel has crafted a Shiv, he can opt to stab someone in the neck instead of strangling them. Although this is considerably faster, it also uses up a shiv.

The strangling feature is not possible in Factions MP.



  • Realistically, the victim would need to be choked longer in order to be killed[citation needed]; Joel releases his victims as soon as they stop struggling.
  • Clickers and Bloaters cannot be strangled because of their strength. 
  • The strangling pop-ups do not appear on Hard, Survivor and Grounded Difficulty, meaning that players have to know what the buttons are.
    • For those who need reminding, one has to use Triangle to grab the enemy, then use Square to strangle or Triangle to shiv.
  • In the E3 demo, strangling seemed to take a bit longer, and the enemy's animation of trying to break free was different, the enemy attempting to punch Joel on the head. In the final version they attempt to grab Joel's head to break free.