The Last of Us Wiki
The Last of Us Wiki

Decisions used to be easy, huh? What time to get up, what to wear, where to go. Now it's a bit different. Could you tell friend from foe? Could you kill? Could you do worse? If a loved one was infected, could you do the right thing? Could you put your life on the line for me the way I would for you? Could you be... the last of us?
―Launch trailer.

The Last of Us is a third-person action-adventure survival horror video game created exclusively for PlayStation 3, and was later remastered for the PlayStation 4. The game was developed by a portion of the employees at Naughty Dog, while the other half of the company went to develop Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception; established for the purpose of creating new intellectual property as well as continuing the Uncharted series simultaneously.

Set in the post-apocalyptic United States, the game tells the story of survivors Joel and Ellie as they work together to survive their westward journey across what remains of the country to find a possible cure for the modern fungal plague that has nearly decimated the entire human race.

On May 15, 2013, The Last of Us had "gone gold",[1] meaning all development of the game had been completed and mass manufacturing had begun. The Last of Us was scheduled to be released on May 7, 2013, but was pushed back to six weeks.[2] The game was released on June 14, 2013 in all countries except Japan where it was released on June 20, 2013.

On March 26, 2014, according to an interview with a Turkish Sony representative, Sercan Sulun, a PlayStation 4 version of the game, titled The Last of Us Remastered, would be released in the summer of 2014. Upon release physically and digitally on July 29 and 30 that year, this version of The Last of Us came with "enhanced graphics" and included the DLC, Left Behind.[3] A sequel, titled The Last of Us Part II, was revealed in December 2016 during the PlayStation Experience event and released in 2020.[4] In September 2022, Naughty Dog, in collaboration with PlayStation Studios, released a remake of the original game with Left Behind, titled The Last of Us Part I, for the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Windows.


Backstory and setting

The Last of Us takes place in the year 2033, twenty years after a fungal-based, brain-altering pandemic has spread and infected over 60% of the world's population.[5] Since the outbreak, the world has gone into a state of panic and frenzy as officials try to fix and keep the situation under control. When the World Health Organization's attempts to procure a vaccine fail, the United States government does away with the bureaucrats in power and the establishment of civilian government. The country is turned into a police state under the control of homeland security and the military, and cities across the nation are placed under martial law one by one. Survivors of the pandemic are assigned to designated quarantine zones that are supposed to separate them from the infected and keep them safe.[6]

Sometime within the twenty years leading up to the main events of the game, a paramilitary group calling themselves the Fireflies is established, with their main goal being the restoration of lawful government in the United States, as well as finding and producing a vaccine for the Cordyceps brain infection. The Fireflies attack the military on occasion and encourage uprisings.[7]


Main article: Characters
  • Joel (Troy Baker) - The protagonist of the game. Joel is a survivor of the Cordyceps brain infection outbreak, taking residence in the Boston Quarantine Zone. Embittered and hardened by the death of his young daughter Sarah, Joel operates as a black market smuggler, dealing in contraband, taking numerous de-humanizing jobs over the years to survive in this new post-pandemic world. He has only few moral boundaries left to cross. Unfortunately for him, he is thrust into the middle of the nightmare that the world has become, when he is asked by the leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, to look after Ellie. Throughout the game, Joel slowly develops an unbreakable bond with Ellie and a desire to once again open up his emotions that he had suppressed for so many years.
  • Ellie (Ashley Johnson) - The deuteragonist of the game. Ellie is a brave 14-year-old girl that has grown up in this harsh world and it is all she has ever known. Ellie is immune to the Cordyceps strain and because of this, the Fireflies, an anti-government organization, seek to reverse engineer a vaccine through her. She and Joel travel across the post-pandemic United States to reach the Fireflies. She helps the player through the game in many ways, lending a hand in combat and assisting through areas of the game that would otherwise be inaccessible. She frequently expresses curiosity about the remnants of a world that no longer exists.
  • Tess (Annie Wersching) - Tess is Joel's 'partner-in-crime'. They operate in the black market of a city under martial law and have earned a reputation for their ruthless behavior. She and Joel have a trust that runs deeply between them. Tess goes with Joel to drop off Ellie to the Fireflies at the Capitol building in Boston, in exchange for getting back the guns that were stolen from them. Against all odds, the trio make it to the Capitol Building only to find that the Fireflies are dead, and Tess reveals that she was bitten by a runner an hour before. She holds off some soldiers after she makes Joel promise to bring Ellie to Tommy, Joel's little brother.
  • Bill (W. Earl Brown) - Bill is a paranoid survivor who appears early in the game and helps Joel and Ellie. Bill takes refuge in a town that he has completely booby trapped. He seems to be a bit eccentric, perhaps deranged, but offers to aid Joel and Ellie in finding a car. He is excessively bitter towards Ellie due to the fact that she was hostile towards him from the start. Bill possesses gay pornography, and showed heavy emotion for his friend Frank's death, implying that he was romantically involved with Frank.
  • Marlene (Merle Dandridge) - The leader of the Fireflies and Ellie's surrogate parent. In exchange for their guns back, Marlene tells Tess and Joel to take Ellie to the Fireflies at the Capitol building in Boston. To Marlene, every unethical action she takes can be justified because of her pursuit to save humanity from the infection. She is absent for most of the game and only reappears at the end, where she becomes the final antagonist.
  • Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce) - Joel's brother and a former Firefly. The game starts with Tommy helping Joel and Sarah maneuver through the chaotic crowds of both civilians and infected during the initial outbreak. Tommy and Joel reunite later within the game and he reluctantly agrees to help his brother, establishing one of Joel and Ellie's reasons for coming to the University of Eastern Colorado. He is married to Maria.
  • David (Nolan North) - A middle-age survivor and leader of a Cannibals group who appears later in the game and asks for help from Ellie. David is a very manipulative person, seeking to win people over with his superficial mild-mannered appearance, and attempts to convince Ellie to join him. Ellie doesn't buy his attitude and eventually breaks his finger. He finally reveals his true nature to Ellie and even attempts to kill her outright, sending a group of his men to capture her several times throughout the winter section of the game. To David, everything that has happened was for a reason; he believes faith brought him and Ellie to together, and that their encounter was meant to be. He has a very profound effect on Ellie throughout the rest of the game.
  • Henry (Brandon Scott) - An adept survivor, who, with his brother Sam, helps Joel and Ellie in Pittsburgh. He and Joel are initially hostile towards each other, but in the end begin to warm up to each other. However, he commits suicide after having to kill his infected brother.
  • Sam (Nadji Jeter) - Henry's younger brother. Upon meeting, he and Ellie get along almost instantly and continue their easygoing relationship throughout the chapter. After he is bitten by an infected, Ellie is the last person Sam talks to before he turns. He is killed by Henry, who immediately commits suicide out of grief.
  • Sarah (Hana Hayes) - Joel's daughter. She is killed in the prologue when a soldier was instructed to open fire on both her and Joel. Her death causes Joel to become cold, cynical, and brutal over the years.

Plot summary


Joel and Sarah

Joel mourns over Sarah's death.

The game begins in 2013 by introducing Joel, a single father living in Austin, Texas, with his 12-year-old daughter Sarah. On the night of his birthday, a sudden outbreak of a very severe brain infection originating from an unknown fungus rapidly spreads throughout the United States. As Joel and Sarah meet up with his brother Tommy, they attempt to flee the area. Joel and Sarah are briefly separated from Tommy, as the latter keeps the infected at bay. Joel and Sarah continue to flee, and they encounter a lone soldier who is ordered to open fire on them. He does, and Joel and Sarah fall down a hill, separated from each other by only a few feet. When the soldier is about to execute Joel, he is shot in the head by Tommy. Joel survives the attack with minor injuries, but Sarah was fatally wounded and dies in Joel's arms.[7]


Following the prologue, the game cuts to twenty years later in the Summer of 2033. Joel is now a smuggler in a bleak, post-apocalyptic society in the Boston quarantine zone with his partner and friend Tess, where they frequently sneak out of the city illegally to trade with other survivors.

After coming back from a deal with another client, Tess explains to Joel that she was jumped on the way back from the deal by two men, who had the intention to kill her. The two set out to look for a local arms dealer named Robert, who had stolen guns from them. When they find him, he confesses that he had sold the guns because he owed them to the Fireflies. Angered by this revelation, Tess shoots Robert twice in the head, and the two decide to look for the Fireflies and explain what happened to retrieve their merchandise. Shortly after, they encounter Marlene, the head of the Fireflies, and she tells them that she will part with the guns and double the payment if they agree to smuggle something out of the city for her.[6]

Ellie - first encounter

Joel and Tess meet Ellie for the first time.

At the safehouse that Marlene takes them to, it is revealed that they will be smuggling a young girl by the name of Ellie. Tess and Joel split up, with Tess following Marlene back to her camp to confirm that she has their payment, and Joel escorting Ellie back to their own safehouse to wait for Tess.

When Tess returns, the three of them set off for the drop-off point that other Fireflies will be waiting at to receive Ellie, at the Capitol building. Before they get far, however, two patrolling military members ambush them and they are subject to a scan for CBI (Cordyceps brain infection) and they call for backup. Tess and Joel pass the CBI scan just fine, but before they get a look at Ellie's scan reading, Ellie panics, and she stabs the soldier with her switchblade. Going into combat, both Joel and Tess immediately kill both of them. It is then revealed that Ellie is infected, but Ellie claims that her bite is three weeks old, which is a unique condition as everyone turns within two days of being exposed to the fungus. Although still skeptical, the three escape together as backup arrives, and flee underground as soldiers pursue them.

Once the soldiers lose track of them, Ellie explains that Marlene believes what happened to her may be the key to

Tess' bite

Tess shows Joel her bite.

finding a cure. Joel is reluctant, but Tess believes there may be some truth to what she is saying, and urges him to consider finishing the drop off. The three fight their way through numerous infected to the Capitol building, only to find that the Fireflies that were supposed to meet them are slaughtered. Joel declares they tried and failed, and proposes they return home, but Tess reveals that she had been bitten on the way to the building. Tess begs Joel to bring Ellie to Tommy, as he used to be part of Marlene's group and may have an idea of how to bring her to the Fireflies. Tess stays behind alone to cover them against the approaching soldiers, as Joel reluctantly flees with Ellie.[8]

Once they are in a safe spot and away from any infected, Joel tells Ellie to never bring Tess up and to keep their histories to themselves. He also tells her to do what he says, when he says it. And Joel makes Ellie repeat it, and she does. The subject is then over. Joel tells his initial idea, which is to visit an acquaintance that owes him a favor and procure a working car from him, which would make their trip to Tommy's a lot easier and quicker.[9]

They acquire the ride, but is it cut short as they are ambushed and attacked by a group of hunters in Pittsburgh, forcing them to abandon the pick-up truck and escape on foot. Within the hunter's city, they meet a pair of brothers named Sam and Henry who are also trying to escape, and they agree to work together. In a confrontation with more hunters, Sam and Henry abandon Ellie and Joel and the two are once again, alone.[10]

As they leave the city, the hunters continue to pursue them in the Humvee, chasing Joel and Ellie to the edge of a broken bridge. Ellie proposes that they jump off to escape. Joel doesn't want to because Ellie will drown because she can't swim. Ellie ignores him and jumps off, and angrily, Joel follows her. Once in the strong current, Joel latches onto Ellie but before they could do anything, Joel is knocked unconscious by his head slamming into a boulder in the water. He then is woken up by Ellie on the shore of a beach, where they are reunited with Sam and Henry. Angered, Joel shoves Sam down to the ground and points a gun at him, threatening to shoot him because they chose to abandon Ellie and Joel. Henry then explains himself why they had to leave (for Sam's safety), and also says that they found Joel and Ellie in the water. Ellie says that they would've drowned if it wasn't for them. He puts the gun down and they all continue their journey to the radio tower. Soon, they find an entrance to a sewer, and navigate through it to reach a suburban neighborhood. Up in the suburbs, they are attacked by another group of hunters, including a sniper. Joel manages to take them out, but the noise from the fight attracts hordes of infected, causing the group to flee from the suburbs.[11]

Henry and Joel

Henry points his gun at Joel after his brother's death.

Once they reached the radio tower, they spend the night indoors, talking about past memories before the outbreak. Joel, Ellie, and Henry are all in the main room talking while Sam is in the other. Ellie goes into the other room and Henry is seen taking stock of the food that they have. Ellie notices that Sam is particularly upset, and they have a deep conversation of religion, becoming infected, and their roles in the world. After they talk, they both say goodnight and spend the night in the radio tower. They all wake up, and Henry is making breakfast. Ellie decides wake Sam up for breakfast, only to discover that he had been bitten in their latest encounter with the infected, and had turned overnight. He attacks Ellie, and Joel goes to shoot Sam, but Henry shoots the gun out of his hand, concerned for his brother. Joel retrieves the gun again, despite the gun threat from Henry. A gunshot is heard and it turns out, Henry shot Sam. Henry, in a state of anger and grief, first places blame on Joel and points his gun at him. Joel tells him to take it easy, and that this is nobody's fault, but Henry changes his mind and chooses to shoot himself instead, ultimately committing suicide.[11]


Joel and Tommy

Joel reunites with Tommy

Joel and Ellie continue their journey to find Tommy. The two discuss Joel's relationship with his brother, which he admits is not ideal, and they soon reach a closed gate, a dam, which guarded by several armed people. As the woman interrogates Joel and Ellie, Tommy recognizes Joel and open the gates for him. He introduces the woman as his wife Maria, and they all head inside.

Inside, Maria brings Ellie to get some food, and Tommy gives Joel a tour of the power plant. Once they are alone, Joel tells Tommy about Ellie and her unique condition. Joel proposes that Tommy finishes the job, and he collects the payment from Marlene. He refuses to help, and the two begin to quarrel but their argument is cut short as a pack of bandits show up and attack their settlement. Joel and Tommy fight their way back to Maria and Ellie, and upon seeing his brother's apparent love for Ellie, Tommy makes up his mind and decides to help deliver Ellie to the Fireflies. He discusses this with Maria, who is evidently distraught and against their plan. Ellie listens in on the conversation, and picks up that Joel is going to be handing her off to Tommy. Upset by this, she steals a horse and takes off into the woods alone.

When Joel and Tommy learn of Ellie's disappearance, they each grab a horse and look for her together. After handling a few more bandits, they finally find her in an abandoned ranch house, where Ellie accuses Joel of planning to leave her with Tommy, and that he wanted to get rid of her the whole time. He argues that she would be safer with Tommy, and Ellie brings up Sarah, saying how she isn't her. This greatly upsets Joel and prompts him to say "you're not my daughter, and I sure as hell ain't your dad, and we are going our separate ways." Before Ellie can respond, Tommy bursts into the room and tells them that bandits have invaded the house.

Ellie and Joel - horseback

Joel and Ellie say goodbye to Tommy.

They fight their way out of the ranch, and start to head back to the dam on horseback. Joel thinks back to his argument with Ellie, and in a change of heart, he announces that he has decided to continue the journey with Ellie himself. He tells her to return the horse she took, and the two ride off together as they part ways with Tommy.[12]

Joel injured

Joel impaled on a metal beam.

Together, they head for the University of Eastern Colorado, as Tommy told them the Fireflies' lab is located there. As they search the school buildings for the lab, it becomes increasingly obvious that the school had been abandoned for quite some time. When they finally find a recorder that tells them of the current whereabouts of the Fireflies, they are spotted by another group of survivors that start attack them. As Joel and Ellie try to escape from the school grounds, Joel is attacked and pushed over a railing by one of the attackers. They both fall two stories down, and Joel is impaled through the stomach with a metal beam, which leaves him severely wounded and struggling to walk. Ellie encourages him to walk as she fends off anybody who gets in their way.They eventually escape to their horse outside. She helps him get on, and they ride away from the school together. A while later, Ellie looks back and declares that they're safe for now, but Joel is still severely wounded and bleeding, and unable to hold on any longer. He falls unconscious from blood loss, leaving Ellie panicked and unsure of what to do.[13]


Ellie Bow Winter

Ellie aims her bow at David and James as they approach her.

Ellie is out hunting in the snow by herself. She shoots a rabbit with an arrow before noticing a buck in the distance; she leaves the rabbit with Callus and follows it quietly. She manages to shoot it twice, following the blood trail to an abandoned shack, where the stag finally succumbed to its wounds. She is then approached by two men by the names of David and James, who offer to trade supplies with her in exchange for the deer. Ellie is extremely cautious and frantically asks them for some antibiotics, and James leaves to retrieve it as David stays with her. David attempts to befriend Ellie, but she is skeptical of his seemingly good nature, and refuses to reveal any information about herself. She takes his rifle away from him while James retrieves the medicine. Before long, they hear infected approaching. David then pulls out a pistol and asks for his rifle back but she says no. They then work together to fight them off.

When they are safe from infected again, David reveals that the group of men who attacked her and Joel at the university were part of his group. Sensing that she is in trouble, Ellie reaches for her weapon, but finds that she is outnumbered, as James had returned with the antibiotics. David tells James to let her go and to give her the medicine, which he does. Ellie flees with Callus back to the garage of an abandoned house, where Joel is resting. He is still very weak and ill. She gives him the antibiotics, and falls asleep next to him. When she wakes up, she discovers that David's group had tracked her down, and she has no choice but to leave Joel behind as she attempts to draw them away from him. She takes off on Callus, who is shot shortly after the men chase them. Ellie escapes on foot and avoids them for the most part, but David catches up to her, and knocks her unconscious.

Ellie imprisoned

Ellie imprisoned at the resort.

Ellie wakes up in a cage, and the first thing she sees is James butchering a human body, which frightens her. David approaches her and once again attempts to get on her good side, claiming that he can convince the others to keep her alive. Ellie still does not trust him, and breaks his finger in an attempt to grab the keys to the cage from him. He grabs her arm and slams her up against the door of the cage, wounding her. Finally out of patience and temper, David leaves the room and darkly threatens to have her cut up into "little pieces".

Meanwhile, Joel finally wakes up and notices Ellie is missing. He desperately looks for her, killing the rest of the men that had tracked Ellie back to the house. He captures two and tortures them until they give up the location of the resort David had taken Ellie, then kills both of them and set out looking for her.

Back at the resort, James roughly wakes Ellie up, and hauls her up to the butcher table with David. Ellie fights against both of the men and she bites David in the struggle. Before David could throw the butcher knife down to her, Ellie reveals that she is infected. As James and David stand shocked, she grabs the butcher knife from them and buries it into James' neck, narrowly escaping as David shoots at her. As she navigates around the resort and tries to find a way out, she soon ends up in a restaurant, where David has her trapped. The restaurant catches on fire as Ellie sneaks around the restaurant, trying to stab David with her switchblade before he catches her. They fight for a while, but are both knocked unconscious in the struggle.

Outside, Joel has finally arrived at the resort, and is scouring the area looking for her. He soon notices the burning restaurant and attempts to head inside to investigate.

Ellie Weeps in Joel's Arms

Ellie weeps in Joel's arms.

Inside the restaurant, Ellie regains consciousness first, and spots David's machete under a bench. As she attempts to retrieve it, David wakes up also. He kicks her several times and pins her to the ground, not knowing the machete is still within her reach. He threatens Ellie by saying, "You have no idea what I'm capable of." Ellie finally grabs a hold of the machete and violently hacks David to death with it. Joel finally makes his way into the building and takes the weapon from her. She is at first afraid that it is one of David's men, saying, "Don't fucking touch me!" And Joel brings Ellie back to her senses. She sobs in Joel's arms as he tells her some reassuring words. The two both leave, and the camera pans down towards the bloodied handle of the machete, which is still buried in David's face.[14]


On April 28, 2034, Joel spots the Saint Mary's Hospital mentioned in the Firefly's recorder and points it out to Ellie, who seems distracted and a little distant. They make their way through a highway of abandoned cars and soon reach a decaying bus station. Joel boosts Ellie up onto a platform; she drops a ladder down for him, but sees something in the distance and hurries off without waiting for him. Confused and worried, Joel follows suit as quickly as he could, and soon discovers that a group of giraffes had roamed into the deserted city, one of which was grazing on the vegetation that had grown around the decaying building they were standing in.

Giraffe scene

Ellie pets a giraffe.

The two take turns petting the giraffe, then lean over the balcony to marvel at the sight of the herd. As they turn to exit the building, Joel realizes they have the option to simply leave all they set out to do behind, and return to Tommy's dam to live out a simpler life. He brings this up to her, but Ellie, determined to reach the hospital and see their mission through, insists that everything they've done up to this point "can't be for nothing" and sets off ahead of him with determination.

Soon, they reach an area set up with medical tents. Joel recalls that shortly after the outbreak, he ended up in a similar location and witnessed broken families everywhere. For the first time, Ellie brings up Sarah without angering Joel, and she offers him a photo of him and his daughter that she secretly took while visiting Tommy's dam. Joel finally accepts that no matter how hard you try, you can't escape your past, and thanks Ellie for it.

They make their way into an underground tunnel, much of which has been flooded and infested with the infected. They help each other through the debris, but soon reach an area with a loose platform. Joel falls off and into a broken down bus, where he becomes trapped. As Ellie breaks through a bus window to try and get him out, she is knocked into the water. Joel escapes through the window and drags Ellie out of the water, who is now unconscious. As he frantically tries to resuscitate her, a Firefly patrol approaches them and train their weapons on Joel, ordering him to put his hands in the air. He ignores them in his state of panic, still trying to rescue Ellie, and is knocked out by one of the Fireflies.[15]


Marlene explains to Joel what procuring the vaccine means for Ellie.

Joel wakes up in a hospital bed with Marlene by his side. She welcomes him to the Fireflies, and reassures him that they have rescued Ellie as well. When he asks to see her, she reveals that they are already preparing her for surgery - a surgical process to remove the mutated infection within her, and reverse engineer a vaccine from it. The truth dawns on Joel as he points out that the infection grows all over the brain, meaning Ellie will have to die in order for them to successfully extract it. He demands that they find someone else for it. The tension in the room grows and Marlene and Joel begin fighting about Ellie's fate. A Firefly in the room knocks him to the ground. Marlene justifies that there is no other option for them, and orders Ethan to march him out, and that if he tries anything, to shoot him. As he is escorted out, Joel spots his backpack and belongings on a counter, and quickly attacks Ethan. He learns that Ellie is located in an operating room on the top floor before killing him, and quickly retrieves his things to save her. The gunshots alert and attract the attention of other Fireflies, and they soon discover Joel has escaped and is on the loose.

Joel fights his way to the operating room alone, where a surgeon and his two assistants stand around Ellie, who is not awake. They back away as Joel approaches, but the doctor attempts to stop him from taking Ellie and is killed as a result, as well as the other two assistants. Joel removes Ellie from the operating table, and carries her out of the room as Fireflies close in on him. He runs throughout the floor, trying to find a way out. He eventually manages to reach an elevator just in time, dodging gunfire, and heads down to the underground parking lot, where he is stopped by Marlene. With her gun trained on Joel, she makes a final attempt to change his mind, reasoning that Ellie would rather die for the vaccine than escape with him. She says that she would eventually be torn to pieces by a pack of clickers, and says, "that if she hasn't been raped and murdered first." Joel thinks about her gruesome words. As she lowers her guard and tells him that he can still do the right thing, the scene cuts away to Joel driving away from the hospital, seemingly alone.

Driving away

Joel drives away with Ellie in the backseat.

Joel drives in silence for some time, then a bit of stirring can be heard in the background as Ellie is seen waking up in the backseat. She asks him what happened, and Joel lies to her as he recalls the events that transpired in the parking lot; he had shot Marlene to prevent her from coming after Ellie, but tells her that the Fireflies have already stopped looking for a cure, and that she is not the only human immune to CBI. Ellie turns away silently in disappointment, and Joel apologizes as he continues to drive back to Tommy's dam.[16]


Swear to me

"Swear to me."

Back in Jackson County, Joel is looking under the hood of their vehicle, and a still dejected Ellie lightly traces her infected bite wound as she thinks about their trip to the Fireflies' lab. Joel declares that they will be walking from this point, and the two continue to make their way to Tommy's settlement on foot. On the way there, Ellie stops Joel and confronts him about his version of events that transpired earlier. She expresses her survivor's guilt, mentioning all of their friends who have died and succumbed to CBI, and wonders if she could have done more to end the pandemic. She asks Joel to swear to her that everything he told her about the Fireflies is true, and he does. She hesitantly accepts his answer.[17]



The Last of Us is a third-person shooter where the player's means of offense are a range of weapons; both projectile and melee; the lethality of weapons is very high, as in reality. Players take control of Joel, with Ellie being an AI for most of the game, however the player switches characters in the later parts of the game. Stealth is crucial, crouching behind objects and navigating through environments quietly will help get the drop on an enemy. A feature the developers call "dynamic stealth" allows for many different types of strategies and techniques that the player can use at any given time as they approach a new situation, to which enemies will react differently. The developers particularly emphasized making Ellie, while an AI, an assistance to the player rather than a burden to ensure the bond the story is creating between Joel and Ellie is reinforced through the combat mechanics.


Main article: Weapons

There are a variety of weapons that can be found throughout The Last of Us. There are seven weapon groups: long guns, pistols, melee, explosives, and throwable objects


The storyline is told in a linear fashion. The game takes place over a substantial part of an entire year. There are four arcs in the game, each played out over the four seasons of the year, with all arcs consisting of a set of chapters. Each seasonal-arc begins with an unknown amount of time passing since the previous concluded, bringing drastic changes, including change in scenery, Joel and Ellie's relationship and the pairs' attire; worn to appropriately match the weather conditions of the current season. The only chapter of the game not to be featured in a seasonal-arc is the prologue, which takes place 20 years before the events of the game.

Exploration and items

Players explore environments between objectives and engage in non-combat oriented actions. Exploration can yield conversations between the characters, either automatic or optional. The conversation usually involve Joel and Ellie discussing their current status, Ellie asking about the surrounding environment, and making jokes, etc. There are a total of 37 optional conversations that the player can partake in with Ellie (or Joel, if controlling Ellie) in The Last Of Us.[18] To trigger conversations, the player will usually need to linger in an area or look at a certain object for some time; pressing the triangle button will initiate the conversation. Listening to all 37 conversations will earn the player the "I Want to Talk About It" silver trophy. After listening to a conversation it will be saved immediately, and there will be no need to reach the next checkpoint.

Finding an item

Items can be collected throughout different environments, put in the backpack, and viewed/utilized later.

In The Last of Us, resources are limited and parts of the gameplay will revolve around scavenging for new items in environment. The items are objects that Joel and Ellie can utilize to further their survival, combat enemies, replenish their health, and store things in. Items falls into one of the following categories: ammunition, binding, alcohol, blade, sugar and explosives. Usually, these items can be found by entering buildings and searching through cabinets and drawers. Different sorts of items also can be crafted into a single weapon, as in the case of the Molotov Cocktail.

Artificial intelligence

Naughty Dog stressed the amount of realism and believability they attribute to the game's AI; in which they show emotion and vulnerability by getting angry when a friend dies, warning each other of danger, and becoming frightened when they've lost the upper hand. This structured AI system is a dynamic, adaptable blueprint also known/referred to as the "Balance of Power", in which the overall scenario and the advantages that come with it changes depending on which opposing group can prove to be the stronger, better-equipped one. Throughout their journey, Joel and Ellie fight both different factions of humans/survivors and infected enemies, as well as meet allies that don't have as much incentive to harm them. The player can also utilize stealth to get around unaware enemies, distract them with various AI partners they meet on their journey, and use any number of tactics to fight their enemies, depending on important parameters like how well-equipped foes are, what kind of weapons they have on them, and so on


Main article: Factions MP

The Last of Us includes an online portion called Factions. It allows players to build up a clan of either Fireflies or hunters, play different gamemodes, make classes and much more.


Naughty Dog initially planned to develop a Jak and Daxter game, developing concept art for the game and developing a draft for a story. However, plans soon changed in 2009 to scrap the sequel and begin developing a new, more mature, game.[19] The game was first teased on November 29, 2011 with a billboard in Times Square, mentioning "a PS3 exclusive you won't believe".[20] However, it wasn't until December 10 that year that Sony unveiled its name, The Last of Us, as their new PlayStation 3 exclusive from Uncharted developer Naughty Dog; the premise of the game was stated to be "a character driven tale about a modern plague decimating mankind."

After the 2011 VGAs previewed the world premiere of The Last of Us, the following day, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells posted on the PlayStation Blog new The Last of Us details. Wells confirmed Naughty Dog veterans Neil Druckmann (creative director) and Bruce Straley (game director) were leading the project, and promised to discuss "how we've been working as a two team studio".[21]

According to an article in USA Today, back in 2008, Neil Druckmann had an idea for a graphic novel about a father-daughter zombie tale. He and game director Bruce Straley saw the ophiocordyceps unilateralis segment from the BBC/Discovery channel series Planet Earth, in which then turned into a major source of inspiration for The Last of Us's primary plot. Both were working on Uncharted 2 at the time. After the development of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves finished, some team members of Naughty Dog moved on to The Last of Us while the others moved on to start on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The game was worked on in secrecy for over two years.[22] Naughty Dog developers would late include an in-game reference to The Last of Us within the opening chapter of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Within the Pelican Inn, there is a newspaper headline "Scientists are still struggling to understand deadly fungus", alluding to the Cordyceps brain infection.

Drawing of ellie and joel near fire laughing

Concept art of Joel and Ellie.

The main characters, Joel and Ellie, were originally going to be father and daughter, but Druckmann stated it was scrapped was because "it [the relationship] wouldn't have anywhere to go."[23] He also stated that at that point "he'd be willing to do anything for his daughter, because that is what any dad would do for his daughter." citing that becoming a father himself during production inspired him to focus on the bond between parent and child.[24] Introducing Ellie to Joel would give both Joel and the player the same relationship to Ellie and thus enable it to expand from there; because the developers were emphasizing personality and characters. Druckmann put great emphasis on having the actors to lead the growth of the characters, allowing them to improvise certain lines and provide their interpretation on how they feel their character would react. As such, Troy Baker brought a new angle towards the character of Joel, making him more human and not as "cool" and closed off as Druckmann originally conceived. Ellie was also initially rather dependent on Joel but actress Ashley Johnson convinced Druckmann to change the character, feeling Ellie should be able to take care of herself, rather than be the typical "damsel in distress". There was also the idea that Ellie should be male.[25]

In regards to location choice, Druckmann revealed in an interview in January 2018 that Bruce Straley and the art directors primarily chose them through concept art and google images to best match the emotional tone Druckmann had set at various points in the story. Although, Druckmann himself ensured Pittsburgh was included because he personally lived there and George Romero shot Night of the Living Dead there, which he felt solidified the zombie apocalypse theme within the game. Druckmann also revealed he felt it was important to create the game through a number of influences beyond simply games, such as books, films, comics and even personal experiences to make the game "more than mere entertainment".[26]

The story changed considerably over the course of development, with the character Tess initially being the main antagonist who pursues Joel and Ellie across the country due to the former accidentally causing the death of her brother after saving Ellie from execution by a group of soldiers. Tess was initially meant to capture Joel and killed by Ellie though this was scrapped as the developers felt it was unrealistic for Tess to pursue Joel with her gang of smugglers for an entire year. The character Marlene also changed from a doctor who knew of Ellie's infection into the leader of the Fireflies. The cannibals were also originally classed as "the worst of mankind", becoming more fleshed out once Nolan North secured the role as David. The infected were also originally all going to be women, but Naughty Dog nixed the idea when female staff members criticized the idea as sexist. Druckmann also revealed that, despite keeping it a secret from the public during production, he and Straley always intended for the player to control Ellie at one point to shift the dynamic of the protector in their relationship and provide a more personal perspective for Ellie. The ending subsequently changed also; Joel and Ellie initially travelled to a safe zone in San Francisco but this was scrapped as the developers felt it was too ideal.[24]

Regarding gameplay, there were several functions included in the E3 demonstration that were ultimately removed or toned down in the final product. In the demo, the player had the ability to speedily move while crouched, disarm enemies, dodge melee attacks, view characters picking up ammunition and peep around corners to check if enemies were present.[27] The staff reported on their reddit page such features were ultimately removed because of time constraints during production or because some features were overpowered in-game, notably the ability to crouch sprint because the player remained silent despite how fast they could move.


Inspirations for The Last of Us include:


Gameplay and trailers

Before the Video Game Awards, Sony showed two teaser trailers: one from the BBC/Discovery Documentary Planet Earth, displaying an ant dying from a deadly fungus, and the other one showing past events of protests, riots, and other glimpses of chaos while a man narrates, talking about how all of the mundane things in life he took for granted were now gone, suggesting that the game was going to be post-apocalyptic.

At the Video Game Awards, when Sony unveiled the new game, a gameplay trailer was attached to the announcement:

The opening scene is of lush greenery displayed outside of an open window as its curtains catch a light breeze entering a room. The scene then pans out further into the room, where a body is lying lifelessly on a bed, bleeding out onto the floor. A teenage girl can be seen running across the horrific display, rummaging through the rest of the ruined building for supplies. After hearing a conflict upstairs, she investigates to find two men fighting one another. After one of the men is killed, the other is found to be the girl's associate, Joel. He then tells her to investigate the body for anything of use, to which she then finds some ammunition. Before she can finish collecting them though, several human-like creatures invade the building and the girl's name is discovered to be Ellie, as her middle-aged acquaintance calls her name and takes her by the hand as they hide behind a wall for cover; however, one of them can be heard coming close to their position, and, after drawing his Revolver, the man is attacked by one of them at arm's length. While he is struggling with the creature, Ellie stabs it in the back repeatedly with her switchblade, giving the man the opportunity to shoot the creature in the head, killing it. The two then hastily leave the building, where it is shown that the entire city is in a dilapidated state, with entire city blocks covered in vegetation.

At E3 2012 was the first publicly released gameplay demo for The Last of Us. It introduced a combat scenario to the audience, showing firsthand the tools of the trade Joel and Ellie must use to attempt to defend themselves from a small group of hostile survivors known as the 'hunters'.[28] At PAX 2012, an extended version of the previous publicly shown demo at E3 was released. It is about sixteen full minutes in length and revealed several new features and character interaction that weren't present in the original. The game was brought to San Diego Comic-Con International 2012 in a teaser reel, entitled "Bill's Safe House Cinematic". This cutscene preview involves Joel and Ellie fleeing to the safe house of a somewhat friendly survivor named Bill.

The first television spot for the game aired shown during commercial break of The Walking Dead season 3 finale episode. Shortly afterwards, a longer Red Band version of the first television spot was released online. This trailer featured a few new cutscene snippets - most notably one in which Ellie has a short conversation with a boy her age.

The Last of Us original soundtrack

The Last of Us Original Soundtrack was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla and was released on June 11, 2013. It features editing montages of a portion of the music heard in-game.


Main article: The Last of Us: American Dreams

In conjunction with the video game, Neil Druckmann also worked with Dark Horse Comics to write and publish a four issue comic book series to serve as a prequel to the events that occur in The Last of Us. In the comics, called American Dreams, the story follows Ellie and her life in the Boston QZ and how her friendship with a girl named Riley Abel leads to her meeting the Fireflies.

Retail editions

Edition Blu-ray disc Art Book Statue Mini comic Steelbook Case Mini Art Book Sights and sounds DLC Survival DLC American Dreams (Variant Cover) Little Big Planet Sackboy Skin Controller Skin Poster Canvas Wrap Case

Limited Edition Postcard Set

Limited Edition T-shirt & Umbrella Available In ND Sticker Sheet
Standard Yes No No No No No With Pre-order With Pre-order from GameStop No No No No No No No All Regions Yes
Post-Pandemic Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Region 1 (GameStop) Yes
Collector's Edition Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Region 3 Exclusive Yes
Survival Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No No No No No No Region 1 (USA/Canada) Yes
Ellie Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Ellie Ellie Ellie Yes No No Europe (GAME) One Sticker
Joel Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Joel Joel Joel Yes No No Europe (Amazon) One Sticker

Downloadable content

The Sights and Sounds Pack which is included in all special editions, and pre-ordered standard editions includes:

  • Official Game Soundtrack
  • PS3 Dynamic Theme
  • PSN Avatars: Winter Joel and Ellie

The Survival Pack Which is included in all special editions except for the Survival Edition, and standard editions pre-ordered from Gamestop includes:

  • Multiplayer Bonuses:
    • Bonus XP
    • Melee Booster
    • In Game Currency
    • Customizable Character Items
  • Bonus Joel and Ellie skins available once a play-through of the single-player is completed

A season pass has been released to give buyers access to future downloadable content (1 single-player and 2 multiplayer packs) at a discounted price. Purchasing the season pass also gives early access to single-player upgrades:

  • Increased crafting speed
  • Faster healing
  • Increased 9mm reload speed
  • Increased Hunting Rifle clip capacity

A 90 minute making of Documentary called Grounded is also included.

Release and reception

On release, The Last of Us became one of the biggest video game launches of 2013, selling over 1.3 million units in its first week and 3.4 million copies worldwide in three weeks, thus making it the fastest-selling PlayStation 3 game of 2013. The title received largely positive reviews from critics, who praised the writing, atmosphere, art direction, and character development among other things. During the E3 2012 showing, The Last of Us received multiple accolades from numerous critics. The Game Critics Awards gave the game five awards: Best in Show, Best Original Game, Best Console Game, and Best Action/Adventure Game, and a Special Commendation for Sound.

On aggregate review GameRankings and Metacritic, the game holds scores of 95.04% and 95 out of 100 respectively.[47][46] IGN gave the game a 10 out of 10 and stated it to be the PlayStation 3's best exclusive, whilst Eurogamer, Edge Magazine, The Telegraph, and Empire also gave the game 10s, with a total of 84 perfect scores out of 136 from over 50 gaming publications.

In contrast, albeit equally positive,'s Philip Kollar was more critical of the game’s mechanics, citing that the game tended to turn to the tried-and-true shooting mechanics and forced players enemy encounters that weren’t supported by the game’s reserved gameplay and emphasis on limited resources. He also notes that collision problems with the A.I companions break immersion of the game’s environment alongside the questionable character motivations of the protagonist, Joel.

Similarly,'s Tom Mc Shea notes that A.I. flubs concerning the nature of the enemies failing to notice loud noises or companions, dead bodies standing out in the open during stealth segments broke the immersion alongside loading checkpoints that ended confrontations. Both, however, praised the multiplayer’s use of the game's thematics, violence and refined gameplay mechanics. Fan uproar towards the review was followed by a response by Neil Druckmann.[48]

IMG 4600-1-

The success of The Last of Us.

In an interview with VentureBeat in August 2013, Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley said how they were taken aback by the unexpected fan reaction to The Last of Us' handling of the female roles inside of the game; as some criticism enunciated that these characters fell into a trope for female stereotypes in video games. "I think we did an extraordinary job of creating strong characters--men, women, black, white, gay, straight. We're just trying to create completely fleshed-out characters", said Straley.[49]

"Yet somehow we were used as a soapbox or something for people to stand on and say that there are still problems with the industry." Druckmann added that the gaming industry may be approaching a sort of "sexism valley." "There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters. I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley," Druckmann said. "The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out. I get that people are going to want to pick things apart."[49]

This validated Druckmann's comments from December 2012, when he said there is a misconception that games with girls or women on the cover will sell fewer copies than those with males and how Naughty Dog was even asked to push Ellie to the back of the game's cover art, he said, and the company refused.[49]


The Last of Us has garnered 62 major gaming awards out of a total of 89 nominations. The game has received nods in a variety of categories, including Action & Adventure, Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, Best Game, Game Design, Multiplayer, Music and Story, with stars Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson also up for honors for their performances.

The game currently has several awards pending for two award shows; ten nominations for the British Academy Games Awards (BAFTA)[50] and five for the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards.[51]


Main article: The Last of Us Part II

Work on a sequel was rumored to be in development as early as 2014,[52] though Naughty Dog later made the announcement that all work on a sequel was on hold until Uncharted 4: A Thief's End was finished.[53]

At PlayStation Experience 2016, The Last of Us Part II was officially announced, which will continue the story of Joel and Ellie approximately five years after the events of the original.[54]


Main article: The Last of Us trophies



Concept art




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