Joel is the main protagonist in The Last of Us. A man in his late 40s/early 50s, hardened by the atrocities and devastation left by the fungal infection, Joel works as a black market dealer within the quarantine zone, selling drugs and weapons of all sorts. He's given the job to smuggle Ellie out of Boston to the Fireflies.
Absurdly Youthful Father: Joel eventually explains to Ellie that he was very young when he had Sarah. He even implies it was before he could go to college, so most probably there was Teen Pregnancy involved.
Anti-Hero: Of the nominal kind. Most, if not all, of his motivations are pretty selfish, he's not very friendly and is very much able to shoot the dog if you piss him off enough. He also kills and injures with zero hesitation.
Badass Grandpa: He's certainly old enough to be Ellie's, and his hair is already turning gray.
At the start of the game he is twenty-eight to thirty years old. By the end he's in his late forties to early fifties.
Badass in Distress: He's incapacitated for most of the Winter stage, in which Ellie has to care for him as he recovers his strength.
Berserk Button: Even if you're an ally, do not bring up the people he's lost, or even mention their names, or think about them too loudly; it's a guaranteed shortcut to him losing his temper. Later, threatening Ellie is a good way to get this guy really, really angry. The Cannibals and the Fireflies learned this the hard way.
Papa Wolf: Long story short, try to harm his daughter (either biological or surrogate) and you'll be in trouble.
Beware the Nice Ones: Once you get to know Joel, he's a pretty well adjusted adult. Even though he and Henry got off to a rocky start, they bonded over their fondness of Harleys. And it's endearing to see how he treats Ellie in the latter part of the game. It's rather jarring when you remember that he has a name in the criminal underworld. And even more so when he shows proficiency in interrogation. He makes sure to take two guys alive, so they can confirm each others' info, knows how to cause some serious non-lethal pain, and ruthlessly kills them both once he gets what he needs. He does an on-the-spot interrogation to a Firefly soldier at the end as well. He's quick to set these all up too, and it cements that he's likely done so many times in the past.
Big Brother Instinct: Implied that he was the only reason Tommy survived. Tommy resented him for it, since he's done horrible things to do so.
Break Her Heart To Save Her: In a sense. After all is said and done, he lies to Ellie, claiming the Fireflies had more immune but had given up the search for a cure, leaving Ellie dejected and lost after all the sacrifice and death she had seen on the journey. If she had known the truth, she may have pulled a Heroic Sacrifice and let herself be killed to find a cure, and Joel would rather lie than lose his 'baby girl' all over again.
The Brute: While not stupid, it's implied he plays this role to Tess' Diabolical Mastermind as far as their criminal activities go. While Tess is a good fighter she seems to handle most of the planning while Joel handles most of the heavy lifting.
Book Dumb: He tells Ellie that he did visit universities - just never as a student.
Change the Uncomfortable Subject: He makes it clear to Ellie that she is not to bring up his personal life or past, particularly his lost loved ones. He slowly opens up to her as time goes on, however.
Defrosting Ice King: Warms up considerably to Ellie throughout the game. Also to Henry, though that was unfortunately cut short.
Disney Death: One of the more convincing examples of this trope at the end of the Fall chapter, complete with a long time playing as Ellie where it isn't immediately clear if Joel is still alive. That is, until she asks David and James for medicine.
Distressed Dude: For the end of Fall and first half of Winter, he's entirely dependent on Ellie after getting impaled, and it's hardly a question that he would have died without her.
The Dreaded: If ambient conversations are anything to go by, Joel has this reputation back in Boston. The Cannibals in the Winter chapter also really don't want to fight him, to the point of running away from Joel.
Before the outbreak, he is first shown worriedly talking about a job to keep him and Sarah from poverty, and we're also shown some heartwarming fatherly moments between him and Sarah.
After the outbreak begins, he and Tommy get a couple concurrently contrasting moments that show both Tommy's general good-hearted nature and the darker side of Joel's familial protectiveness:
After coming across the family on the road, Tommy strongly insists they to stop and pick them up while Joel strongly rebukes him.
Tommy: They got a kid, Joel! Joel: So do we!
When they find themselves obstructed by a crowd of fleeing civilians, Tommy is clearly much more concerned about potentially running someone over than Joel is, who barks at him to hurry up and drive.
Post-outbreak, he ignores a military execution on the street, shrugs off a bombing that kills several people near him, and barely reacts to an injury from the bombing, seeming more annoyed than hurt, showing his adaptation and apathy to the atrocities around him since the start of the outbreak.
Genre Savvy: Most visible when he immediately recognizes the Wounded Gazelle Gambit in Pittsburgh, with the implication being that he used this exact trick in the past. He also points out earlier his luck might run out.
Gone Horribly Right: For the Fireflies - Ellie's attempts to have Joel accept and connect with her as a surrogate daughter eventually ends up putting Ellie - and by extension, Ellie's immunity - out of the hands of the Fireflies for good.
Hand Cannon: ...and two different Hand Cannons. One is the Serbu Super Shorty, a tiny shotgun. The other is "El Diablo", a scoped Taurus Model 66 with an one round capacity (that can be upgraded to 3 rounds).
Heartbroken Badass: First his daughter, then Tess... No wonder he'll do anything to not lose Ellie, too.
Heroic BSOD: Gets a minor one when leaving Tess behind. Later refuses to talk about her.
I Did What I Had to Do: Survival justifies the means. He makes sure to remind Tommy of that once they reunite.
Tess: We're shitty people, Joel. It's been that way for a long time. Joel: No, we are survivors!
Implacable Man: A bit of an understatement. Probably best illustrated when he fights his way through a hospital full of assault rifle-wielding Fireflies to save Ellie.
It's All About Me: Joel is a survivor. He will absolutely not hesitate to destroy a potential threat to him and his, even over the objections of his loved ones as he defends them. and that eventually includes Ellie. Which explains what he does in the finale.
Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Pulls it off thrice. First time with Robert, whose arm he breaks. Once in the Winter levels with two Cannibals, where he kneecaps one and beats the other to death with a pipe. He pulls it again on a member of the Fireflies shooting him in the gut.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zig-zagged. He has a good side and a conscience, but it's basically focused only on family like his daughter, or Ellie, who he views as his surrogate daughter by the end of the story.
Knight in Sour Armor: He says that you have to actively find a reason to live, something that will keep driving you onward. You can't simply exist on the hope of something better.
Like an Old Married Couple: His constant bickering with Tess in the first two chapters. Word of God even states she's the one person Joel trusts in the world. Things take a bit of a tragic turn quite early on. They may actually be in some kind of relationship, as Bill refers to their "trouble in paradise".
My Greatest Failure: His young daughter's death; shot by a soldier just as they made it out of their infected neighborhood, she died in his arms as he tearfully begged her not to leave him.
Made of Iron: Over the course of the story, he gets shot by a heavily armed soldier, hit by shrapnel from a bombing, falls onto the top of an elevator from about ten feet up (followed by another long fall into a flooded elevator shaft), gets hit by a semi-truck while in a flimsy pickup truck, jumps from a bridge and nearly drowns afterwards, thrown at a high speed from a horse, falls several feet onto a piece of rebar, nearly bleeds to death from the impalement, survives several weeks of a debilitating fever and a severe infection, goes out into a severe blizzard while dealing with the after-effects of the infection, falls through a bus as it crashes from a large height, and shrugs off an assault rifle butt to the back of the head... And this is only the mandatory injuries, not even any of the injuries he can take in combat!
Not in This for Your Revolution: Joel makes it clear that he doesn't give a shit about the Fireflies or their cause. He's just doing a job and expects to be paid for it.
One-Man Army: By the end of the story, he will have killed a lot of people. In Winter, the Genre Savvy Cannibals (who outnumber him) actually run away when he starts shooting.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Tries multiple times to stop his involvement with the mission, but nobody ever listens to him. Joel is Genre Savvy enough to know that little girls won't stay alive too long outside the quarantine zone and probably fears seeing another girl killed in front of him, but Tess and Ellie make sure he finishes the job by himself. Orsotheythought.
The Stoic: One of his defining traits. He's rarely surprised and even when really angry, he doesn't lose his cool.
Not So Stoic: He blows his lid at least a few times - but he doesn't lose control when it happens. Apart from that one time when Ellie mentions his daughter. And when Marlene reveals Ellie is going to be killed - even then, he comes up with a plan to escape in a matter of seconds
Tragic Keepsake: The watch he got on his birthday from his daughter hours before the infection broke out. It's the only thing he kept of her and the only sign that he might still not have "moved on" like he says.
The Unfettered: Joel has one goal - protect Ellie. His moral guidelines extend solely to her and this goal - his only hiccups in this regard come from practical reasons.
Ungrateful Bastard: He can't bring himself to say "Thank you" or offer any emotional support after Ellie kills a man for the first time to save Joel's life; instead he berates her for not staying put like he asked her to. A little while later, Joel tries to suck it up and reconcile with her, but even then he struggles with saying a direct thank you. "Just so we're clear about back there...it was either him or me." Ellie at least seems to appreciate the effort.
Having been born after the fungal infection had already collapsed modern civilization as we know it, Ellie doesn't know a life aside from the high walls of the quarantine zone. She was raised in perpetual fear. This, of course, sparks within her an obsession with relics from the past culture, such as books and music. This, too, leads to troublesome times at the boarding house she resides in. She's actually immune to the fungus and the Fireflies want her to make a vaccine. Ellie is following Joel until the Fireflies can take care of her.
Badass Boast: Ellie is the name of the little girl who broke your fucking finger!
Badass Bookworm: Likes to read books and comics and can hold her own in a fight.
Badass Damsel: She's briefly held captive by the cannibals during winter, but manages to free herself before Joel can arrive in time to rescue her, though it does result in a pretty heavy case of Break the Cutie.
Beware the Nice Ones: Despite her filthy vocabulary and hard-headed nature, she has a stronger moral compass than Joel. What she doesn't have is any illusion about how well a fourteen-year-old would do in a fair fight against desperate, hardened adult survivalists. So she never fights fair. And her switchblade isn't for show.
Bookworm: she is obsessed with relics from the past culture and she states that she reads all the time.
Ellie: (Struggling to crawl to her knife while fighting with David) David: (Kicks her) It's okay to give up you know. There ain't no shame in it. Ellie: (Continues crawling) David: Hmm. I guess not. Just not your style, is it? (Kicks her again)
Extreme Melee Revenge: When she gets the drop on David, she makes damn sure he won't be getting up again; the impression is that she would have kept on stabbing until she exhausted herself completely if not for Joel's interruption.
Fan of the Past: Loves old comic books and laments never having played a video-game.
The Immune: As Joel finds out the hard way, so to speak. When she runs ahead into a spore-heavy area that Joel needs a gas mask to get through, she's able to breath without any problems.
Infant Immortality: Averted - albeit non-canonically - during gameplay. Just 14 years old, but if you fail to protect her, the game's not afraid to show her being ripped to shreds by Infected, shot, stabbed, or beat to death by enemies no different from Joel.
No Man Left Behind: In the Pittsburgh chapter, after Henry leaves Joel to die since they can't help him up onto a truck after the ladder breaks off, with the scavengers on their heels in a truck mounted with a machine gun. She jumps back down to him because "We stay together!"
Oh Crap: She has this moment when David reveals that he is the leader of the scavenger group that she and Joel had previously fought at the university.
One-Man Army: No, seriously. Whether it's against men or infected, when she has no choice but to fend for herself, she uses a multitude of stealthy tactics, tricks, and weapons to mow them down one after the other.
Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Justified and downplayed. She has a smattering of knowledge on the old worlds comics and even video-game characters but doesn't know what a pizza, ice-cream truck or Bobby Fisher is. The scene with the cassette player also suggests she understandably can't connect music genres to their respective decades. And let's not forget the scene at the university where Joel is explaining the rules of football to her.
Better to Die Than Be Killed: After she reveals she's bitten, she states to Joel she refuses to turn into a fungus mutant and decides to make her last moments useful by stalling the army for as long as she can.
Badass: As per Naughty Dog tradition. Her reputation seems to be actually even more established than Joel's.
Like an Old Married Couple: Her constant verbal sparring with Joel in the first two chapters. Word of God even states she's the one person Joel trusts in the world. And of course, things take a tragic turn soon after.
OOC Is Serious Business: The player might catch the hint of something being wrong after the run through the museum when Tess suddenly acts even more brash and agressive than before. It's left up to speculation whether it's just due to stress (and the impending death sentence) or it's the Cordyceps slowly growing strong...
Retirony: A temporary and mixed form of this. Eventually after saying to Joel that she's considering taking Joel's past offer to lay low and relax after their usual scavenging routine, she is bitten by an Infected.
Villain's Dying Grace: Not a villain in the narrative sense, but in Tess's own words, she and Joel are "shitty people." Once she finds out why the Fireflies need Ellie smuggled, she becomes very personally invested in what was initially just another job, and after getting bitten, her Dying Grace to the world is trying her damndest to convince Joel to see the job through to the end after she's gone.
Big Damn Heroes: Makes his entrance by saving Joel from an infected. Granted it was due to one of his traps. But still...
Crazy-Prepared: He has a ton of supplies, he traps the city so heavily that it's even explicitly said that it's his and manages to manipulate the infected horde through those traps to act as a sort of defense.
Get Out: After surviving the whole ordeal to get a working battery for a car. This is the last thing he says to Joel and Ellie when they part ways.
Heartbroken Badass: Tries to hide his despair at seeing Frank's body, and reading his last letter revealing Frank's insults towards him wanting to stay in the city.
Jerkass: Has no patience for anyone whatsoever, especially for Ellie who he consistently treats like crap throughout the time they journey towards the school for supplies. Likewise his former "partner", Frank, couldn't stand him and tried to escape the town with Bill's last remaining car battery.
Jerkass Has a Point: Due to the mass amount of infected showing up during their mission to raid the school, Bill points out that Ellie's right when she claims that she should be armed with a gun as well to help cover for both Joel and Bill. His point is proven when Joel is almost killed in the Pittsburgh Hotel by a hunter, and had only survived because Ellie intervened by putting a bullet to the hunter's head.
Kukris Are Kool: He uses a Kukri as his melee weapon. He's quite good with it.
"Once upon a time, I had somebody that I cared about. And in this world that sorta shit's good for one thing: gettin' ya killed."
Manly Gay/Badass Gay: Had a relationship with Frank, who apparently wasn't as emotionally caring for Bill as Bill was back. His sexuality is probably why he learned to become self-sufficient.
Straight Gay: Given that he doesn't exhibit any stereotypically homosexual traits, to the point some even would attest he qualifies as Ambiguously Gay, but really the game just doesn't treat his sexuality as a big deal or anything to make a fuss about or draw attention to, no different than any of the other characters.
Noodle Incident: It is never revealed what exact favors that Bill owed Joel from the past.
Speak Ill of the Dead: He trashes and badmouths Tess to Joel's face on more than one occasion until Joel gets sick of it and chews him out. In his defense, however, he has no idea that Tess is dead; Joel never tells him as such.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Has this relationship with Ellie, given that they start out fighting and openly insulting each other but do manage to work together to find the car parts and by the end, have developed a level of respect for one another.
Casting Gag: She's the one of the leaders of the resistance against monsters in the post Apocalyptic world. Who winds up as the antagonist for the player character in the finale. So who did they get to play her? The actress for Alyx Vance of Half-Life 2, one of the most beloved sidekicks in video game history.
Hero Antagonist: Possibly, since her goal at the end of the story is to cure the zombie infection. Unfortunately that means the death of Ellie, and Joel's having none of that.
Idiot Ball: Instead of just killing both Ellie and Joel the moment they find Ellie, or at the very least killing Joel while they are separated, after they realise they went on an epic quest together, she just fills in Joel on everything including that Ellie is about to be killed for the cure.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sacrifice one little girl's life to save the remnants of mankind? Even if that little girl is close to being her own daughter? It's the mission of the Fireflies to save the world, whatever it takes.
Wild Hair: Even in the post apocalyptic environs she has noticeably less-kempt hair than the other characters.
Joel's younger brother. They've split up some time after the outbreak due to ideological differences.
The Atoner: His decision to take Ellie and embark on what amounts to a suicide mission is implied to be motivated by a desire to assuage his guilty conscience over being unable to save Sarah at the beginning of the outbreak. It's also implied that he has serious regrets from both doing what had to be done to survive in the early years of the outbreak and his involvement with the Fireflies.
Big Damn Heroes: Tragically half and half in the prologue. He manages to save Joel from being gunned down by a soldier ordered to kill him but is too late to save Sarah.
Get Out: Basically his last words to Joel before the start of the game. By the time they meet again a few years later, he's happy to see Joel, but it's clear that their relationship is strained over what he and Joel did during the outbreak.
Happily Married: With Maria, leader of the survivors occupying the power plant near Jackson, Wyoming.
Nice Guy: Of all the named characters, he's by far the most selfless. In the prologue, he wants to pull over their car to help a couple and their child (Joel stops him) and he almost sacrifices himself blocking a door being pounded by Infected to get Joel and Sarah to safety. When you meet him in the game, not only has he helped establish a community free from martial law, murderous hunters and Infected, but he's willing to defend this community with his life and then ready to embark on a suicide mission with only a bit of prompting from his brother.
Good Is Not Soft: That all said, he's also not afraid to kill anyone who threatens those he cares about.
Took a Level in Badass: Implied when you finally meet him - he's settled down and devotes his energy to protecting a community at a power plant.
[Shooting you] would've been embarrassing, considering you're my brother-in-law.
Voiced By: Ashley Scott
Leader of the survivors' community in Jackson, Wyoming and the wife of Tommy.
Iron Lady: Functions as a generally benevolent leader of the Jackson community, one of the few in the game to be self-sufficient and not ruled by martial law.
Good Is Not Soft: But she is extremely protective of said community. Upon initially meeting Joel and Ellie, she assumes they are hostile and greets them at gunpoint, threatening to shoot unless they leave immediately. It is only after Tommy recognizes Joel and explains who they are that she warms up and becomes friendly.
Unkempt Beauty: Like Tess, she doesn't look bad for having lived in a post-apocalyptic world for the past 20 years.
Violently Protective Wife: Implied. After Tommy tells her he has made up his mind to take Ellie the rest of the way to the Fireflies, she bitterly warns Joel "If anything, anything at all happens to him, it's on you."
Joel later jokingly states that the reason he decides to take Ellie to the Fireflies himself is because Maria "kinda scares me" and he would rather not face her potential wrath.
Leader of a pack of scavengers in Colorado, with whom Ellie briefly teams up. He turns out to be a cannibal, while the people Joel and Ellie fought in the university were members of his group.
0% Approval Rating: Most of his men agree that making them chase after a single, dangerous, and possibly infected girl in a blizzard is crazy.
Arc Villain: He is the leader of the Cannibals whom you fight during Autumn and Winter, and you fight David himself in the climax of the Winter chapter.
Attempted Rape: Tries it on Ellie. He gets a fatal case of machete in the face for his troubles. Even earlier than that, it's made clear he's initially interested in Ellie for physically intimate reasons, which is the first time his Affably Evil fašade cracks before a full out Villainous Breakdown.
Climax Boss: His fight with Ellie. The closest thing the game has to a boss fight, too.
Anticlimax Boss: He is just as vulnerable to a glass bottle to the face as anyone else. Knowing this changes the fight from a murderous game of cat and mouse to "throw a bottle then run up and stab him". This is only the case on the "Easy" difficulty though, there aren't any bottles lying around on the other difficulties.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: He recognizes that Ellie is not really infected because, as he puts it, if she was, she wouldn't fight so hard to survive.
Enemy Mine: Played with. He and Ellie team up to defend a buck that Ellie killed, while maintaining an uneasy relationship due to Ellie not knowing if he is on her side or not, but David knows she is responsible for the deaths of several of his men, though he rather wants her to join his side than kill her in retribution.
Faux Affably Evil: Soft spoken and polite, even when hunting Ellie through a burning diner.
Fingore: When he tries to persuade Ellie to join him, Ellie breaks his finger.
Foil: He's very similar to Joel in that he invokes "I Did What I Had to Do" as justification for certain questionable actions, though he and Joel differ in some significant ways: Joel tries to be as detached from others as possible whereas David took it upon him to lead a community, Joel believes that his survival is in part due to luck whereas David explicitly states that he does not believe in luck, and they way they concern themselves with Ellie is pretty much the opposite of one another.
I Want Them Alive: He orders his mooks to capture Ellie alive, but James overrides this order, leading David to catch her himself.
Karmic Death: Mentions to Ellie that he'll chop her into pieces. His fate had this threat turned around on his face.
Kick the Dog: In the final boss fight, he faux-apologizes to Ellie about his men killing her horse, Callus, and then promptly "reassures" her that they will make good use of his remains for food.
And of course, there's the fact that he literally kicks her several times while she is on the ground.
Lolicon: One of the two guys Joel interrogates about Ellie's whereabouts in their community calls her David's "newest pet", heavily implying him to be a hebephile.
Not So Different: Invokes it when he puts Ellie in jail before she calls him an animal. David says they both kill to survive; he simply gets more use out of what he kills.
Rasputinian Death: To a degree. During your Boss Fight with him, he suffers several lethal stabs from Ellie that should at least have rendered him unable to move, yet he's still able to get up, kick her twice and attempt to rape her before she finally offs him by surprise cutting him and then rage chopping at his head.
Villainous Breakdown: Gets more and more unhinged the longer Ellie interacts with him. By the end, he's basically turned into an bestial lunatic.
Dragon with an Agenda: It's suggested that he's not satisfied with David's leadership, and both undermines and overrides his boss's orders on several occasions. That said, David doesn't think badly of James, referring to him as a "good kid" who's just doing his job.
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Not that David is inept, but James is ruthless and efficient, a skilled butcher, and Dangerously Genre Savvy, taking no chances. Of course, as irony would have it, he dies because he freaks out and loses his cool.
Fatal Flaw: His overprotectiveness ultimately proves to be his and his brother's undoing, since his brother never learned to defend himself.
I Did What I Had to Do: When the ladder breaks on the truck as they're escaping the scavengers in Pittsburgh, leaving Joel with no way to reach them. He leaves him to die. When Joel meets up with him again after narrowly finding an alternate escape route and being forced to jump from the bridge, he's understandably pissed at Henry for his actions and nearly kills him for it. Henry flimsily justifies himself by claiming he knew Joel would survive and that Joel would do the same in his position; he did at least save both Joel and Ellie's lives when they were drowning.
My Beloved Smother: Well, brother. He is extremely strict towards Sam, forbidding him from playing, taking toys and being very overprotective of him. He also neglects to prepare him properly for combat and handling the Infected, which indirectly contributes to his infection and subsequent death.
Nice Guy: Although he has a moment of major moral weakness (See I Did What I Had to Do above) and he's pretty strict to Sam, once Joel and Ellie get to know him, he's actually a pretty pleasant fellow.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: A non-villainous example. He shoots at Joel as he goes for a gun to kill Sam, who has turned into a Runner, then shoots Sam himself. It's ambiguous if he wanted to kill Sam as penance for failing to protect him, or wanted to protect his brother, before realizing he was too far from saving.
Despair Event Horizon: Hits one after getting bitten - it's subdued, but he becomes very depressed and bitter.
Foil: To Ellie. He's timid and very passive, in contrast to the active and audacious Ellie. The game highlights that by pairing him with Joel for a short while - it comes shortly after a longer chapter of Ellie learning how to help you and fend off enemies by herself.
Troubled Child: Partially thanks to his brother, who treats him like porcelain.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Henry focuses on admonishing him and telling him what to do. This is noticeable in his reactions when he's teamed up with Joel, who actually takes his time to commend and reassure him.
Trailers Always Spoil/Foregone Conclusion: To anyone who paid attention to the game's previews; she's not Ellie, whom Joel travels with for most of the game, so something terrible was bound to happen to her.
A Firefly in Salt Lake City, one of Marlene's right-hand men.
Jerkass: Knocks Joel out while he was trying to save Ellie (it's heavily implied that the only reason he or the other Firefly saved her is because they realized it was her, and would have left Joel behind if not for Marlene's interference), doesn't even INTERACT with Joel before trying to find a way to kill Joel, and is voiced by NolanNorth, who was also a Jerkass as David.
Genre Savvy: Apparently what's kept him alive long enough to write so many notes.
The Ghost: The only reason you even know he exists is because of the notes he leaves.
Hero of Another Story: One of many survivors from the outbreak, and one of few who prioritised things other than personal safety over anything else.
Hidden Elf Village: He founds one in the sewers in a suburb of Pittsburgh. It was actaully doing pretty good for awhile too. But someone's simple forgetfulness to close one of the outside doors brought it to an end when the Infected came across it.
Kill It with Fire: Like all Infected, fire works great. Once they're burnt they can no longer throw their spores, and their natural armor is removed so your lower-caliber guns will be fully effective. However, you'll have to use two molotovs or 2-3 bursts from the flame thrower to put one down for good.
Dissonant Serenity: In a Crapsack World where humanity is ravaged by the Cordyceps infection and endless fighting, the giraffes in Salt Lake City provide a calm and almost haunting sudden change of tone.
Rule of Symbolism: Giraffes are actually a recurring theme in the game, seemingly representing hope or innocence (for instance, Sarah has a toy giraffe in her room during the prologue).
Make Sure He's Dead: The military will NOT allow anyone infected inside their quarantine zones alive. They have a scanner to make absolutely sure, and if that goes off, so will the unlikely person's head. They do a lethal injection which seems to work instantaneously, so at least they're humane about it.
0% Approval Rating: Averted with the first group you come by, who seem to always answer to the boss. Played straight with another group of hunters, who some may express this towards their boss, David. Especially James who will override his orders by ordering to kill Ellie instead of bringing her alive. To be fair, they could be freezing to death out there and just want to get it done and over with.
You might even say that they're doing Ellie a favor, considering David apparently likes to keep 'pets' with him...
Face-Heel Turn: At least for the first group, where a document implies that they were formerly part of the fireflies.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: One way the hunters lure sapless visitors to kill and steal from them. Joel saw through them pretty quickly.
"He's not wounded." *drives at the hunter*
The Jackson society
Necessarily Evil: They have claimed responsibility for a couple of bombings. They can also prove to be as deadly as the hunters.
Saving the World: The fireflies are dedicated to restoring humanity, starting with researching into a vaccine against the spores. They need Ellie to do just that. Unfortunately, this also means killing her in the process. A document you can find implies that this wasn't the first time they did this either...
Would Hurt a Child: Ellie's death for a probable vaccine is a worthy trade in their eyes, even if they don't get it.