"I've struggled a long time with survivin', but no matter what you have to find something to fight for."
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.
Action Survivor: Only in the prologue when he's still just an average single father celebrating his birthday with his daughter until the outbreak begins and he has to evade all opposition from the early infected.
Actually Pretty Funny: He finds most of Ellie's jokes pretty groan-worthy, but there is one ("I used to be addicted to soap, but I'm clean now") he does laugh at.
Adult Fear: This is eventually what drives him to take his decision in the finale.
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.
Anti-Villain: By the end of the game, Joel's intentions are versus the cure for humanity. Sadly, he's well-intentioned, but also quite possibly doomed the last of humanity.
He's incapacitated for most of the Winter stage, in which Ellie has to care for him as he recovers his strength.
He has a brief case of this in Pittsburgh as well were a hunter ambushes and nearly succeeds in drowning him until Ellie arrives to shoot him.
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.
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.
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.
Catch Phrase: "We should move on," and variations on such, especially after something bad has happened. It reflects Joel's tendency to put all his bad experiences behind him and try to bottle them up.
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.
Combat Pragmatist: Attacking people from behind, shooting them in the crotch... the list goes on.
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.
Handguns: He can carry four different sidearms: a simple 9mm Colt Defender...
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.
His Story Repeats Itself: Provides the trope image. Both at the night of the outbreak and 20 years later, he has to carry his "baby girl" to safety through a hostile environment with no means of defending himself.
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 Templar Parent: Is clearly one in the main storyline (you don't get much more "knight templar" than potentially dooming humanity to save your adopted daughter), but he even shows some telltale signs in the prologue, such as refusing to help some stranded motorists (even when they have children of their own) in order to avoid putting Sarah at risk.
Like A Daughter To Me: How he eventually feels about Ellie, calling her "baby girl" the way he did with Sarah.
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.
My Greatest Second Chance: He's faced with the revelation that his "baby girl" will be taken from him again, but ultimately succeeds in rescuing Ellie.
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.
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.
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.
Papa Wolf: Deconstructed. His protection of Ellie causes him to bond with her, and they grow extremely close over the course of the journey. When Ellie is taken by the Fireflies, and Joel learns she'll die, he goes ballistic, and kills dozens of Fireflies.
Pragmatic Hero: He'll do whatever it takes to survive, even if he has to fight other humans.
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.
Took a Level in Kindness: Only towards Ellie. And towards Henry, a little. You should see his face when Sam is killed. He looks so crushed as he tries to talk Henry down, knowing he's going to do something after that.
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 not have "moved on" as he claims.
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.
Worst Aid: When he falls on a piece of rebar during the climax of the Autumn chapter, he insists to Ellie that she help pull him off and nearly bleeds to death as a result. However, it's justified as enemies are on their tail and it wasn't safe to stay.
"Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me. Everyone - fucking except for you! So don't tell me I would be safer with somebody else, because the truth is I would just be more scared."
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.
Action Girl: At only fourteen with no real fighting experience, she has to start the game as an Action Survivor instead. Part of her development is Joel trusting her to protect both himself are herself with real firearms and combat. She graduates into this trope during the Winter level, where she is the only playable character at the start and end of it, as well as getting a one-on-one boss fight with David.
Ambiguously Bi: In the DLC, she kisses Riley, but in the main game she puts up and seems interested in a gay male porn magazine, but she might as well have been screwing with Joel and immediately throws the magazine away once she has. At the very least, it's obvious that she is at least gay.
It's implied that she may have feelings for Sam, albeit briefly. However, she may have had a Big Sister Instinct while Sam had a one-sided crush on her.
Badass Boast: "Ellie is the little girl that broke your fucking finger!"
In the DLC: "If anyone's still alive, don't even think about surprising me! You'll end up like your friends, you hear me!? Yeah!?"
Badass Bookworm: Likes to read books and comics and can hold her own in a fight.
Badass Gay: Word of God confirmed they wrote Left Behind with the idea of Ellie being gay; Ashley Johnson's own take on the matter was that "in the world [she and Riley] are living in... it doesn't really matter [what the kiss means]."
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.
Blessed with Suck: Anyone she's gotten close to usually is bitten and either turns or dies. Since her body has been able to counter the fungal infection, she has had to watch people she's cared about tragically lose their lives to their bites.
Bullying a Dragon: Towards David. Despite her being behind bars and knowing that he isn't right in the head and/or is a cannibal, she breaks his finger and boasts to him about it. As a result, David decides to kill her after all and it's only by luck that she momentarily distracts him from slicing her up by telling him she's infected.
Catch Phrase: Might as well be the various expletives she lets out while watching Joel at work. Also Endure and survive, which she got from a comic book. She also says "Oh, man!" and "Whoa Nelly!" a lot.
Character Tic: Whistling and making sounds as though jamming on a guitar.
Chastity Dagger: It's implied that David was trying to rape her towards the end of their fight. Too bad for him that his machete was within reach of Ellie's hand.
The Cutie: She's not sweet exactly, but very lovable and produces most of the comic relief in the story.
Damsel out of Distress: She's briefly captive by the cannibals during Winter, but manages to free herself before Joel can arrive in time to rescue her, though it results in a pretty heavy case of Break the Cutie.
Defiant to the End: When David has her pinned down and is ready to kill her, he tells her that she can try and beg. She replies with "Fuck you."
Determinator: Even more so than Joel himself, and she's fourteen. In her battle with David, she's struggling to crawl to her knife even as her taunts her.
David: (Kicks her) It's okay to give up, you know. There ain't no shame in it. (Ellie continues crawling) Heh. I guess not. Just not your style, is it? (Kicks her again)
Deuteragonist: She and Joel are the two main characters of the game.
Disney Death: A brief example. Towards the end when Joel carries her out of the hospital he's confronted by Marlene, who tells him that Ellie would have wanted this (sacrificing herself for a vaccine) and he can "still do the right thing." Joel appears to be hesitating, and it then cuts to him driving on the road, making the player wonder for a moment if he let the Fireflies take Ellie after all. Then you hear her waking up in the backseat...
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.
Follow the White Rabbit: A non-magic example. The beginning of Winter sees her hunting a deer, to which she's led straight to the leader of the cannibal group she and Joel encountered during Fall.
Good Is Not Soft: Being an idealistic teenager doesn't prevent Ellie from stabbing people to death with her switchblade, or cause her to hesitate in shooting people to save Joel.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: She has a scratch bisecting her right eyebrow, as well as bite marks from Infected on her right arm.
Heroic BSOD: Has one after killing David. It takes some time for her to recover.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: A 14-year old girl traveling with a grizzled man in his late 40s/early 50s.
Hypocritical Humor: Makes fun of Bill for talking to himself when she essentially does the same to calm herself down.
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.
Morality Pet: To Joel, who eventually sees her as a surrogate daughter.
Mundane Luxury: Ellie loves to read old comic books, which are a rare find back in the quarantine zone.
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 Girl 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.
Parental Substitute: Marlene to a degree, while Joel more officially becomes this to her. When, during the Fall chapter, Joel tells her that she's not his daughter, she looks crushed. (He eventually acknowledges that he does see her as this however.)
Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Justified and downplayed. She has a smattering of knowledge on the old world 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. Also, the scene at the university where Joel is explaining the rules of football to her.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: When David is giving her a lecture, trying to make Ellie sympathize with him, she breaks his finger.
Sir Swears-a-Lot: Lady in her case. Ellie's dialogue contains the most common use of harsh swearing in the game compared to the other characters, who are more prone to having a single Precision F-Strike, if even that.
Straight Gay: Over the course of "Left Behind" it's made very apparent that she and her best friend Riley are pretty intimate with one another, culminating in a scene where Ellie kisses Riley. Word of God confirmed both of them being attracted to each other.
Super Drowning Skills: Ellie can't swim, so there are a number of puzzles that involve trying to get her across areas with water too deep to wade through.
Survivor Guilt: Kicks in during the ending - she mentions feeling guilty for all her companions who died during the story.
Tag Along Kid: Joel and Tess treat her like this at first, thinking that all they needed to do was deliver her to the fireflies and be done with her.
Tragic Keepsake: Several. Anna's knife, A letter from her mother given to her by Marlene when they first met, Riley's dog tag and book of puns, a toy Sam wanted to take with him. A photo of Joel and Sarah for a while.
Weak, but Skilled: Ellie doesn't have the physical strength of Joel nor his stamina, but by making good use of stealth, she can be as much as a One-Man Army as him.
Wise Beyond Their Years: She acts very mature for a 14 year old, though it's pretty much justified seeing as she's been raised in a post-apocalyptic world.
Youthful Freckles: She has lots of energy for a kid who grew up in a hellhole, and would be considered a misfit in the old world.
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 for that. Unfortunately, this means dissecting her. A document you can find implies this isn't the first time they've done so.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: They're the only people wanting to save the human race and study the Cordyceps infection. They even tested the infection on monkeys and a few died as a result. They are perfectly willing to fight the soldiers and sacrifice a teenage girl's life for the sake of creating a cure.
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Unlike the military, who are simply trying to maintain control and destroy threats, the Fireflies want to "rise from the ashes" and restore civilization to what it once was.
"There is no other choice here."
Voiced By: Merle Dandridge
Leader of the Fireflies. She enlists Joel and Tess's help in smuggling Ellie out of Boston.
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.
However, she realizes that this is not the smartest thing to do, but does it because she feels that Joel is the only other person who might be able to understand the weight of her decision.
Jerkass Has a Point: Though Joel's reaction is understandable, Marlene's decision to sacrifice Ellie's life could have possibly saved mankind and ended the Cordyceps infection once and for all.
Knight Templar: Her treatment of Riley in American Dreams is proof enough.
Like A Daughter To Me: Like Joel, she thinks of Ellie as a daughter…but doesn't let her feelings prevent her from sacrificing Ellie's life in order to obtain a cure.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: She was asked to kill Joel at the end, but refused because she knew they both felt similarly towards Ellie. This ends up getting her killed as well as possibly dooming mankind forever.
Parental Substitute: She apparently became something of a surrogate mother to Ellie after the death of her biological mother.
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. It does a lot to communicate the stress she's under.
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 kill him, and is voiced by Nolan North, who was also a Jerkass as David.
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.
Good Is Not Soft: That all said, he's also not afraid to kill anyone who threatens those he cares about.
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.
Noodle Incident: Whatever happened between Tommy and Joel that led to them breaking apart and not seeing each other for years.
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. Of course he's shown some tendencies before hand such as managing to survive and hold off a group of infected chasing Joel, Sarah and him on the day of the outbreak.
"[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.
Big Sister Instinct: Like Tess, she bonds with Ellie almost immediately upon meeting her, offering her food and taking her horseback riding.
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.
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.
Unkempt Beauty: Like Tess, she doesn't look bad for having lived in a post-apocalyptic world for the past twenty 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.
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 façade cracks before a full out Villainous Breakdown.
Badass: David might be a cruel, cannibalistic deviant and he doesn't look particularly tough but he's a slippery bastard. He takes out numerous Runners and Clickers, and is the only member of his group to successfully get the drop on Ellie.
Bait the Dog: He initially appears to have befriended Ellie...only to turn to be a hebephile.
Beard of Evil: Has a pretty thick beard that accentuates his thin face.
Beware the Nice Ones: He's first quite friendly and benevolent compared to most, especially his underlings. And then...
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Starts off polite and well-mannered, and as an ally...until he reveals that he's the leader of the Cannibals Joel and Ellie fought in the University.
Climax Boss: His fight with Ellie. The closest thing the game has to a boss fight, too.
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. He still wants her on his side, but he needs to convince her to prove she's not a threat to his group.
Ephebophile: He's heavily implied to be this, just short of outright-stated. He's the only one of the group that wants to keep Ellie alive, and his behavior toward her certainly calls to mind grooming techniques.
Family Values Villain: Has shades of this, such as when he scolds Ellie for not being upfront and honest about her name and background with him after having just admitted to being a cannibal.
Faux Affably Evil: David is soft-spoken and polite, even while admitting to being a cannibal.
Foil: He's very similar to Joel, in that he invokes "I Did What I Had to Do" as justification for certain questionable actions, and seems a possible candidate for "surrogate father" with Joel missing (at first, anyway), though he and Joel differ in 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 the reasons they concern themselves with Ellie are pretty much completely opposite. Also, when Joel first meets Ellie, he's cold and indifferent towards her, while David is polite and friendly. Joel however is a back-and-forth Jerk with a Heart of Gold while David is said Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: Towards the end of his and Ellie's cat-and-mouse chase where he's left with the upper hand, he starts taunting her and hints that he plans to rape her before killing her.
I'm a Humanitarian: David is a cannibal, leading an entire group of like-minded human-eating psychopaths.
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: He tells Ellie he's going to chop her into little 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.
Lean and Mean: David is noticeably thinner both around the body and the face in comparison to other characters like Joel or even his underling, James.
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.
Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Eventually subverted, since there does turn out to be a good reason, albeit an unseemly one, for the teenage Ellie becoming his nemesis.
Rasputinian Death: To a degree. During Ellie's Boss Fight with him, he suffers several lethal stabs from her that should at least have slowed him down or rendered him unable to move, yet he's still able to get up, kick her twice and attempt to rape her before she finally finishes 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 become a bestial lunatic.
We Can Rule Together: He makes a point of capturing Ellie alive, and repeatedly offers to protect her and talk the rest of his group into letting her join them. She breaks his finger in response.
Wham Line: "...and get this, he's ... a crazy man, travelling...with a little girl."
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.
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.
Heel Realization: She had hers a long time ago, if the following line is anything to go by:
"We're shitty people, Joel. It's been that way for a long time."
Last Stand: Spends her last moments holding off the military so Joel and Ellie can escape.
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 aggressive 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.
Zombie Infectee: Noticeably after the getting through the museum, she seems a bit more solemn and apprehensive until they reach the meeting spot with the Fireflies where she untimely force to reveal she's been infected an hour ago.
"Once upon a time, I had somebody that I cared about... It was a partner. Somebody I had to look after. And in this world, that sort of shit's good for one thing: Gettin' you killed. So you know what I did? I wizened the fuck up, and realized it's got to be just me."
Joel and Tess's frequent supplier and asocial survivalist, located in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Ambiguous Disorder: He's a paranoid, asocial loner who talks to himself frequently. Joel describes him as a little "unstable".
Badass Gay: Perfectly capable of holding his own against the infected.
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.
Crazy Survivalist: The crazy part is downplayed, as he is very asocial and eccentric, but seems otherwise fairly grounded. As someone who voluntarily lives alone in an area rife with Infected, being a serious survivalist is the sane option.
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: 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.
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 Tessis dead; Joel never tells him as such.
Straight Gay: Given that he doesn't exhibit any stereotypically homosexual traits, to the point some even would attest he qualifies as Ambiguously Gay (the only part that makes it unambiguous Bill's gay Porn Stash), but the game really 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.
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.
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.
Kill the Cutie: The poor guy got infected, and the truth hurt him so much that he didn't tell anyone to kill him while he was still "alive".
Neutral Male: Very much so, since Henry doesn't teach him how to protect himself. This eventually leads to him being unable to defend himself against an infected, and getting bitten as a result.
The Load: While his brother loves him very much, he considers him this at best.
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.
Decoy Protagonist: At least players who didn't pay attention to trailers could be fooled into thinking she's a big part of the game, considering you start out playing as her. Then she's killed after 10 minutes in.
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.
We Hardly Knew Ye: She appears for about ten minutes in the story before being bumped off.
A mysterious survivor, who is never actually met face to face. Avoided the infection by staying on his boat, but eventually ran aground and decided to hack it as a survivor.
Freshly turned Infected who attack with their hands. They still look - and, disturbingly, sound - the most human.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Once they spot an uninfected person, the fungus triggers certain hormone releases that cause them to go mad with aggression.
Fragile Speedster: The least biologically changed, anything which will stop a human will stop a Runner.
Tragic Monster: Every one of them was a person, once upon a time. Some of their cries sound very human, like sobbing, screaming, or whimpering. There probably isn't anything left (none of the noises are intelligible as words and they have no tactics, teamwork, fine motor skills or anything like true intelligence), but it's just close enough to make you wonder.
Zerg Rush: Since they have their senses intact, any one of them will cry out when spotting an uninfected person, resulting in the whole lot of them running to converge on them.
Aged Infected with fungi starting to grow out of their heads. Surprisingly intelligent, their fighting style is more ambush oriented.
Jack of All Stats: Due to a more advanced state of infection, they can move like Runners and are as tough as Clickers, but they lack the Runners' numbers and aggression, as well as the Clickers' strength.
Body Horror: The fungus has bloomed from their skulls, splitting them open.
Disability Superpower: Their advanced infection has stolen their eyesight. Unfortunately, they develop echolocation to cope.
One-Hit Kill: They get a hold of you, they go straight for the jugular. However, you can get a skill that allows you to escape it.
The oldest of the Infected, the fungus has created something akin to armored plating covering their bodies. They can pluck spore pods from their body to throw at whoever or whatever they're fighting. These are the least common of the Infected since they take over a year to develop.
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.
Recurring Boss: There are two instances in the game where you absolutely have to kill one of these in order to proceed.
Villain Decay: The first Bloater will take everything you have to beat, and it is advised to run from those you do not have to confront. When Joel gets the flamethrower they become much easier. Even before that, two Molotovs will take them down fairly easily, albeit quite slowly.
A horse initially owned by Tommy in Jackson, Wyoming and given to Joel and Ellie to help them travel to the Fireflies. He is later shot and killed by David's men at the Lakeside Resort.
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).
The toy giraffes keep popping up throughout the game. If you keep your eyes peeled and explore enough you'll find one in every chapter.
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 unlucky person's head. They do a lethal injection which seems to work instantaneously, so at least they're humane about it. It may also be an example of Pragmatic Punch-Clock Villainy, since a lethal injection does not open a vector for more spores to be dispersed like a headshot would.
Punch Clock Villain: It's not that all the soldiers enjoy what they're doing. Some are helpful, some are jerks, just like anybody else. Unless they find out you're Infected.
0% Approval Rating: Averted with the first group you encounter, who don't question their boss. Played straight with another group, who verbally express doubts about David's orders. Especially James, who overrides him by ordering Ellie's immediate death instead of bringing her alive. They are in a blizzard and risking hypothermia for one extremely dangerous girl. You might even say that they're doing Ellie a favor, considering David apparently likes to keep 'pets'.
Face-Heel Turn: At least for the first group, where a document implies that they were formerly part of the Fireflies.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: By the Winter chapter, just the mention of "tourists" and the sight of Joel is enough to send some Hunters running scared.
Would Hurt a Child: They have no problem attacking Ellie, especially if she's armed. Once you take control of Ellie, you have the pleasure of seeing the handful of ways they can murder her.