Nightmare Fuel / The Last of Us

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Run, little rabbit, run.

  • The Infected. Picture a fungus literally blooming out of the entire top half of your face, after having grown into your brain to control and use you as its own personal vessel. They're absolutely freaking revolting.
  • Footage of the game at E3 2012 proved that it was no slouch in the violence department, depicting Joel fighting through Hunters in the Pittsburgh hotel. In sharp contrast to Uncharted, death occurs in realistic fashion, with characters reacting in pain before dying. The real kicker, though is the ending: without breaking into a cutscene, the game prompts you, as Joel, to aim a shotgun at an enemy's head as he begs for his life. The screen cuts to the game's logo as a gunshot sounds, but you can still see the gory aftermath for a split second before. That's when everyone knew that this was going to be Naughty Dog's darkest game yet.
  • At about 2:45 in this trailer shows Joel having to pull an infected corpse away from a door. You can see that she's grown into the wall, with various body parts, notably her head, in a grotesque, warped shape that falls apart as Joel pulls her off the wall. And then the ending of the trailer has him rather graphically get his neck bitten apart by a mouth which remains squick-inducingly human.
  • The way people have come to treat those that get infected, regardless if they haven't turned yet. When Joel is walking with Tess early in the game, they come across soldiers scanning four people. When one of them turns out infected, the soldiers immediately put her down as if they were just getting rid of an insect. And when one of them tries to run before they can scan him, they gun him down without a second thought.
  • As Bill points out, it's not the Infected that's the scariest part. As you'll find out through the gameplay, it's usually other people who show you the worst and toughest combat.
  • Joel's complete lack of any moral quandaries when it comes to killing and maiming people who stand in his way, both in and out of gameplay. He interrogates three people over the course of the game - in sequence, by breaking someone's arm, almost lobbing off a kneecap and shooting multiple times in the groin. Every time, he shows extreme efficiency.
    • Several characters hint that Joel is a pretty awful and violent person. Marlene suggests he sneak around soldiers, even though "it's not [his] style." As noted above, Bill says normal people scare him more than the Infected, adding that Joel should know what he's talking about. He then refuses explain it further to Ellie, probably meaning Joel is exactly the type of person he would be scared of. And even though we don't really learn what happened between Joel and Tommy, it seems the problem was Joel's willingness to do anything to survive.
      • It could also be a reference to the fact that his daughter was killed not by the infected, but by a regular soldier.
    • At the end of the game, when Joel prevents life-threatening surgery from being performed on on Ellie, at the player's choice he could unleash a violent Tranquil Fury upon the unarmed, cowering doctors.note 
    • Joel killing Marlene, due to how cold and intense it is.
      Marlene:(injured) Wait! Please. Let me go.
      Joel:You'd just come after her. (shoots Marlene in the head)
  • The intro masterfully captures the dread, confusion and panic of the first few hours of a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • The part where you play as Sarah wandering around her empty house is a perfect example of Nothing Is Scarier. Players know the Zombie Apocalypse is underway, so they spend the entire time expecting a Jump Scare every second. There isn't one, but the atmosphere is intense enough that when you go into the kitchen, there's a good chance you'll jump at seeing your own reflection in the window.
    • Later when you control Joel, running through his town with an injured Sarah in his arms while all hell breaks loose around them. There's people set on fire or being eaten alive by Infected, fatal car crashes, explosions at a gas station and movie theater...it's the epitome of chaos. Imagine this happening in your hometown.
  • Pittsburghnote  is chock full of Nightmare Fuel.
    • After a successful rebellion against the military, the citizens have established control over the city as the Hunters, a violent group which kills and robs outsiders. Signs of the rebellion are still there; as Joel and Ellie venture through Pittsburgh, they discover corpses of numerous soldiers who were executed, lynched, or burned to death, accompanied by threatening graffiti. It's all the more scarier that you arrive after the rebellion took place, and are only left with the grisly aftermath. One could only imagine how nightmarish that day was for the military...
    • There's a note you can find which details the public trial of three Hunter teenagers who murdered a family travelling through Pittsburgh. The unnamed leader of the group believes that they were merely gathering supplies, ordering the rest of the Hunters to do the same. Two members of the group protested the new "law", to which the writer states that people like them who display any morality whatsoever are killed. And despite his apprehension, the following week is the writer's turn to hunt down survivors. The thought killing innocent people out of fear of being labelled a "traitor" and getting killed yourself is downright horrifying.
    • Another note can be found from a soldier who witnessed a mob burn his squad alive. Potentially creepy for both the Fireflies and Hunters involved, as he implies that he's going to personally hunt down and kill every single person who was there. It just goes to show how most of the scariest stuff in this game isn't even shown.
    • In the hotel, you can stumble across a couple that was Driven to Suicide by frying themselves with a toaster in a bathtub. Even Ellie is horrified. And they've been there for quite a while—long enough that the bathwater is now a black soup of bodily fluids and liquidized flesh.
    • One scene has Joel and Ellie hide, witnessing a man and woman getting gunned down in the streets by the Hunters' Humvee. The injured woman begs for her life, but is mercilessly executed. Having found that she wears an old pair of shoes and possesses no food, the Hunters just...drive off and leave both corpses behind. There's a terrible feeling of helplessness that's only compounded with Joel and Ellie's exchange following what happens:
      Ellie: Oh man...
      Joel: There ain't nothin' we coulda done.
      Ellie: I know... It's just... Oh man.
    • Really, the Humvee itself. The thing practically follows you all throughout Pittsburgh. It's even strung with barbed wire, has a corpse laying on the hood, and the front bumper is scribbeld with "RUN". And who wouldn't, once you hear its engine revving? Luckily, you get to destroy the infernal machine when the Hunters follow Joel and Ellie to the suburbs.
  • Each stage/type of the Cordyceps-infected is its own unique flavor of Nightmare Fuel.
    • One of particular note is early on in the game when you suddenly drop into an area in an abandoned shopping center filled to the brim with clickers, and a handful of runners. And you have to sneak right through them all. Without making a single sound.
    • Some runners you encounter during the game do not 'patrol' like normal ones, and don't seem to be aggressive unless disturbed. Instead they just stand there. Weeping. Head in hands and all. Looks like Sam's theory about the person they were still being in there somewhere might not have been so far from the truth, at least in the early stages of infection.
      • After the prologue, the first time you encounter them (attacking, then feeding on a freshly-killed victim), if you listen closely, you can hear one of them sobbing WHILE eating the person. Just imagine that. Seeing and feeling yourself violently cannibalize someone raw and being completely unable to stop yourself.
    • Coming back to Sam's theory given what we see in the cut-scene of him attacking Ellie and a glimpse of the behind the scenes footage of the actor's mocap during that particular scene (Grounded - Making The Last of Us), specifically, the way he is only clawing and hitting with his hands on the ground around Ellie would suggest Sam's attempt at suicide by survivor... maybe that's why some runners... run at you.
      • Might also qualify as Fridge Logic with the fungal infection. Hear me out: the fungal infection rewires the brains of the Infected to do as the fungal infection intends: to spread. And what is the most basest of human instinct, which has been tied in to several other zombie or zombie-esque genre media? To feed. Feeding back into Sam’s theory, and the above troper’s very interesting theory, maybe it’s a double-edged blade. The fungal infection is reacting off of the human instinct to feed—given one of the ways it’s transmitted through is biting—as well as the possibility that the runners are indeed suicidal to a degree. Perhaps the runners are reacting both to the fungal infection’s “instinct” to spread, as well as what the former person it is slowly taking over wants to end what little life and control they have over themselves by running at potential victims in the hopes that they’ll be killed with help.
    • The Stalkers are Paranoia Fuel on legs in that they can hide and ambush their victims. Even Joel's hearing ability is easily eluded by these bastards, so chances are you wont be sure how many there are and where they'll attack from. Have fun.
      • Your first meeting with them is arguably one of the most unnerving experiences in the entire game. After you (Joel) fall down an elevator shaft and swim through the darkened, flooded basement floors of the hotel, the first dry basement area you reach unfortunately happens to be another spore nursery. Up to this point everything's been dead quiet, but as you proceed towards an upwards concrete ramp formed from a caved-in ceiling, you suddenly see a swarm of rats come scurrying down the ramp and straight past your feet, fleeing from some unknown terror. Then, as you get closer, you see an obscure human shape at the top dash by and disappear behind a wall. After searching you'll eventually find a small office with a keycard required to open a door to exit the area. Right when you pick it up and look at it in the bagpack menu, you suddenly hear a nasty croaking voice.....RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
      • And later on in the dark and flooded basement you have to get a generator going to proceed further. Just as Joel's made it start, a loud, jarring sound of something being busted open suddenly echoes through the dark basement, followed by the horrid shrieks of infected, likely giving most players an epic Oh, Crap! moment right along with Joel. You then will be initially left at confused horror at the darkness hindering you from see much and not knowing where the infected will come from or even where you should run, and to make matters even worse, when the infected does pop up right behind your back, one of them is a freakin' BLOATER! Cue running blindly around in the dark and narrow basement hallways while trying to avoid it long enough to get enough hits towards it as it slowly follows you around while warding off common infected on the way. It's enough to make the player be genuinly reluctant/scared to start the generator again every time you die. Although, the place is a lot easier to get by if you've learned to use a Molotov Cocktail (or simply outrun the infected to the door).
      • That whole scene is made worse by Ellie's absence. Even though (at this point in the game,) she's not all that useful in combat, and certainly not against the flood of Infected you'll encounter here, but even knowing that, players may well find themselves wishing she was there. This scene magnificently drove home the Primal Fear of being alone in a scary place.
    • Some of the death scenes are horrible, but special mention goes to one of the death scenes where Joel's jaw is ripped wide open by a Bloater. While there is a Gory Discretion Shot stopping you from seeing much more, you still see what happens for a split second. Yeesh.
      • It gets worse, just in that split second before black, you can see the Bloater's fingers gouge out Joel's eyes so it has a better grip. Holy fucking shit.
      • Also, the Bloater's bull-like roar while it kills you is terrifying.
  • Some of the graffiti is pretty damned creepy, but most of it can be chalked up to the angry lashing out of disenfranchised survivors against a pitiless mock-government. Some of it, though, is just outright freaking malicious. There's one in the hotel, written on a whiteboard, apparently from someone who's gotten separated from his wife, Sara, warning her to take two boys to her mother's because it's not safe here... which is then scribbled out, with Sara's name circled, and the words "don't worry, we take good care of her". The boys' names are left as-is, suggesting wherever they are, it's not with her anymore...
  • The Winter scenario. Just...all of it.
    • Running through the blizzard as Ellie with nothing but a knife (and possibly a few bullets if you were lucky enough) to kill someone with. All while having to avoid a town's cannibalistic denizens who are all much, much tougher than you, all right when they learn that a frightened teenage girl is trying to escape. One hell of a ride.
    • Everything about David might serve as a Nightmare Fuel in a sense of Rewatch Bonus, when you know that his initial kindness towards Ellie might possibly be because he's an Ephebophile (sexually attracted to teenage girls). Oh, and that he's a cannibal, too.
      • "David's newest pet"?! How many times has this psycho found a girl, butchered everyone she was with, and then kept her alive so he could rape her until he got bored and killed her?
    • The Boss Fight with David (pictured above) is perhaps the most frightening, Paranoia Fuel-inducing part of the entire game. Ellie's trapped in a burning restaurant with him and must quietly ambush David three times from behind with her switchblade. With each stab, he gets increasingly dangerous, attacking with a pistol and then a machete. All the while, David stalks Ellie, taunting her in a quiet, unhinged voice about her defiance and assuring her that his community won't "waste" any part of her dead horse. That is, unless you stab him twice—in which case, David suddenly stops talking and begins sneaking around just like Ellie (to where Listen Mode will only track him when he's moving). To make the scene all the more pulse-pounding, there are broken plates on the ground which you must avoid stepping on, or else David will track Ellie's location.
      David:(after getting stabbed a second time) That was good, kid. It's gonna be all right... (pulls out machete)
      • Apart from David's nastily-delivered lines, there's also the way he laughs if you step on the broken plates, as well as him creepily saying "Hello, Ellie" if he sees you and "Run, little rabbit, run. Hide!" after you stab him a second time. And if David catches you from behind with his machete, you'll be treated to a grisly death scene in which he impales Ellie through her chest. The murderous, remorseless look on his face upon killing her doesn't help.
      • It gets scarier if you're playing on Survivor and Grounded difficulties, in which you don't have Listen Mode at your disposal. You really get to feel more like a fourteen-year-old girl by her lonesome playing a game of cat-and-mouse against a psychotic, cannibalistic, and (possibly) ephebophilic man.
    • And though it may count as a Crowning Moment of Awesome to Ellie, the scene where she kills David can be this to some. She literally — and messily — butchers David's head with ten strikes from his own machete (off-screen), while almost completely having lost her mind lashing out at the man who may or may not have attempted to rape her. Joel arrives just in time to calm her down and snap her out of her frenzy.
  • Any instance in which Joel ventures into the 'spores'. The pitch black, confined rooms, with Joel's heavy breathing being the only source of sound, if not for the distant moans and clicks of the infected. Easily the darkest environmental tone the game ever dips to.
  • Ellie's levels are pretty terrifying compared to Joel's anyway, because the game really makes you feel how much more vulnerable she is; she lacks his equipment (and any health / hearing upgrades he may have got from collecting meds), and if it comes to a close quarters fight players may fail to land that crucial first strike with her knife, because they're used to Joel's greater reach. Further more, even a knife strike doesn't stagger an opponent the way a blow from Joel will, and consequently enemies are more likely to counterattack, and if one actually grabs her there's no option to struggle and throw him off, because Ellie simply lacks the brute strength to grapple with an adult.
    • Any game-over death scenes during her parts are also worse, simply because seeing a fourteen year old child get shot / strangled / beaten to death / her throat ripped out is even more shocking than when it happens to the grizzled Joel.
  • In one of the early levels (The Outskirts), you walk through an abandoned office building where several dead soldiers can be found. There's a mission log you can collect later which states that they were cut off from one another, getting killed one by one while waiting for an extraction that never came. Imagine being in their shoes for a second. That's when the terror sinks in.
  • Also the sewers, for essentially the same reasons. Fairly stable community going till one day, someone leaves a door open, resulting in everyone being killed.
    • Particularly the room in which you find a pile of child-sized corpses under a sheet, an adult corpse with a suicide note saying he decided Better to Die than Be Killed for all of them when the Infected breaking in seemed imminent, and a big scrawled message on the floor saying THEY DIDN'T SUFFER. This one prompts a horrified "Jesus" even from the hardened Joel.
  • The high school in Lincoln. It was the town evac point, and all the abandoned buses means it fell before everyone could be taken to the zones.
  • Many of the death scenes involving the infected only ever show them biting into Joel. Sure, since they usually get the neck it's safe to to assume that the bites themselves are lethal - but think of the implication that nothing else is ever shown. They don't need to bite anything else, because this one bite is all it takes. Even if Joel were to somehow survive the wound itself, that bite would've infected him, ending his journey in a far, far more horrific fashion.
  • The Left Behind DLC episode has some scares of its own:
    • The section where Ellie has to climb on the top of the duct to traverse through the area flooded with water electrified by a broken cable. Since touching the water is an instant kill, the mere thought of falling off the ducts and into the water is enough to make anyone scared of heights.
      • Fall into the electrified water, and you'll be greeted by a scene of Ellie being electrified to death before she falls in. It's not gory, but it's graphic and painful to watch.
    • The rather graphic way Ellie kills an infected attacking Riley as the two tries to escape the mall.
  • Score a headshot with a powerful weapon like the hunting rifle or shotgun. Instead of leaving a neck stump with a clean white bone sticking out like a blob of mozzarella on an incredibly poorly made margherita, the lower half of the head will still remain, much like real-life victims of high-caliber sniper rifles or shotguns.
  • If you fire an empty weapon, there's a chance you'll elicit Oh, Crap! reactions from Joel and Ellie. The human enemies react to this, too, though in groups they pretty much state the obvious. When alone with a single one, however, they'll have special menacing lines for the occasion, such as "I know that sound...I got you now, motherfucker!" and "Click, click, whatcha gonna do now, man?"
    • Even worse for the cannibals when Ellie's low on ammo. "Sounds like one of us is out of bullets..." That's a sign that you'd better run, craft a Molotov or do something quick.
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