The Last of Us is a video game from Naughty Dog, a trailer of which premiered during the 2011 Video Game Awards.In late 2013, a worldwide outbreak of a new type of fungal infection swept across the planet and caused a Zombie Apocalypse. Twenty years later, the last remnants of humanity are either living in "quarantine zones" under the dictatorship of martial law or in pockets of "Hunters" who do whatever it takes to survive.Joel is a bitter and amoral Shell-Shocked Veteran who works as a smuggler out of the Boston Quarantine Zone with his partner-in-crime Tess. When a deal goes sour, Joel is given one last chance to salvage the goods: by striking a deal with the radical Fireflies movement to smuggle a fourteen-year-old girl named Ellie out of the city. This simple job quickly spirals out of control, turning into a country-wide trek across the ruins of America in pursuit of what could be a cure to the infection that plagues humanity.On Feb 14th 2014, a single-player DLC titled Left Behind was released. Acting as a pre- and inter-quel, it focuses on two timelines: firstly, it follows Ellie and her best friend Riley a few weeks before the central plot starts; and secondly, it fills in the Time Skip between Fall and Winter when Joel was impaled and close to death. Please note that, due to whiting out issues, main story spoilers will be unmarked in the DLC folder.Now has a Characters page that Needs More Love.You can watch gameplay from E3 2012 here, and the extended Left Behind trailer here.
This game provides examples of:
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555: Attempted but in one case the artist didn't realize that putting a 1-800 in front made it a real number... as in a working Real Life sex hotline. Whoops.
Action Survivor: Mostly Ellie, though Joel has elements of it under his higher willingness to kill.
Every survivor, really.
Actor Allusion: At one point in the game, Joel mentions that he wanted to become a singer. His actor, Troy Baker, was once the lead singer for an indie-rock band called Tripp Fontaine.
Actually Pretty Funny: Most of the jokes Ellie reads from her joke book make Joel groan with annoyance, but she eventually tells one that even gets him to chuckle and remark that he's actually never heard it.
Ellie: I used to be addicted to soap, but I'm clean now.
After the End: The game's setting, with "the end" being when a fungal infection broke out.
All Love Is Unrequited: Word of Godoriginally stated that Tess has romantic feelings for Joel (due to them having worked together for a long time), but Joel does not reciprocate. Aside from a quick mention in the first chapter after the prologue, there is no other indication that Tess feels this way towards Joel. However, this was changed later (due to Joel's VA story meddling) to the trust/relation being mutual. Joel's just very good at burying things.
There's an additional conversation in which Joel will sarcastically say he's the romantic type, and Tess will reply "You got your ways." which only further implies they were more than just partners once.
An Aesop: Joel spends the entire game refusing to even acknowledge anything in the past, which even includes Tess when he and Ellie have to leave her behind. However, late in the game he's finally close enough to Ellie to accept the photo of Sarah he left:
Joel: [upset] Well, no matter how hard you try, I guess you can't escape your past. Thank you.
And I Must Scream: Sam mentions to Ellie that he's afraid of the idea of the infected being fully conscious humans who can't control their bodies or stop themselves from doing horrible atrocities.
The "Runners" (people recently turned) are heavily implied to still have a bit of their consciousness left, given how they sound like they're crying, or walk around with pained human-sounding grunts in general.
And the Adventure Continues: After Joel saves Ellie a final time from the Salt Lake City hospital, an epilogue shows that they're continuing to survive simply because they have no other choice. At the very least they're on the way back to Tommy's to take him up on his offer.
And Some Other Stuff: The myriad survivalist training manuals (or rather, scattered torn-out pages of them), which, when collected, provide Joel with handy-dandy information on how to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The pages about treating injuries more effectively have some actually pretty useful information on splints, tourniquets and the like. The pages about making smoke bombs, tying knots on weapons, sharpening shivs, and improving the construction of molotov cocktails all noticeably have their pages stained or torn and trail off into illegibility.
Enemies won't detect your escorts during sneaking sessions, just you. Appropriately, they sneak around corners almost as well as you can, but if you're careful you may notice a few times when the bad guys ought to be noticing your escorts but don't. We are not complaining, though. The alternative would be insufferable.
Although, it can get a bit narmy sometimes when Ellie or someone else of your escorts runs around like a madman two inches from an enemy without them reacting.
Killed enemies tend to drop the same type of ammo or equipment they were killed with, especially when you're low on that particular type. Notice how enemies killed by stealth (i.e. bare hands) rarely drop anything. This might lead to a generalized Too Awesome to Use, so it's important to use what you have... within reason of course.
In multiplayer, executions do not use ammo, even if the animation clearly involves the player firing a shot.
If you die a few times on the same encounter, your character heals up substantially for the next attempt.
In Winter, during the period while you're playing as Ellie, the enemies all have substantially less stamina, making them easier to defeat.
If you're low on health and out of health kits, one of your A.I. partners (usually Ellie) will spawn one for you.
Apocalyptic Log: Several can be found throughout the game in the form of journals, including one from a boy whose parents make an attempt to escape long after the infection has hit.
Artificial Brilliance: Scavengers have reactions recorded for various situations. They are able to inform the others in their group if Joel is spotted or they find a body of one of their dead comrades, recognize the sound of an empty magazine, and take cover when fired at. They can even come up with strategies to surround and corner you. Also, enemies manage to invert stealth-based gameplay on you: enemies can hide, leave traps, sneak up behind you, take your gun, and attack you if you're not paying attention. Enemies can even grab you from behind and use you as a human shield, making you an easy target for their allies. Ellie also demonstrates this by taking cover on her own, distracting enemies when Joel is in a pinch, attacking an enemy if Joel is struggling with one close by, and when Joel gets hurt by an attack, she asks if he's okay. She'll also notify you if she sees an enemy out of your line of sight.
Artificial Stupidity: Mainly due to the Rule of Fun, but enemies thankfully ignore allies when in stealth mode, which can lead to some immersion-breaking scenarios. Penny Arcade's take on this, as well as I Am ARG!'s. The enemies are also completely incapable of hearing their companions being strangled even close by, including Clickers, who are supposed to rely on hearing.
As part of their programming, enemies will react to certain stimuli, such as an empty magazine. Always. Which means you can fake out enemies with an unloaded gun and headshot them with a loaded gun once they try to charge you, and they'll never wise up to your tactic.
Putting a certain amount of distance between you and enemies can render them unaware of your presence, and they won't follow you past that distance, even if you were just shooting at them seconds ago. With a big enough environment, it's entirely possible to clear a whole room with hit-and-run tactics, and the enemies will never be the wiser so long as you retreat to the last safe room after each kill.
In the prologue, after Tommy saves Joel from a runner using a brick, Joel hands Tommy his revolver barrel-first.
When Bill and Joel are gearing up for the trip to the school, Bill loads his shotgun, cocks it, then drops it on the table, facing directly toward Joel.
Bacon Addiction: You can listen to a hunter boasting that he has twenty-five cans of bacon (really twenty-four because he had already eaten one) and another hunter basically begs him for some, saying he saved his life from a clicker.
Bad Dreams: A recurring theme. Joel has one in the opening sequence, then gets one again (and mentions it) when Ellie asks him about his broken watch before he falls asleep in an early chapter. Ellie saying she hates bad dreams and Joel agreeing is their first moment of bonding.
Batter Up: A wooden baseball bat being one of the melee weapons Joel can use. It is a step up from a 2x4 plank, but still breaks after a few uses.
Battle in the Blizzard: The winter level even takes the cold and low visibility into account during the battle.
Beard of Sorrow: While Joel has a slightly unshaven look in the prologue, after Sarah's death and the twenty-year time skip his beard becomes much thicker and (understandably) grayer as he himself as slipped into Gray and Gray Morality.
Big Brother Mentor: It's mentioned that Joel was this to Tommy in the early days when the infection was first spreading.
Also applies to Henry and Sam.
Bittersweet Ending: Joel saves Ellie from being killed by the Fireflies and the two are free to live out their lives in peace. This comes at the cost of a possible vaccine for the cordyceps and Joel having to lie to Ellie about the circumstances behind their escape.
As this article explains, it takes the bittersweet feeling to another level when it turns out the creators own intention with what Ellie's "Okay." at the ending means isn't what most players' interpretation probably were. While the most common one is that it was a complacent statement and Ellie was happy to be with him despite what he did, it turns out it was actually her realizing that, while she does love and care for him, she also hates him for taking away her choice, and she feels that because of it, she will no longer be able to rely on him, but will have to leave him and take care of herself, which is also in line with her intended Character Development into someone more independent.
Bland-Name Product: You generally see completely made up names and titles for stuff, but there are occasional logos and such that bear a strong resemblance to actual brands, such as a half-deflated "Paldeng" basketball. Meanwhile, there are also cases of Fictional Counterpart, such as Dawn of the Wolf, which various posters and conversations suggest is a stand in for Twilight with a werewolf as the main love interest.
Body Horror: Humans infected by the fungus are not a pretty sight.
Body Motifs: The fungus grows from the head and to study the infection, they must cut out Ellie's brain.
Booby Trap: During the search for Bill, Joel and Ellie have to navigate a town which Bill has set up traps to kill the infected. You have to tread slowly to avoid being blown to kingdom come. At one point Joel gets himself caught in one of the traps and has to fend off the infected while hanging upside down as Ellie tries to get him free.
Both the first and last time you play as Joel, he's carrying his little girl to safety through a hostile environment with no means of defense.
You also start and end the game controlling Joel's 'baby girl'.
Additionally, both the first and last shots in the game is a close up of Joel's daughter/surrogate daughter's face.
Optional conversations in Boston and Colorado both have Joel ask Ellie, "So, is it everything you hoped for?" Ellie's response in both instances includes the phrase, "you can't deny that view."
Both the first and last interaction you have with Marlene involve her being wounded in the same area of her stomach, the first happening offscreen and the last being inflicted by Joel to stop her from taking Ellie back.
"Heh... you wish..."
Boss Battle: There are four of them: Robert the Warm-Up Boss, the different Bloaters, the Truck in Pittsburgh and after the Sewer City, and David the Cannibal leader.
Boring, but Practical: Depending on your play style, the incidental bricks and the bottles you can pick up could turn out to be one of the most useful items in the game. In stealth they can be thrown to divert and isolate enemies for a silent kill. In a pinch, they can be thrown directly at an enemy, stunning them, giving you time to run. Offensively, a stunned enemy can be quickly killed by melee or a grab, or used as a shield to give time to make those all important head shots. Two up-close hits with a brick stuns human enemies without breaking the brick, letting you reuse it. Combined with a melee weapon, bricks and bottles are a reliable one-hit kill even against clickers.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Ammo is rare, and when you do get it, it'll be in very small quantities, so every bullet counts. Played straight with enemies though. Unfortunately, the player rarely can pick up ammo or guns from gun toting enemies.
Breakable Weapons: Baseball bats and wooden planks will bust into splinters in a few large strikes. Bladed weapons are more durable, but can still break if used too often. What's odd is that Bill has an extremely good kukri that never breaks and is sharp enough to remove heads, which no other blade in America seems to be able to match the quality of. Granted, the machetes and axes you find have probably been lying around for years, and your shivs are basically old scissor blades with duct tape.
Bring My Brown Pants: After sneaking past one of the infected in a partially-collapsed building, Tess asks Ellie if she's alright. Her response: "Other than shitting my pants, I'm fine."
Bury Your Gays: Averted, Bill is still alive the last time Joel and Ellie see him. Surprising, considering the Anyone Can Die nature of the setting. Played straight with Bill's partner, Frank, however.
But Thou Must: Try to deal with the surgeon any other way than lethally, we dare you. Bricks and bottles simply don't hurt him, he'll stab if you get too close without attacking, you can only shoot or stab him yourself. Try to shoot him anywhere you might deem non-lethal with the weakest gun you have and he falls over, dead.
Call Back: In the Winter chapter you track a deer as Ellie, which leads into a series of events of cannibals and their paedophilic leader chasing the two and mainly Ellie down, forcing them to get separated and go through all kinds of hellish situations ending with Ellie nearly getting raped and killed, before they reunite again. At the start of the Spring chapter, Ellie's looking at a carving of a running deer, the factor that had begun the whole thing.
A brief one during one of Joel's conversations with Bill. The latter comments on how despite how bad the infected are, at least they're predictable; it's the normal people that scare him, and "you [Joel] should understand that better than anyone." Ellie asks what he means by that and Joel answers "Nothing". It was likely a reference to how it was a regular soldier who killed his daughter, not an infected.
Cannibal Larder: During the Winter segment, Ellie finds herself locked in a cage, with James butchering a corpse on a nearby table, in a room full of bloodstains.
Ellie matures from an aggressive Tagalong Kid into a cooler-headed girl who's just as protective of Joel as he is of her.
Henry goes from a strictly survival oriented overbearing protector of his younger brother to loosening up enough to actually crack a smile and let his brother have some fun. Not bad for an hour or so of interaction.
Marlene goes from the stern, pragmatic leader of the Fireflies to a desperate woman willing to order a deadly surgery to be performed on Ellie while she's alive, on the chance that it might hold some cure for the fungus.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Ellie tries to put up a "badass" front by engaging in this early on, quipping occasionally about the danger the two of them face. Of course, Joel's more brutal kills (molotovs, head-stomps, beatdowns) will simply elicit a terrified "holy shit, Joel!", and she gradually loses the need to snark during combat as a defense mechanism. The rest of the time, of course, not so much.
Chekhov's Skill: Ellie manages to steal a porn magazine from right under Bill's nose, which later comes in use later when she decides to keep the photo of Sarah for Joel, and steals it from Maria.
Chasing Your Tail: The Cannibal leader fight is him and Ellie trying to out maneuver each other.
Children Are Innocent: Defied; Even Sarah, the closest thing this game has to a normal kid, knows enough about things to snark that she saved money for Joel's birthday present by selling "hardcore drugs".
Cold Equation: Joel does this in the intro, deciding that even if stragglers have children, you do not let them into your car during an apocalypse. Subverted for the ending, however, when Joel decides that the chance of a cure for the infection isn't worth the life of an innocent girl.
Also, in Chapter 6, Henry decides to leave Joel at the hands of scavengers to save Sam and Ellie, though the latter returns to Joel. Later subverted, however, when he spots them and saves them from drowning.
During multiplayer when you take enough damage you're forced to crawl around until you die or someone heals you.
Cool Old Guy: Joel definitely qualifies. He may be graying in the hair and getting a little past his prime, but he certainly knows how to smash in teeth and take on hordes of infected. His oldness is pointed out by his brother around the middle of the game.
Joel: It'll happen to you soon enough.
Couldn't Find a Pen: Two examples, the first being the entrance to the Sewers at the end of the level. The other is when Joel is using Jack Bauer Interrogation Techniques on a mook and tells him to label their base on a map - using the knife Joel just jammed behind his kneecap.
Crazy Survivalist: Joel says Bill is one, but apart from somewhat justified paranoia he ends up seeming mostly sane - if in the habit of talking to himself occasionally.
Dark and Troubled Past: Joel. It isn't far in when it becomes apparent that Joel gets through life and survives the apocalypse by bottling up anything painful and never dealing with it.
Dashed Plot Line: Starting with a prologue set 20 years before the main plot, it picks up in Summer, before skipping to Fall, then Winter, and finally Spring.
Daylight Horror: Beautiful outdoor locations, filled with enemy scavengers and crazed fungal mutants.
Deadline News: Early on in the game, you can watch a news report on the what's happening in Austin when a nearby soldier shouts that there's going to be a gas-explosion. Cue the static. The game even gets you to look out the window to see an explosion, driving home that something terrible is happening right in your vicinity.
Reporter: It appears that what we initially reported as riots seem to be somehow connected to the nationwide pandemic. We've received reports that victims afflicted with the infection show signs of increased aggression and - Soldier: We need to move everybody out of here right now. There's a gas leak. Hey - move! Reporter: There's some commotion coming from beh- Soldier: Get out of here! Soldier: Lady, get the hell out of here right- (explosion spreads across the screen)
Dialog During Gameplay: A striking amount, both story-related and situational. Some of the dialog arises out of specific situations that occur during gameplay (getting hurt, torching an enemy with a Molotov cocktail, being pinned down, etc). The characters virtually almost never shut up, keeping you company through cities and wilderness alike. Which makes the brief moments when you get separated actually feel lonely and uncomfortable, so much that the character you play often ends up talking to themselves out loud. Most noticeable when Joel falls down an elevator shaft into a flooded basement and when Ellie escapes from the town of cannibals.
Disaster Scavengers: Basically everyone, including the player. However, the "local" scavengers that rule over certain zones are very protective of them. They don't like guys like Joel and Ellie "poaching" their stuff. The official term they use for people like Joel and Ellie is "tourists."
Downer Beginning: Within the first hour of the game, the Zombie Apocalypse erupts, and Joel loses his daughter. Made even more tragic by the fact that it wasn't a zombie which killed her, but a soldier who was ordered to kill both of them.
It deserves a mention that even the voice actors cried. 
The Dreaded: Joel and Ellie pretty much pick up a reputation as a crazy old guy and girl as they mow their way through hostile mooks. Hints of this reputation linger even before they team up though, with Tess carrying a lot of weight with the underbelly of Boston, and a small miss-able conversation before they get past the wall where a pair of citizens are conversing - if the player hangs around to listen to the end, one pulls the Mugging the Monster line while his companion tells him to stow it and practically pleads Joel not to take offense with the tone of his voice.
Joel and Ellie will occasionally stumble across the bodies of people that took their own lives (like a couple in a bathtub). They wanted to die before the infection got them. Joel implies with his talk about how it "ain't easy" that he tried at least once before, but couldn't go through with it.
Bill's "partner", Frank, hanged himself after being bit.
Henry does this after being faced with killing his brother when he turns.
Dying as Yourself: Tess chooses this fate, opting to die buying time for Joel rather than succumbing to the infection.
Dynamic Character: As the game progresses, Joel and Ellie become more familiar with one another and it begins to show. Not only does it appear blatantly (such as Joel and Ellie starting to chat about comics and billboards before getting more in-depth), but it includes the subtle things like Ellie learning to whistle and quietly singing to herself.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Joel and Ellie go through hell and back to ensure that they both survive. Meanwhile, Tommy sets up a small community that actually tries to be self sufficient rather than relying on scavenging to survive, which sets them apart from other survivors and the military.
While playing as Ellie you can find a Playstation left on a shelf.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: The assault rifle that's only available in the final level of the game, from killed Firefly soldiers.
Elite Zombie: As they grow older the Cordyceps matures within the Infected, making them tougher, stronger, and granting them new abilities.
Empty Shell: Joel after the intro. The conclusion even has him admitting that he only keeps going because he forces himself to find a reason.
Enemy Chatter: Enemies can be heard having conversations with each other before you encounter them, and they talk to each other and you during fights. They'll call out instructions, make note of where they last saw you, and get suspicious/nervous if they suddenly don't get replies from their comrades.
Enemy Detecting Radar: Listen Mode allows Joel to see the outlines of enemies through walls. But you have to crouch while using it. The twist is, however, that you can only do so if they produce sound - if they're sitting still, they won't register.
Escort Mission: The negatives associated with this trope are averted. Ellie is highly competent and will seek cover when enemies are around, and if Joel is pinned down by one, she will do what she can to distract his attacker, including throwing things at him or directly attacking with her own weapons.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Joel and Ellie come across a trio of monkeys at the University, much to Ellie's delight; it's the first time she ever saw one. However, Joel finds a recording that implies that the monkeys were used as test subjects to find a cure for the infection, and the scientist in charge was bitten.
Face-Heel Turn: One note you come across while in Pittsburgh is written by a Hunter, revealing how their group used to be a regular survival group with presumably decent people, until one day one of their teenage members had killed a family she came by. They had all expected her to be punished but instead their boss figured she had "provided with useful supplies" and thus made the decision they would chase down and kill any bypassers for food and clothes from then on. The writer of the note explains how some of their members had protested and refused to be part of it, to which he then didn't dare to speak up when the boss had had them executed.
Fallen States of America: What's left of the US government (and America for that matter) as a whole. The traditional government has given way to universal martial law in the remaining quarantine zones which are crumbling one by one as supplies run out, and it's implied that the Boston QZ is on its last legs. In fact, there's the possibility that the Boston QZ might be the last one standing.
Fan Nickname: Some people have taken to calling the time before the infection outbreak as...well, Before. With a capital B.
Foreboding Architecture: Notably in the University Level. You're sauntering through the building when cover-height stacks of crates and equipment suddenly start turning up. The enemies which pop up later on your way out aren't much of a surprise.
When we first see Joel, he's talking to Tommy on the phone. His daughter gives him a watch as a present to replace his old broken watch, he tricks her by saying that it's broken. After which she lies down on the couch to watch TV and falls asleep, at which point Joel carries her to her bed and says goodnight. Her first sign something is wrong is Tommy calling her and asking to talk to Joel. She ends up carried by him through town when the zombie apocalypse breaks out, then is shot and dies (metaphorically "falling asleep"), and the watch does end up broken by the time he meets Ellie. He still keeps it.
Early in the game, you can search a room with a Firefly symbol on the wall along with a map of Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah ends up being Joel's and Ellie's final destination in their search for the Fireflies and a potential cure.
The fact that the fungus/infection starts at the head alludes to the eventual reveal that to find a potential cure, Ellie's brain is required.
Sam and Ellie talk about whether the Infected are still aware. Sam is talking about his own fate, but Ellie herself is technically an Infected.
After the Humvee battle the infected suddenly ambush Ellie, Henry, and Sam. After saving them, Sam is seen hopping while running to safety. He's hopping because the infected has scratched his leg, thus dooming him to become one of them.
When you first encounter Marlene, she has a stomach wound, presumably from a gunshot. When you last encounter Marlene, after Joel rescues Ellie from surgery, he shoots Marlene in the stomach.
At the beginning of the Spring chapter, Ellie will talk about a dream she had where she was in the control room of an airplane about to crash, and that since she didn't know how to fly a plane there was nothing she could do, but she woke up right before it crashed. This might have been a very suble foreshadowing of how she would later fall unconscious to which the Fireflies would plan to kill her through surgery without her even having a say in it, but before they can go through with it, Joel saves her at the last minute.
One conversation Joel and Bill has during a cutscene has Joel trying to tell Bill he's not looking after Ellie because he cares about her ("It's not like that"), to which Bill replies with "Bullshit. It is just like that." and "Keep babysitting long enough, eventually it'll blow up in your face." Turns out Bill knew well what he was talking about, seeing as Joel does end up caring for Ellie to the point he sees her as his surrogate daughter, ending with him putting his life at great risk for her and possibly dooming mankind from ever getting a vaccine in the process.
Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted. Be prepared to beat enemies off your allies when they start yelling for help, or be prepared to get slammed back to the last checkpoint.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: One of the big themes of the game is your limited ammo and the need to conserve it. However, there are some particular sequences where Joel will suddenly have unlimited ammo.
Gang Up on the Human: During stealth portions, allies aren't flagged as being targets, preventing them from drawing Infected attention; only Joel can do that.
Gas Mask Mooks: Most of the military and the red shirted, Molotov cocktail throwing hunters. Justified since the Cordyceps spores can infect people through the air. Though in true tradition of this trope it doesn't affect their ability to talk.
Genre-Busting: Is it stealth? Is it a shooter? Is it survival horror? Hell, multiplayer takes it even further, mixing the base sneak-fight-craft gameplay with team deathmatch and managing an off-screen community of survivors.
Joel is a brutal smuggler and gun runner, and so is Tess. Even after he defrosts, he's still extremely ruthless and makes bone-crunchingly efficient use of violence when necessary.
The Hunters from Pittsburgh are simple bandits and killers, but they don't seem to be needlessly cruel and make it clear that they kill for supplies. Joel even mentions that he's done similar things.
The military regime is brutal and bad at governing people, but they can't afford any risks considering that there are people smuggling pre-transformed infected into zones.
The Fireflies are Well Intentioned Extremists - they have valid reasons to fight against the military and are the only ones actively looking for a vaccine, but they are also quite ineffective at it and their attacks and uprisings only really make it worse for people inside the zones. They also won't waste a chance to create a cure, whatever means it takes, and don't like people standing in the way of that.
Multiplayer focuses on this in the intro. Do you become a Hunter, and raid and kill a large number of people to guarantee the survival of the even more in your group? Or do you join the Fireflies, risking the safety of your group to go out of your way and combat the Hunters, and to focus on getting supplies for a cause that you have no idea of knowing will succeed?
David is quite the monster, but the cannibals endure and have created a somewhat stable community. They have a close community, and were rather displeased that Joel and Ellie killed some of them at the university.
They also evacuate the unarmed and children when word gets out that Ellie's escaped and infected. While hunting her down at the same time.
Guide Dang It: If you bump into a clicker it'll kill you immediately even if it was stunned at the time. The fact that the game never tells you that is a big problem because stunning clickers so you can hit them with a running melee attack is a common tactic.
Guy on Guy Is Hot: Ellie steals a gay porn magazine from Bill's collection. Of all the things to take this is one of the things she had to have. However, she throws it out into road after reading it.
Kind of subverted in the prologue, but not in a bad way. After Joel and co. escape through a doorway with the infected in hot pursuit, Tommy presses himself against the door and tells Joel and Sarah to keep moving, reassuring them that he'll be able to outrun them. A little while later, it turns out he was right, and he shows up just in time for a Big Damn Heroes moment.
After revealing that she's infected, Tess holds off a group of soldiers to buy Joel and Ellie some time to escape.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Bill notes that he's more afraid of regular humans than Infected, since Infected are actually predictable. Literally every survivor group Joel and Ellie come across, with the exception of Tommy's group, does nothing to disprove this.
Hurricane of Puns: Should you activate certain interactions with Ellie around Chapter 5, she will find a joke book and start firing off puns every now and then.
Joel: That's awful. Ellie: You're awful. Joel: Do you even understand [the joke]? Ellie: Nope. Doesn't matter.
Hyperspace Arsenal: A strange variation. By the end of the game, you're carrying four different kinds of pistols and five different kinds of long guns, including a flamethrower and a bow. Yet you are only able to carry, for example, seven rounds of ammunition for your hunting rifle.
The Immune: Ellie, who was infected three weeks before the start of the main plot and holds the key to a potential vaccine.
Improvised Weapon: Since you are scrounging what little ammunition you have to make use whatever you can get your hands on. Various items can be utilized as weapons, including baseball bats, bricks and wooden planks.
Infant Immortality: Brutally averted when Sarah is shot and killed in Joel's arms. Also, while exploring the infested sewer shelter, you'll see a classroom and a nursery, as well as a number of (covered up) child corpses.
There's perhaps one mechanic applying to this rule (in a sense); if Joel gets caught by a Bloater you witness a rather awful death montage of the Bloater breaking his jaw. If you get caught by one while playing as Ellie however, its terrible death grip is switched to merely smacking her to the ground.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Flamethrower, as an excellent aversion to Videogame Flamethrowers Suck. The flamethrower is a 1 hit-kill to human enemies, as minor exposure to the flame will incinerate them, rendering them unable to attack. It is also highly effective against Infected, and can easily kill a Bloater in a matter of seconds.
Interchangeable Antimatter Shivs: Justified in that you're not unlocking the doors, but breaking them open (hence interchangeable) and since they are few bits of scrap help together with a few bindings they are very fragile (hence antimatter).
Interface Screw: When enemies are highlighted, it's in a white outline. That doesn't do much good during a whiteout in a blizzard.
Irony: As mentioned on the Fridge page, just like Joel eventually becomes a father figure to Ellie, Marlene would equally count as her mother figure, having known her since she was born and watched over her per her real mother's request (notice Ellie's reluctance when Marlene tells her to go with Joel is similar to her reluctance later when Joel tells her to stay with Tommy's wife), and thus both of Ellie's parental figures "argues" over her fate at the end, with both of them taking her choice away through their actions.
Tess at one point asks Ellie how she got bitten. Merely a few minutes afterwards she gets bitten herself.
Item Crafting: Joel can improve his melee and ranged weapons, consumables (bandages) and Molotov cocktails using equipment gathered on his journey to use on a moment's notice.
Certain upgrades can only be done at crafting tables.
Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Joel has a way of making people talk, when he's of a mind to. Especially if you're part of the group of mooks that almost killed him and happen to have Ellie as a captive. It doesn't end well even if you are telling the truth.
Mook 1: I ain't lyin'. I ain't lyin'! (Joel breaks his neck.) Mook 2: Fuck you, man. He told you what you wanted. I ain't tellin' you shit. Joel: That's alright. I believe him.
Just Before the End: The prologue for the Zombie Apocalypse. But on a more subtle example it is suggested that during in the timeframe the last dregs of humanity are being slowly destroyed, more and more people are being infected, there's less and less food to go around, civil unrest is rife in the quarantine zones and the rebellions or separatists that succeed like Pittsburgh turn into ruthless gangs that kill and rob people or like David's group turned cannibalism. If something doesn't happen soon the entirety of humanity is doomed.
Kleptomaniac Hero: To get the necessary materials to survive you need take any useful junk that isn't nailed down (heck, even the nails are useful). Not that anyone actually owns most of the stuff you find.
Lame Pun Reaction: You'll probably have this when you hear Ellie's puns. "It doesn't matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationary."
Limited Loadout: Played With. Joel maintains a Hyperspace Arsenal of weapons in his pack (including a bow, multiple handguns, two types of rifles and three types of bombs) and he is limited to a handful of active weapons, but he can also carry breakable weapons (which can be seen attached to Joel's pack when not in use).
You start out with two holsters forcing you to keep other weapons in your backpack. Though you can craft more holsters to increase the amount you can access easily.
Machete Mayhem: Machetes are available as potential melee weapons, being the first tier of One-Hit Kill melee weapons. The blade is old and they break quickly though, but three guaranteed kills is better than other weapons that take at least three hits to kill, even if they have more uses total.
Magical Antibiotics: After Joel is impaled by rubble in a fight at the Science Lab in Colorado, Ellie asks David for some medicine to treat the wounds. David sends his accomplice back to their camp to gather some penicillin which, when administered to Joel, seems to work overnight, despite Ellie not knowing what kind of infection might be going on in the wound.
Also an interesting coincidence in that penicillin is derived from a fungus, just not the same kind as the ones causing the outbreak.
Gets especially crazy in multiplayer, where most of your lives will end with a lovely animation of you being hurled to the ground and subsequently having the shit kicked/stomped/punched/blown out of you.
Meaningful Echo: During the intro credits, Marlene can be heard in a news soundbite saying "Remember: when you're lost in the darkness, look for the light." The final controllable sequence ends when Joel, carrying Ellie to safety, has to charge through a dark hospital (without power) towards a distant elevator lit by maintenance lights.
Meaningful Name: Let's just say there's a very good reason the bandit group is called: the Hunters.
Joel has this with a bit of prophetic bonus seeing as he's named after a (rather bleak) Biblical apocalyptic prophet.
Ellie means "noble" or "shining light" which works as great fridge brilliance; the Fireflies' motto is "When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light." She works as both the Fireflies' "light" in that she's the supposed cure they want, while she's also Joel's "light" that pulls him out of his dark world by becoming someone he cares about and is willing to fight for.
David is the leader of his group. He also implicitly desires a women - or, rather, teenage girl - who is with another man. Unlike Bathsheba, Ellie turns him down. Repeatedly.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: Zig-Zagged. You will fight female Infected, but any non-Infected enemy you encounter will be exclusively male (the exception being a single female who the player can kill in contrast to the dozens of men). However the Boston Militia is co-ed, and Tommy's group has plenty of armed female members. Whether it's a case of time constraints or In-Universe misogyny is hard to say, considering there's most definitely women in the group of enemies you face during Winter but seem to have more domestic responsibilities. Also subverted in relation to the main characters; Joel is horrifically wounded and neutralized during the ending of Fall and most of Winter, and since the Laconic for the trope describes itself as "Male suffering is less meaningful than female suffering"...
Shortly after arriving in Pittsburg, you can hear two men talking about a woman that tried to fight them off. They considered recruiting her, but they realized that recruiting a woman who already killed some of their own probably wouldn't be a smart idea.
Missing Mom: No mention is given to the whereabouts to Sarah's mother who doesn't even appear in family photos in Joel's house.
Mook Horror Show: Joel and Ellie being a highly mobile version of this is the main reason the Cannibals want them dead. Not to mention the escalating terror of the enemies in Pittsburgh as you destroy patrol after patrol.
Moral Myopia: The Hunters led by David are intent on getting revenge on Joel and Ellie for killing so many of them. The fact that they were all gunning for the duo from the very beginning never seems to register.
Mortal Wound Reveal: Several. The most prominent examples: Sarah (gunshot), Tess and Sam (infected bites). Subverted in the case of Ellie.
Mundane Object Amazement: Since Ellie was born six years after the outbreak, numerous artifacts of the past confuse or amaze her.
Ellie: An ice-cream truck? Sam: Yeah, Henry told me about these. They'd sell ice-cream out of the truck. Ellie: What? No way. Joel? Joel: It's true. This thing would drive around and play real loud creepy music and kids would come running out to buy ice-cream. Ellie: You're totally fucking with me. Man, you lived in a strange time.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Subverted with David and James. They're the only obviously biblical names in the game, and they're the only people Joel and Ellie run into who have a personal vendetta against them.
New Eden: Twenty years after the outbreak, the earth is slowly but surely replenishing its self.
No Arc in Archery: Averted for the bow. Helpfully the aiming reticule changes to show the arc.
No-Gear Level: There are two separate occasions. First is when Joel is critically injured and the perspective switches to Ellie, who is only armed with a bow initially. The second time is when Ellie is captured by David and his group, forcing her to escape her cell with nothing but her trusty switchblade.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A Firefly scientist can't bring himself to kill a batch of test monkeys injected with the Cordyceps fungus, so he decides to set them free instead. Unfortunately, he gets bitten by one, getting infected in the process, and he ends up killing himself. Fortunately for Joel and Ellie, his audio suicide note happens to mention where the rest of the Fireflies relocated to.
At the end, the Fireflies actually hold up their end of the bargain with Joel and are willing to accept him into their base, instead of immediately putting a bullet in his head once he's no longer needed and after he makes it perfectly clear that he's completely opposed to their plans and absolutely willing to kill them all without hesitation. This, of course, gets them all killed.
Noodle Incident: You never find out what favors exactly does Bill owe to Joel and Tess, but they must be pretty damn important when he's willing to trek across a heavily infected part of town to help Joel get something he needs.
Bill: Whatever favors you think I owe ya, it ain't worth that much.
Joel: Actually, Bill, they are.
Also, the "early years", when Joel and Tommy survived the start of the infection together in Boston.
Nearby items that you can pick up turn white and a circle with a symbol of what it is will appear to help distinguish it from the general clutter.
Conversation opportunities are highlighted by an icon.
Ellie will point out various important things including enemies and places you need to go in order to proceed. Even Joel at times will mention certain tasks only his companions can accomplish so the player will not have to pointlessly attempt them.
The game itself will point out important things as they're happening. It will also give you a hint (utilized with L3) if you have trouble finding the next point in a level or solving a puzzle.
Neutral Female: Averted with Ellie. She starts out the game without a gun, and even then is very helpful in battle, utilizing both her switch blade and throwable objects like bricks and bottles to distract enemies and allow Joel to take advantage of the situation. Halfway through the second chapter, she finally arms herself and becomes even more helpful, allowing the player to set themselves up with Ellie at one end of the room and Joel at the other, gunning down the enemies caught in the crossfire.
Even outside of gameplay she averts this, with her own character arc based around her becoming more and more competent at surviving at any cost, and most notably, refuses to put up with Joel's crap, with one memorable exchange in particular having her tell him off for not being grateful or appreciative of her efforts to help him out. She's quite a dynamic character who doesn't simply blithely go along with whatever Joel demands, and the game's story is just as much about her as him.
Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Averted given the presence of shivs as weapons and the possibility of stealth gameplay in low on ammo against overwhelming opposing numbers and weaponry/threat. Played straight with several times in certain encounters, but especially at the end between the surgeon with his scalpel and Joel with anything but.
Starting a new playthrough allows you to carry over Joel's stats from a previous playthrough.
If the "Survival Pack" DLC (from the special edition versions of the game) is installed, new skins for Joel and Ellie are unlocked after completing the game and starting a new one.
Next Sunday A.D.: The game released in June of 2013, and the prologue occurs in October of the same year.
No Ending: Joel and Ellie make it back to Tommy's group, cue credits.
More than that, it leaves the relationship between Joel and Ellie a bit ambiguous with Ellie asking Joel to swear that he is not lying to her about the Fireflies not needing her anymore (since she was drugged to undergo surgery at the Firefly base, so she wasn't awake during the events there.) Joel swears that he is not lying to her. The last shot is of her saying "Okay" even though you can see doubt in her expression.
No FEMA Response: Averted. There was a response, even going so extreme to shoot a potential threat and his young daughter on sight. Twenty years later, there's martial law in place all over the world, with no civilian government unless one is built up from scratch, in a remote area. However, the quarantine zones appear to crumbling almost without exception, suggesting the military is not even remotely as good at governing things as they are at shooting them.
One-Man Army: Joel and Ellie when apart (together, obviously, they're an army of two). While you're in Pittsburgh you can overhear conversations between enemies speculating on what, not who, was in the truck.
Only One Name: The entirety of the main cast. Joel, Ellie, Tess and others are always referred to by their first names, with no surnames ever given or seen during the campaign.
Optional Stealth: Pretty much every enemy encounter gives you the option to sneak or fight your way through.
Runners are the initial stage, and therefore look and sound the most like humans (they're often identified by their distinctive, choked/screaming vocalisation). They are fragile speedsters compared to the rest and because of that rely on swarming you.
Stalkers have lost more of their eyesight compared to the Runners, but are tougher. They instead prefer to hide and ambush the player rather then swarm. Despite the changes, they still need to breathe, meaning you can sneak up on a few and strangle them.
Clickers are what the Infected are called when the Cordyceps has overtaken the entire head. Since this process destroys their eyes and blinds them, they compensate by using a form of echolocation (hence the distinctive clicking they're named for) and don't react to light like your flashlight; only sound. This is actually something people can do in real life (without the zombie-fungus thing, of course) called Human echolocation. They are strong enough to insta-kill you if they manage to grab on (though if you get the right shiv skill, you can knock them away). They cannot be choked out or defeated with bare hands; putting them down always requires a weapon.
Bloaters are the final stage of the maturation, bloated in size and covered them in Cordyceps growths that function as armor. Not only are they incredibly tough and frighteningly fast, they throw clusters of spores that burst into clouds of choking, blinding, infectious particles.
Pants Positive Safety: An odd example. Joel starts with this, specifically at the back of the waistband of his jeans. Later, you can find tools to make an actual gun holster, but the game treats this as a secondary holster, with the first pistol you switch to always being the one in Joel's "primary." Guess it's just more comfortable to him after 20 years of not owning an actual gun holster.
Papa Wolf: Joel in the beginning with his daughter Sarah, and again 20 years later, when Joel soon takes Ellie under his wing too. By winter, Ellie becomes a clear surrogate following Sarah's death, with Joel even calling her "baby girl" the same way he did his daughter.
Pipe Pain: The melee weapon that can take the most hits unaltered (aside from Ellie's knife), nine. Combine that with that with thrown bricks and bottles and that's nine dead enemies.
Porn Stash: Bill apparently maintained one, as Ellie notes to Joel after they leave town that she managed to steal one of Bill's "magazines".
Ellie: Why are the pages all stuck together?
The Precarious Ledge: The trio go a short way around the edge of a sky scraper on a ledge. The segment of ledge lasts only a moment, and the ledge is a foot thick, but they stick closely to the wall anyway.
Press X to Not Die: Whenever Joel gets into a struggle with a scavenger or mutant, these will pop up. There are also many random stages throughout the game where this will appear.
Production Foreshadowing: Last of Us was hinted at during Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception in the Pelican Inn sequence, where a newspaper had the headline, "Scientists are still struggling to understand deadly fungus."
Product Placement: Savage Starlight is published by Dark Horse Comics, in-universe. In real-life, they published the four-issue prequel comic The Last Of Us: American Dreams.
Upon playing as Ellie in the Winter chapter, you can go through her backpack to find a broken Sony Walkman.
Ragnarok-Proofing: Averted. The buildings are breaking down as a result of not being attended to. Some have only barely survived carpet bombing by the military. In fact, much of the wasteland's decay is more or less what it would look like by the time the game takes place. The only places that still look in working order are those put under lockdown by the military.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Ellie never appears to be bothered much about all the people she and Joel encounters who tries to kill them, but when David attempts to rape her towards the end of their fight, she breaks down in Joel's arms and turns sullen and depressed afterwards.
Real Is Brown: Averted, as per Naughty Dog tradition. Rather than recycle the gray, broken-down look of many post-apocalyptic games, they instead chose to go with Real is Green, with cities and towns being reclaimed by wilderness. There's tons of vines everywhere, flowers blooming anywhere they can, and much of the water is covered in algae.
Especially notable during the Fall portion of the game as, despite brown being a prominent autumnal color, the game favors a primarily red color scheme.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Fireflies, whilst acting as Joel's employer for the game's events, are shown engaging in violent acts such as bombings and firefights with soldiers. The ending sequence enforces this, as they're shown as willing to do atrocities for a cure, and only refrain from killing Joel because Marlene won't allow it.
Revenge Before Reason: Joel and Ellie tend to get jumped by bandits and cannibals trying to loot and/or eat them. Those bandits and cannibals then tend to die in large numbers. Yet, in retaliation for killing their friends, they will never stop coming until you've killed practically all of them. You'd think at some point clearer heads would decide there must be easier prey out there.
Ruins of the Modern Age: Highways choked with rusting skeletons of cars, collapsing skyscrapers, peeling paint, corroded metal signs and disintegrating paper litter the environment.
Rule-Abiding Rebel: Invoked — The Fireflies are a movement who want the government restoring, with the aims of restoring democracy and status quo over martial law.
Rule of Drama: Is it a good idea to take on the infected with bare knuckles and uncovered arms? No, but it makes the characters seem more approachable. And then Reality Ensues and Tess gets bit.
Rule of Fun: Since both Ellie and Bill have perfectly good unbreakable knives, there's very little ostensible reason why Joel shouldn't be able to get his hands on or make something more durable than a shiv despite crossing the entire country. But it would make gameplay far too easy.
Speaking of melee, it's also extremely unlikely that pipes and pieces of wood would all break apart after a half-dozen or so hits.
Also, Joel can find machetes and hatchets that kill in one hit, but they're actually less durable than the random pipes and pieces of wood.
AR-15 pattern rifles, despite being the most popular rifle in America, only show up in the final level, in the hands of the Fireflies.
Rule of Symbolism: "Light in darkness". The Firefly motto is "When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light." When Joel is carrying Sara towards safety at the beginning of the game, he's running through a dark path with lights at the end.Towards the end of the game when he's carrying Ellie, he's likewise running through dark hallways until he reaches a lightened elevator. Perhaps most prominently, Ellie's own name means "shining light", and she helps pulling Joel out of his "dark" self.
Sacrificial Lamb: Joel's daughter Sarah, who dies at the end of the opening sequence when a soldier seriously wounds her.
Shaggy Dog Story: Hey Joel, you know how you've gone cross-country and fought off hordes of bandits and Infected to get The Immune Ellie to La Resistance? You know how you've come to love her over the course of your journey? Well, now the Fireflies want to slice her brain into pieces so they can study her brain and her infection.
Shmuck Bait: In a rare aversion, nail bombs are this to your enemies. Chuck one in a corner and you'll always take out at least one enemy.
Some players have figured out that they can throw a brick or a bottle at a certain spot, wait a few seconds (without moving) for zombies to move towards it, then toss a nail bomb or molotov in the exact same spot.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The prologue. As the outbreak begins, Joel does everything he can to get his daughter out safely. Warding off infected neighbors and, after her leg is wounded, carrying her the rest of the way through the chaos with Infected right on their heels. They manage to make it out of the city and are even saved by a soldier. However, the soldier then gets the order to execute them both. Joel tries to shield his daughter before Tommy blasts the soldier but Sarah is fatally wounded and dies not long after.
Shout-Out: Justified. As Ellie has never known the world before the fall of society, it is up to Joel to teach her about it. He uses mementos from the past (broken arcade machines, LP's, film posters and comics) to do it.
The robot that Henry refuses Sam to take is a Transformers robot.
One recording features a Firefly scientist who foolishly decided to release some Cordyceps-infected monkeys instead of exterminating them, getting himself bitten and infected for his trouble.
the scene of finding Ish's beached boat is similiar to the beached boat scene in The Road.
The unlockable outfits include a Jak and Daxter T-shirt and a pair of Jak's goggles for Ellie. If you can clear the game on Survivor difficulty, you can unlock a bright yellow jumpsuit for her that's reminiscent of the Bride's, or possibly of Chigusa's from the live-action Battle Royale.
Henry's little brother Sam's name could be seen as a nod to I Am Legend, a zombie-like apocalyptic film where Will Smith's character lives alone in an abandoned city with his dog, Sam, as his only company, whom he basically treats like family or best friend. Eventually, Will's character Neville suffers an ambush of infected/mutant canine creatures who winds up biting Sam, later forcing Neville to strangle her to death while crying when realizing she's turning.
When escaping the sewers, Sam points out how the outside walls have the warning "Infected inside, do not open" on them, possibly a reference to the first episode of The Walking Dead, where the main character Rick attempts to escape a hospital and runs into a door with the words "Don't open, dead inside" written on it.
The part where Joel and Ellie meets and pats a giraffe is a nod to the scene in the first Jurassic Park movie where the main characters encounters a brachiosaurus, and the girl of the group stretches out to pet it. It doubles as fridge brilliance in that while the giraffe isn't an extinct specie, it's the first time Ellie has ever seen one for real, perhaps even at all, making her fascination with it just as strong.
The scene where Joel and Ellie realize Tess is infected, along with her sacrifice by deliberately drawing fire from government forces long enough for two people to get away and to avoid becoming one of the infected, is a nod to the remake of The Crazies.
The poster for Dawn of the Wolf seems very reminiscent to one of the Twilight movie posters. It's quite ultimately a Take That as Joel refers to it as "a dumb Teen movie".
Sinister Shiv: Shivs can be used to speed up take-downs or take a gamble and open a locked door, hoping that there's useful loot is behind them.
Smash to Black: Whenever Joel dies. It's also frequently used in cutscenes.
Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: A subtle scare chord will play if an enemy is about to spot you. Music will otherwise start playing if your presence becomes known, and quiets down if you're lost track of.
Straight Gay: Bill. It's established that he was in a relationship with a man named Frank, and Ellie snatches his gay porn magazine. Also, you can see stains on their bed.
Survivor Guilt: Ellie in the ending, as a result of the Fireflies being unable to save any other immune survivors and Joel rescuing her from their facility. Joel eventually manages to calm her down by telling her that the Fireflies had dozens of immune subjects and could not create a vaccine from any of them, so they'd given up.
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: If you've found an upgrade bench or decent stock of supplies,note (not including the locked doors that cost a shiv to break open) chances are you can expect a Point of No Return and difficult battle around the corner. Most noticeable just before the section in Bill's Town where you get caught one of his traps. That point will probably be the only time in the game where you have full ammo on any single weapon, your revolver in this case.
Also relevant with the suspiciously generous amounts of bottles and bricks you will find before and during certain levels.
Tactical Suicide Boss: Had the driver of the humvee decided not to open the vehicle's hatch and start throwing molotov cocktails, Joel would have had no chance of destroying it.
Take Your Time: In the last segment in the game (before the epilogue), there's no clock to race against even though Ellie's about to be put down through surgery; you can choose to sneak quickly past the guards if you want (and if you manage), or you can choose be thorough and pick them off one by one. Joel will regardless arrive just in time before the surgeon gets to work on her.
Tempting Fate: Ellie says Joel and Tess are good at killing the infected. Joel clarifies that they're lucky. Tess's luck runs out shortly thereafter, just like Joel predicted it would for them eventually.
Then there's this line at the start of the game:
"Can't be any worse out there [outside the quarantine zone]... can it?"
Time Skip: There's one for every change in season, skipping weeks or even months of time as Joel and Ellie travel cross country.
Too Awesome to Use: Largely averted, since most of the items you get can be crafted. Also, you'll have such little ammo that you'll have no choice but to literally use everything in your arsenal to survive.
Too Dumb to Live: Past a certain point, anyone who dares tangle with Joel and/or Ellie. It would be one thing if they just had no idea what they were up against, but eventually the two of them develop big, big reputations for the masterful orgy of violence they tend to leave in their wake. Naturally, everyone who's lost a ton of friends to them wants to get revenge instead of doing the sensible thing and staying the Hell out of the way.
Ellie: "'People are making apocalypse jokes like there's no tomorrow.' (Beat) Too soon."
Truth in Television: The game's 'infected' are/were inspired by a fungal infection that actually exists in real life; Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a form of fungus that essentially aggressively zombifies a particular variety of ant in order to propagate further, spreading itself via spores after infection. In-game, it's supposedly a mutant strain of this fungus that infects human beings.
To elaborate: Cordyceps-type fungi are extremely good at altering the host's behavior. The infected ant will either migrate towards the center of the ant hive or to a high-rising spot above it, so that when the fungus bursts from its body to scatter the spores they will affect as many ants as possible. The other ants know to keep the infected-smelling ones away from the hive. Sir David Attenboroughexplains. (Funnily enough, it was that bit from Planet Earth that inspired the game.)
There's a nod to this within the game itself; in one of the newspapers found lying around while in Pittsburgh, the headline reads "Zombie ants discovered..". It can be seen around 15:03 minutes in this video 
It should be noted, for the purposes of not spreading myths, that humans and insects are so far apart biologically the chances of such a fungus ever mutating in real life are essentially nonexistent.
Also of note is that ants infected by the fungus do not attack other ants, and are actually mostly docile.
Also, people living alone, especially in survival situations, have a tendency to talk to themselves, like Bill.
After 20 years without the benefit of human maintenance, the level of decay and creep of vegetation back into urban areas is startlingly realistic. Direct evidence for such dramatic reclamation is provided by the city of Pripyat in the Ukraine, which was abandoned over 20 years ago almost over-night, following the Chernobyl disaster.
Ellie clearly has some kind of tactical instruction in how to handle guns and to do room-clearing. Knives, not so much, considering their apparent rarity; see With Catlike Tread, below.
Ellie: You got something on your shoe. Joel: Huh? Oh... (Shakes infected arm off his shoe.)
Ungrateful Bastard: Joel has his moments, especially before Character Development sets in. In Pittsburgh, for example, a bandit gets the drop on him and is about to kill him when Ellie intervenes by blowing the guy away. Joel immediately berates her for it; Ellie calls him on this, but he doesn't apologize.
Joel: Why didn't you just hang back like I told you to?
Ellie: Well... you're glad I didn't, right?
Joel: I'm glad I didn't get my head blown off by a goddamn kid.
Specifically at the beginning of the Spring chapter, you can put your controller down and let Ellie enjoy the giraffes just a little while longer.
After crossing a part of the dam at the beginning of the Fall chapter, Joel can give Ellie a high five.
It's easy to sometimes feel bad for the people you kill while getting through places, when you can listen to conversations they have beforehand which may involve joking with each other or agree to share their food later, making you aware that they're just ordinary people like you, trying to get by (though some more ruthlessly than others). They may also shout "You'll pay for that!" when you shoot their friends in front of them, and plead for mercy if you've beaten them to the ground. The makers of the game stated this caring potential was as intentional as the rest.
Additionally, when you've beaten an enemy to the ground and they're pleading for mercy, you can choose to let them live, however, most of them are Ungrateful Bastards who will just get up and attack you again once you've turned your back.
Even in the opening credits the Fireflies have their motive stated as proponents for the reinstating of the US government as opposed to the universal martial law that has formed, they also claim responsibility for two bombings.
Joel himself in the ending, believing that there's no point in regaining the world, if you lose your soul to do itinvoked
When All You Have is a Brick: Do not underestimate the many bricks and bottles found littered on the ground that can be used as a weapon and/or as a distraction. A brick, for example, can even be used to melee kill a Clicker.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Largely averted. Joel will not hesitate to kill anybody who threatens him or Ellie. Played straight with David and Marlene. David is intent on capturing Ellie and turning her into one of his "pets". Marlene could have had Joel killed to prevent him from interfering with Ellie's operation, but her guilt over what she's done prevents her from doing so.
Why Won't You Die?: Ellie says this to a deer, of all things, when you first play as her in the Winter chapter.
Wise Beyond Their Years: The official description for Ellie describes her this way, though this really only starts to kick in during the third act.
With Catlike Tread: This is the main drawback of using Ellie's unbreakable knife on human enemies. Since Ellie is too small to hold enemies as human shields and doesn't have the same combat experience as Joel, her idea of a "sneak attack" is to jump on the enemy's back and start stabbing wildly, likely drawing the attention of every enemy in the vicinity.
Worst Aid: After Joel is impaled on a piece of rebar during the climax of the Autumn chapter, he insists to Ellie that she pull him off and nearly bleeds out.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Marlene's notes in the end show that the Fireflies wanted to kill Joel after he and Ellie got to the hospital. Marlene stopped them because she felt he's the only other person who could understand the weight of sacrificing Ellie to make a vaccine.
You Have Researched Breathing: The training manuals show how to treat injuries and improve the construction of the various explosives in the game. Seems reasonable, until you realize Joel's been a seasoned badass for most of the previous 20 years, and most of the information is kind of basic. Seems kind of goofy that Joel wouldn't know that sharpening blades extends their life and the fact that "when binding one rigid object to another, the use of proper knots and tying techniques is paramount".
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Fireflies commit acts of bombing and raids against the military who are protecting the last remnants of humanity but they wish to restore the civilian goverment.
Zombie Apocalypse: Zig-zagged. Humanity fell largely due to the way in which the spore infection spreads; one Infected dude biting someone else makes little difference, but the spores that erupt from their heads can be spread by the wind much further than even the most resilient airborne virus, and they hang around for a long time. The bodies of Infected may or may not still be host to the living fungus, and burning the bodies probably made things worse until they figured out how to do it safely.
Bill takes absolutely no chances with this one; after helping Joel and Ellie escape some Infected, he handcuffs Ellie and holds a gun to Joel to grill him on whether he got bit. If Ellie hadn't clocked him with the pipe, he might have demanded a strip-search for bite marks. This turned out to be wise, as he would've no doubt killed her upon seeing the bite marks on her arm without waiting to hear that she's immune.
Earlier in the game, Tess is revealed to have been bitten during the trip to deliver Ellie to the Fireflies. She manages to hide it until they reach the contact, who's been killed. Ellie manages to figure it out when Tess insists on going further.
Boss Battle: Of a sort. Ellie has to best Riley in a few games and activites, though losing is an option (as they just laugh about it and the plot continues anyway).
Break the Cutie: Ellie. It also serves to explain why she dislikes leaving Marlene, and later Joel; she has a past of losing people she dearly cares about.
Riley counts as well. In difference to Ellie, she's shown to nearly constantly wear a positive attitude, which makes it all the more sad when she eventually breaks down upon getting bit.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Players can optionally sign into facebook to let the game make a single post to their wall. It means the photos Ellie and Riley take in the booth can be kept, allowing for an added punch if they view it after completing the DLC.
Ellie: What's a "face-book"?
Call Back: Just like in the main campaign, the intro shot is of Joel's "baby girl" sleeping.
It also ends with a close up of Ellie's sad face.
Cat Scare: Literally. While Ellie's going through a dark hallway a cat will jump out twice, startling both her and likely the players.
Chekhov's Gun: It's revealed that Ellie got her book of puns from Riley. The fact that she keeps it parallels Joel keeping his broken watch from Sarah.
Chekhov's Skill: During one section, the player has to use stealth and tactics to outsmart and "hunt" Riley. This later helps Ellie when she has to out-maneuver David in the burning restaurant.
Dramatic Irony: It's pretty sad when you know how it's going to turn out. Ten fold when you realize they go for option two, meaning Ellie is going to watch Riley die without getting to turn herself.
Easter Egg: Several exist if you wish to indulge them — players can have Ellie tell dozens of pun jokes if they want to keep going, and several joke items can be played with in the joke shop if you look.
Enemy Mine: Played with. At certain segments towards the end Ellie can throw bricks or bottles to lure infected towards non-infected enemies. The name of the chapter is even "The enemy of my enemy".
Foregone Conclusion: Both Ellie and Riley end up getting bit, with Riley eventually succumbing to the infection.
For Want of a Nail: Had the scaffold Ellie climbs at the end held, she would not have fallen. Since this causes her to get bitten, the entire core plot hinges on it.
Gilligan Cut: Towards the end there's a scene of Ellie trying to calm herself down as she's preparing to stitch up Joel, only to cut to a scene in the flashback portion of Ellie smashing some pots after she and Riley had just been bitten.
The prequel sequence has Ellie and Riley making amends, only for infected to burst in and chase them.
Also in the prequel is when Ellie and Riley almost escape the infected, only for the scaffold Ellie is climbing to topple. Because of it, they both end up bitten.
The midquel sequence has Ellie eliminating the final bandit group and reaching Joel. About to open the padlock keeping him safe, a shot narrowly misses her and more bandits (and then infected) start to close in on her.
Minimalist Cast: The acting credits even show it — "Ashley Johnson as Ellie, Yaani King as Riley, and Troy Baker as Joel."
Mood Whiplash: The prequel and interquel section both takes place at a mall, and while both are obviously worn down and overgrown, the prequel mall with Ellie and Riley simply hanging out is during summer and filled with warm colors and lights, while the interquel mall with Ellie trying to find medics for Joel while fighting enemies is during winter, and mostly consists of grey and cold colors.
Prequel / Interquel: Set before Ellie joined the Fireflies and her journey with Joel. As well as some time before the Winter chapter after Joel is injured following the abandoned college bit.
No One Gets Left Behind: Riley heads back to save Ellie after she falls off the scaffolding. This winds up getting her bit.
Scenery Gorn: Due to dilapidation, the mall during the winter section is filled with snow.
Slice of Life: The prequel segments, as all Ellie and Riley really do is hang out and joke around.
Putting on the witch mask at the Halloween store will have Ellie and Riley share a few Wizard of Oz related exchanges.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Riley reveals she has to leave with the Fireflies, and is making amends to say goodbye. Ellie begs her to stay and, when she agrees, Ellie kisses her. Cue Riley happily reciprocating, before a group of infected chase them and eventually bites them.
Summon Bigger Fish: A viable tactic — since Ellie runs into both Infected and Bandits together, it's possible to throw a brick/bottle at the feet of Bandits to get them swarmed and eaten.
Take a Third Option: Both bitten, Riley offers Ellie the option of suicide now, or going insane together. Rather cruelly, Ellie requests a third option.
Timed Mission: The last Interquel section involves the mall being overrun by enemies to which Ellie has to make her way to Joel through killing them all before one of them manages to bust open the gate Joel's behind. And once she's cleared out the first group, a second wave arrives.
Two Lines, No Waiting: The plot alternates between two points to keep it interesting: Plot A, which is all action and stealth, fills in the gap between Autumn and Winter after Joel is impaled and bleeding to death; Plot B is plot heavy with some action, and follows what occured between Ellie and Riley.
The Unreveal: "Left Behind" reveals how Ellie and Riley end up getting bitten, but it's not revealed what exactly became of Riley after succumbing to the infection.
The Unseen: Ellie and Riley talk about Marlene quite a bit, but she doesn't appear in person.