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Voiced By: Troy Baker (English), Kōichi Yamadera (Japanese), Adrián Wowczuk (Latin American Spanish), Lorenzo Beteta (European Spanish)
"I've struggled a long time with survivin', but no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."
Joel is the main protagonist in The Last of Us. A man in his late 40s/early 50s, hardened by the atrocities and devastation left by the fungal infection, Joel works as a black market dealer within the quarantine zone, selling drugs and weapons of all sorts. He's given the job to smuggle Ellie out of Boston to the Fireflies.
- Absurdly Youthful Father: Joel eventually explains to Ellie that he was very young when he had Sarah. He even implies it was before he could go to college, so most probably there was Teen Pregnancy involved. He likely wasnt even 30 during the events of the prologue.
- Action Survivor: Only in the prologue when he's still just an average single father celebrating his birthday with his daughter until the outbreak begins and he has to evade all opposition from the early infected.
- Actually Pretty Funny: He finds most of Ellie's jokes pretty groan-worthy, but there is one ("I used to be addicted to soap, but I'm clean now") he does laugh at.
- Adult Fear:
- His daughter's death in the prologue.
- Hits him hard in regards to Ellie during the Winter chapter. It's implied that being terrified for her life is what finally makes him realize that he's come to see her as a surrogate daughter.
- This is eventually what drives him to take his decision in the finale.
- Anti-Hero: Of the nominal kind. Most, if not all, of his motivations are pretty selfish, he's not very friendly and is very much able to shoot the dog if you piss him off enough. He also kills and injures with zero hesitation.
- Anti-Villain: By the end of the game, Joel's intentions conflict with the only potential cure for humanity. Sadly, he's well-intentioned, but also quite possibly doomed the last hope of the human race (however faint it may be).
- Badass and Child Duo: He eventually forms one with Ellie. Not only does he save her life multiple times, the reverse also holds true. She nurses him back to health when he's impaled, for one.
- Badass Baritone: Troy Baker's take on Joel is a very low voice with a distinct Texan drawl.
- Badass Beard: No doubt due to the loss of such personal hygiene utensils, Joel had no choice but to let it grow. It does help form a nice visual cue of Joel's gruffness.
- Badass Grandpa: At the start of the game he is roughly in his late twenties (he tells Ellie he didnt go to college because he already had Sarah). After the timeskip he's in his late forties to early fifties which would make him about 55 during the sequel.
- Badass in Distress:
- He's incapacitated for most of the Winter stage, in which Ellie has to care for him as he recovers his strength.
- He has a brief case of this in Pittsburgh as well where a hunter ambushes and nearly succeeds in drowning him until Ellie arrives to shoot him.
- Bad Dreams: It's no surprise that he's implied to suffer from plenty of them. The guy never seems to get a sound sleep at any point during the game.
- Beard of Sorrow: After the bad times keep getting worse, Joel just stops shaving. By game's end, he's sporting a full beard because he's stopped caring how he looks.
- Behind the Black: The trope image for His Story Repeats Itself has one particular difference between the two scenarios: while he was carrying Ellie in his arms, his left hand had a gun pointed at Marlene the whole time.
- Berserk Button: He gets intensely angry when people bring up his daughter Sarah after her death. Ellie finds this out the hard way.
Ellie: Maria told me about Sarah, and I-
Joel: ELLIE! ...You are treadin' on some mighty thin ice here...!
Joel: ELLIE! ...You are treadin' on some mighty thin ice here...!
- Beware the Nice Ones: Once you get to know Joel, he's a pretty well adjusted adult. Even though he and Henry got off to a rocky start, they bonded over their fondness of Harleys. And it's endearing to see how he treats Ellie in the latter part of the game. It's rather jarring when you remember that he has a name in the criminal underworld. And even more so when he shows proficiency in interrogation. He makes sure to take two guys alive, so they can confirm each others' info, knows how to cause some serious non-lethal pain, and ruthlessly kills them both once he gets what he needs. He does an on-the-spot interrogation to a Firefly soldier at the end as well. He's quick to set these all up too, and it cements that he's likely done so many times in the past.
- Big Bad Slippage: His entire role in the first game is this in spades.
- Big Brother Instinct: Implied that he was the only reason Tommy survived. Tommy resented him for it, since he's done horrible things to do so.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: The outbreak began a few hours after his birthday.
- Break Her Heart to Save Her: In a sense. After all is said and done, he lies to Ellie, claiming the Fireflies had more immune but had given up the search for a cure, leaving Ellie dejected and lost after all the sacrifice and death she had seen on the journey. If she had known the truth, she may have pulled a Heroic Sacrifice and let herself be killed to find a cure, and Joel would rather lie than lose his 'baby girl' all over again. Played even more straight after Word of God stated that while Ellie loved Joel, she also hated him for taking away her choice.
- Brains and Brawn: While not stupid, it's implied he's the muscle to Tess as far as their criminal activities go. While Tess is a good fighter she seems to handle most of the planning while Joel handles most of the heavy lifting.
- Book Dumb: He tells Ellie that he did visit universities - just never as a student. Being a young single dad doesnt leave much time for school.
- Catchphrase: "We should move on," and variations on such, especially after something bad has happened. It reflects Joel's tendency to put all his bad experiences behind him and try to bottle them up.
- He also has a tendency to mutter "That was too damn close," after escaping a sticky situation, reflecting his belief that his continued survival is due more to luck than anything.
- Character Development: Goes from being cold, resigned and utterly apathetic to being more sensitive and open. It's worth noting that towards the end of the game, Joel is the one who instigates the optional conversation bits, not Ellie. He also seems more capable of handling his trauma over the loss of Sarah by the end of the game. Once she dies, she's never brought up again until about 2/3 of the way through the story when you get to Tommy's town. Once they're in the university, he talks to Ellie about her and as they're headed into the hospital in Salt Lake City, he accepts the picture of her from Ellie. He had previously rejected it when Tommy tried to give it to him.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: He makes it clear to Ellie that she is not to bring up his personal life or past, particularly his lost loved ones. He slowly opens up to her as time goes on, however.
- Combat Pragmatist: Attacking people from behind, shooting them in the crotch... the list goes on.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back/Changed My Mind, Kid: When he decides to continue with Ellie, instead of leaving the task to Tommy.
- Cooldown Hug: After a totally broken Ellie just killed David in the most gruesome way ever she breaks down in tears in Joel's arms.
- 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.
- Cynicism Catalyst: Sarah's death. To a lesser extent, his falling out with Tommy.
- Determinator: Holy crap, this guy just doesn't quit. Even when he gets shot at, impaled through the stomach, and faced with all kinds of horrors on a daily basis, Joel is not one to lie down and die.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Not only did he lose his daughter on the first night of the outbreak, but it's highly implied that Joel was neck deep in some dirty, tragic business during the 20 year Timeskip. His response to one of Ellie's inquiries suggests that he was once a Hunter or at least did some of the same things they do in order to survive.
- Defrosting Ice King: Warms up considerably to Ellie throughout the game. Also to Henry, though that was unfortunately cut short.
- Disney Death: One of the more convincing examples of this trope at the end of the Fall chapter, complete with a long time playing as Ellie where it isn't immediately clear if Joel is still alive. That is, until she asks David and James for medicine.
- Distressed Dude: For the end of Fall and first half of Winter, he's entirely dependent on Ellie after getting impaled, and it's hardly a question that he would have died without her.
- The Dreaded: If ambient conversations are anything to go by, Joel has this reputation back in Boston. The Cannibals in the Winter chapter also really don't want to fight him, to the point of running away from Joel.
- Establishing Character Moment: He has moments for each stage of the outbreak:
- Before the outbreak, he is first shown worriedly talking about a job to keep him and Sarah from poverty, and we're also shown some heartwarming fatherly moments between him and Sarah.
- After the outbreak begins, he and Tommy get a couple concurrently contrasting moments that show both Tommy's general good-hearted nature and the darker side of Joel's familial protectiveness:
Tommy: They got a kid, Joel!
- After coming across the family on the road, Tommy strongly insists they to stop and pick them up while Joel strongly rebukes him.
Joel: So do we!
- When they find themselves obstructed by a crowd of fleeing civilians, Tommy is clearly much more concerned about potentially running someone over than Joel is, who barks at him to hurry up and drive.
- Post-outbreak, he ignores a military execution on the street, shrugs off a bombing that kills several people near him, and barely reacts to an injury from the bombing, seeming more annoyed than hurt, showing his adaptation and apathy to the atrocities around him since the start of the outbreak. At the same time, he shows that he's still retained a fair deal of his humanity by sharing banter with Tess and having the option of engaging in casual conversation with several bystanders.
- Everyone Has Standards: Hardened though Joel is, he's still openly horrified by some of what he witnesses in the game, most notably the fate of Ish's group and the cannibalism of David's community. It really says something about how nightmarish the setting is when it can still shock him after 20 years.
- Experienced Protagonist: By the time the main game begins, Joel already has a name in the criminal underworld and shows expertise at recognizing ambushes and torturing for information. Even in the prologue he doesn't panic at the outbreak and knows exactly what to do.
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Joel is forced into several Quick Time Events in the story where his only response to completing them is a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to whatever caused it.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Joel goes from an average working class single father pre-outbreak, to a typical smuggler whose reputation is relatively unestablished compared to his partner post-outbreak, to a one man army who is ready, willing, and able to plow through hordes of enemies, human or infected, to keep Ellie safe. Taken to extremes in the Winter chapter when he has just woken up from a serious case of Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and so terrifies David's men that they run away in terror from a single, injured, and relatively ill-equipped man.
- Gone Horribly Right: For the Fireflies - Ellie's attempts to have Joel accept and connect with her as a surrogate daughter eventually ends up putting Ellie - and by extension, Ellie's immunity - out of the hands of the Fireflies for good.
- Good Is Not Nice: See Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique below.
- Handguns: He can carry four different sidearms: a simple 9mm Colt Defender...
- Hand Cannon: ...and two different Hand Cannons. One is the Serbu Super Shorty, a tiny shotgun. The other is "El Diablo", a scoped Taurus Model 66 with an one round capacity (that can be upgraded to 3 rounds).
- Hates Being Alone: While he never says so outright, it can be inferred that this is as much the case for Joel as it is for Ellie. He's almost never seen without a companion of some sort (whether it's Tommy, Tess, or Ellie), and on the rare occasions when he is alone, the game makes sure the player feels his isolation, with the goal always being to reunite with whomever he was separated from.
- Heartbroken Badass: First his daughter, then Tess... No wonder he'll do anything to not lose Ellie, too.
- Heroic BSoD: Gets a minor one when leaving Tess behind. Later refuses to talk about her.
- His Story Repeats Itself: Provides the trope image. Both at the night of the outbreak and 20 years later, he has to carry his "baby girl" to safety through a hostile environment with no means of defending himself.
- Hollywood Healing: With Ellie's help, he recovers from being impaled on a rebar through his torso. Such an injury would really have killed him within a few minutes.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Survival justifies the means. He makes sure to remind Tommy of that once they reunite.Tess: We're shitty people, Joel. It's been that way for a long time.
Joel: No, we are survivors!
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Falls from a walkway and onto a piece of rebar. Then struggles while bleeding out from the impalement and holding off an ambush at the same time, all the while the player controls everything. He's out of commission for most of the Winter stage as a result.
- Implacable Man: A bit of an understatement. Probably best illustrated when he fights his way through a hospital full of assault rifle-wielding Fireflies to save Ellie.
- Informed Judaism: Is shown wearing a menorah sweater while everyone else is in Christmas getups in an official (if, obviously, non-canonical) piece of art.
- It's All About Me: Joel is a survivor. He will absolutely not hesitate to destroy a potential threat to him and his, even over the objections of his loved ones as he defends them. And that eventually includes Ellie. Which explains what he does in the finale.
- During an argument, he also tells Ellie she has no idea about loss, even though she has obviously lost her parents and it's very likely that they're dead. Zig-zagged in that later on he expresses some sympathy that her friend turned right in front of her.
- It Gets Easier: Zig-zagged; while Joel has clearly been hardened by 20 years in the apocalypse, and is quite willing to act ruthlessly to protect his own interests (the ending being one example of many), he's still horrified by some of what he witnesses in the game nonetheless, and some conversations with Ellie imply that he's more affected by killing than he lets on.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Pulls it off thrice. First time with Robert, whose arm he breaks. Once in the Winter levels with two Cannibals, where he kneecaps one and beats the other to death with a pipe. He pulls it again on a member of the Fireflies shooting him in the groin.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zig-zagged. He has a good side and a conscience, but it's basically focused only on family like his daughter, or Ellie, whom he views as his surrogate daughter by the end of the story.
- Kick the Dog: He has one moment where he coldly denies being Ellie's father. The look on her face screams that she seriously did start to view him as a fatherly figure, especially since her biological father is most likely dead.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: He apparently was one to Tommy in the intervening years between the game's prologue and the main events of the plot. As is often the case, when they reunite years later, Tommy's still not too happy about it.
- Knight Templar Parent: Is clearly one in the main storyline (you don't get much more "knight templar" than potentially dooming humanity to save your adopted daughter), but he even shows some telltale signs in the prologue, such as refusing to help some stranded motorists (even when they have children of their own) in order to avoid putting Sarah at risk.
- In the E3 2018 trailer for Part II Jesse tells Ellie "your old man really laid into me", noting that he gets really involved when it's Ellie's turn to patrol the town.
- Like a Daughter to Me: How he eventually feels about Ellie, calling her "baby girl" the way he did with Sarah.
- Like an Old Married Couple: His constant bickering with Tess in the first two chapters. Word of God even states she's the one person Joel trusts in the world. Things take a bit of a tragic turn quite early on. They may actually be in some kind of relationship, as Bill refers to their "trouble in paradise".
- Love Makes You Evil: Ultimately, its his love for Ellie and fear of losing another "daughter" is what make him decide to save her and take away humanity's possibly last hope.
- Misanthrope Supreme: A possible reason why Joel chose to save Ellie rather than let the Fireflies kill her to extract the cure that might have saved the rest of humanity. Having suffered at the hands of humanity itself during their journey to find a cure, particularly David, causes Joel to decide that what is left of humanity might not be worth saving after all, especially at the cost of Ellie's life.
- Moral Myopia: For better or worse, Joel is motivated by protecting his family and friends and is more than willing to sacrifice anyone who gets in the way of that goal. This starts to emerge from the very beginning of the outbreak when he tells Tommy to keep driving and leave another family with a child to fend for themselves, gets more obvious from the things he's willing to do to others to keep Tommy and himself alive in the years after, and ultimately is the driving point of the entire end game. He won't abandon his adopted daughter Ellie for anything, even if it may possibly mean the extinction of humanity in the long run.
- My Greatest Failure: His young daughter's death; shot by a soldier just as they made it out of their infected neighborhood, she died in his arms as he tearfully begged her not to leave him.
- My Greatest Second Chance: He's faced with the revelation that his "baby girl" will be taken from him again, but ultimately succeeds in rescuing Ellie.
- Made of Iron: Over the course of the story, he gets shot by a heavily armed soldier, hit by shrapnel from a bombing, falls onto the top of an elevator from about ten feet up (followed by another long fall into a flooded elevator shaft), gets hit by a semi-truck while in a flimsy pickup truck, jumps from a bridge and nearly drowns afterwards, thrown at a high speed from a horse, falls several feet onto a piece of rebar, nearly bleeds to death from the impalement, survives several weeks of a debilitating fever and a severe infection, goes out into a severe blizzard while dealing with the after-effects of the infection, falls through a bus as it crashes from a large height, and shrugs off an assault rifle butt to the back of the head... And this is only the mandatory injuries, not even any of the injuries he can take in combat!
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: His primary form of melee combat is a string of punches and kicks that may follow into absolutely brutal finishers, such as: bashing the opponent's head in the wall, kneeing him in the face or stomping him in the head.
- Nominal Hero: Stays one even after his Character Development - his reawakened conscience extends solely to protecting Ellie.
- Noodle Incident: Several are created thanks his preference not to elaborate on his past. Exactly how young did he have his daughter? What happened to Sarahs mom? What did he do for Bill that was apparently enough to call in such a deadly favor? What did he mean when he said he's "been on both sides" when talking about the Hunters?
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Joel makes it clear that he doesn't give a shit about the Fireflies or their cause. He's just doing a job and expects to be paid for it.
- Not So Different: From Marlene, both of whom see no problem making life-altering (or in Marlene's case, life-threatening) decisions for Ellie behind her back.
- Not So Stoic: He blows his lid at least a few times - but he doesn't lose control when it happens. Apart from that one time when Ellie mentions his daughter. And when Marlene reveals Ellie is going to be killed - even then, he comes up with a plan to escape in a matter of seconds.
- One-Man Army: By the end of the story, he will have killed a lot of people. In Winter, the Cannibals (who outnumber him) actually run away when he starts shooting.
- Outliving One's Offspring: His biological daughter, Sarah, is gunned down at the start of the infection. This leads to him being fiercely protective of his surrogate daughter, Ellie.
- Parental Substitute: Eventually takes on Ellie as his adopted daughter.
- Papa Wolf: His protection of Ellie causes him to bond with her, and they grow extremely close over the course of the journey. When Ellie is taken by the Fireflies, and Joel learns she'll die, he goes ballistic, and kills dozens of Fireflies.
- Pipe Pain: He can use steel pipes as melee weapons to fight and beats one of David's men to death with one after torturing another for information.
- Pragmatic Hero: He'll do whatever it takes to survive, even if he has to fight other humans.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: He can use a snub-nosed Taurus six shot revolver, which is his default sidearm.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Tries multiple times to stop his involvement with the mission, but nobody ever listens to him. Joel knows that little girls won't stay alive too long outside the quarantine zone and probably fears seeing another girl killed in front of him, but Tess and Ellie make sure he finishes the job by himself. Or so they thought.
- Shadow Archetype: A rare example of the protagonist, Joel, being one for the antagonist, Marlene. Both are Harden survivors living in a Post-Apocolyptic world, seen the atrocities humans are capable of committing, and come to view Ellie as a surrogate daughter.. However, Marlene, despite witnessing the worst in humanity still believes its still worth saving and will go to any lengths to ensure its survival even if it mean having to kill her surrogate daughter to extract the cure for humanity. Joel on the other hand has grown to detest humanity because of how much he'd lost at its hands and is willing to doom it, rather than lose his surrogate daughter. Basically, Joel is Marlene if she chose to put her feelings and self-interests above the greater good.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: As Joel puts it, he saw the world one way and Tommy saw it another. This is what made them split apart and find trouble in reconnecting. Joel is selfish and lives solely on the moment, concerned with surviving another day. Tommy, on the other hand, is more selfless and lives for a long term goal of building a self-sustainable community. He is also quite the idealist, persisting on building his community even when told it wouldn't work, in a clear contrast with Joel's cynicism. These differences were first established in the prologue, where Tommy wanted to help a family during the outbreak while Joel insisted on keeping Sarah safe at all costs and ignore them.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: At the start of the game, to Ellie. He slowly grows out of it... sort of.
- The Stoic: One of his defining traits. He's rarely surprised and even when really angry, he doesn't lose his cool.
- Struggling Single Mother: Gender Inverted. Joel begins the game clearly struggling to support Sarah. He talks to Tommy on the phone about how he needs a certain job and jokingly suggests that his daughter help him pay the mortgage. And then it's stated that he wasn't married to Sarah's mom for long.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Only towards Ellie. And towards Henry, a little. Look at his face when Sam is killed. He looks so crushed as he tries to talk Henry down, knowing he's going to do something after that. He also is a lot warmer towards his brother Tommy than most people.
- Tragic Keepsake: The watch he got on his birthday from his daughter hours before the infection broke out. It's the only thing he kept of her and the only sign that he might not have "moved on" as he claims. Initially subverted by his photo with Sarah until his time with Ellie allows him to accept it.Ellie: Your watch is broken.
- Tranquil Fury: When Ellie is in danger. Best demonstrated when ambushed by Hunters in Pittsburgh. When one drags her out of the car and hits her, Joel's response is to calmly mutter to himself "I'll show you, I'll show you" and go to town on the mook's face.
- Tsundere: It's a subtle, non-romantic example, but when Bill accuses him of caring too much for Ellie and potentially dooming himself for this, Joel replies it's not like that. Throughout the game, Bill is proven right and Joel is eventually shown to care about Ellie.
- The Unfettered: Joel has one goal - protect Ellie. His moral guidelines extend solely to her and this goal - his only hiccups in this regard come from practical reasons.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He can't bring himself to say "thank you" or offer any emotional support after Ellie kills a man for the first time to save Joel's life; instead he berates her for not staying put like he asked her to. A little while later, Joel tries to suck it up and reconcile with her, but even then he struggles with saying a direct thank you. "Just so we're clear about back there...it was either him or me." Ellie at least seems to appreciate the effort.
- Verbal Tic: He says "goddamn(it)" a lot.
- Villain Protagonist: Becomes one by the end of the game, when he decides to doom humanity's potential hope for a vaccine to cordyceps to save Ellie's life.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Given that he had suffered many hardships in this world, including losing his own daughter, it comes off as no a surprise that he becomes a ruthless and callous killer who decides to possibly doom the entire human race just so he won't lose another daughter.
- Worst Aid: When he falls on a piece of rebar during the climax of the Autumn chapter, he insists to Ellie that she help pull him off and nearly bleeds to death as a result. However, it's justified as enemies are on their tail and it wasn't safe to stay.
- Would Hurt a Child: Implied. When Joel shoves Henry to the ground and has him at gunpoint, he briefly points his gun at Sam and yells "Get back, son!" when Sam tries to get between him and Henry. Then, when Sam becomes Infected and attacks Ellie, Joel immediately goes for his gun, ready to shoot him without a second thought.
- Would Hit a Girl: Gender is no object in his fighting style. He kills female Infected and shoots Marlene to death at the end.
- You're Not My Father: Inverted at the end of his argument with Ellie during the Fall chapter. Fortunately, he changes his mind soon after.
Voiced By: Ashley Johnson (English), Megumi Han (Japanese), Mariela Centurión (Latin American Spanish), María Blanco (European Spanish)
Year of birth: 2019
"Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me. Everyone - fucking except for you! So don't tell me I would be safer with somebody else, because the truth is I would just be more scared."
Having been born after the fungal infection had already collapsed modern civilization as we know it, Ellie doesn't know a life aside from the high walls of the quarantine zone. She was raised in perpetual fear. This, of course, sparks within her an obsession with relics from the past culture, such as books and music. This, too, leads to troublesome times at the boarding house she resides in. As it turns out, she's actually immune to the fungus and the Fireflies want her to make a vaccine.
- Action Girl: At only fourteen with no real fighting experience, she has to start the game as an Action Survivor instead. Part of her development is Joel trusting her to protect the two of them with real firearms and combat. She graduates into this trope during the Winter level, where she is the only playable character at the start and end of it, as well as getting a one-on-one boss fight with David. Word of God is that Ellie's character is basically the origin story of an Action Hero.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: Ellie is playable for most of Winter, when Joel is seriously wounded and she does the fighting all by herself.
- Anti-Hero: Goes from pragmatic to unscrupulous during the story.
- Badass Adorable: She may be absolutely cute, but it doesn't mean she can't fight on her own.
- Badass Boast:
- "Ellie is the little girl that broke your fucking finger!"
- In the DLC: "If anyone's still alive, don't even think about surprising me! You'll end up like your friends, you hear me!? Yeah!?"
- From the Part II trailer: "I'm gonna find, and I'm gonna kill, every last one of them."
- Badass Bookworm: Likes to read books and comics and can hold her own in a fight.
- Badass Gay: Word of God confirmed they wrote Left Behind with the idea of Ellie being gay.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Despite her filthy vocabulary and hard-headed nature, she has a stronger moral compass than Joel. What she doesn't have is any illusion about how well a fourteen-year-old would do in a fair fight against desperate, hardened adult survivalists. So she never fights fair. And her switchblade isn't for show.
- Blessed with Suck: Anyone she's gotten close to usually is bitten and either turns or dies. Since her body has been able to counter the fungal infection, she has had to watch people she's cared about tragically lose their lives to their bites.
- Blood-Splattered Innocents: Happens to her quite a bit, especially when hacking David up.
- Book Dumb: While she loves reading comics and apparently stories in general (see below), her voice actor, Ashley Johnson, imagines that Ellie's the type of kid who wouldn't do well in school. Per the trope's description, however, she makes up for it with the 'street smarts' she eventually develops.
- Bookworm: She is obsessed with relics from the past culture and she states that she reads all the time.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Starts out as a bit of one, especially in regards to Bill in the Lincoln chapter. She gets better over the course of the game, though. She also serves as this for Riley in American Dreams.
- Break the Cutie: Courtesy of David, who attempts to kill her, then molests her once he has the chance.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Ellie mentions soiling herself in an early encounter with a Clicker.
- Bullying a Dragon: Towards David. Despite her being behind bars and knowing that he isn't right in the head and/or is a cannibal, she breaks his finger and taunts him about it. As a result, David decides to kill her after all and it's only by luck that she momentarily distracts him from doing so by telling him she's infected.
- Butch Lesbian: Downplayed in the sequel. Her hair is tied into a bun behind her head and her clothes are loose and maybe a bit too big for her. However, the whole Zombie Apocalypse thing means that getting haircuts and new, fitting clothes isn't necessarily easy and definitely not a priority, and she's still far from the stereotypical butch.
- Catchphrase: Might as well be the various expletives she lets out while watching Joel at work. Also Endure and survive, which she got from a comic book. She also says "Oh, man!" and "Whoa Nelly!" a lot.
- Characterization Marches On: Originally, Ellie was going to be more of a normal, fragile 14-year old, (possibly to have her be more similar to Sarah), but as the game developed the writers figured her character would need to be more badass and capable of handling herself, lest she'd end up becoming a frequent Distressed Damsel. Ashley Johnson specifically helped in on this decision when discussing combat scenes with the creators where Ellie would originally be either easily caught or just stay in the background, pointing out that if it was her she would try to do something.
- Character Tic: Whistling and making sounds as though jamming on a guitar.
- Chastity Dagger: It's implied that David was trying to rape her towards the end of their fight. Too bad for him that his machete was within reach of Ellie's hand.
- Coming-of-Age Story: She's introduced as a plucky kid (albeit one who already has some serious trauma and cynicism under her belt), and ends the game on the cusp of womanhood. Compare her trying-too-hard toughness when she first meets Joel to how she interacts with him in the final cutscene.
- The Cutie: She's not sweet exactly, but is very lovable and produces most of the comic relief in the story.
- Cluster F-Bomb: All the time, mostly out of surprise. Exhibit A: Warning, contains minor spoilers
- Combat Pragmatist: Learns from Joel, but she learned that way before meeting him.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Officially, she's meant to resemble her voice actress, but many have noted how much she looks like Canadian actress Ellen Page. She herself has even acknowledged this.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Though given the setting, it's hardly a surprise. Ellie herself implies that orphaned children are more common than not.
- Damsel out of Distress: She's briefly captive by the cannibals during Winter, but manages to free herself before Joel can arrive in time to rescue her, though it results in a pretty heavy case of Break the Cutie.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Ellie's mother Anna is described as having been a very loving woman who had enough foresight to write a letter to Ellie before her death. Ellie keeps it in her backpack, and expresses a desire to make her proud.
- Defiant to the End: When she finds herself at David's mercy, he tells her that she can try and beg. She replies with "Fuck you."
- Determinator: Even more so than Joel himself, and she's fourteen. In her battle with David, she's struggling to crawl to her knife even as he taunts her.David: (Kicks her) It's okay to give up, you know. There ain't no shame in it. (Ellie continues crawling) Heh. I guess not. Just not your style, is it? (Kicks her again)
- Deuteragonist: She and Joel are the two main characters of the game. Word of God is that by the end of the game, she's taken Joel's role as the protagonist. She returns in The Last of Us Part II as the main Player Character.
- Disney Death: A brief example. Towards the end when Joel carries her out of the hospital he's confronted by Marlene, who tells him that Ellie would have wanted this (sacrificing herself for a vaccine) and he can "still do the right thing." Joel appears to be hesitating, and it then cuts to him driving on the road, making the player wonder for a moment if he let the Fireflies take Ellie after all. Then you hear her waking up in the backseat...
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: When she gets the drop on David, she makes damn sure he won't be getting up again; the impression is that she would have kept on stabbing until she exhausted herself completely if not for Joel's interruption.
- Fan of the Past: Loves old comic books and laments never having played a video-game.
- Follow the White Rabbit: A non-magic example. The beginning of Winter sees her hunting a deer, to which she's led straight to the leader of the cannibal group she and Joel encountered during Fall.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted. Left Behind explores just how much her best friend Riley meant to her, but seeing as the DLC was created some time after the main campaign, it explains why she practically never mentions or mourns Riley while traveling with Joel.
- Good Is Not Soft: Being an idealistic teenager doesn't prevent Ellie from stabbing people to death with her switchblade, or cause her to hesitate in shooting people to save Joel.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: She has a scratch bisecting her right eyebrow, as well as bite marks from Infected on her right arm.
- Hates Being Alone: She admits to Sam that this is her worst fear.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Implied to be a dog lover. Early concept art reveals the idea of her having a dog at some point in the game, and she briefly gets excited actually meeting some in the final game (when walking through the abandoned neighborhood with Joel, Henry and Sam). In contrast, the DLC has her reacting negatively to cats (though it's up for debate whether she just reacted to being scared, or to the cat as well.)
- Heroic BSoD: Has one after killing David. It takes some time for her to recover.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: A 14-year old girl traveling with a grizzled man in his late 40s/early 50s.
- Hypocritical Humor: Makes fun of Bill for talking to himself when she essentially does the same to calm herself down.
- The Immune: As Joel finds out the hard way, so to speak. When she runs ahead into a spore-heavy area that Joel needs a gas mask to get through, she's able to breathe without any problems.
- Infant Immortality: Averted - albeit non-canonically - during gameplay. Just 14 years old, but if you fail to protect her, the game's not afraid to show her being ripped to shreds by Infected, shot, stabbed, or beat to death by enemies no different from Joel.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Ellie steals constantly throughout the game from apparent-allies, perhaps most notably the picture of Joel and Sarah. It's not necessarily endearing, but she makes up for it with exasperating frankness.
- Little Miss Badass: To wit, she goes One Girl Army on the Cannibals during the Winter level.
- Little Miss Snarker: With no functioning society in which to grow up, Ellie tends to act and make jokes of things girls her age don't stereotypically do..
- Meaningful Name: "Noble" or "shining light".
- Messianic Archetype: The method that would be used to make a cure from her would end up killing her. Subverted when Joel decides to doom humanity just to save her.
- Morality Pet: To Joel, who eventually sees her as a surrogate daughter.
- Mundane Luxury: Ellie loves to read old comic books, which are a rare find back in the quarantine zone.
- Naïve Newcomer: Having grown up in a dystopian world means Ellie has no concept of things like a job or money. Joel and other adults have to explain a lot of things to her.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Her early design shared a very close resemblance to Ellen Page. In fact, the design was changed due to Page's accusations for "ripping-off her likeness". As of Part II she looks more like her actress, Ashley Johnson.
- No Man Left Behind: In the Pittsburgh chapter, after Henry leaves Joel to die since they can't help him up onto a truck after the ladder breaks off, with the scavengers on their heels in a truck mounted with a machine gun. She jumps back down to him because "We stick together!"
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Pretty much all of the days (weeks?) she spends taking care of Joel while the latter is badly injured. This includes stitching his wound, making a makeshift sleigh hooked onto Callus to transport him with, riding through a snowstorm in search for a place to stay, moving him to the cellar of a cabin where she finds him a mattress and blanket, spending their time there hunting for food in the woods with a bow etc. You really have to remind yourself sometimes that she's 14 years old.
- Oh, Crap!: She has this moment when David reveals that he is the leader of the scavenger group that she and Joel had previously fought at the university.
- Older Than They Look: Joel makes an off-hand guess if Ellie's twelve when he meets her, to which she corrects him on being fourteen.
- One of the Boys: To the point where the guys talk to her about their girl problems, knowing that she can relate.
- One-Woman Army: No, seriously. Whether it's against men or infected, when she has no choice but to fend for herself, she uses a multitude of stealthy tactics, tricks, and weapons to mow them down one after the other.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Basically says this to Joel when she finds out he plans to leave her with Tommy. In the past, she also silently pleaded with her best friend Riley not to leave with the Fireflies.
- Plucky Girl: Although she gradually becomes more cynical, especially after her experiences with David in the Lakeside Resort chapter.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Justified, in that the infection preceded her birth by six years, and downplayed. She has a smattering of knowledge on the old world comics and even video-game characters but doesn't know what a pizza, ice-cream truck or Bobby Fisher is. The scene with the cassette player also suggests she understandably can't connect music genres to their respective decades. Also, the scene at the university where Joel is explaining the rules of football to her.
- Promoted to Playable: Ellie becomes a playable character in the Winter chapter. She's also the only playable character in the Left Behind DLC, and she returns as the main Player Character in The Last of Us Part II.
- Second Love: In Part II, she gets romantically involved with a girl named Dina.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: When David is giving her a lecture, trying to make Ellie sympathize with him, she breaks his finger.
- Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Her significance lies in being The Immune in a Zombie Apocalypse. It's what makes her the Deuteragonist.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Lady in her case. Ellie's dialogue contains the most common use of harsh swearing in the game compared to the other characters, who are more prone to having a single Precision F-Strike, if even that.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: With Bill in the Lincoln chapter.Ellie: We're here because you owe Joel some favors, and you can start by taking these off! (referring to handcuffs dangling from her wrist)
Bill: I owe Joel some favors... is this some kind of joke?
Joel: I'll cut to the chase: I need a car.
Bill: Well, it is a joke. Joel needs a car! Well, if I had one that works, which I sure as hell don't, what makes you think I'd just give it to you? Huh? "Yeah sure, Joel, go ahead, take my car! Take all my food too, while you're at it!"
Ellie: By the looks of it, you could lose some of that food.
Bill: (points knife at her) You listen to me, you little shit -
Ellie: No, fuck you! You handcuffed me -
Joel: (pulls Ellie aside) I need you to shut up.
Bill: What are ya deliverin', that little brat?
- When Bill asks what was Joel's job:
Ellie: Ha ha. Fuck you too.
Bill: (suddenly cracks up)
Ellie: So...why don't you fix one of these cars? (referring to the mass of broken down cars)
- While Bill, Joel, and Ellie look for a car to fix:
Bill: Oh my God, you're a genius. I mean the whole time, why on earth hadn't I thought about fixin' one of these cars?
Ellie: Okay, don't be a dick...
Bill: The tires are rotten and the batteries are dead.
- Straight Gay: Over the course of "Left Behind" it's made very apparent that she and her best friend Riley are pretty intimate with one another, culminating in a scene where Ellie kisses Riley. Word of God confirmed both of them being attracted to each other.
- Super Drowning Skills: Ellie can't swim, so there are a number of puzzles that involve trying to get her across areas with water too deep to wade through.
- Survivor Guilt: Kicks in during the ending - she mentions feeling guilty for all her companions who died during the story.
- Tag Along Kid: Joel and Tess treat her like this at first, thinking that all they needed to do was deliver her to the fireflies and be done with her.
- Tattoo as Character Type: Is seen in the trailer for Part II with an flower pedal tattoo that crawls around her right forearm, presumably made to hide the scar from when she was bitten.
- Took a Level in Badass: Several during the story. Then there's the Winter chapter...
- Twofer Token Minority: In a cast full of mostly straight males (with the exception of Bill, who is gay), Ellie is female, confirmed to be gay in the Left Behind DLC, and apparently an atheist/agnostic based on her final conversation with Sam. Then again, Henry and David seem to be the only religious characters in the game, but she and Sam are the only ones to outright say they disbelieve in religion.
- Tragic Keepsake: Several. Anna's knife, a letter from her mother given to her by Marlene when they first met, Riley's dog tag and book of puns, a toy Sam wanted to take with him. A photo of Joel and Sarah for a while.
- Transparent Closet: From what little we see of her civillian life in the 2018 Part II E3 trailer, it seems pretty clear that her sexuality is no longer a mystery. Ellie shamelessly googles Dina at the dance and then her ex Jesse approaches her with no intention of wooing her and he then tries to share the male pain about his ex with her.
- Weak, but Skilled: Ellie doesn't have the physical strength of Joel nor his stamina, but by making good use of stealth, she can be as much as a One-Man Army as him. Her unbreakable knife makes her much more effective against clickers. note
- Weapon of Choice: Always has her trusty switchblade on her.
- To a lesser extent, the Beretta Model 70 Joel gives her. It's the only weapon she uses when AI controlled that isn't her switchblade, with the exception of bricks.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She really hates water, since she can't swim.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: She acts very mature for a 14 year old, though it's pretty justified seeing as she's been raised in a post-apocalyptic world.
- Youthful Freckles: She has lots of energy for a kid who grew up in a hellhole, and would be considered a misfit in the old world.