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Heartwarming / The Last of Us

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"So fucking cool..."

The main game:

  • Out-of-universe example, but the scenery is particularly heartwarming. In most Zombie Apocalypse games, everything is brown, desolate, and dead. There is usually not a plant to be seen. In this game, however, you can see the earth retaking the planet after the collapse of society - the plants flourish, the water is filled with algae. The earth is still alive and thriving, even after such a catastrophe.
    • Of course in-universe, this is probably seen as somewhat the opposite, since the Infected are using the proliferation of runaway plant life to help spread the infection further. While the Earth is thriving in the wake of the apocalypse, it's slowly killing the human race as a result.
  • Everything in the first scene showing Joel interacting with his daughter, Sarah. First Sarah giving him the watch, to their playful banter, then Joel carrying his little girl to bed and stroking her hair. Yes it's obviously setting us up for the big Tear Jerker that's to come but, damn it, it's effective.
    Joel: Goodnight, baby girl.
    • When Sarah wakes up, one of the items the player can interact with is the birthday card she forgot to give Joel. Inside, Sarah writes that even though Joel's never around and he despises the movies she likes, he's still the best dad ever.
  • Ellie gets her first kill when she shoots a Hunter that was about to drown Joel. When he rebukes her for not staying put instead of thanking her, Ellie calls him out, saying "it was either him or [Joel]". Later on, though, Joel entrusts her with a gun, and thanks her for real.
    Joel: Just so we're clear about back there... it was either him or me.
    Ellie: You're welcome.
  • Sam and Ellie sharing some cute moments together like when they're eating blueberries and laughing at Ellie's attempt to throw and catch a berry. There's also Ellie revealing to Sam later that she swiped the robot toy Sam wanted in the Pittsburgh toy store. Neither of them have interacted with kids their age in a while and this is one of the few times where they enjoy themselves.
    • There are a couple of optional encounters where Ellie and Sam kick a soccer ball around in the sewers, talk about ice creams trucks, and play some darts in one of the abandoned houses.
  • Joel choosing to not shoot Henry after he abandoned Joel on the bridge. For the first time in a while, he showed some restraint rather than giving in to his instinct to kill. It could also be that Joel relates to Henry on some level such as having a strong desire to protect his younger brother.
  • Joel, Ellie, Henry and Sam are trying to evade the Humvee in Pittsburg. They climb one-by-one on the top of a truck, but the ladder falls off before Joel can climb. Sam and Henry leaves him, but Ellie refuses to abandon him and jumps down again, putting herself in great risk.
    Ellie: We stick together.
  • Joel, Ellie, Henry and Sam sharing a rare moment of respite at the radio tower after escaping Pittsburgh, with Joel telling stories of him and his brother and Ellie returning the toy figure Sam had found earlier and wasn't allowed to keep back when the group first met. It makes what happens afterwards all the more heartbreaking.
    • Although Henry had his gun pointed at Joel, and already fired a shot at him for reaching for his handgun, Joel took one look at Ellie being attacked by an infected Sam and decided to risk being shot. Just to make sure Ellie wouldn't get hurt.
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    • Heartwarming only in a bittersweet sense given that it's still sad, but if Sam's fear of being forced to suffer trapped in his body by the infection with no control of his actions was correct, then Henry made sure he wouldn't have to suffer for long.
    • Then Ellie brings up the incident in the Fall chapter mentioning that she forgot to put the robot toy she got for Sam on his grave. Then Joel gets upset and tells her not to talk about it, the same way he does when Sarah and Tess are mentioned. What makes this heartwarming is that unlike Sarah (his daughter) and Tess (a potential lover that he'd presumably been with for years) Joel and Ellie only knew Henry and Sam for a couple days, but losing them hurt Joel just as much losing Sarah and Tess.
  • Some optional heartwarming moments. If you search an area thoroughly, you can find some comic books for a series Ellie is reading. Almost every time Joel finds one, Ellie will express enthusiasm.
  • After escaping from the bridge, the player will start finding notes from a man named Ish, who was out at sea during the full brunt of the outbreak. He arrived at a sewer and made a life for himself there and he met a family with kids, whom he invites to stay with him. You'll find that their lives were pretty great, with various rooms for the kids and signs of them cooperating - it's nice to know that there are some hospitable people out there. Then you find Clickers in what appears to be Ish's bedroom.
    • And then you find a note that shows that Ish, along with a woman and a few kids, were able to escape the sewers alive. And even with all of the trauma that has happened and is still happening to them, Ish genuinely believes that there is still good in humanity, and it continues to drive him onward.
  • Joel's meeting with Tommy. When they parted ways, Tommy told Joel that he doesn't want to see his face ever again. They have a tearful reunion.
  • There are some touching moments with Maria. She acknowledges Joel as her brother-in-law and offers Ellie some food. She also realizes that Joel has something important to tell Tommy and lets the brothers go ahead to the plant. Not to mention when bandits raid the plant, Maria protects Ellie and is able to hold her own until Joel and Tommy arrive. She also tells Ellie about Joel and Sarah off-screen, showing that she recognizes the bond between Ellie and Joel.
  • After the attack, Ellie talks about it in an excited tone to Joel, who is more concerned about her well-being. Tommy notices this and gives in on taking Ellie off Joel's hands, despite initially refusing to. This was after a less-than-pleasant exchange where Tommy flat-out said he won't take Ellie and that he had nightmares from Joel's amoral actions in the past.
  • After Joel meets up with his brother Tommy to give him Ellie so he can give her to the Fireflies (which was the entire plan from the start), Ellie runs away because she wants to stay with Joel, since he's the last person she has. After thinking about it, Joel tells his brother to go home and continues with Ellie.
    • Joel may act like a Jerkass but there is no doubt that Ellie is his Morality Pet.
      Ellie: Everyone I've ever cared about has either died or left me. Everyone... fucking except for you! So don't tell me I'd be safer with someone else, because the truth is I would just be more scared.
    • After Joel decides he'll take Ellie instead of leaving her with Tommy, Tommy tells Joel that he doesn't have to leave as there's a place for him at the hydroelectric plant with his remaining family. At the very end of the game, Joel and Ellie are on their way back there.
  • They might be minor characters, but seeing Tommy and Maria interact together is this. After spending hours in Pittsburgh with the hunters and their dog eat dog/survival of the fittest/women are good for one thing only philosophy, seeing two people that genuinely care about one another is a nice change of pace, especially in a world where that kind of affection usually just costs more scars. Yes, Tess and Frank, we mean you.
  • Ellie has a series of awesome moments after Joel is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice during a bad fall and needs medical care. She goes out to hunt for food, gets medicine, kills Infected, fights scavengers and cannibals. All this just to cure Joel.
    • Not to mention the part when she comes back to Joel, gives him a shot of penicillin, then curls up next to him before falling asleep.
  • Joel finding Ellie completely broken after she kills David, comforting her with a tight hug and calling her "baby girl" like he used to call his own daughter Sarah. This is the first time in the game we see him fully acknowledge her as a surrogate daughter.
    • Pay close attention after the dialogue fades and the music plays over all other noise. Joel pulls Ellie away and says something to her. He says "I'm never gonna leave you again, you understand?"
    • For even more heartwarming; pay attention to the music in that scene. It's the same that played when Joel told Ellie "you're not my daughter" in Fall, making its return the moment he calls her "baby girl". Well done, Naughty Dog, well done...
  • As soon as the Spring chapter starts, Joel has also taken to casually call Ellie "kiddo".
  • Giraffes in Salt Lake City. After spending literally hours doing nothing but sneaking, killing, running and fighting for your dear existence, seeing spring in all its glory feels amazing. It's also the first time Ellie expresses any kind of happiness after her run-in with David. The way she gently nuzzles a giraffe's neck, with her voice full of wonder, really makes one's heart soar.
    • Tiny little detail sells this scene: you don't have to take the conversation at all, and if you take it, it's up to you to leave it whenever you feel like it. You can really spend hours standing there, enjoying the view.
    • Something of note is the stuffed giraffe in Sarah's bedroom at the beginning of the game. It is highly possible that this later scene is meant to help connect Ellie and Sarah and emphasize Ellie's role as Joel's surrogate daughter.
      • They are also a theme throughout the whole game. There is one at the QZ in Boston held by a little girl that glares at Joel when he gets too close (somewhat symbolizing his state of mind back then), then there is one at Lincoln High School which is clean and could be symbolic for their growing relationship...and that is only three of them, including Sarah's and excluding the live ones. Once you start keeping an eye out for them, they are everywhere and it's kinda nice to see them.
  • After the major Tearjerker of Ellie trying to provoke a reaction from Joel by needling him about Sarah, and Joel's furious statement that Ellie is not his daughter, seeing the way he gradually opens up to her over the coming seasons is very uplifting. First, while in the University, Joel answers some of Ellie's questions, and perfectly calmly, with no anger or defensiveness, lets her know he wants to stop when she goes too far, and she accepts it immediately, with her voice making it clear that she's going along with him out of respect for his feelings, rather than because she's afraid of provoking another outburst. Later, after they reach Salt Lake City, Joel talks about the loss of Sarah quite freely with her, in a tone that shows he's already covered the subject with her.
  • Joel finally goes full Papa Wolf in the finale after he learns that Ellie's surgery will kill her and that the cure is just a possibility. He breaks free, tortures a Firefly in the most pragmatic way possible and proceeds through a hospital filled with armed soldiers, in the end defying even Marlene herself.
    • It's notable that while killing the surgeon with the scalpel in the operating room is mandatory, killing his two assistants is not; Joel can let them live. Maybe he's decided to show mercy for once, or maybe he wants to focus on what really matters (saving Ellie), but it says something that right when things are at their most heated and dramatic, you can choose not to kill.
  • The Note from Mom. To be specific, Ellie's mother, Anna. It's a message to Ellie about how despite not being fond of children and babies, she still considers giving birth to her the most incredible thing she's ever done in her life. The most touching part is her advice that, despite the apocalypse, to "Find your purpose and fight for it", and "life is worth living". "I see so much strength in you. I know you'll turn out to be the woman you're meant to be. Forever, your loving mother." When Ellie reads it, she says to herself, "I'm trying to make you proud."
    • As a bonus, to cement Joel as Ellie's surrogate father, he gives her basically the same idea when he explains how he lives through "keep finding something to fight for."
  • When Tommy and Joel reunite in Wyoming, one of the first things that Tommy does is offer an old picture of Joel and Sarah. Even though Joel rejects it, it's still touching that Tommy went through all that effort to salvage a picture of his niece.
    • This picture comes back into play during the spring section. Ellie offers Joel the picture again, but rather than reject it, Joel takes it. This shows that Joel is changing for the first time in years.
  • In Salt Lake City, if you kill all the Infected in the tunnels, Joel will say, "Endure and survive", one of Ellie's favorite quotes.
  • There's a small, easy-to-miss one at the very end when you reach Tommy's town. If you let Ellie stand on the cliff and look at it a little before following Joel, you will notice some figures down there casually walking around on the sidewalks, something most people haven't had the freedom to do for 20 years.
  • Beaten enemies will sometimes go into a state of surrender and beg for their lives, and when they do, it's entirely possible to back off. Sure, they'll go right back to attacking you once your guard's down, but it is noteworthy that there are times when you can make even Joel hesitate to kill somebody who's pleading with him.
  • When Joel goes into stealth mode, the player can have him press up against an object to hide behind. Sometimes, if Ellie is close, her character will tuck in between Joel and the object, effectively showing that Joel is shielding her with his own body.

Left Behind:

  • Ellie and Riley messing about in a photo-booth, taking photos with all sorts of poses.
    • Honestly, the whole damn time they were goofing around with various things they found kept making this troper smile and laugh.
    • The brief part where Ellie rides the Merry-Go-Round deserves a special mention. The animation and lighting in those few seconds is just gorgeous, added with the soundtrack "Together" playing in the background.
  • Riley giving Ellie a pun book and Ellie reading aloud as many puns as the player wants. Considering the tragedy they deal with daily and Ellie will confront in the main game, it�s nice to see them find one thing in all the bleakness that makes them laugh.
  • Towards the end of the DLC we learn the reason Riley returned to bring Ellie with her on the seemingly random mall excursion; after being accepted as a Firefly, Riley had been requested to leave the city with them, which made her realize that she'd rather stay with Ellie. Because she had treated her best friend badly before disappearing however, Riley wanted to try and make it up to her in order to coax Ellie into asking her to stay. Finally hearing Ellie say the words "Don't go...", Riley happily removes her Firefly pendant and the two kiss. It just makes what happens immediately afterwards that much sadder.
  • This little exchange after they kiss:
    Ellie: Sorry...
    Riley: (smiles) For what?


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