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    E 
  • Early Game Hell: The beginning of the game can be rather rough, especially against infected. At the start, you only have 1 (soon 2) pistols, your aim is rather shaky, zombies tend to jerk around a lot (which combined with the previous points make headshots a tricky proposition, especially against clickers), and clickers WILL instantly kill you if they get in grabbing range of you. However, the infected become much easier to manage once you get the shotgun, you can upgrade Joel with pills to have steadier aim AND the ability to shank clickers that grab you, making them no longer instant killers, and with more weapons to use, you'll also have more ammo to make use of.
  • 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.
  • Easter Egg:
    • In the toy store in Pittsburgh, you can find board game adaptations of Jak and Daxter and Uncharted. Later in the game you can also find a newspaper ad for Uncharted 13...with Justin Bieber as Drake.
    • While playing as Ellie you can find a PlayStation left on a shelf.
  • Elite Mooks: On the human side, there are roughly three tiers: The standard bandits, their more experienced and well-armoured colleagues and the military and finally the Fireflies you fight in the last chapter - professionally trained paramilitary soldiers with full body armor and assault rifles.
  • Elite Zombie: As it grows older the Cordyceps matures within the Infected, making them tougher, stronger, and granting them new abilities.
  • Empty Room Psych: While there's cover almost everywhere in the game, there's also a lot of instances where you never need to use it. Justified, since after 20 years of martial law there's probably been a lot of fighting in the past.
  • 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. Or at least that's the idea. In practice, even enemies that are standing completely still and not making a sound will usually show up.
  • 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. It is also directly inverted when Joel is badly injured after falling onto a spike, and Ellie must escort him (with the player controlling Joel) to safety.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: James and the rest of David's group think that David's order to capture Ellie are ridiculous, mostly because she and Joel killed several of their men at the university. During the snowstorm chase, they also thought they should be protecting their families rather than guard the exits.
  • 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.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: The prologue is in Texas, note  with Joel and his daughter. Troy Baker, Joel's actor, is from Texas, but like Supernatural's Jensen Ackles, doesn't have anything close to the pronounced accent his character does.
  • Exactly Exty Years Ago: Twenty years have passed since the outbreak.
  • Excuse Plot: While the narrative of the game was heavily praised, and for good reasons, it's mainly due to the depth and development of the characters; the actual plot is essentially nothing more than "Get from point A to point B". Neil Druckmann, the game's head writer, says that his writing philosophy is "simple stories, complex characters".
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     F 
  • 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 some of their teenage members had killed a family they came by. They had all expected them to be punished but instead their boss figured they 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 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: David, until his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Festering Fungus: The source of the "zombie" outbreak.
  • Fingore: A watered down however humorous example when Ellie breaks David's fucking finger.
  • Finishing Move: During multiplayer, you can finish off players that are crawling from damage for a bonus and to stop their allies from reviving them.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Joel and Ellie. A major part of their Character Development is Joel trusting Ellie enough to let her use weapons and cover him in combat.
  • First World Problems: Ellie finds a diary written by a teenage girl from Before, and is astonished that all they had to worry about back then were fashion, boys, and movies.
  • 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.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: In the basement of the hotel in Pittsburgh, Joel comes across a swarm of rats fleeing from something threatening, and has to contend with some Stalkers almost immediately afterwards.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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 Joel 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.
    • After Joel, Ellie and Tess have escaped the museum, Ellie and Joel share their first subtle moment talking about the view. When Ellie walks ahead, Joel briefly looks at his watch (hinting at him realizing already there that Ellie reminds him of Sarah).
    • 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.
    • One conversation Joel and Bill have 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.
    • The background on Joel's phone from the opening sequence looks very similar to the forest where Ellie ends up hunting the deer in the Winter chapter.
    • A less-serious example: in the main game, Ellie steals a gay porn magazine from Bill but seems to only be amused by it and nothing else. The Left Behind DLC reveals that the one person we know she has kissed romantically is her 'friend' Riley, another girl.
    • The Left Behind DLC has Ellie run across a Brand X version of a Magic 8-Ball, in the form of a skull. The first thing she asks, if the player chooses, is "are we going to die today?" The skull says it's unlikely. The operative word being "we", since both of them get bit, but Ellie is immune.
    • If you finish the game before playing Left Behind, Ellie says that Riley suggested they just "be all poetic and lose their minds together" after getting bit. The DLC then reveals that the "poem" she's referring to is more of a play; Romeo and Juliet.
    • In Pittsburgh, you can overhear two hunters discussing how much trouble they had recently in killing an unusually resilient young tourist girl. One of the hunters wonders if they should've recruited her, but his partner shoots down the idea, saying she would've killed them at the first opportunity. This is more or less what happens to David (and his group) much later in the story when he attempts to take Ellie in even after she and Joel have killed many of his men.
    • After traveling for short while in the Spring chapter, you can actually find a poster with giraffes on it with the headline announcing the "new arrival to the zoo" before Joel and Ellie encounter the animals.
    • In "Winter", David turns over his rifle, but later reveals he has another gun. This is the first hint, despite his superficial thematic resemblance to Joel, that he's not really trustworthy at all.
    • In the abandoned subway line behind the Boston capitol building, you can find a note left behind by a smuggler who was waiting for someone named Frank to show up so he could be brought into the QZ. It's not until the next chapter that you find out who Frank was, why he wanted into Boston, and why he never made it.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Bloaters are always naked, due to their bodies becoming too big for clothing.

     G 
  • Game-Breaking Bug: On release day, there was a problem with the auto-save not working correctly that erased hours worth of played time for people.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Zigzagged. Allies are generally immune to gunfire, but not to grapple attacks of bandits and zombies. If they are attacked in melee, you generally have a short while to kill their aggressors - otherwise, it's back to the last checkpoint. The whole thing is pretty forgiving, though. Despite almost the whole game being an Escort Mission, one hardly ever gets the feeling that Joel's allies are more trouble than they are worth.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: When you play as Ellie during winter, you can go into her backpack and discover that she stole the photo of Joel and Sarah long before she gives it to him in the story.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: One of the big mechanics 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.
    • Outside Pittsburgh, you'll encounter a couple dogs tussling in the street, barking loudly enough that the characters comment on it. They can't be detected in listen mode.
  • 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.
  • Genre Shift: Once Ellie and Joel reach Pittsburgh, other survivors become the primary antagonists, and the infected take a step back- it becomes less of a "zombie game" and more a fairly standard stealth-and-cover-based-shooter game with zombies thrown in for spice.
  • The Ghost:
    • The hunters in Pittsburgh keep talking about their boss, but Joel and Ellie never actually get to see or fight him/her.
    • Ish. You read several notes by him and his allies, and even see his handiwork, but the man himself is never encountered.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Despite the explicit gore and violence throughout, you don't see the result of Ellie finally overpowering David and desperately hacking his head to pieces with a machete.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Federal Disaster Response Agency, or FEDRA, which is responsible for governing the quarantine zones.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: The symbol of the Fireflies and the phrase, "Look for the light" can be found graffitied around the game, even in the heavily military-controlled Boston.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Almost everyone.
    • 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, were rather displeased that Joel and Ellie killed some of them at the university, and seem to be a democracy (as they discuss holding a meeting and voting David out of his leadership position). 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.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Empty bottles, like bricks, can be picked up and thrown to either distract enemies, or thrown directly at them to stagger them and set them up for a grapple or melee-kill. In a pinch, they make a good melee weapon, but unlike the brick they break after the first hit on a human enemy.
  • Groin Attack: The Firefly that Joel briefly interrogates is subjected to this, getting two shots in the groin before a headshot.
  • 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 onto road after reading it.

    H 
  • Hand Cannon:
    • El Diablo, a scoped single-shot pistol. Capable of downing a Bloater in two shots.
    • There's also Shorty, which is basically a Sawed-Off Shotgun with a pistol grip attached.
  • Hearts Are Health: Mostly averted, but the supplemental upgrade screen shows health upgrades with a heart & a cross on it.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sounds of the Clickers. To make things more terrifying, not only is the first time you encounter them in a dark abandoned subway station, a little bit of Fridge Horror is added once you acknowledge the fact those things used to be people.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: Ish, the leader of the sewer community.
  • Hide Your Children: A zig-zagged trope as the very beginning of the game sees the death of the protagonist's 12-year old daughter, while two other important child characters, Sam and Riley, end up becoming infected and dying (the latter off-screen). When it comes to gameplay however, Joel and Ellie will never encounter Child Soldiers or least of all, infected children.
  • Hollywood Healing: Joel suffers a catastrophic injury at the university, and he very realistically isn't fully recovered after months of convalescence. But the trope is played straight when a single shot of antibiotics returns him to full fighting shape within a few hours.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Different parts of humanity are taking different approaches to handling the outbreak, with varying degrees of success & monstrosity.
    • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Bill notes that he's more afraid of regular humans than Infected, since Infected are actually predictable. Most of the survivor groups Joel and Ellie come across do nothing to disprove this, being ready and willing to shoot first and ask questions later.
    • Humans Are Special: The biggest exception to this is Tommy's group. Not only do they actually not immediately shoot Joel & Ellie (they do demand an explanation at gunpoint first, but who wouldn't?), but they actually have crops & livestock, and are essentially giving people a chance to live life how it was before the outbreak. Similarly, Ish's sewer group. Although it didn't last, it's clear that they at least tried to make the best out of what they had.
  • 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 trope that originally fell away in favor of the more realistic two weapon limit here is reconstructed with Joel's backpack providing a level of risk as he actually has to sit and open it to pull out a weapon while the arsenal is only just past large enough to fit inside.

     I 
  • Idiot Ball:
    • In the intro, Tommy, Joel and Sarah eventually encounter people desperately running from something. Tommy, encouraged by Joel, decides to drive towards the direction they're running from. Things go downhill pretty fast from there.
    • The Firefly soldier Joel mutilates and interrogates for Ellie's whereabouts towards the end of the game. The guy might as well have pointed out a random direction for Joel seeing as he was going to die anyway, but instead he tells Joel the right way.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: David, James, and the group of cannibals in the Rockies.
  • The Immune: Ellie, who was infected three weeks before the start of the main plot and holds the key to a potential vaccine.
  • Immunity Disability: Ellie's immunity to the fungus means that she won't become a zombie, but the Fireflies' plan to use her to develop a vaccine would have resulted in her death.
  • Improvised Lockpick: Joel uses shivs to unlock doors to supply rooms.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: 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.
  • Improvised Weapon: Since you are scrounging all your supplies, you have to make use of whatever you can get your hands on. Various items can be utilized as weapons, including baseball bats, bricks and wooden planks.
  • 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.
  • Insistent Terminology: They are Infected, not zombies. Justified, since they aren't dead like conventional zombies.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Justified in that you're not unlocking the doors, but breaking the locks with shivs (hence interchangeable), and since the latter amount to a few bits of scrap taped together, 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.
  • Interface Spoiler: Zigzagged. The menu at crafting benches shows the player how many weapons there are in the game, hiding those not yet discovered with a "locked" screen. Subverted in that the last weapon in the game the Assault Rifle is only available after passing the last crafting bench and thus isn't listed.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Joel is a grizzled survivor in his 50s, and Ellie is 14.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: Sarah, Joel's daughter.
  • 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 "argue" 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.
    • After trekking through the sewers and attracting what must have been every infected within the abandoned city, Sam finds a message on the outside wall warning people of the infected within the abandoned city.
      Ellie: Thanks for the warning on the other side, guys.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Enemies sometimes try to pull this in gameplay. It just makes it easier to line up the killing shot. Also, Joel tricks the Fireflies into thinking he's given up on saving Ellie so they let their guard down at the end.
  • Item Crafting: Joel can improve his melee and ranged weapons, consumables (health kits) and Molotov cocktails using equipment gathered on his journey to use at a moment's notice. Certain upgrades can only be done at crafting tables, however.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: The military bombed areas outside the quarantine zones to push the Cordyceps back. It worked... for a while. There's also the end of the prologue when the military orders that anyone attempting to get past the military quarantine be shot regardless of status, because at the moment they know nothing about the virus. This results in Joel's daughter Sarah being killed.

    J 
  • 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 all right. I believe him.
  • Jerkass: Robert. He pays his men in blank checks, tries to get Tess killed, refuses to be held accountable for ripping off her and Joel and has his men try to kill them when they force their way in as well as trying to kill them himself.
  • Just Before the End: The prologue depicts this with regard to the Zombie Apocalypse. More subtly, it's also suggested that during the main story, the last dregs of humanity are being slowly destroyed, as 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 rebels or separatists who succeed, such as Pittsburgh's, turn into ruthless gangs that kill and rob people or, like David's group, turn to cannibalism. If something doesn't happen soon, all of humanity is doomed.
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