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The Last Of Us / Tropes O to Z

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  • 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. In the Japanese version of the manual, Joel, Sarah, and Tommy are all given the surname of Miller, while Ellie's is supposedly Williams.
  • Optional Stealth: Pretty much every enemy encounter gives you the option to sneak or fight your way through.
  • Oscar Bait: Or the video game equivalent in any event. Grizzled veteran is paired with precocious child. Warm and fuzzy moments abound as their relationship goes from handler and package to father and daughter in a cold and uncaring world.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Most notably, they're not even "the living dead"; only living humans can be turned, causing some people to commit suicide so they can die as themselves. The Infected go through several stages as the Cordyceps grows on them.
    • 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 toxin-laden clusters that burst into clouds of choking, blinding, infectious particles.
    • And when an Infected feels death approaching, it will seek out somewhere dark and dank, usually underground, to collapse and rot. Once they die, the fungus uses the corpse as fertilizer to grow over the surrounding environment, releasing yet more spores. You even get the fun of peeling away some of the desiccated corpses in order to open doors.

  • 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.
    • Once Joel gives her a pistol of her own, Ellie immediately adopts this trope, too, right down to carrying it in the same position as Joel's.
  • 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.
    • Although Henry and Sam are brothers, Henry's attitude towards Sam also fits this; unsurprisingly, given that Henry is pretty much a father substitute for his brother.
  • Parents in Distress: Ellie has to save and protect Joel, then find him the drugs he needs to recover, after he is severely wounded during the Fall chapter.
  • Pipe Pain: The melee weapon that can take the most hits unaltered (aside from Ellie's knife) — nine. Combine that with thrown bricks and bottles and that's nine dead enemies.
  • Please Wake Up: Joel asks this of Sarah who just died in his arms.
  • Police State: The quarantine zones.
  • 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?
  • Post Apocalyptic Gasmask: Gasmasks are ubiquitous as they are needed to protect against the airborne spores of the Cordyceps fungus that has destroyed most of humanity.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: Played straight during the opening. Joel, his brother Tommy and daughter, Sarah run into an impassable traffic jam while trying to flee Austin when the infection starts up. Averted during the main story proper, where Joel and Ellie rarely run into this problem in their travels. Even when they get a working truck, they manage to get to Pittsburgh on clear and navigable roads. Only force to abandon it when some Scavangers manage to total their car. Early concept art does show the two having to travel along rows of abandoned cars at one point, but for whatever reason, it was scrapped.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The second to last cutscene has a glimpse of this, and the only one. Used as a particularly good framing device for Joel's view of his broken watch.
  • Power Up Let Down: The bow is, frankly, not very good. On one hand, it is your only silent ranged weapon capable of properly killing and ammo is theoretically retrievable. On the other hand, the aiming is really finicky and awkward, ammo is extremely uncommon as it never drops from dead enemies (unlike even the flamethrower) and is only found lying around in very few areas, and arrows have a chance of breaking when fired, so you can't rely on being able to reclaim them. Really the fact that it is the only weapon whose ammo never drops from enemies is probably the biggest strike against it, making it generally nonviable for frequent use.
  • The Precarious Ledge: The trio go a short way around the edge of a skyscraper 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Joel and Tess are fond of these when doing interrogations and in cutscenes in general.
  • Press X to Not Die: Whenever Joel gets into a struggle with a scavenger or mutant, these prompts will pop up. There are also many random points throughout the game where they appear.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted like hell. Even the basic pistol will leave a nasty-looking wound. The most powerful weapons will destroy an enemy's head outright, sending chunks of brain matter flying and leaving a bloody stump.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Joel begins the game (after the timeskip) as this, while Ellie develops into it. Notable examples are Joel driving over the seemingly wounded guy asking for help, and later, Ellie not trusting the apparently helpful David in the slightest, holding him and his friend at arrow-point and demanding his hunting rifle. Good thing, too, since otherwise our duo would have wound up variously killed for their possessions, killed for their meat or made into a group leader's newest "pet".
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Joel gets to keep Ellie in his life by saving her at the Firefly hospital, but in doing so, he risks breaking her trust in him entirely—and shattering the relationship he was trying to save. Word of God says this is exactly what happens, although players might come to different conclusions.

  • Ragnarök 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 fazed much about all the people she and Joel encounter who try to kill them, but when David attempts to rape her towards the end of their fight, she responds by hacking his face off and then breaks down crying in Joel's arms once he arrives.
  • 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.
    • This emphasis on green gets taken Up to Eleven with the Remastered edition on PS4, where even the light bar on the game controller is usually lit up green (vs. the usual blue) during the single-player game. (Notably, it changes colour as your health deteriorates, matching the on-screen health metre — green, then orange, then red.)
  • Reality Ensues: Played straight with Bill, who's such an asshole that his lover abandoned him and took anything he could carry along with him.
  • Reclaimed by Nature: The series uses this to full effect for Scenery Porn. The premise of the series is that more than 99% of humanity has been killed off by a deadly fungus, so there aren't enough survivors to simply maintain any upkeep. One example comes when Joel and Ellie are exploring through a ruined building and they come across a giraffe who escaped from the zoo. The Giraffe is just casually eating leaves from a nearby tree growing in the building, and allows Ellie to come up and touch its face.
  • Regenerating Health: Of the sectioned variety. It also takes quite a while to kick in.
  • 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.
    • Some notes and other clues found in the ruins of Pittsburgh imply this happened here also, with the population rising against the Army's rule. The Hunters then rejected the Fireflies' leadership as well and decided to run the city for themselves.
  • 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.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: A .357 revolver is the second gun you get: it deals more damage than the pistol, but also fires slower and its ammo capacity can't be upgraded. Then there's El Diablo, a very powerful scoped revolver that actually starts out with a magazine capacity of one but can be upgraded to three.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: Uncharted 13.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Ultimately, the Fireflies are right about how they should have killed Joel, because he has grown too emotionally attached to Ellie, and consequently destroys the Fireflies' hopes of finding a cure for the Cordyceps infection. It's never explained why they wanted Joel dead, whether it's because he'd outlived his usefulness to them, so they wouldn't have to pay him, or because he knows the Fireflies' secret hospital and is a liability (because he could potentially go to FEDRA with this information for a reward, or could get captured by FEDRA and interrogated).
  • 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: The Fireflies are a movement who want the government restored, with the aim of reestablishing democracy over martial law.
  • Rule of Cool: Joel's pistol is listed as a "9mm Automatic", but from the cutscenes there is no doubt whatsoever that it is a .45 caliber Colt Defender. While this model does come in 9mm, the .45 barrel is much more intimidating to look down.
  • 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 makenote  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.
    • There's also really no logical reason for Joel to be able to carry a maximum of three shivs. They're pretty tiny.
      • Or not being able to craft arrows, which must be easier to make than nail bombs.
    • AR-15 pattern rifles, despite being the most popular rifle in America, are only usable in the final level, taken from the cold, dead hands of the Fireflies. FEDRA has them them in the Scenic Tour Level, but never uses on the player, and Tommy is the only non-paramilitary person who owns one.
  • 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 pull Joel out of his "dark" self.
    • Giraffes. This video explains why along with some other symbolism and parallels.

  • Sacrificial Lamb: Joel's daughter Sarah, who dies at the end of the opening sequence when a soldier seriously wounds her.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Tess, who gets infected soon into the game and stays behind to hold off some soldiers.
  • Sadistic Choice: Joel has to choose between letting Ellie die or taking away humanity's best chance of finding a cure for the cordyceps fungus. Ultimately an averted trope as Joel doesn't seem to have any trouble choosing to save Ellie.
  • Scavenger World: In between the infected and the military lock-ups, everyone else is simply trying to find food and supplies to survive.
  • Scenery Gorn: Mostly in the city, but anywhere that hasn't been given regular upkeep has had twenty years worth of decay going on. At least one skyscraper has nearly fallen over and is being supported only by its neighbours.
  • Scenery Porn: The lake during the winter segment of the game is beautiful.
  • "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. Oh, you are going to kill them all against Ellie's will to make her whole journey pointless and then lie to her face about it? Alright then..
  • Shmuck Bait: Nail bombs are this to your enemies. Chuck one in a corner and you'll always take out at least one hapless investigator.
    • 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's up to Joel to teach her about it. He uses mementos from the past (broken arcade machines, Lets Plays, film posters and comics) to do it. See here for the complete list.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Ellie.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: Joel escaping the Fireflies with an unconscious Ellie in his arms at the end is accompanied by the haunting "All Gone (No Escape)", the very same melody that played when Sarah died.
  • Sinister Shiv: Shivs can be used to speed up take-downs or take a gamble on a locked door, hoping that there's useful loot behind it.
  • Smash to Black: Whenever Joel dies. It's also frequently used in cutscenes.
  • Sniper Pistol: The El Diablo comes with a scope as standard, though it offers less magnification than the scope for the Hunting Rifle.
  • 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.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Not the most blatant of examples, but when Joel and Ellie arrive in Pittsburgh and get ambushed, the radio in the car continues to play country music in the background (specifically Hank William's "Alone and Forsaken") as Joel crashes the car and they fight the Hunters (though the title is fitting of their situation at the time, and the chapter itself is named after it).
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Uncharted series, albeit Darker and Edgier. Both are made by Naughty Dog.
  • Stage Whisper: The tense stealth scenes where you must not make any sound lest a clicker hears you get a little more light-hearted when you realize that Ellie can curse to her heart's content without being heard. In the same way, you can stealth-kill people right next to their allies and their frenzied "mmmmph!" will go unheard.
  • Sticks to the Back: ...Sort of. Guns and melee weapons stick to Joel's backpack... somehow.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path: Similar to I Am Alive, the bow is a stealthy weapon and the arrows can be retrieved for reuse, provided they haven't broken.
  • Straight Gay:
    • Bill. It's established that he was in a relationship with a man named Frank, and Ellie snatches a gay porn magazine from him.
    • According to the Left Behind DLC, Ellie is this too.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Ellie's inability to swim is a major element of game mechanics. Sometimes you'll have to spend several minutes in an area trying to find a way to get her across a small body of water that Joel can easily swim across in seconds. Often this involves finding a floating object that she can climb onto, and then pushing it across the water to the other side.
  • Survivor Guilt: Ellie in the ending, as a result of her surviving due to her immunity while everyone else who got infected dies.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: If you've found an upgrade bench or decent stock of supplies,note  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 in 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. The trope also applies to the suspiciously generous amounts of bottles and bricks you will find before and during certain levels.

  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Had the gunner of the humvee not decided to open the vehicle's hatch and start throwing Molotov cocktails, Joel would have had no chance of destroying it.
  • Take Cover!: Both for shooting and stealth.
  • 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 to be thorough and pick them off one by one. Joel will always arrive just in time before the surgeon gets to work on her.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Infected look and act like typical zombies, but the "virus" is actually a mutated strain of Cordyceps fungus. They're still alive, just unable to control their own bodies.
  • 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?"
  • Throwing the Distraction: Bricks, bottles, etc can be thrown to distract/attract enemies or simply smack them in the head.
  • Time Skip: There's one for every change in season, skipping weeks or even months of time as Joel and Ellie travel cross country. Additionally, there's a time skip of 20 years between the intro and the story proper.
  • 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.
    • Played straight with the hatchet, which One Hit Kills anything short of a bloater, but only lasts five hits before breaking. The machete is even worse, packing the same punch but only lasting three hits before breaking.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ellie goes from a headstrong 14 year old girl to a hardened survivor capable of killing and surviving with the best of them.
  • Too Soon: In-Universe when Ellie reads the following from her book of lame jokes:
    Ellie: "'People are making apocalypse jokes like there's no tomorrow.' (Beat) Too soon."
  • Torture Always Works: Joel gets information through torture thrice. In all cases, he gets the information he needs quickly and easily.
    • The first time is to get information from Robert on where the guns that he should've had for him and Tess are.
    • The second time is justified, as he tortures one mook tied to a chair while keeping a second tied up too to corroborate the information he receives, though in the end he doesn't bother to double-check and just kills both of them.
    • The third time is more problematic: in a race against time to save Ellie from being killed for a vaccine, he takes a gun from the guard who was escorting him from the building and demands to know where she is, shooting said guard when he remains quiet. The guard promptly tells him before Joel finishes him off with a shot to the head. There are some signs around the hospital that Joel might have been able to use to piece together where he needed to go, but even a slight delay might have resulted in Joel being too late, and Joel is able to get precisely the information he needs from the guard in the space of a few seconds of torture.
  • 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 Attenborough explains. (Funnily enough, it was that bit from Planet Earth that inspired the game.)
      • It should be noted, for the purposes of not spreading myths, that humans and insects are so far apart biologically that the chances of such a fungus ever mutating in real life are essentially nonexistent. The ants infected by the fungus also do not attack other ants, and are actually mostly docile.
      • 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...".
    • 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 do room-clearing. Knives, not so much, considering their apparent rarity; see With Catlike Tread, below.
    • The field manuals are slightly stylized versions of actual Vietnam-Era field manuals, at least the covers.

  • Unbreakable Weapons: Ellie's switchblade, which is basically an unbreakable melee weapon/shiv.
  • Understatement: After Joel, Ellie, and Tess escape some Infected, Ellie gives us this.
    Ellie: You got something on your shoe.
    Joel: Huh? Oh... (shakes infected arm off his shoe)
    Ellie: Gross.
  • 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.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Human enemies with firearms will rarely if ever drop ammunition upon death.
  • Updated Re-release: The game was re-released in Summer 2014 for the PlayStation 4, with updated graphics, all previous Downloadable Content packed in, and a complete set of developer commentary tracks.
  • Urban Ruins: The Last of Us takes place in the ruins of several cities, including Boston, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City.

  • Video Game Caring Potential: Sarah and Ellie.
    • 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.
    • The total Ally Deaths Statistic is only used at Tommy's Dam where you fight off the bandit attack with Tommy and the other plant workers who all have families living in a nearby settlement. Although at least one plant worker will die in the attack due to an unavoidable scripted event where a bandit sneaks up and shivs him, Joel can keep that total Ally Deaths count to be only 1 death if he takes out all of bandits quickly before they get a chance kill anyone else.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can shoot, beat, stab, hold up and threaten people in this game.
    • Also, it's not really mandatory to have any of the prompted interactions whatsoever with Ellie to complete the game; you can ignore her and treat her like The Load if you really want to. Not that it affects the story at all.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Pretty much inverted, since the flamethrower will set any enemy the flame touches on fire, and then they will die, which makes it the best weapon in the game against all enemies within the admittedly short range of it. However, in multiplayer it's played straight.

  • Warm-Up Boss: Robert is this in spades. As well, his status as a Wolfpack Boss underscores just how much of a Cowardly Boss he is.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: To save on bullets, just hold someone up and let Ellie stab him in the back! Better make sure they don't figure out if you're out of bullets, though...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The Fireflies, who plan to cut out Ellie's brain so they can create a vaccine for the infection. 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.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first encounter with Bloaters can be teeth grindingly difficult, since it requires a completely different combat approach to properly deal with than what the player has been trained to handle up to that point. That is unless you know that they don't like fire and you're well-stocked on Molotov cocktails.
    • David, who you play a game of cat and mouse with in a steakhouse. You have nothing but a knife and he has a gun and a machete. Basically a test of how well you understand the stealth mechanics and the concept of hit-and-run.
  • Wham Line: "But it grows all over the brain..."
  • Wham Shot:
    • After Ellie is captured by David's group, she wakes up in a makeshift cell and sees a man cutting up what looks like an animal carcass on a slab outside her cell. This trope occurs when the man cuts off what is clearly a human arm.
    • Sam rolling up his left pant leg to reveal he's been bitten.
  • What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Joel is hit by this by proxy when he finds out that the Fireflies plans to sacrifice Ellie's life to produce the vaccine.
  • 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. Justified, as they don't have time to remove it carefully.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The Hunters in Pittsburgh try to pull this on Joel and Ellie when they first arrive. Unfortunately for them, Joel immediately sees right through it.

  • 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".
  • You Monster!: When Joel kills the surgeon about to operate on Ellie at the end, one of his assistants calls him a "fucking animal".
  • 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 government.

  • 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.
  • Zombie Infectee:
    • 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.
    • Sam, Henry's little brother.

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