Ascended Fanon: An inversion of sorts, while the original concepts for Joel and Ellie had their last names as "Miller" and "Williams", respectively (see What Could Have Been below), Naughty Dog eventually decided to scrap all last names from the game. This hasn't stopped somefans from running with the scrapped names, however.
A sound-based one. When Joel interrupts Ellie from hacking David to pieces, the machete can be heard hitting the ground, yet a few seconds later it's shown to be stuck in David's head.
At one point during the University chapter, Joel fights some infected while alone and tells Ellie about it afterwards. Ellie asks about the clickers, even though Joel never said there were, he had only said "infected".
California Doubling: A rare video game example. Naughty Dog recycled the road signs from the Pittsburgh segments of the game to use on the roads in Boston, leading to the odd sight of a highway sign in what's supposed to be Boston saying that the Fort Duquesne Bridge is ahead.
Dawson Casting: Would you believe Ellie and Joel's voice actors are only seven years apart? 14-year old Ellie is voiced by 30-year old Ashley Johnson. Inverted with circa 50-year old Joel who is voiced by 37-year old Troy Baker. Additionally, 16-year old Riley is voiced by 32-year old Yaani King, and Joel's little brother Tommy is voiced by Jeffrey Pierce, who is five years older than Troy.
Deleted Scene: A 2014 'Live Performance' of The Last Of Us revealed a scene that was meant to have been The Stinger, but got cut out. The scene (acted by Troy and Ashley, not animated) features Joel and Ellie some few months after settling at Tommy's, where Joel visits Ellie in her room and talks a bit about a woman Tommy has been setting him up with. Ellie still acts a little down after the outcome of their journey and Joel's lie. Joel then presents a guitar and plays a song for her, with Ellie thanking him when he's done. He gives her the guitar as a present, and she plays a few notes on it after he walks out.
Doing It for the Art: Naughty Dog had to stand its ground to have Ellie feature on the game's cover, since the popular idea among publishers is that games with a female on the cover might alienate wider audiences. More about it can be read here.
BioShock Infinite: Both are AAA games with a heavy focus on narrative featuring guitar playing, Unscrupulous Hero protagonists voiced by Troy Baker, who both lost their daughter 20 years ago and are now charged with escorting a girl named Elizabeth or a derivative of such, teaching her the ways of the world, and eventually turning against a black woman leading a revolutionary force.
The Walking Dead: Man takes care of a young girl in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
Metro2033/Last Light: Post-apocalyptic Survival Horror story set in the ruins of a former superpower nation in 2033, heavy use of Improvised Weapons, hostile environs that require a gas mask and a rechargeable flashlight, ability to choose between stealthy or loud approaches to combat, even more guitar playing, and were both games on the PS3 that got remastered for the PS4 in 2014.
The Division: Both games revolve around a dangerous new virus/infection that causes mass chaos which results in a post-apocalyptic scenario for humanity. There's enactment of martial law, with roving gangs looting and killing anyone who dares to cross their path and scientists desperately looking for a cure to the virus. Both games also feature fierce anti-government organizations that regularly get into battles against the military.
Dyeing for Your Art: During the scenes in Winter where Ellie is roughly handled by David and James, Ashley did her own stunts and would be covered in bruises after takes.
For one take of the final cinematic (which was turned into an interactive scene in the final game), Merle Dandridge was told to deliver her lines in a certain way and Troy Baker was independently told to keep going no matter what (he had been fumbling the prop gun during most takes). You can see the result in this behind-the-scenes video.
When acting out the cutscene during Fall where Ellie confronts Joel about leaving her, Ashley pushed Troy while saying "...everyone - fucking except for you [have left her]." The push was unscripted, but Druckmann thought it fit well and let it stay. In fact, it wasn't the first time Ashley had pushed someone during that line. She previously did so with another man trying out for Joel's part, with the latter being so caught in the moment he pushed her back.
Fan Nickname: The infected are often jokingly referred to as "the mushroom people".
Some people have taken to calling the time before the infection outbreak as...well, Before. With a capital B.
In thisLet's Play, Geop and Skippy Granola take to calling Joel "Solomon Grumpy."
I Knew It!: There was a Running Gag on /v/ that Ellie was gay after the opening scene of the Left Behind DLC was shown in a preview, where we see Riley biting her neck to wake her up. This ended up being completely true.
Lying Creator: Enforced. Naughty Dog felt the need to insist that you only play as Joel and never as Ellie in interviews because they felt the twist was so crucial to the story.
Tess was originally conceived as a major antagonist, harboring a grudge against Joel for betraying her in the past. More about it can be read here.
An AMA on reddit.com with game director Bruce Straley and creative director Neil Druckman revealed some interesting things:
Early in development, Joel's last name was given as "Miller" and Ellie's as "Williams," but Neil Druckmannrevealed that the decision was made to cut all last names from the final product. These names are still listed in the Japanese manual, however.
Joel rescuing Ellie from the operating room was originally going to be a cutscene, which can be seen parodied here (spoilers, obviously) with Troy Baker and Merle Dandridge singing the dialogue in the ending.
Instead of giraffes, Joel and Ellie were going to encounter a herd of deer, but the developers figured giraffes would make it more special.
The game was originally going to be a Jak and Daxter game, but because the developers felt that they were only making it because it was an existing IP they could easily make money off of, they went to their higher ups and explained that they didn't feel like they were making the game for the right reasons and they didn't really feel passionate about it. They were then told to do what they wanted, and thus The Last of Us was born. Naughty Dog later released some of the concept art for the game in an artbook, revealing a photorealistic Jak◊ and a steampunk setting.◊
Checking out the concept art for the game will reveal many things that were considered during production. Perhaps most notably is how early designs of infected showed some of them carrying tools as weapons while others were merged together. Apparently, the creators also played around with the idea of Ellie having a dog.
Joel came very close to being voiced by someone other than Troy Baker. Troy nearly walked out of the audition when he saw his competition, which consisted of several men resembling Joel far more in terms of both looks and age, thus Troy figured he stood no chance. His agent called as he was about to walk out, however, and told Troy to at least give it a shot. And the rest is history, as they say.
They toyed with the idea of including a note written by Ish; but eventually decided not to, as it would've been little more than Pandering to the Base.
Originally, the DLC wasn't even going to show the moment where Riley and Ellie get bitten.
Originally, the game was going to be called Mankind, where the infection only affected women and Ellie was The Immune, functionally causing a Gendercide in addition to the Zombie Apocalypse. The idea was deemed misogynistic and scrapped.
The scene where Sarah dies would originally have cut directly to the 20-years later Time Skip, but Druckmann figured the transition was too abrupt, not letting Sarah's death sink properly in, and thus the opening credits was added.
Now when I was writing it I was writing it with the idea that Ellie is gay, and when the actresses were working they were definitely working with the idea that theyre both attracted to each other. That was the subtext and intention that they were playing with from the opening cinematic when theyre holding each others hands for too long, or when Riley bites her on the neck; theres that chemistry there from the get go that was important for us so that we earned that moment when they kissed each other. So that it wasnt just out of the blue but also wasnt so overt that youre like Oh of course. Just get on with it.
The creators are pretty adamant that she was conceived as a lesbian during their initial pitch, but they couldn't figure out how to have her say that to Joel, and thus the player, during the main game; or have her mention that to herself during the Winter-chapter. And so they put it on the "maybe"-pile. And then came the DLC.
Write What You Know: According to Druckmann, the Central Theme of this game about the primacy of parental love came from the experience of becoming a father for the first time during the production of the game.
Before the movie was officially shelved, both Neil Druckmann and Troy Baker had shown interest in Josh Brolin to play Joel, while Ashley Johnson's own personal choice for Ellie was Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, to which said actress has stated that she'd have been very happy to play her.
Hugh Jackman was rumored to be considered for the role of Joel as well. Funnily enough, Logan, in which Jackman starred, and is seen by many as a spiritual adaptation of this game's story, came out right around the time the movie was officially cancelled in late 2016/ early 2017.
Ellie and Joel's conversation while in the car headed for Pittsburgh, while taking place a while into the game, was the first scene Ashley and Troy tried out for together.
When you first control Ellie, you can search her backpack in the inventory screen to find several items the game never alert you about, including Sam's toy, the photo she later gives Joel and a letter from her mother.
When Tommy shows Joel around the power plant in the Fall chapter, Joel eventually comes across a dog he can pet that Tommy mentions is named Buckley. "Buckley" was the name of Troy Baker's own dog that passed away while the game was being made, hence the in-game dog was named after him. Aw...