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Video Game / The Last of Us

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"To the edge of the universe and back. Endure and survive."

"I've struggled for a long time with surviving. But no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."
— Joel

The Last of Us is a video game from Naughty Dog. It was released on the PlayStation 3 on June 14, 2013, with a PlayStation 4 version released on July 29, 2014.

In late 2013, the majority of human civilisation is destroyed by a highly contagious fungal infection that rapidly transforms its victims into aggressive and mindless monsters. Twenty years later, the last remnants of humanity either live under the strict martial law of "quarantine zones" or in scattered settlements trying to scavenge a living within a dangerous and hostile world.

Joel is a bitter and amoral Shell-Shocked Veteran who gets by as a smuggler working out of the Boston Quarantine Zone with his partner-in-crime Tess. When a weapons deal goes wrong, Joel is given one last chance to salvage the goods: by striking a deal with the radical Fireflies to smuggle a fourteen-year-old girl named Ellie out of the city. What appears to be a simple job turns into a country-wide trek across the ruins of America in pursuit of what could be a cure to the infection that plagues humanity, plighted not only by the Infected but also by the worst that humanity has to offer.

On February 14, 2014, a single-player DLC titled Left Behind was released. Acting as a pre- and inter-quel, it focuses on two timelines: firstly, it follows Ellie and her best friend Riley a few weeks before the central plot starts; and secondly, it fills in the Time Skip between Fall and Winter. Please note that, due to whiting out issues, main story spoilers will be unmarked in the DLC folder.

A sequel titled The Last of Us Part II was released on June 19, 2020. A third game is in the works.

In March 2014, it was announced that Sam Raimi would be producing a big-screen adaptation of The Last of Us. Unfortunately, Druckmann mentioned that was stuck in Development Hell for a few years before ultimately getting cancelled altogether in early 2017. In March 2020, it was announced that ND and Playstation Productionsnote  were working with HBO to turn the game into a TV series, the first season of which premiered in 2023.

On June 9, 2022, it was announced that the game was being remade for the PlayStation 5 and PC under the name The Last of Us Part I. The PS5 version came out on September 2, 2022 while the PC version came out on March 28, 2023. This version is visually on par with The Last of Us Part II, as well as containing that game's gameplay upgrades to the stealth and fighting mechanics.

In late 2022, Themeborne held a Kickstarter campaign to produce The Last Of Us: Escape The Dark as part of their Escape The Dark line of Tabletop Games.

This game provides examples of:

    Left Behind DLC 
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: You'll nab a hunting rifle in time for the final battle.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: You play as Ellie through the whole DLC.
  • And Starring: Troy Baker receives credit as Joel again, though all he does is gasp and lie on the ground.
  • Arc Words: The main plot's theme of continuing to survive, no matter what, returns through a speech given by Riley.
  • Artificial Stupidity: It can be quite comical to watch the bad guys defend themselves towards infected, as a lot of the time they will be completely hopeless at it. Special mention goes to some scenarios where even one or two infected (usually one being a clicker) can take down four or five men together as the latter will just fire blindly or attempt to tackle them. That being said, when the hunters do manage to get the upper hand, they're capable of flipping clickers over and stomping their heads in; an impossible maneuver for Joel, much less Ellie.
  • Backtracking: Of a sort, as the interquel part has Ellie looping back on herself very briefly to evade the bandits.
  • Battle Couple: Ellie and Riley, for a grand total of about three minutes after their Big Damn Kiss and before they are infected. Ellie obviously survives the infection.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Ellie to Riley when she agrees to stay with her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ellie and Riley both get infected, with Riley succumbing to the virus while Ellie remains immune. Ellie is then faced with the choice of either killing the monster that her friend will become, or leaving her behind at the risk of infecting others - and it's not clear which decision she makes in the end. Nonetheless, Ellie lives on to try and make a difference with her condition, and Riley's last words are implied to have inspired her to keep living.
  • Boss Battle: Of a sort. Ellie has to best Riley in a few games and activities, though losing is an option (as they just laugh about it and the plot continues anyway).
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Ellie. It also serves to explain why she dislikes leaving Marlene, and later Joel; she has a history of losing people she dearly cares about.
    • Riley counts as well. In contrast to Ellie, she's shown to nearly constantly wear a positive attitude, which makes it all the more sad when she eventually breaks down upon getting bitten.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Players can optionally sign into Facebook to let the game make a single post to their wall. It means the photos Ellie and Riley take in the booth can be kept, allowing for an added punch if they view it after completing the DLC.
    Ellie: What's a "face-book"?
  • Call-Back: Just like in the main campaign, the intro shot is of Joel's "baby girl" sleeping.
    • It also ends with a close-up of Ellie's sad face.
    • A number of elements in this story were first referenced in the main campaign, such as the soldier who taught Ellie to ride a horse, the video game found in the arcade, and so on.
  • Cat Scare: Literally. While Ellie's going through a dark hallway, a cat will jump out twice, startling both her and likely the player.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's revealed that Ellie got her book of puns from Riley. The fact that she keeps it parallels Joel keeping his broken watch from Sarah.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During one section, the player has to use stealth and tactics to outsmart and "hunt" Riley. This later helps Ellie when she has to out-maneuver David in the burning restaurant.
  • Continuity Nod: When Ellie and Riley are at the rooftops before entering the mall, you can look ahead and see the skyscrapers in the distance that Ellie will enter with Joel and Tess three weeks later.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The DLC explores this, showing that Ellie has a dreadful history that rivals Joel's.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Watch as Ellie forgives Riley and the two get back on good terms, only for both to get infected, accept their death, and for Riley to later die offscreen.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Since you play as Ellie, you get access to her unbreakable switchblade, which can silently kill anything you face.
  • Doomed by Canon: Riley.
  • Dramatic Irony: It's pretty sad when you know how it's going to turn out. Tenfold when you realize they go for option two, meaning Ellie is going to watch Riley die without getting to turn herself.
  • Easter Egg: Several exist if you wish to indulge them — players can have Ellie tell dozens of pun jokes if they want to keep going, and several joke items can be played with in the joke shop if you look.
  • Enemy Mine: Played with. At certain segments towards the end Ellie can throw bricks or bottles to lure infected towards non-infected enemies. The name of the chapter is even "The Enemy of My Enemy."
  • Fission Mailed: You can lose the game of cat and mouse that Ellie plays against Riley if the latter gets the jump on the former. However, this is the only example of its kind in the entire series that can be failed without landing the protagonist in deep shit as the plot continues the same regardless of who wins.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Ellie gets to show off her badass combat skills as early as in this story; notably, while Riley defends herself against infected with a gun, Ellie tackles them head on and brutally stabs them to death. Riley even finds the time to exclaim "Wow" at her before they go back to escaping. Then there's how she graphically kills that female infected attacking Riley...
    • Clues are left here and there for the true nature of Ellie and Riley's relationship, starting with Riley biting Ellie's neck while she's sleeping to scare her. They share a handshake for several seconds, Riley calls Ellie "my girl", and they share an awkward gaze at the end of the photobooth session. A lot of the things Riley tells Ellie during their quarrel also sounds very intimate; "Why did you bring me here?" - "I wanted to see you. [...] Guilt didn't make me cross a city full of soldiers." and "Who am I to stop you?" - "...the one person that can."
  • Foregone Conclusion: Both Ellie and Riley end up getting bitten, with Riley eventually succumbing to the infection.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment toward the very end of the prequel section, you can catch the exact moment that the infected attacking Ellie sinks its teeth into her arm.
  • Gilligan Cut: Towards the end there's a scene of Ellie trying to calm herself down as she's preparing to stitch up Joel, only to cut to a scene in the flashback portion of Ellie smashing some pots after she and Riley had just been bitten.
  • Hope Spot: Appears in both timelines.
    • The prequel sequence has Ellie and Riley making amends, only for infected to burst in and chase them.
    • Also in the prequel is when Ellie and Riley almost escape the infected, only for the scaffold Ellie is climbing to topple. Because of it, they both end up bitten.
    • The midquel sequence has Ellie eliminating the final bandit group and reaching Joel. About to open the padlock keeping him safe, a shot narrowly misses her and more bandits (and then infected) start to close in on her.
  • House Squatting: Civilization has collapsed and everything outside of the government-run quarantine zones has fallen into abandon. Anyone travelling outside of the approved zones will have to find their own shelter which mostly consists of abandoned houses and apartment buildings. It's usually safe to squat for a night before moving on.
  • How We Got Here: The story of how Ellie got bit.
  • Hurricane of Puns: As with the main plot, Ellie can read from her joke book.
  • Left Hanging: The DLC ends shortly after Ellie and Riley get bitten, not showing what eventually became of Riley or how Ellie reacted to not turning herself
  • Meaningful Name: Riley means "courageous".
    • "Left Behind" could mean multiple things:
      • How Riley left Ellie behind when she tried to join the fireflies.
      • Ellie is forced to leave Joel behind to look for supplies in an abandoned mall to try to heal his life-threatening puncture wound.
      • However, after beating the main game, the title most likely refers to how Ellie is suffering survivor's guilt over Riley's death, and that Ellie is still waiting for her turn to die.
        Ellie: She says, "Let's just wait it out, you know, we can be all poetic and lose our minds together." I'm still waiting for my turn. Her name was Riley and she was the first to die. Then it was Tess. And then Sam.
  • Minimalist Cast: The acting credits even show it — "Ashley Johnson as Ellie, Yaani King as Riley, and Troy Baker as Joel."
  • Mood Whiplash: The prequel and interquel section both takes place at a mall, and while both are obviously worn down and overgrown, the prequel mall with Ellie and Riley simply hanging out is during summer and filled with warm colors and lights, while the interquel mall with Ellie trying to find medics for Joel while fighting enemies is during winter, and mostly consists of grey and cold colors.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's implied that infected appeared because Riley decided to play loud music.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Riley heads back to save Ellie after she falls off the scaffolding. This winds up getting her bitten.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Ellie realizes she doesn't want Riley to leave with the Fireflies and quietly asks her, "Don't go." Riley had secretly wanted to hear those words from Ellie all along and happily complies.
  • Posthumous Character: Files found in the mall reveal the tragic fate of the crew of a military helicopter that crashed during the early days of the outbreak.
  • Prequel/Interquel: Set before Ellie joined the Fireflies and her journey with Joel. As well as some time before the Winter chapter after Joel is injured following the abandoned college bit.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: A viable strategy when hunters are searching for Ellie and Joel is to make noise and lure out infected to attack them, then take care of whoever wins.
  • Scenery Gorn: Due to dilapidation, the mall during the winter section is filled with snow.
  • Slice of Life: The prequel segments, as all Ellie and Riley really do is hang out and joke around.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Facebook, of all things.
    • Also possibly to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The beauty-shop with the first dead soldier is named Rarity with a purple and white logo.
    • Putting on the witch mask at the Halloween store will have Ellie and Riley share a few The Wizard of Oz related exchanges.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "I Got You, Babe" by Etta James continues to play in the background while Ellie and Riley are running from infected.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Riley reveals she has to leave with the Fireflies, and is making amends to say goodbye. Ellie begs her to stay and, when she agrees, Ellie kisses her. Cue Riley happily reciprocating, before a group of infected chase them and ultimately bites them.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: A viable tactic — since Ellie runs into both Infected and Bandits together, it's possible to throw a brick/bottle at the feet of Bandits to get them swarmed and eaten.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Ellie gets a nasty bite wound, but doesn't notice it until Riley points it out to her several seconds after it happens. This is based on realism as not noticing a wound right away while running high on adrenaline is common.
  • Take a Third Option: Both bitten, Riley offers Ellie the option of suicide now, or going insane together. Hopeless and desperate, Ellie requests a third option.
  • Timed Mission: In a sense. The last Interquel section involves the mall being overrun by enemies to which Ellie has to make her way to Joel through killing them all before one of them manages to bust open the gate Joel's behind. And once she's cleared out the first group, a second wave arrives.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It doesn't occur to Riley or Ellie that playing loud music in an unsecured building outside the QZ walls isn't a good idea.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The plot alternates between two points to keep it interesting: Plot A, which is all action and stealth, fills in the gap between Autumn and Winter after Joel is impaled and bleeding to death; Plot B is plot heavy with some action, and follows what occurred between Ellie and Riley.
  • The Unreveal: "Left Behind" reveals how Ellie and Riley end up getting bitten, but it's not revealed what exactly became of Riley after succumbing to the infection.
  • The Unseen: Ellie and Riley talk about Marlene quite a bit, but she doesn't appear in person.

    American Dreams 
  • All There in the Manual: American Dreams tells the story of how Ellie and Riley met, and also gives us Riley's age, which is 16.
    • Left Behind also features many Call Backs and references to American Dreams; Ellie and Riley discuss and mention things that come across as Noodle Incidents to anyone who hasn't read the comic but, in reality, were actually shown.
    • When Ellie prepares to stitch Joel up, she comments that she's "kind of an expert...ish". This is also explained in the comic where Ellie took lessons with the other orphans in nursing.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: This trope somehow works - the art is more evocative of a slice-of-life comic akin to Scott Pilgrim than a story about the Zombie Apocalypse, in spite of the more realistic-looking covers. Nonetheless, the work is essentially a coming-of-age story that focuses less on the actual infected themselves and more on Ellie's growth into becoming a young adult, meaning that the cartoonish appearance suits her state of mind at the time better than a gritty, realistic art style would.

"It can't be for nothing."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Last Of Us Part I


Joel Interrogates Hunters

After waking up to find Ellie missing, Joel violently interrogates some Hunters in order to find out where they have taken her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / JackBauerInterrogationTechnique

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