I will be assuming that you've played the last of us already so SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! Also this is about the last of us, a really dark M rated horror game, so it may gt a little messed up, reader discretion advised!
Also don't read this if you haven't played the last of us, or else you will be totally lost.
The Last of Us, is a game that plays with player expectations. At the start of the game you assume you play as the hero, as you would in any other game. But in the end of the game (again if you are reading this I assume you know everything about the last of us) it turns out that to get the cure from Ellie, who is immune to the zombie plague, the fire flies, the group that hired you to escort Ellie across the country to get the cure from her, will need to remove her brain and kill her.
After learning this Joel Mercilessly slaughters the fire flies. murders three innocent doctors, murders the fire fly leader, and takes Ellie back to his brother Tommy's, robbing humanity of a cure, dooming them to extinction. And to top it all off he lies to Ellie about the whole thing.
What's Brilliant about this ending, that no other game has done before, is that it turns out that the man you have come to relate to as the hero is really a monster.
OR IS HE?!?!
Let's look at the facts.
Humanity is lost any way
Throughout the entire game most people you meet, want to rob, murder, rape, and even eat you. In the world of the last of us, everyone is a monster. Ellie is one of the last decent human beings left alive.
Even if you do find a cure, the world will still be full of murderers and cannibals.
Look at the Mad Max franchise, that's a torn down world of monsters too, but it wasn't zombies that caused it, it was us.
In the last of us, if you cure the fungal zombie plague, everything won't magically go back to normal. it's not some Disney fairy tale ware you find some magic amulet, or learn the power of love, and every thing goes back to normal. This is the last of us, a dark, gritty, sci fi survival horror. Society would still be broken down, people won't be willing to just go back to a normal society after living in what is essentially, Mad Max but with zombies.
If you do get cure from her(Ellie) you would still need to distribute it. Not every one will accept, or even believe that you can cure them. In fact most groups in the last of us world would likely be hostile and try to kill you instead. and once you've found this cure the infected won't just magically disappear. They would still be there, and still be dangerous Humanity is already lost.
Also this cure is not guaranteed to work, and if it doesn't work Ellie would have died for nothing.
To quote one of my favorite youtubers Jeremy Johns
"it's not like Ellie WILL die, but humanity WILL be cured. no, it's ELLIE WILL DIE! and humanity MAY be cured."
That brings me to my biggest point, a point that so many people overlook, and it really irritates me that, when analyzing Joel's choice in the end, no one seems to fully realize this. The procedure would KILL Ellie!
Ellie is not an object, and deserves to live
What some people don't seem to fully realize, is that Joel saved Ellie's life. yeah if it was Joel's life that hung in the balance, his actions would be selfish, but instead it's the life of an innocent young girl. A human being, with her own story, who experiences her own loss, and has her own hopes and dreams. Throughout the game Ellie Risks her life to protect Joel and nurse him back to health after he got impaled, most people would have left him to die, but she didn't. Even before that Ellie would help Joel in combat, pointing out enemies, throwing bricks at enemies, and even pulling enemies off of Joel when they have him pinned down. Not to mention all the health and ammo she finds for him. After all that, Joel would have been a cold heartless monster if he didn't save her.
Seriously, imagine if after all that, Joel would have just taken his payment, and let the fire flies slaughter poor little Ellie like an animal. If he did that, then he really would have been the bad guy. But that's not how it goes down, instead, Joel saves Ellie's life.
And it's not like Ellie is prophesized to die. The Last Of Us doesn't start with " and a young girl will be born with an immunity, and will give her life for the cure". The Last Of Us is a science fiction story, meaning that it has bases in science. And science is all about trial and error, finding many ways to solve a problem.
Sure you can argue that maybe Ellie would've wanted to sacrifice herself to find a cure. That would be a good argument, if Ellie had a choice.
Ellie wasn't given a choice.
remember that when Ellie wakes up in the back of Joel's car after he saves her, the first thing she says is "what the hell am I wearing?" and the second thing she says is "what happened?". This tells us that she was likely unconscious from the point were she nearly drowns trying to save Joel, to the moment she wakes up in his car. Otherwise when Ellie woke up, instead she probably would have asked "Why am I still alive?" or "Did the procedure go well?"The fact that Ellie doesn't reference the surgery or her own death, is pretty strong evidence that Ellie has no idea of what almost happened to her, or that she was even put under, further evidence of this is earlier in the game when she asks how the fireflies would get a cure from her. And if Joel told her the truth she still would not have had a choice, Even if Ellie want didn't to have the procedure done, and didn't want to die, she would have still felt guilty that people may be suffering because she is still alive and done it anyway. I think Joel new this and figured it'd be better if she didn't know.
The fire flies wanted to murder this little girl who only wanted to help them. That brings me to another point.
Marlene and the fire flies are not good people
If any one is the bad guy in this story, it's Marlene and the fire flies.
Joel risks is life to help them. he didn't even want to in the first place, but he did. Then when Ellie, this girl who's supposed to be so important, nearly drowns, and Joel tries to revive her. What do the fire flies, these supposed heroes, do? they knock him out! he hadn't even done anything to them yet!
Then when Joel wakes up in the hospital, Marlene tells Joel they need to kill Ellie. She then tells her goon to escort Joel out of the facility, and if he tries anything, SHOOT HIM! seriously am I the only one who feels a little sorry for Joel at this point? he almost dies trying to help these people, the girl who he has come accept as his daughter, and one of the few people he cares about, is about to die, and these people are just treating him like a common criminal.
No wonder he goes on a rampage!
Also, Ellie's mom was Marlene's best friend, and this woman's dying wish is that her best friend Marlene would take care of her only daughter. So what does Marlene, the brave strong heroic leader f the fire flies, do? She sends the kid to a military boarding school for 13 or 14 years, then tries to kill her, what a role model. Also, if you've ever read the comic, she threatens to shoot Ellie's best friend Riley, and all Riley ever wanted was to become a fire fly. Marlene is a dick to people who want to help her.
Yeah you could say Marlene lives in a harsh world. But Joel lives in the same world, and never once has Joel ever threatened, or even wanted to hurt Ellie. In the whole time we've seen Joel, never once has he even attempted to hurt a child, were as Marlene has threatened to shoot a 16 year old girl(Riley) in the face, and tried to remove a 14 year old girl's brain(Ellie). Even David, a sadistic cannibal, only tried to kill one kid(Ellie) yeah that's bad, but it's better than trying to kill 2 kids. (wow ,The Last Of US is perhaps one of the most messed up games I've ever played! Definitely deserves it's M rating, I should put some sort of warning in the this article). some people even argue that David didn't want to kill Ellie at first, so you could say that Marlene, the brave strong and heroic leader of the fire flies, is even worse than David, the sadistic cannibal. I can't believe that so many people think the next Last Of Us game, should be a prequel about Marlene and the fire fly uprising. Really, Marlene? that's who you think the hero is? the Irresponsible, child murdering, psychopath? I'm sorry but that is NOT the character i would want to play as.
And as for the doctors.
Joel Doesn't kill the Innocent doctors.
you may say "yeah he does, I've played the game, the doctors are just begging for mercy, and Joel brutally murders them. It's sick and disturbing! I'm shocked he would do such a thing, the monster!"
Sure, you need to kill the first doctor, I'll give you that. But in Joel's Defense, that doctor pulled a knife on him, so you could chalk that up as self defense. As for the other two, the poor helpless doctors cowering in the corner, begging for mercy.
Well get ready, for what I am about to say, WILL BLOW YOUR MIND! it will turn your world upside down!
Those two innocent, helpless, doctors, begging for mercy.... Guess what. YOU DON"T NEED TO KILL THEM!!!!
That's right it's player choice. Hears how you save Ellie, without killing the two helpless doctors.
step 1. After you kill the first doctor, again he pulls a knife on you, so he's not one of the helpless ones, this is how to spare the other two that are helpless. after that walk up to Ellie, without killing the other doctors. just leave them alone.
step 2. once you've reached Ellie, without killing the two helpless doctors. simply press triangle, again without killing the two helpless doctors.
After you do this, Joel will pick up Ellie and leave the room. Leaving the two helpless doctors to live another day.
Yeah this is kind of obvious, but that's exactly my point. people always point out how Joel kills the innocent doctors, but you don't need to kill them. It's player choice and not really cannon with the rest of the story, sense Joel may not have killed them other wise. So the only one killing those doctors, is you.
Is Killing Ellie really the best way to do this?
Consider this. They could only get the cure from Ellie's brain, what if they run out? they can't just get the cure from Ellie again if they've already killed her. They would need to somehow give others this gene, or breed this mutated strand of cordyceps (the parasitic fungus) in other peoples' brains. Basically they'd be breeding humans to be harvested. I'd rather take my chances with the clickers(Infected). I am not usually a very sentimental guy but, but living like that, harvesting humans like cattle. Only caring about the survival of our species, rather than family or friends. That's NOT how humanity survives, you know what does behave like that though? a virus. Joel didn't doom humanity to extinction, he saved humanity from becoming a virus.
As I pointed out earlier, The Last Of Us, is a science fiction game, their could be many ways to save humanity. Killing Ellie didn't work out? maybe try building a society like Joel's brother Tommy did. Or with enough time and research, perhaps someone will find another cure that doesn't involve, you know, killing people. heck maybe the one who finds this cure could be Ellie, she's smart, and determined.
Another point to consider is something called, an evolutionary arms race.
In nature, when one animal specializes in preying on another animal, some of the prey animals may develop a mutation to help them survive the predator. these animals would then pass this gene on to their offspring. In turn the predator would develop a way to get through that mutation, but the prey animal would develop another mutation and so on.
In the world of The Last Of Us, humans are actually the prey animal, and our predator is the cordyceps fungus. Now while Marlene claims Ellie's immunity is caused by the cordyceps inside her being mutated. later you find a recording of a fire fly scientist saying "the cause of her immunity is uncertain". I think that it's not the cordyceps inside her that's mutated, rather it's Ellie herself that's mutated, going back to the evolutionary arms race.
If this is true, then it's actually in mankind's best interest to keep Ellie alive, as her children would also be immune, then their children would be immune, and so on and so on until all of humanity is immune.
Also I can't really see you being able to make a vaccine for a parasitic fungus, it's not a virus it's a parasite it'd be kind of like trying to make a vaccine for a tape worm.
Also the fire flies have only known Ellie is immune for about three weeks, I'm no scientist but I think it would take a bit more than thee weeks of research, before ripping someones brain out.
Even if Joel was the bad guy, this is not a unique thing
Whenever someone says, "this is the first time I've played a game were I fell bad for what I did" to that I say, the first time? really? Have never played a video game before? Especially now, the gaming world is chalk full of anti-heroes, many of whom make Joel look like a saint. The most recent example is Grand Theft Auto 5, were you play as, among two others, a man named Trevor Phillips
Trevor is a psychotic drug dealer, and arms smuggler. The first really good look at Trevor's character is a scene of him, how do I put this gently, making love to some other guy's girlfriend. Then he kills the guy by stomping his brains out while yelling the C word over and over again.
I think the best example of a game were you play as the bad guy, is God of War.
I can't even tell you how much Kratos from God of War gets under my skin, and how irritated I am that everyone loves him. Don't get me wrong I like the god of war games, they are fun and entertaining. And I want to like Kratos, because I like both the design and idea of Kratos. a man so bad ass he kills all the Greek gods, but I just wish this guy could at least be a decent human being. this guy murders millions of innocent people, because he killed his own family and blames the gods.
You think Joel is the bad guy because he killed the fire flies, who as I said are not good people, and "robed" humanity of a cure, that may or may not have worked, all to save an Innocent 14 year old girl. Well every crime Joel committed is nothing compared to the man, more like monster, who drowned millions of innocent people in a tsunami caused by him murdering Poseidon and throwing him off a cliff, unleashed the souls of the underworld, by ripping Hades to shreds, and took the sun away buy decapitating Apollo. You could say that the gods were dicks in that game, but try telling that millions of innocent people that downed, got possessed, or are living in darkness waiting for god knows what to happen ( I mean they just witnessed all their friends family and loved ones get swept away by a tsunami filled with ghosts) all because Kratos killed his own family and blames the gods. At least people have the same chance to live after what Joel does that they had before, and they have a chance to rebuild society. But the god of war series ends with Kratos destroying the world.
Even Trevor Phillips has some redeeming qualities, but Kratos is just an ass hole.
A lot of people say how the ending of the last of us disturbed them, because they were killing the fire flies, who for the billionth time are no better then the hunters or cannibals. or because they didn't want to kill the poor helpless doctors, but again if you don't want to kill them, don't, no one is making you kill them so stop pretending to be so shocked by the killing of innocence in The Last Of Us, you don't need to do it. Also I can't stress enough that Joel's actions are all to save an innocent child
Well let me tell you just one of the many examples of God of War making me kill someone I didn't want to.
So in God of War 3, you get to a part were you find this lady that's been held captive in her room by one of the gods(I think it was Poseidon but I'm not sure) her whole life. so you rescue her and fend off some monsters trying to attack her. At this point I'm thinking, "oh well this is nice, I get to rescue a damsel in distress. something other than murdering everyone, that'll make me feel more like a hero, and make me root for Kratos." So you get this woman to a door that will only stay open while you have this lever held up, and if you let go of the lever it goes back down. So what does Kratos, the bad ass hero of God of War, do? HE MURDERS HER, by impaling her on with the lever thus keeping it up as long as she clings to life long enough for Kratos to get though the door. And why does the beloved Kratos do this, as well as his many other crimes against humanity, is it to save a helpless child? or to stop some evil corporation from taking over the world? No it's all to kill the king of the gods (Zeus) because he got pissed at him.
Joel- Kills a few bad people, to save the life an innocent 14 year old girl, and is branded a villain for doing so.
Kratos- Kills and rapes, millions of innocent people, not to mention causes millions of dollars in property damage, and is viewed as an awesome bad ass.
am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?
So is Joel really the bad guy? Well let's go back to the beginning of this article and look at the ending again, but this time a little differently.
In the start of the game Joel doesn't seem like much more than an animal, a ruthless killer willing to do anything to survive. but when he's hired, by a group called the fire flies, to escort a teenage girl named Ellie across the country to find a cure for the parasitic fungus, he starts to develop a bond with her. Joel starts to view Ellie as a daughter, as she in turn begins to view him as a father.
After Ellie is delivered to the fire flies, unconscious, he learns to that to get the cure, Ellie must die. instead of just taking his payment and leaving his new, unconscious, and helpless daughter to be slaughtered, he fights back. Out manned and out gunned, he bravely fights his way to the operating room, were Ellie is being held. Joel saves Ellie's life. he then brings her to safety, were, hopefully, she can live a long and happy life.
What's truly brilliant about this ending is the change in priorities. Throughout the game, the priority is getting Ellie to the fire flies. So they can use her to create a cure for the fungal outbreak, and save the world. Along the way, Joel starts to care about Ellie and view her as family. when he learns that to get the cure they must end Ellie's life, the goal changes. Instantly and seamlessly, the goal changes from saving the world, to keeping Ellie safe.
So is Joel a villain? no, and if you think about it, in most games, saving a little girl, from a shadowy group of violent people, would be considered heroic. And that is essentially what Joel did, he saved Ellie.
Saying that Joel is now the villain, I think would be totally missing the point of The Last Of Us. It's not supposed to be this huge twist were the main character was the bad guy the whole time (this isn't an M. Night Shyamalan movie after all), the point of the game is to relate to the characters, and understand why they did what they did. Joel is not this selfish, murderous bad guy, some think he is. Joel is just a man trying to protect the ones he loves, and that sounds pretty heroic to me.
If you liked this, and want to see more on the incredible game The Last Of Us, fallow me, because their is way more were this came from.
And if their are any other characters or aspects from any game, movie, TV show, or even book that you would like to see me discuss in depth, leave a comment.