The Last of Us: Scenes Pulled Directly From the Video Game

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The Last of Us is a critically acclaimed action-adventure horror video game developed by Naughty Dog. The 14-time GotY award-winning game takes place in the post-apocalyptic United States in the year 2033. The Last of Us tells the story of two main protagonists, Joel, a hard-boiled smuggler, and Ellie, a brave teenager with an uncommon courage and ability to survive in a world overcome by chaos. 

Besides providing immersive action-adventure gameplay and a compelling narrative, The Last of Us also boasts stunning visuals and an emotional soundtrack. Here, we focus on the most iconic and memorable scenes pulled directly from the video game.

E3 Trailer

The Last of Us made its first appearance during Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) of 2012 with a shocking and emotionally-charged trailer. The trailer begins with an old man with a tear running down his face as he reads a newspaper in a desolate, destroyed cityscape. He has lost his daughter, as we immediately understand from the featured newspaper story about her disappearance. We later find that old man was Joel. The player then witnesses Joel walking around the destroyed city, accompanied by a girl who turns out to be Ellie. As the scene unfolds, Joel is seen caring for Ellie and embracing her, showing us in this first portrayal the unique bond between Joel and Ellie that was to blossom throughout the game.

The Outbreak

As The Last of Us progresses, we learn more about the origin of the outbreak that has caused such chaos. On the way out of the quarantine zone, Joel and Tess, his partner in crime, find a dying military officer whose last words offer insight into the outbreak’s origins. It turns out that a scientific lab experiment went wrong. The lab had been attempting to create a form of Cordyceps, a type of fungus that infects insects, but instead, unleashed an outbreak that mutated regular humanity into zombies. That was the moment when the player sees the scary reality of The Last of Us.

Meeting Bill

One of the earliest characters in Last of Us we meet is Bill, a self-sufficient loner living on the outskirts of the quarantine zone. His life plans were drastically interrupted when the outbreak occurred. Joel and Tess need his help to get to their destination. But Bill, thinking they might be spies, demands payment. It is an intense conversation that lays the groundwork for Joel and Tess’ relationship. As the conversation progresses, Bill gradually learns Joel and Tess’s true purpose, and this moment of understanding is captured perfectly by the facial expressions and uncomfortable silences that follow the exchange because Bill comes to understand their journey of desperation.

The Capitols Building

Perhaps the most iconic and memorable scene in Last of Us is the ghostly passage through the ruined Capitols building. Joel and Ellie slowly progress through the building that was once a political hub, taking in the scene of empty desks, broken chairs, and books scattered around the halls. The transformation is a powerful and traumatic experience for the player, evoking feelings of loss and sadness for the once-busy life that has been erased.

The Zoo

After the Capitols building, Joel and Ellie make their way to the darkened and dilapidated zoo. This is the first time we get to see some of the more grotesque mutations of the Cordyceps infection, including a zombie that looks more like an animal. This sequence, in particular, tapped into the terror of being in unfamiliar territory—further exacerbating the fear of the unknown.

Meeting Tommy

Joel and Ellie’s second meeting with Tommy is truly a moment of redemption, as they arrive in his settlement at the beginning of the winter freeze. Joel is reunited with his brother’s family, and Ellie discovers a new purpose in life. Tommy shows Ellie a book and tells her the stories of history and books will never be forgotten, and this is the first time during the game that she feels safe and that everything will be alright.

The Fireflies

In their quest, Joel and Ellie eventually come across the Fireflies, a group of rebel scientists fighting to find a cure for the Cordyceps epidemic. We also find out that Ellie is immune to the infection, and the Fireflies demand her to help them with their experiments just like off-game villain, Marlene, does. This scene creates a moral dilemma for the player, and asks them the tough question of whether the lives of a few should be sacrificed for the sake of many.

The Chases

The game throws a series of intense chases at us, highlighting the brutality of their situation. The most memorable chase takes place inside the hospital, as Joel is dragging a wounded Ellie through the dark and abandoned corridors while running from a horde of infected. It is a true heart pumping moment as the player frantically searches for a way out while trying to keep Ellie safe, a true and powerful exercise in human responsibility.

The Clicker Encounter

Another standout moment in Last of Us is when the player first encounters the Clickers, the most threatening version of the infected. During the clicker encounter, theyíre chased by the zombies in a dark corridor that teeters between light and shadows, creating a suspenseful experience that creates a huge payoff in the end when the two manage to escape unscathed.

The Monologue

The game builds up an ever-growing sense of dread that culminates in one of the most impressive and emotionally-driven scenes of the game: the monologue. During this final moment, Joel is faced with an impossible decision that highlights the bigger themes of the narrative. Driven by his emotions, Joel casts aside everything else but his connection to Ellie and chooses to save her life, despite the heavy moral implications of his actions.

The Last of Us features a vibrant, almost film-like world that envelops the player in a truly captivating experience. From the silent streets of the quarantine zone to the somber monologue of Joel and Ellie, The Last of Us easily transports the player in other dimensions. Each scene pulled directly from the video game musters unique emotion, consistently reminding the player of the crucial lessons of human nature underlying the entire experience.

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