Naughty Dog’s 2013 release of The Last of Us left players with an attachment to characters Joel and Ellie and a desire for a sequel. The ending of the game kept the community talking long after the end credits rolled, because of the moral dilemma presented by Joel’s lie. Some saw Joel as the villain of the game for essentially condemning the human race by denying them a cure. Others felt his actions were more noble than that. But no matter what side of the fence fans were on, they wanted to know what happened in the world of The Last of Us after Joel rescued Ellie from the Fireflies.
When Naughty Dog first announced the news that The Last of Us would be getting a sequel during the PlayStation Experience in 2016, fans were thrilled. Getting to further explore the characters and world set up by the developers is an exciting prospect. Over the years, some interesting fan theories have crept up, and some of them would change things forever.
Joel hates the human race
The end of The Last of Us gave players a moral dilemma that they had no control over. The goal of the game was to keep Ellie safe, and yet, in order to do that, Joel needs to lie to her and stop the Fireflies from possibly making a cure. Though his choice left many feeling like he’d made a selfish decision, the fact that he wanted to keep Ellie safe endeared him to others. Of course, there’s also the theory that Joel’s motivation for saving Ellie wasn’t quite as altruistic.
One fan theory states that the reason Joel saved Ellie from the Fireflies had less to do with his love for her and more to do with his hate for humanity. Joel’s daughter was killed in the beginning of the game. When Joel is tasked with bringing Ellie to the Fireflies and his quest ends with another innocent young girl’s possible death, he decides he’s had enough of humanity. Joel takes Ellie away in order to spite the rest of the human race.
Nathan Drake caused the outbreak in The Last of Us
The idea of a crossover between two beloved video games can either exciting or a reason for fans to collectively groan at the cash grab. And though there hasn’t been any confirmation that The Last of Us and Uncharted are connected in any significant way, that hasn’t stopped one fan from theorizing that the two take place in the same universe. Not only does this fan think they’re connected, he thinks that Nathan Drake was the cause of the fungus outbreak.
Drake encounters many supernatural and dangerous things on his adventures. It would stand to reason that Drake may have unintentionally released a dangerous fungus during one of his excavations. And while it seems like the idea may be far-fetched, a newspaper in Uncharted 3 displays a headline stating that scientists are trying to understand a deadly fungal outbreak. The theory is further supported by the promotional image for The Last of Us that can be found in Uncharted 4.
The Seraphites use whistling to communicate
The Last of Us Part 2 introduced a new enemy faction called the Seraphites. While not much is known about this group, fans have already come up with extensive theories regarding their origins. One Redditor believes that the Seraphites are a breakaway group from the Fireflies. They are extremists that will stop at nothing to find the fungal cure and eliminate all infected. The prevalence of whistling in the trailer also lends itself to part of the theory. The Redditor says that whistling is the preferred form of communication between the Seraphites and points out the possibility that this is true of the Fireflies as well.
If whistling was the way Seraphites and Fireflies communicated, it would suddenly shed a whole new light on Ellie in the first game. Ellie was interested in learning how to whistle. It’s possible Ellie was unwittingly learning how to communicate in the secret code used by the Fireflies. And with this knowledge, it’s possible Ellie will be able to communicate with the Seraphites in the second game, using their own signals against them.
Joel is immune and doesn’t know it
Throughout The Last of Us, we’re presented with a rapidly spreading fungus that is turning the human race into monsters. It effectively morphs people into carnivorous creatures, intent on killing and spreading the disease around. The outbreak is something that’s supposed to be highly contagious, and yet Joel, who spends his time fighting those who are infected, never seems phased by the contagion at all.
It is established early on in the game that Ellie is immune to the outbreak. A bite that fails to turn her is the first obvious clue, but the fact that she remains immune throughout the game establishes this fact. Joel, on the other hand, is supposed to be someone who is just as vulnerable to the outbreak as the rest of the human race. And yet, the player sees Joel through countless encounters with the infected. He spends the entire game in areas where they’ve been, he fights them, and he is constantly exposed to contaminants. But Joel remains clean from infection. With this evidence, the theory that Joel is immune as well actually holds some water.
Sarah’s mother is actually Jill from Resident Evil
Many of the fan theories regarding The Last of Us are based on solid evidence. But some theories don’t need evidence simply because of how interesting they would be if they were somehow true. One fan presented an fascinating, if unlikely, theory about Joel’s history.
Players are briefly introduced to Joel’s daughter Sarah in the beginning of The Last of Us, and she left a lasting impact on fans. When after examining the pictures in Joel’s house, some players noticed that Sarah’s mother is nowhere to be seen. A brief conversation between Joel and Ellie suggests that Joel and his wife divorced some time ago, but Joel is unwilling to talk about it. But this particular fan pointed out that Sarah looks alarmingly like Jill Valentine from Resident Evil. The theory suggests that Joel left his wife when she decided to join the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance instead of staying home.
While this theory is impossible for a number of reasons, like the fact that both games are from different developers, it’s still an entertaining idea.
Ellie’s mother is the woman in the trailer
When Naughty Dog released their teaser trailer for The Last of Us Part 2, they made sure to keep things obscure enough to start a slew of fan theories. The trailer focused on a woman being punished for a crime. Naughty Dog didn’t give clues about the cult punishing the woman, the woman herself, or the people who saved her. They simply dropped the trailer, then added fuel to the fire by tweeting out a picture of the woman and blocking out the character’s name. But eagle-eyed fans had a theory that makes a lot of sense.
The woman in the trailer bears a resemblance to Ellie, and while Ellie’s mother was never actually seen in the first game, it would only make sense to tell more of her story in the second. The fact that the antagonist of the trailer holds a knife to the woman’s stomach also suggests that she may be pregnant. Possibly even with Ellie. All fans know about Ellie’s mother Anna is that she died giving birth to her. Fans have speculated that Anna may appear in Part 2 because the game may heavily feature flashbacks.
Part 2 will have branching storylines
Though many themes feature prominently in The Last of Us, one of the more obvious is the idea of cause and effect, which is introduced almost immediately in the heart-wrenching scene where Joel’s daughter is killed. The story then comes full circle, ending with Joel choosing the save Ellie and lie to her about the cure. Because of the moral dilemma presented at the end of the game, many fans have speculated that the second game will have different playable storylines.
Fans have been anxious to see what happened after Joel lied to Ellie. Did she find out about the lie? How would she react if she did? The idea that you may be able to explore this and other possible outcomes is intriguing. Citing the butterfly effect as the basis for their theory, one Redditor suggested that with every choice made in the game, players will get the chance to see the consequences of their decisions to the end. This would present a number of branching storylines and possible endings.
Joel is dead
With the release of the first trailer for The Last of Us Part 2, fans of the franchise couldn’t help but notice one glaringly obvious detail: Ellie and Joel don’t seem to interact. The trailer shows Ellie in an abandoned home after she has massacred several people. She’s playing a guitar as Joel appears outside. He walks through the house quietly until he reaches Ellie. Though Ellie does eventually answer, the delay between his question and her response suggests the possibility that she wasn’t actually answering Joel. Ellie was simply thinking out loud.
The stark contrast between the Ellie from the first and second game shows a girl who is changed. Hardened and set on killing those she feels are guilty, a big event has clearly occurred to turn Ellie into a vengeful killer. The developers have even stated that while the first game was centered on love, the second is centered on hate. Fans immediately pointed out that if Joel was killed, Ellie would surely have deeply rooted motivation to kill those she felt were responsible for his death.
Joel is an SCP breach
A deadly infection breaking out and killing off massive portions of humanity is a scary idea in and of itself. But one Redditor took this idea even further to explain the events that transpire in the PlayStation exclusive. This Redditor has laid out the theory that the entirety of the first game is just a massive SCP breach. The SCP, short for Special Containment Procedure, is a fictional organization that is responsible for covering up and eliminating any threat from anything that violates natural law. The infection from the first game would easily fall into this category.
In this theory, fans believe that Joel and his daughter were part of the infected area when the SCP showed up to contain the problem. They were ordered to kill Joel and Sarah because the organization is okay with small amounts of collateral damage to save the greater good. While Sarah was killed, Joel escaped, making him an SCP breach. This theory would explain why there were already task forces in place to handle the outbreak and why they seemed to be so well organized right off the bat.
We’ll see who Joel was before Ellie
Ellie’s backstory in The Last of Us leaves a lot to the imagination where her mother is concerned. All fans really know about Ellie’s mother is that she died while giving birth to her. Joel, who loses his daughter at the beginning of the game, steps in to protect Ellie as the two grow to depend on each other.
One fan theory maintains that players will actually be able to play as Ellie’s mother Anna in the sequel. While reliving these past moments, we’ll get a glimpse into Joel and his history. For the most part, players only see Joel in relation to Ellie in the first game. We see how he interacts with her and the person he is when he has a young girl to protect. But fans believe that in the second game we’ll see a drastically different side to Joel. Playing as Anna will allow gamers to see what Joel is like when he isn’t around Ellie and isn’t tasked with protecting a young and vulnerable ward.
The Last of Us is a prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts
While many similarities exist between most zombie stories, there are some between The Last of Us and the book/movie The Girl with All the Gifts that simply can’t be ignored. One YouTuber pointed this out in her video with the theory that the two stories are directly connected. She states that The Girl with All the Gifts is actually a sequel to The Last of Us, and the evidence she provides is pretty convincing.
Gifts is a story about a fungal outbreak that turns the population into mindless flesh-eating monsters. Any child born from a woman who was infected with the fungus while pregnant are a kind of hybrid that possess the strengths of the infection with the ability to reason to some extent. The main character of the story is found to be immune to the fungus. Scientists then strive to use her to create a cure for the outbreak. Besides the obvious parallels, The Fangirl points out even more refined details that link the stories together. Though the theory probably won’t prove to be true, it’s intriguing.
The story is a retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus
Eagle-eyed fans have pointed out a story parallel that actually makes a lot of sense. In a poster from the first trailer, the name Theseus is visible. The Greek myth of Theseus can be related to The Last of Us in many ways. Theseus, the son of the king, attempts to save his people from a yearly sacrifice by offering himself up instead. He does this with the intent to kill the threat. This ties into the idea that Joel is trying to save Ellie from being a sacrifice while making himself vulnerable.
The story then says that Theseus falls in love with a woman who helps him navigate the labyrinth, where a deadly creature is hidden. Once Theseus finds the creature, he kills him and saves his people. But in order to do this, his love has to be left behind. Fans think that, in the second game, Ellie will fall in love with someone in the Fireflies organization who will help her take them down. But in order to do this, she will have to sacrifice something she loves.