There are a multitude of moments from The Last of Us which could be lifted as examples of why this is one of the most tragic stories ever told in gaming. The upcoming HBO series, premiering on January 15th, will adapt this heartrending tale. We don’t expect that the show will hold back, with the live-action depiction being far more likely to hit viewers right in the feels.
Whilst The Last of Us is a ballad of distress and hopelessness, there are five specific moments which stood out to me upon recently replaying the game, which I am just not sure I can handle in live action. Below are five of the most heart-breaking moments from The Last of Us that we aren’t ready to relive.
BE WARNED THAT SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US GAME LIE AHEAD, AS WELL AS POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE SHOW.
Arguably, the most upsetting moment in The Last of Us comes within the first hour of the game. Let’s just get it out of the way; the death of Sarah Miller is utterly heart-wrenching. This is owed to the fantastically written dialogue between the characters of Joel and his daughter Sarah, establishing a believable relationship.
The script, along with the chemistry between Troy Baker and Hana Haynes as Joel and Sarah respectively, sells the idea that this is a loving relationship with a rich history. Being a single father from Texas, it is clear that Joel’s primary role as his daughter’s protector is something that has been instilled within him for years at this point.
To have her taken from him during the game’s chaotic opening sequences establishes almost everything that the audience needs to know about Joel’s character in a very short space of time. Whilst I have no doubt that Pedro Pascal possesses the acting chops to put his own tear-jerking spin on this painful sequence, I am not sure that my heart is ready to witness one of the absolute saddest moments from The Last of Us yet again.
The Death of Henry and Sam
When Joel and Ellie happen across Henry and Sam during the first half of the game, it drums up all sorts of emotions. First of all, there is an immediate parallel that can be drawn between the two groups: Both consist of an older, more capable male, doing their very best to keep their young companion safe in this hostile world that they find themselves in.
Then, there is the fact that this is the first time that we ever see Ellie interact with someone her own age. Whilst Ellie is decidedly more mature than Sam, there is a childlike hopefulness to seeing the two of them interact without any parental figures around. Hearing them converse also strikes an additional tragic chord as the player wonders; why is Ellie so much more mature than Sam? These are two children who have been completely robbed of their childhoods and that in and of itself is a tragedy.
The way in which Henry and Sam’s story wraps up is unspeakably gutting. After being bitten, Sam is understandably scared to show his bite to the rest of the group and then when he becomes infected and attacks Ellie, it is his own brother who has to put his sibling out of his hysteric misery. After which, he simply has no reason to continue to survive and so he tragically turns the gun on himself. This was by far one of the darkest moments from The Last of Us and to see it play out again will be devastating.
Tess is the first of many allies whom Joel and Ellie lose during The Last of Us. Although her death occurs off-screen and thus may not be as impactful as some of the others on this list, her sacrifice is still a tough thing to swallow.
Her dialogue with Joel tells us that the two share a history, perhaps even a romantic connection at some point in the past. This only makes her demise harder to take. Whilst this loss may not come across as being quite as obviously upsetting as some of the others mentioned above, the fact that Joel loses one of the only people he trusts in this world so early on in the story, lets the audience know what kind of experience they are in for. This is what makes it one of the most significantly heartfelt moments from The Last of Us.
Whilst there is no shortage of tragic moments from The Last of Us as a whole, the Winter segment of the game is positively stacked with harrowing events. Whether it is the abduction of Ellie by the slimiest of creeps, Joel having an extremely close brush with death, or the outright cannibalism witnessed during this segment, Winter is by far the darkest part of the story.
Up until this point, the game’s plot has focused on Joel and Ellie’s relationship above all else. This has provided the player with something of a comfort bubble. Although the pair have gone through some turmoil, they have always had one another to rely on up until this point. Winter strips away that sense of comfort by forcing us to see whether or not Ellie is capable enough to survive on her own.
This part of the game holds a magnifying glass up to what other remnants of humanity have resorted to out of desperation. The animalistic depravity on display here is not only shocking and brutal, it is also extremely sad to see the monsters that certain people have turned into.
Joel Lies to Ellie
Whether you feel that Joel’s actions in the Firefly hospital at the end of the game were justified or not, Ellie deserved to know the truth. Rather than facing up to the fact that his selfishness outweighed his desire to potentially save the human race, he lies to Ellie telling her that their entire journey was a waste of time, and the Fireflies weren’t ever going to perform the surgery due to her DNA being incompatible with the requirements of the cure.
Instead of admitting that he took the lives of a significant amount of Firefly soldiers and doctors in order to save Ellie’s life, he allows her to believe that her immunity was ultimately futile. He allows her to spend the rest of her years wallowing in the knowledge that she was not the cure to potentially save humanity, – even though she was.
Also read: Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2023
I am not saying that I don’t understand why he did what he did, especially after having already lost a daughter. However, choosing to betray Ellie’s trust after everything that the pair have gone through together is devastating to watch. It is this example of dishonesty displayed by Joel towards a person who trusts him so implicitly that makes this one of the most heart-breaking moments from The Last of Us.
And that is our list of the five most heart-breaking moments from The Last of Us that we aren’t ready to relive in live action. What do you make of our picks? Are there any other moments from the game that you feel should have made the list? Let us know in the comments section down below.