The Last of Us Season 1’s Ending

In the highly anticipated season 1 finale of HBO’s The Last of Us, Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (portrayed by Bella Ramsey) finally reach their destination after an arduous journey. However, before they embark on their final trek to the Salt Lake City hospital, where the Fireflies have set up their new base, Joel asks Ellie if she wants to turn back. Ellie replies that they have sacrificed too much to abandon their mission. She believes that only by reaching the Fireflies and using her immunity to create a cure can she and Joel indeed start a new life together.

In a surprising turn of events, Joel reveals that the scar on his forehead is not from a gunfight but from a failed suicide attempt. Despite losing his daughter, Sarah (played by Nico Parker), he tells Ellie that their bond has given him a reason to live. These poignant moments deepen their relationship and set the stage for the violent second half of The Last of Us’ first season finale.

The Last of Us Episode 9 Release Date Time Channel Watch Online Preview Plot and More

As Joel and Ellie process their emotions, they are suddenly ambushed by a group of Fireflies, who stun them with a flash grenade and knock them unconscious. Hours later, Joel awakens to surround himself with Firefly soldiers and their leader, Marlene (played by Merle Dandridge). Marlene expresses her surprise that Joel could escort Ellie across the country and reveals that Ellie has been drugged and taken to an operating room. The Firefly leader then drops a bombshell: Ellie’s immunity can only produce a cure if her brain is removed and dissected.

Joel’s reaction to the news is understandable: he systematically eliminates every soldier standing between him and Ellie’s operating room, refusing to let the Fireflies carry out their plan. In the face of a surgeon’s protest, Joel shoots him in the head before carrying Ellie back down to the hospital’s parking garage. He reencounters Marlene, who attempts to persuade him to give up and leave Ellie with her. Marlene argues that, even though it would hurt Joel, Ellie would want to die if it meant saving humanity.

Joel ignores her plea and shoots Marlene in the head, then drives Ellie to the Jackson, Wyoming settlement where his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), has settled. As they travel, Ellie awakens and asks what happened while unconscious. Joel informs her that, upon their arrival, the Fireflies were testing other immune individuals like Ellie but had abandoned the effort to find a cure. When Ellie inquires why she was removed from the hospital without her regular clothing, Joel claims that bandits raided the building, and he had to evacuate her swiftly.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us

Several weeks later, The Last of Us catches up with Joel and Ellie as they approach the end of their return journey to Jackson. Ellie halts Joel near the settlement’s outskirts and demands he swears to her that everything he said about the Fireflies is true. When Joel does, Ellie responds hesitantly with a bittersweet “Okay.” The first season of The Last of Us concludes with one final cut to black.

Fans of the original Last of Us video game will appreciate the HBO show’s finale, which remains faithful to the source material. In both versions, Joel makes the difficult decision to go against the Fireflies’ plans and kill their soldiers to save Ellie’s life. Despite knowing that Ellie wouldn’t have wanted this, Joel’s actions lead to a complicated relationship between him and Ellie that can never fully be repaired. This also sets the stage for the events that unfold in The Last of Us Part II.

Furthermore, Joel’s actions in the finale help to connect the show’s themes of love and grief. The Last of Us explores how love can both save and destroy us, and the ending of the first season sees Joel choosing to ignore the world’s fate to save Ellie’s life and spare himself the pain of losing her.

The Last of Us season 1 is now available for streaming on HBO Max.