For those who want a philosophical experience while playing a video game, then The Last of Us just might be the perfect game. Although it’s set in a zombie world, the story is far from generic, as the characters have many quotes that resonate with the viewer.
Players saw Ellie journey miles across the country and learn what it was like to be a survivor throughout the year that she and Joel endured their struggles. Through these times, Ellie gained quite a fair amount of wisdom, while also retaining her childish spirit. The best way to illustrate this is by pointing out these memorable quotes by Ellie that are featured throughout The Last of Us.
Updated April 1, 2023, by Tom Bowen: The Last of Us Part 2 took the gaming world by storm when it finally arrived in June of 2020. However, although the game was critically acclaimed, its narrative would prove to be incredibly divisive amongst members of the series’ fanbase. Love it or loathe it though, it brings with it a noticeable tonal shift that has a huge bearing on the mindsets of the game’s pivotal characters. Ellie, in particular, goes through some rather drastic changes. This can be seen not only through her actions throughout the game, but also through her interactions with other characters, leading to some harrowing dialogue, as well as several poignant moments that help to provide some additional context for her actions throughout the series. As a result, being re-introduced to a more light-hearted version of Ellie in HBO’s fantastic The Last of Us adaptation was a little jarring for some series fans, though did serve as a nice reminder of what Ellie was like before the shocking events of the second game.
20 “Just know, you can’t escape Will Livingston.”
No Pun Intended: Volume Too is a book of puns that Ellie carries around with her throughout the first game and the Left Behind DLC. It provides plenty of funny moments and serves as an excellent way to break up the near-constant tension found throughout the Pittsburgh chapter. As a result, fans of the games were delighted to see the book make a return in the HBO adaptation.
Rather than simply recycle puns, however, the show’s writers opted to come up with a few new ones, most of which were every bit as hilarious as the ones found throughout the games. Will Livingston is the fictional author of the book, and, in the show’s fourth episode, Ellie takes a moment to assure both Joel and the viewers that there are plenty more puns still to come.
19 “So you went from teacher to preacher; because what? It f***in’ rhymes?”
Bella Ramsey’s performances in Game of Thrones drew a lot of plaudits and likely played a big part in her getting cast in HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation. Those familiar with her work were certainly delighted with the decision, and, much like she did in Game of Thrones, Ramsey definitely delivered; managing to perfectly capture the no-nonsense nature of Ellie with some fantastic acting performances.
Though much of this can be seen through her time spent with Joel, viewers get a much better idea of what Ellie is all about after she encounters Pastor David and James in the woods. Despite Joel being seriously injured and her effectively being all alone, she isn’t the slightest bit afraid of the two grown men, as evidenced by her calm and casual demeanor as she and David wait for James to return with the medicine.
18 “It’s called a hatosaur.”
With all of the violence and loss that punctuates the lives of those living in The Last of Us‘ world, it can be very easy to forget what exactly it is that Ellie and Joel are fighting for. At times it feels as though they themselves aren’t really sure anymore, but one has to assume that it’s about more than just survival.
The moment between Ellie and Joel at the museum served as a poignant reminder that amongst the chaos and carnage, there are still light-hearted moments to be found. Whether or not it could be described as ‘normal’ is certainly up for debate. In a world where death is common and life is brutal, however, it may be about as normal as things are ever going to get.
17 “But she gets to live…”
Joel’s death arguably has just as big an impact on Tommy as it does on Ellie, though his way of dealing with things is a little different. That said, he’s still incredibly supportive of Ellie’s quest for vengeance, reassuring her that Owen and Mel both deserved to die, despite Ellie’s shock at learning that Mel had been heavily pregnant when she killed her at the Aquarium.
After hearing Tommy’s words of encouragement, Ellie laments that Abby will not suffer the same fate despite being the one who murdered Joel. He then asks her if she’s okay with that, to which she replies that she has to be. Of course, Ellie does later get another chance to get her revenge, though is ultimately able to let go of her anger and allows Abby and Lev to escape Catalina Island via boat.
16 “You took that from me.”
Purpose isn’t always easy to come by even in a normal society. To find it then in a world that has been ravaged by a fungal outbreak is next to impossible. It’s something that players see Ellie searching for throughout the series and her anger at having it stolen from her is therefore understandable, regardless of whether or not it’s justified.
Although Joel’s actions could be seen as selfish, he ultimately did what he believed to be best for Ellie. It’s true that her death at the hands of the fireflies may have meant something, but that Ellie survives the encounter with the Fireflies proves to be every bit as meaningful. The relationships she goes on to forge are a direct consequence of Joel’s choice and provided Ellie with the purpose she had been craving without necessitating her death.
15 “I’m just a girl. Not a threat.”
Juxtaposition isn’t always easy to pull off, but Naughty Dog does a fantastic job of employing the technique here. Whilst at this point in the story, the line could be seen as nothing more than a reflection of Ellie’s own insecurities, as the game’s events continue to unfold it takes on an entirely new meaning.
Dina’s response to Ellie is that people should be terrified of her and this perfectly foreshadows the changes that occur in Ellie’s character. By the end of the game, she is the epitome of terrifying and is a huge threat to anybody that happens to be on her bad side.
14 “F**k Seattle.”
Although, at first, the line may seem fairly inconspicuous – both through its placement and its delivery – it perfectly encapsulates Ellie’s frustration with the new world in which she finds herself living. The City has served as the host for some of the most painful and challenging moments of her life and seems ready to throw curveball after curveball in her direction.
In many ways, the line could also mirror the frustrations felt by the player for many of the same reasons. At this point in the story, they are heavily invested in Ellie’s journey and so each setback she experiences likely weighs on them every bit as much as it does her.
13 “Maybe you should have.”
Joel’s death at the hands of the Wolves served as the catalyst for a drastic change in Ellie’s character. This change is perhaps best reflected in a later encounter with one of the people responsible for his death. It’s cold, it’s harrowing, and it completes Ellie’s transformation.
After coming face to face with one of the members of the Wolves, Ellie is reminded that they could have killed her too. Her response not only serves as a thinly-veiled threat — but it also provides the moment that both she and the Wolves member realize that Ellie has become a real threat.
12 “You can’t stop this.”
Though it was Abby who delivered the fatal blows, the false protagonist wasn’t the only person who had a hand in Joel’s death. Jordan was one of the people guarding the house in which the brutal murder took place, for which he received a slash across his cheek courtesy of Ellie. He wanted to kill her too as a result, though Owen was able to stop him. Granted, he still knocked her out, but she lived to fight another day.
Fast forward a few weeks, and the two once again found themselves face to face, with Jordan attempting to finish what he started. Despite being tied up and having a knife to her throat though, Ellie remains defiant and warns Jordan that nobody can stand between her and her revenge. Sure enough, just a few minutes later, Ellie is able to free herself from her bindings and stabs Jordan in the neck as he attempts to strangle Dina.
11 “I can make it quick or I can make it so much worse.”
Grief and anger often go hand in hand, with many finding the latter a far easier emotion to process. As a result, it’s not at all uncommon to see those dealing with bereavement allowing their anger to take control of them, and that’s exactly what happens with Ellie. Of course, there’s certainly an argument to be made that her anger is justified to a certain degree.
However, the way that she chooses to unleash this anger is incredibly unhealthy, while the people toward whom it’s directed aren’t always entirely deserving. Upon finally coming face to face with Nora, Ellie makes this abundantly clear. She delivers this harrowing line before savagely beating Nora to death with a metal pipe, with the shift in camera perspective and the red hue of the room really helping to capture the brutality of the encounter.
10 “After all we’ve been through. Everything that I’ve done. It can’t be for nothing.”
Ellie ultimately gave Joel a reason to live, as she saw her life as something that had meaning rather than it being an endless fight to the death. Joel had tried to keep her from discussing her thoughts but had to listen to her in the end when Ellie was distraught after watching all her friends die.
Here, she shared her hope that there would eventually be a point to all of their struggles because the alternative would mean that they had endured so much for no reason; she couldn’t live thinking all of that could be for nothing.
9 “Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me. Everyone…except for you.”
Once one spends enough time around another person, they do inevitably grow to love them in some way. Ellie and Joel felt the same way when their formerly apathetic relationship became that of a father and daughter.
After she found out Joel was planning on handing her over to Tommy and leaving, Ellie couldn’t keep her emotions bottled up anymore and exploded onto Joel over him trying to abandon her, especially when he was the only one who hadn’t left her by that point. It was this confession that got Joel to stay with her.
8 “To the edge of the universe and back. Endure and survive.”
This quote carries the same sentiment as Ellie’s thoughts on what her life meant, and she carried these words to heart. It worked wonders as well since the quote became a sort of mantra for Ellie to see through each day.
They meant that, while it would be a dark and dreary road, the point of surviving was to endure through all the tough times. For a girl who was only about 14 years old, Ellie was wise beyond her years to be able to interpret these words with such meaning.
7 “Whoa, Nelly!”
One of the funnier parts of The Last of Us was hearing Ellie come up with strange phrases to communicate her emotions. She took to cursing, for the most part, but had some hilarious quotes at strange times.
The most memorable of these is this one, where it came across as if she had heard these words from someone else and decided that’s how a person is supposed to express their enthusiasm. Considering the mouth that she had on her when she got fierce, it was oddly heartwarming to hear her be so childish at times.
6 “We can be all poetic and lose our minds together.”
This was originally spoken by Ellie’s friend Riley, but players never saw the latter during the main story of The Last of Us, with Ellie being the one to say this to Joel. Just thinking about it, a lot of people would feel the exact same way if they were in a similar situation.
When the time comes to die, nobody wants to go through it alone and it would be a great comfort to have a loved one to share the experience with. Teenage girls in particular think this kind of stuff is poetic, so Ellie was behaving just like a normal teenager would.
5 “What you say goes.”
The partnership between Joel and Ellie wouldn’t have worked had Ellie not been patient with him at the beginning of their relationship. At this point, Joel was far from the fatherly figure he would eventually become, making Ellie’s response the right thing to say at the time.
It had happened right after Tess had gotten killed, and Joel was feeling the pressure of having to deliver Ellie to the Fireflies as part of Tess’s last request. Had Ellie not agreed that what Joel said would be the way to go, then perhaps he would’ve even abandoned her to fend for herself.
4 “We’re not murderers. We just survive.”
Both Joel and Ellie referred to each other as survivors, but there is a huge contrast in what they believe makes a survivor. According to Joel, surviving meant any act of murder was justified because he did what he had to in order to live, but Ellie had a more positive view of it.
She felt that the killing they did wasn’t because they wanted to live more than their victims, but rather because there was no other choice. To this end, she didn’t see herself as a killer but as someone who just needed to survive; if that took the form of killing, then that’s what needed to be done, although it was regrettable.
3 “I go back and forth… I’d like to believe it.”
It’s understandable why kids who had grown up in the zombie world wouldn’t have had a belief in the afterlife since they’d seen hell on Earth anyway. Ellie didn’t much believe in the concept of heaven either, as it didn’t make much sense.
However, the optimistic person in her didn’t let her dive completely into being a non-believer, and she admitted she had her moments where she wanted badly to believe that there was a heaven and a happy ending. This way, at least she had some measure of comfort with the prospect of dying.
2 “I shot the hell out of that guy, huh?”
In the real world, proving oneself in youth usually takes the form of something like graduating from school, but The Last of Us’ universe had kids feel like they had taken the next step in the real world when they started to learn how to shoot.
In the same way, Ellie was enthusiastic to a great extent when she successfully pulled off shooting her enemies, as she hadn’t been able to prove herself to Joel before that. Although it involved killing, players can’t help but feel just a little proud of Ellie.
This was the last word said in the game before it abruptly ended, but it has aged well for fans because of just how much was said with just this one word. Ellie had a mixture of emotions running through her mind at the time; her doubts over what happened with the Fireflies, her guilt at surviving, and her anxiety over what lay ahead.
All she wanted to hear at the time was for Joel to swear he was telling the truth (he wasn’t) even though it appeared as if a part of Ellie knew that Joel wasn’t being completely honest. It set up the conflict in the second game perfectly, and, in the HBO adaptation, served as a perfect way to end the first season.
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