- "Tourist! He's got a fucking gun!"
- ―Hunters spotting Joel
Hunters are hostile survivors so named due to their tendency to brutally kill anyone entering their territory (referred to by hunters as "tourists") in order to steal their clothes, supplies, and food. Joel and Ellie encounter and battle a group of Hunters in Pittsburgh.
After the outbreak of cordyceps brain infection, the people of Pittsburgh gradually became impatient with FEDRA, accusing them of being corrupt liars when they ran short on rations or simply did not distribute food regularly. Eventually, after a protest was violently put down with at least three people executed and branded as traitors, the citizens rose up against the military and state of martial law. The surviving soldiers abandoned the city, and the rioting citizens took complete control. According to a note, a couple of teenagers murdered a family, and when put on trial the leader praised them and claimed they had gathered food and supplies, and commanded everyone to take turns hunting tourists in packs. Two people spoke out, only to be brutally murdered in front of everyone. Because of this they are referred to as hunters.
Joel and Ellie encounter hunters when they drive into Pittsburgh in a Pick-up Truck. One pretends to be injured in an attempt to trick the pair into helping him, but Joel knowing the ruse simply drives through the group which begins to attack them. While fleeing the area, they crash after being rammed by a bus and are forced to escape and make their way through the city on foot. They head for a bridge leading out of the city and towards Wyoming, battling many hunters patrolling the city along the way. They also meet two other survivors, Henry and Sam, who were separated from their group passing through the city after being attacked and scattered by the hunters.
It is implied that most other Quarantine Zones ended up like Pittsburgh and became completely occupied by hunters. The hunters in Pittsburgh repeatedly mention that they are under the control of a leader, who is never seen or encountered by Joel or Ellie. It is also mentioned that they have had more than one leader over the course of time, suggesting that the previous leader or leaders died or got usurped by another hunter. More than once has the leader of the group attempted to expand the perimeter beyond the city limits, such attempts ending with multiple hunters getting killed, possibly by infected or other survivors.
The hunters in Pittsburgh possess a large arsenal of weaponry, including a modified military Humvee outfitted with the corpse of a tourist tied to the hood and, according to a note left by a military soldier, a stolen mortar launcher which is never seen being used in The Last of Us.
The Hunters are not especially strong and appear only to have strength in numbers as shown by how many were guarding the bridge. Despite defeating Fireflies and FEDRA alike they appear to only have basic weaponry such as melee weapons, pistols, shotguns, hunting rifles and Molotovs. Some of the hunters wear body armor and helmets scavenged from dead military soldiers to protect themselves against bullets temporarily; they don't use any assault rifles that could have been scavenged, suggesting that they didn't kill very many soldiers other than the ones that were left behind after the main forces abandoned Pittsburgh. The assaults rifles that they did manage to capture have likely ran out of ammunition by the time Joel arrived.
They did, however, possess more effective weapons such as a Humvee they managed to repair, and a separate group in the suburbs had access to a military sniper with considerable amounts of ammunition. However, both of these were later lost thanks to Joel killing the sniper user and using it to shoot the Humvee driver, causing it to crash from a molotov that explodes in it. The sniper was lost due to many infected reaching the suburbs, surrounding the house thereby making it un-reachable.
- Hunting Rifle
- Military Sniper
- 9mm Pistol
- Molotov Cocktail
- Smoke Bomb
- Baseball Bat
- .50 Calibre MG
- The boss of the hunters is never revealed.
- No female hunters are encountered as enemies in-game, but their existence is implied by their presence in the Factions multiplayer mode as well as numerous bits of concept art. Also, in-game, two hunters debated whether or not they should have let a dead female tourist live and become part of their group instead of killing her.
- The Hunters have set up a high-security perimeter in Pittsburgh, as proved while Joel, Ellie, Sam and Henry attempt to sneak past a checkpoint with a spotlight.
- Hunters were the first hostile survivors revealed in gameplay demos.