A child's depiction of Ish.
- "If you find my skeleton, please don't step on my skull."
- ―A note from Ish that Joel picked up on a boat
Ish is not physically encountered by Joel and Ellie during the events of the game. Given the presence of Clickers in the areas where these notes are discovered, it is likely that these events happened at least several years beforehand.
It is unknown what Ish did for a living before the outbreak. It is most likely that he was a commercial fisherman, as evidenced by his ownership of a good-sized trawler.
Ish was initially out to sea for several months before being forced to go ashore near the Pittsburgh sewer entrance. He took up residence inside, eventually constructing his own safehouse. In need of supplies, he searched the nearby suburbs, where he encountered a family, Susan, Kyle and their children, who - much to his surprise - did not shoot him on sight. They traded supplies with each other before Ish returned to his hideout. Ish, lonely and realising that there was no point surving alone, then went back to the family to offer them refuge in the sewers. The group obliged, and the safehouse eventually became a thriving community.
At an unknown point in time, a door leading to the safehouse was left open by one of the group, which allowed a horde of infected to flood in. Ish, Susan, and a few of the children managed to escape, barricading the suburb-side entrance to the sewers. Kyle was separated from the group, where he became trapped in a room with a small group of children; the infected at the door. It is implied (and quite evident given a blanket seen covering a pile of small bodies near that of an adult slumped against the wall) in his final note that he took a revolver and shot all of the children to save them a worse fate, before turning the gun on himself.
There are no more notes regarding Ish beyond the one in the suburbs detailing his escape from the sewers with Susan and several children. As such, his fate, as well as that of Susan's and several children, is currently left unknown.
While Ish is not seen in the game, it is possible to deduce his physical appearance based on details in certain notes. For one, Kyle notes that Ish is skinny when he first trades with them for food. Ish himself also states that he is agile and can sneak easily, explaining why he chose the sewers as a home.
It is suggested that Ish turned into a Clicker which Joel encounters in the small storage room when searching for a raft for Ellie. Further evidence for this is from the kid's drawing of Ish wearing a military uniform, and only two Clickers wear military uniforms during the entire Sewer area.
- Boat Note
- Sewer Note
- Trading Note
- Rain Catcher Note
- Cornered Note
- Survivors Note
- Looting Note
- Kid's Drawing
- Ish is probably a reference to the protagonist of the post-apocalyptic novel Earth Abides (1949) by George R. Stewart, whose main character, Isherwood "Ish" Williams, establishes a community of pandemic survivors.
- He could also be a reference to the main character from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Ishmael, as he is a fisherman.
- One of the notes in the sewers is a child's drawing of two people dressed in what appears to be military colors (blue with black vests and boots), armed with rifles. The names "Danny" and "Ish" are written, along with the message "our protectors". This is the first mention of a 'Danny' in this group.
- In the Hebrew language, the word "Ish" means "Person".