|Known Relatives||Tommy (brother) |
Sarah (daughter) †
- "A brutal survivor with few moral lines left to cross. Joel, now in his late 40s, has been hardened by the ravages of the fungal pandemic that has devastated civilization as we know it. He’s lost friends, family, and everything he valued in life. Living in one of few remaining military-controlled quarantine zones, he operates as a black market smuggler, dealing in contraband, taking numerous de-humanizing jobs over the years to survive in this new post-pandemic world. Joel’s conscience slowly dwindles away as he shuts down his emotions to cope to his new life."
- ―Naughty Dog's official description of Joel
Joel is the primary playable character and the protagonist of The Last of Us. Joel is a ruthless survivor of the cordyceps brain infection, which has nearly destroyed mankind. He is voiced and mo-capped by Troy Baker.
Background & Early lifeEdit
Joel was born in September, sometime in the mid 1980's (possibly '85,'86) and grew up in Texas with his brother Tommy. It is also stated during the 'Fall' section of the campaign that Joel raised Tommy and that they both struggled with it.
Sometime in his youth, Joel married a woman for a short while and had a daughter named Sarah. Saddled early in life with the responsibilities that come with being a father, he never had the opportunity to attend college. No mention is given as to the fate or whereabouts of Sarah's mother. But it is revealed in a conversation between Joel and Ellie that Sarah's mother left Joel after Sarah was born, and that he raised their daughter as a single parent. They live in a typical two story single-family home somewhere in or around Austin, Texas. This is learned in the opening scenes when Tommy and Joel state they need to leave Travis County by taking Texas State Highway 71.
Joel worked in construction, possibly as a carpenter. In the prologue, during a phone conversation with Tommy, he mentions desperately needing to keep his job with a contractor. Building plans lay on his bedside table and several copies of a book called Construction Regionalism can be seen on top of his bookshelf.
Music was an interest to Joel in the years prior to the outbreak; he has a guitar and an extensive music collection (both CD and vinyl) in his room. He mentions to Ellie that in his younger years he wanted to become a singer.
He seems to have ambitions of starting his own business before the outbreak, with Everything You Need To Know About Creating A Startup also on a table next to his bed. His job kept him fit, and he also owned a treadmill (seen in his bedroom). Additionally, he tells Ellie that he often went on hikes with his daughter, reinforced by pictures of hiking scenery in his house.
Despite his long working hours he still found time to spend quality time with Sarah, as seen in photographs displayed throughout their home showing the two on a cruise, at a carnival with Tommy and at one of Sarah's soccer matches. In the hours leading up to the outbreak, Sarah gives him a new watch as a birthday gift to replace the one he had broken months before. This becomes a cherished memento he manages to keep in the turbulent years ahead.
Events of The Last of UsEdit
Outbreak and TragedyEditIn the beginning of the game, Joel is shown to be a single father who raises his daughter Sarah. His struggle to raise a child on his own is interrupted when the infection breaks out and Joel is forced to take his daughter out of town, just hours after his birthday. He is joined by his brother Tommy on the evacuation. Later, the group finds the road blocked and is forced to take another route, before their car collides and they must continue on foot. While Tommy fights the infected, Joel and Sarah try to flee, but encounter a soldier. The soldier is ordered to kill the two, which he reluctantly carries out. Joel tries to shield Sarah from the shots, but she still takes a fatal hit. Tommy arrives in time to kill the soldier, but he and Joel cannot do anything to stop Sarah's bleeding. The opening ends with Joel sobbing over his daughter's body, before the screen cuts to black, and The Last of Us logo appears on the screen.
Fateful SmuggleEditTwenty years after the initial outbreak, which wipes out millions of people across the United States, Joel operates as a smuggler of drugs and weapons through the quarantine zone in Boston. Initially Joel looks after Tommy in Boston, but Tommy suffers from nightmares for what he commits, which causes him to leave Joel and join the Fireflies under Marlene's promises of hope. Eventually, however, Tommy becomes disenchanted with the Fireflies and leaves Boston.
At some point in this time Joel became acquainted with Tess, who maintains the Boston branch of the underground market and specializes in contraband, working as Joel's partner. The two appear to work with each other frequently to smuggle supplies in, out and around the quarantine zone, and they seem to have a mutually respectful alliance at the start of the game. The pair also had a scrounging arrangement with another survivor named Bill, and it is said that Bill owes many favors to Joel.
Shortly before their fateful last smuggle, the pair confront and kill a local dealer Robert after he sent two men to kill Tess. Before that, Robert has sold their guns to the Fireflies, which earns him Joel and Tess' hatred. Marlene, the Fireflies "queen" unexpectedly shows up and strikes a deal: they will transport something to a group of Fireflies waiting at the Capitol Building. In exchange, they can regain their weapons and receive even more. Joel and Tess are reluctant, but go with Marlene anyway. The "cargo" is eventually revealed to be a girl named Ellie.
On the way, the trio is captured by a military patrol. While they are being checked for infection, Ellie panics and retaliates. Taking advantage, Joel and Tess overwhelm and kill the soldiers. They are, however, surprised when Ellie is revealed to be infected. Fearful for her life, Ellie explains that she has been infected for three weeks, but shows no sign of transformation. Joel is angered in disbelief, but the military soon closes in and the three are forced to make their way through. Eventually, they manage to reach the rendezvous point in the Capitol Building, but they find only bodies of Fireflies and the military closing in. Revealing that she too has been infected, Tess insists Ellie and Joel continue on their own, while she buys them some time. In the end, Joel and Ellie make it out. Ellie feels guilty about having Tess sacrifice for her, but Joel firmly decides not to bring that up.
Meeting Temporary AlliesEditJoel plans to go to a town where he believes they can meet Bill, the mechanic who owes him a favour. Once inside, they find the place full of infected, which Bill protects against using his traps. The meeting does not go well since the two burst many of Bill's traps.
One trap results in Joel being hanged from the ceiling upside down, forcing him to fight off infected with just his revolver while Ellie tries to get him down. Once down, he is saved from being bitten by a runner when Bill finds them and kills it.
Despite Bill checking Joel and chaining Ellie up with handcuffs, Bill devises a plan to retrieve spare parts in the town to activate a car, as a repayment to Joel stating that if he does this, he owes him nothing from then on.
Despite encountering numerous infected and encountering a Bloater, it seemed all for nothing when the car battery they needed was not where it should be. However, it turns out Bill's partner, Frank stole the battery for himself. Joel and Ellie manage to get a car and leave Bill for Pittsburgh.
While entering Pittsburgh, Joel and Ellie are ambushed by a group of hunters, but escape thanks to Joel anticipating the ambush. They then battled through the city, fighting numerous hunters on the way, and comments from Joel reveal that at one point he was a hunter as well. Joel eventually comes to trust Ellie with a gun and teaches her to use a hunting rifle. The two slowly warm up to each other while making their way through the desolation. They later team up with brothers Henry and Sam to escape the hunter area through the sewers and suburbs. The pair had slowly bonded with the brothers, but this ended when Sam became infected and Henry committed suicide out of grief for killing his brother.
FallEditFall arrives as Joel and Ellie reach Jackson County in Wyoming, where Joel believes his brother Tommy, a former member of the Fireflies, can show them their location. The two are amazed to find a settlement and, fortunately, Tommy is residing in a nearby dam providing electricity to a revived permanent community. Joel and Tommy get into a heated debate after Joel demands that Tommy take Ellie the rest of the way to the Fireflies. The two are interrupted when the bandits attack the dam. Joel helps fend off the attackers, and Tommy reluctantly agrees to take Ellie to the Fireflies. Ellie, however, runs away after learning Joel and Tommy are fighting because of her. The two men have to follow her before the bandits get to her. Joel and Ellie reconcile and the two head out for a university where the Fireflies are thought to reside.
Unfortunately, the Fireflies are nowhere to be found, instead the duo are met with large groups of both infected and hunters while they explore the place. During a brutal fight, Joel is impaled in the abdomen and leaves the fighting to Ellie, who gets the both of them to the Lakeside Resort. There Ellie hides Joel in a house to take care of him, while going outside to hunt for food.
- "Fuck you man, he told you what you wanted, I ain't telling you shit!"
- "That's alright, I believe him."
- ―Joel after killing the first cannibal and about to kill the second.
Joel arrives in the bandit's camp to discover that they are cannibals. He dispatches the rest of the cannibals before finding Ellie brutally hacking at David with his own machete. He pulls her away from the lifeless David, consoling her in his arms, noticeably calling her "baby girl", a name he used for his daughter.
SpringEditSpring arrives as Joel and Ellie reach Salt Lake City, the intended final destination. Joel tries to fill the silence in order to brighten an estranged and traumatized Ellie, who warms up after seeing a group of giraffes. Joel, realizing what Ellie has been through, tells her that they can leave and return to Tommy's, but she declines his offer, remarking that she wants to go through with this after all they have been through. In the city, they encounter the Fireflies, who had fled from Boston to their new haven. Ellie is immediately taken for research on Marlene's order, which will possibly create a vaccine for the infection, as Joel finds out at Marlene's disclosure. Marlene also tells Joel that in order to fully reverse engineer the fungus for a vaccine, doctors must remove the parasite from Ellie's brain which will result in certain death. Upon hearing this information, Joel begins to protest for her.
Marlene disregards him, however, saying that he is not in a position to make decisions, and that her decision to sacrifice Ellie will save millions. She spares Joel's life, but Joel, having bonded with Ellie during their journey (he called her "baby girl" before, the same way he called Sarah), escapes and tortures his Firefly guard Ethan to find out the location of the surgery. He battles his way through the facility and brings Ellie out. At the hospital parking garage he is cornered by Marlene, who willingly lets him decide Ellie's fate. Despite this offer, Joel shoots Marlene in opposition to her offer. Before finally ending Marlene's life, Joel secures Ellie in his car. Marlene begs for her life, but Joel coldly refuses, fearing that she will only pursue after Ellie if she lives.
EpilogueEditJoel delivers Ellie out of the city, heading for "home". He tells Ellie a half-truth that the Fireflies have "stopped looking for a cure". Ellie is greatly dismayed when she hears this. It is speculated that prior to this he killed all three surgeons in Ellie's operation room along with Marlene, hence all the key figures that were looking for a cure are probably dead. The two finally reach Tommy's dam, where Joel remarks that they can return to their normal life. Eventually, Ellie confronts Joel and questions him whether what he tells her is true. Joel replies, "I swear", leaving a doubting Ellie to her own belief.
This has been put up to debate as there is a recording by the surgeon himself who will perform the procedure. It is for the most part, ambiguous, and overall states how Ellie can be used for a cure. However, near the end, he states "All the sacrifices of those men and women or worse, will not be in vain." This puts forth to the fact a possibility that there were others like Ellie. It also twists the fact that Joel's statement changes from supposed lies to mysterious truth, if he heard the tape, when he addresses Ellie in the Epilogue. This puts Marlene's judgement up to interesting conversations as a true martyr to the Fireflies.
RelationshipsEditFireflies. When Ellie overhears Joel and Tommy argue over her fate, she steals one the settlement's horses and runs away.
Before Tommy informs Joel that Ellie took one of his horses, Joel appears to shed a tear and wipes it away just before Tommy tells Joel of the incident. Joel by this point seems to have a hard time parting with Ellie, but at the time he believes that this will be best for her because he doesn't seem to trust himself enough to go along with the journey, and doesn't want to be held responsible for another person's death, especially Ellie, who reminds him too strongly of his daughter. After being found at a ranch house nearby, Joel has a change of heart about keeping Ellie with him when she confronts him about Sarah, stating that she is not like his daughter, and is more than capable of taking care of herself.Eventually, their bond grows stronger later in the game. When Joel is injured and on the verge of death, Ellie tends to him during the winter months. Though their bond is seen to be stronger, Joel notices Ellie is distant due to the incident with David. Joel tells her he will teach her to play the guitar after meeting with the Fireflies and says he would not leave without her. At this point, he sees Ellie as a surrogate daughter as he would now do anything to save her and keep her safe, such as killing many of the Fireflies, its doctors, and Marlene even though it would not benefit humanity. She is apparently similar to Sarah and Joel states that they would have been good friends and liked each other. Ellie, not just being the cure, becomes a very important symbol to reverting Joel back to how he was before the outbreak. Joel, in order to attempt and alleviate Ellie's survivor's guilt, supposedly lies to her that they've found other people immune to the fungus.
Even though Bill was angry about Joel setting off his traps and had to get him out when the infected attacked both Joel and Ellie, he was still willing to help Joel to get a car — this was because he owed Joel "some favors." However, Bill didn't respect him for his decision to look after Ellie, claiming that "having someone you care about in your life is good for only one thing, which is getting you killed", implying that he was talking about his personal experience with his partner, Frank. When they obtained a pickup truck he gave Joel the siphon hose, saying they were now even, and then proceeded to tell him to "Get the fuck out of (his) town."
When Joel does finally deliver Ellie to the Fireflies, Marlene compares his bond with Ellie to her own and understands that as Ellie's surrogate parents, the decision to kill her to develop a vaccine is hard on Marlene and Joel. However, Marlene reluctantly made the decision to kill her while Joel attempts to save Ellie from that fate. Joel kills Marlene in fear that she will come after her.
He introduces the child as his younger brother, Sam, and offers up his own name. When Ellie recommends the four of them form a group, met with initial consternation from Joel, Henry readily agrees. He says he and Sam were originally part of a much larger group, but they had become separated, thanks to the Hunters infesting the city. They all make their way through the city, and eventually escape.
Despite getting off on the wrong foot when they first met, particularly when Henry abandoned Joel during their escape from the city (but saved him and Ellie from drowning), Joel and Henry bond over stories of Joel and Tommy renting a pair of Harleys, and driving cross country. Their friendship had slowly cultivated over their time spent together; Joel is considerably less distant with Henry than before. Their fragile rapport abruptly comes to an end when Sam, who had been scratched from a Runner earlier that morning, turns overnight.
With Sam attacking and clawing at Ellie, Joel hurries for his pistol, but Henry had fired off a warning shot. Before Joel could reach for his pack again, Henry shoots his brother, and cries with grief. He blames Joel for his brother's death, but eventually commits suicide, shooting himself in the head.
Early in the Fall chapter, it is implied that Joel, and possibly Ellie, had buried the two brothers in a nondescript area.
Unlike Joel and Henry's relationship, Joel's camaraderie with Sam is never cultivated to fruition. He arguably knows next to nothing about the boy, unlike Ellie who had become close friends with Sam. Despite this gap in their relatively short companionship, he actively tries to keep him safe.
When Sam became infected and attacked Ellie, Joel attempted to reach his bag for a gun, only to be stopped by Henry. Sam and Henry died soon after when Sam is shot and Henry commits suicide. Joel, along with Ellie, deal with the shock of the abrupt stop to their short relationship. Early in the Fall chapter, it is implied that Joel and Ellie had buried the two brothers in a nondescript area.
Personality and TraitsEdit
Joel has been described as a "violent thug, a brutal killer, and a torturer." He is shown to be able to kill his enemies with noteworthy brutality, earning his infamous reputation to those he encounters. David calls him a "crazy man." During the aftermath of the epidemic that struck the country, he has resorted to working in black-market dealings and smuggling items or people of interest through quarantine zones or other designated areas. Because of this, he has accumulated valuable knowledge in regards to surviving the post-apocalyptic environment. Ellie notes that Joel has stained his hand with innocent blood when he reveals to her that he has been "on both sides", thus having the knowledge about a hunters' ambush and anticipating it. This dark past likely contributed to his experience as a hardened survivalist.
He also becomes extremely dedicated to Ellie, using any means possible to save her and keep her safe. He tortures several cannibals to find out Ellie's location, and then kills the other prisoner after he has gained information about Ellie's location. Ellie also cares greatly for Joel when she cares for him when he was injured, Just as Joel cared for her and protected her throughout their journey. They had a father and daughter bond.
However, Joel's other side is also portrayed. Prior to the apocalypse, he worked hard to single-handedly raise his daughter. The outbreak and Sarah's death changed him into an apathetic, ruthless, and estranged man. He wears the watch that Sarah gave him the day before the initial infection broke out as a reminder. Upon meeting Ellie, he originally has a rocky relationship with her. However, Joel later grows to trust her and finds her reliable at most times such as Ellie spotting for Joel or providing support. As time passes, Joel establishes a father-daughter relationship with Ellie, reminding him of his beloved daughter, Sarah.
Whether being selfish, or not wanting to lose another 'daughter' to the whim of another again, he chose to save Ellie and try and start some semblance of a normal life again. It is speculated that his decision to massacre everyone inside the Fireflies facility in Salt Lake City is to cut all loose ends, to ensure that no one will have the knowledge of Ellie and thus no one will go after her in the future. In this sense he is the opposite of Marlene, who intends to sacrifice Ellie for a chance to save the rest of humanity.
Described as being in his late 40's, Joel knows what the world looked like before it was devastated. Over time, he has begun to become less bound by morality and more driven by doing whatever is necessary to survive. "What he wouldn't do in the past is almost a daily occurrence at this point," Bruce Straley, the game's director, notes. 
Skills and AbilitiesEdit
As a hardened survivalist, Joel fights with a fierceness that seems to apply as much force as possible as efficiently as possible. Although he is in his late 40's or early 50's Joel can perform chokeholds, a consecutive string of punches, and other miscellaneous attacks with little sign of physical fatigue or hesitance, and can usually overwhelm opponents half his age within seconds of engagement. In Melee and Hand-to-Hand combat, he fights with a Brawler like style; He attacks wildily, usually using wide swings or Haymakers (if unarmed) in a manner which emphasises power over speed or form. Over time he has also learned to wield a wide range of weapons, including handguns, Molotov cocktails and bows, which he can use with great proficiency. He is an expert tactician and can operate well in stealthy situations. He is also adept at crafting improvised weapons and tools, and possesses an acute sense of hearing that allows him to pinpoint the relative location of those around him when focusing. Joel also has great physical strength, being able to lift heavy shutters single handedly. All these strengths make him a deadly opponent to his enemies. Joel appears to have a high pain tolerance, as he has been shown to have fallen from great heights and after continues on with no ill effects. Joel is also quite a strong swimmer, being able to swim against the current of a river, with no difficulty, he can also hold his breath for a long time.
Joel is, however, only human, and is just as vulnerable to the punches and chokeholds of other ruthless survivors and Infected as they are to his. Unlike Ellie, he cannot survive in a poisonous environment full of spores without a gas mask. When fighting, he will often face the very same tactics he uses, and needs to consistently patch himself up in order to stay alive.
Later in the game, Joel begins teaching Ellie how to fight more directly and with a broader, more lethal skill-set, using what he knows as reference. This starts after Joel is attacked by a hunter in Pittsburgh. Ellie shoots the bandit trying to kill Joel and from then on, he continues to teach her how to use a gun and how to be stealthy. This shows in Chapter 9 when Ellie is left to her own devices after Joel is gravely injured.
Design and AppearanceEdit
Joel's appearance indicates that he is in his late 40s. He has a heavy build, with dark hair and a beard. Unlike his past self, when Sarah was still alive, he had less facial hair, and not as many wrinkles on his face. Compared to Ellie in-game, his height appears to be around 6 feet tall. Joel has many cuts and scars, which can ben seen on his face and arms (if the player equips Joel with a t-shirt.)
Joel wears a watch that was a gift from Sarah for his birthday the day before the outbreak; twenty years later, it has broken, likely from two decades of surviving in a post-outbreak world. He keeps the watch in remembrance of Sarah. Joel seems to sigh sadly when Ellie mentions that it is broken in the early chapters of The Last of Us.
Joel also looks down at the watch when Ellie was mentioning how beautiful the view was to Joel as they were about to leave. The ending scene also shows Joel slightly rubbing his watch after he said he "struggled for a long time with survivin'" as he encountered major difficulties in accepting Sarah's death and sympathizes with Ellie's survivor's guilt.
- 9mm Pistol
- Hunting Rifle
- El Diablo
- Assault Rifle
- Molotov Cocktail
- Nail Bomb
- Smoke Bomb
- Baseball Bat
- In the Russian version of the game, Joel is voiced by Richard McGonagle, who voiced Sully in the Uncharted series.
- During an optional conversation with Ellie, when a banner proclaiming about the football team Bighorns is examined, she'll ask if everyone were like idol worshipers. Joel replies, "when it comes to sports? Hell yeah."
- He also may or may not have been a fan of the UEC football team, as he somewhat dryly remarks "go Bighorns."
- It is suggested that either Joel or someone he knew has struggled with suicide. After Ellie comments about the "easy way out" when finding the corpses of two suicide victims, Joel heavily says "Trust me, it ain't easy." Based on the loss of his daughter and him saying that he struggled staying alive, it is quite possible Joel considered suicide after Sarah's death.
- Joel comments that he was never fond of video games before the outbreak.
- Joel is a fan of music, and stated that as a kid he wanted to be a singer. He also played guitar before the outbreak, and intended to teach Ellie to play after their journey was over.
- Joel stating he wanted to be a singer as a kid and his ability to play the guitar, are likely a reference to his voice actor, Troy Baker, who is a singer and guitar player in real life.
- Joel seems to be extremely fond of coffee, as he laments the lack of it in the Pittsburgh (chapter).
- Before the outbreak, Joel possibly enjoyed hunting as a hobby, seeing that there was a framed painting/photograph of a deer above his bed.
- Joel's birth date is probably September 26th, as it was the date seen in the newspaper (Texas Herald), at the beginning of the game.
- Joel's weapon of choice seems to be a revolver. He is seen holding it in both promotional pictures, and trailers. He also kept one in his house, before the outbreak.
- Late in the game, Joel starts to call Ellie "baby girl", a phrase he used to call Sarah. The endearment implies he had grown fond of her during their journey, and loves her as a second daughter.
- The ending of the game is very reminiscent of the beginning, as Joel carries Ellie through the hospital, while in the beginning he carried Sarah through the streets in a similar fashion.
- The Japanese version of the game manual lists Joel's last name as "Miller".
- Though it is never explained where Joel was born, he was most likely born in Austin, Texas or somewhere in Travis County. This is also hinted at when Tommy says that he "went to Texas, back home" shortly before he attempts to give Joel a picture of him and Sarah.
- Joel was named after director Joel Coen who directed No Country For Old Men and True Grit.
- Joel is nicknamed "Texas" by Tess.
- Joel was possibly a bandit or hunter before he became a smuggler.
- This theory can be further proven since he told Ellie he has "been on both sides".
- "Lyin' on the couch watchin' Sunday football. That... greasy smell of a downtown hot dog. 4th of July, family barbeques. The sound of a plane flying overhead. Just one peaceful night; a clean conscience—all gone..."
- "You're friends with the leader of the Fireflies, what are you, like, twelve?"
- "Do I need to remind you what is out there?"
- "Well, is that everything you hoped for?"
- Ellie: "Jury's still out. But, man... you can't deny that view."
- "No, we are survivors! Now we tried. Let's just go home."
- "Y'know, that is actually before my time. That is a winner though."
- "You sacrifice the few to save the many."
- "I really miss coffee."
- "You make every shot count."
- Henry: "Damn, man. You hit hard."
- "Yeah? Well, I was trying to kill you."
- Ellie: "Did everyone have boats back then?"
- "Yeah. I had a sixty foot yacht."
- Ellie: "Really?"
- Ellie: "Sarcasm... making progress."
- "You are treading on some mighty thin ice here."
- Cannibal: "Fuck you, man. He told you what you wanted. I ain't tellin' you shit."
- "That's alright. I believe him."
- "I guess no matter how hard you try, you can't escape your past."
- "I gotcha, baby girl."
- "You'd just come after her."
- "Don't think I ever told you but Sarah and I used to take hikes like this. I think ah... I think the two of you would've been good friends. Think you really woulda liked her. I know she woulda liked you."
- "I struggled for a long time with survivin'. And you—No matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."
- Ellie: "Swear to me...swear to me that everything that you said about the Fireflies is true."
- "I swear."
- Ellie: "Okay."