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Biographical information
Other names Texas (by Tess)
Age(d) Late 40's
Born September 26, 1984 or 1985, Texas, U.S.
Status Alive
Relatives Tommy (brother)
Sarah (daughter)
Maria (sister-in-law)
Unnamed wife
Occupation(s) Possible carpenter (formerly)
Affiliation(s) Hunters (formerly)
Resides Austin, Texas, U.S. (formerly)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (formerly)
Jackson County, Wyoming, U.S.
Weapon(s) used 9mm Pistol, Revolver, Hunting Rifle, Bow, Shotgun, Shorty, Military Sniper, El Diablo, Flamethrower, Assault Rifle, 2x4, Shiv, Pipe, Baseball Bat, Machete, Hatchet, Molotov Cocktail, Nail Bomb, Smoke Bomb
Physical description
Species Human
Gender Male
Ethnicity Caucasian-American
Height 5 ft 10-11 in.
Hair color Black (graying)
Eye color Hazel
Game information
Appears in The Last of Us
The Last of Us: Left Behind
Voiced by Troy Baker
Motion captured by Troy Baker
"I struggled for a long time with survivin', and no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."

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 humankind. He is voiced and mo-capped by Troy Baker.[1][2]


Background & Early life Edit

Joel was born on September 26, (most likely 1984 or 1985), 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 had a daughter named Sarah and was married to his wife for a short period of time. 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. However, it is revealed in a conversation between Joel and Ellie that the subject of whatever happened is very painful for Joel to talk about, and that he raised their daughter as a single parent for most of her life. 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 TragedyEdit

Almost there

Joel fleeing with Sarah in his arms.

In the beginning of the game, Joel is shown to be a single father who raises his daughter Sarah, in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. 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 SmuggleEdit

Ellie - first encounter

Joel and Tess meet Ellie for the first time.

Twenty 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 the actions committed by the brothers to survive have led Tommy to suffer nightmares from those years, which causes him to leave Joel and join the Fireflies under Marlene's promises of hope. Eventually, 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' wrath. 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 attacks one of the soldiers. Joel and Tess proceed to overwhelm and kill the soldiers. They are, however, surprised when Ellie is revealed to be infected. Fearing 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 flee. Eventually, they manage to reach the rendezvous point in the Capitol Building, but they find the bodies of the Firefly extraction team, and the military is closing in. They take a detour through a derelict skyscraper and a subway, both filled with Infected. The trio then go through an old museum, where Joel briefly gets separated from Ellie and Tess. After making his way through a room with Clickers, Joel finds Tess and Ellie fighting off a horde of Runners. After making it to the Capitol building, Tess reveals that she too has been infected (most likely from the struggle with a runner in the museum). Tess insists Ellie and Joel continue on their own and find Tommy, while she buys them some time knowing that death will soon be upon her. In the end, Joel and Ellie make it out. Ellie feels guilty about Tess' sacrifice, but Joel firmly says to never bring that up.

Meeting Temporary AlliesEdit

Bill's lamp

Joel in Bill's safehouse.

Joel plans to go to a town where he believes they can meet Bill, the mechanic who owes him a favor. Once inside, they find the place full of infected, which Bill protects against using his traps. One trap results in Joel hanging 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.

Once safe, the meeting does not go well, mainly that Bill was annoyed that the pair destroyed many of his traps to find him, and Bill checking Joel and handcuffing Ellie. 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 at the overrun high school, 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. After Ellie saves Joel from being killed by a hunter, 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.

Fall - A Brotherly Reunion and InjuryEdit

Tommy's Dam

Arriving at Tommy's dam.

Fall 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 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. Finding Ellie at a ranch house, Joel reprimands her for recklessly running away and tries to explain why he wants to leave her with Tommy. Ellie counters this by bringing up Sarah, to Joel's anger. But after leaving the ranch house with Tommy, Joel is unable to leave her. The two reconcile and head out for a university in Colorado where, according to Tommy, 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 hostile survivors while they explore the place. They did however, learn that the Fireflies had relocated back to Salt Lake City. 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.

Winter - Recovery and RescueEdit

"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.
Taking care of Joel

Joel in Ellie's care.

A few weeks have passed, and Joel is unconscious and feverish due to wound sepsis. Ellie is out hunting in the forest and chases down a buck, eventually trading it for some antibiotics from David and James, two survivors she encounters. The brings brought him back to his feet, albeit weakened, but he is surprised to find Ellie missing. Upon leaving the hideout, he encounters a group of hostile survivors who seem to know her whereabouts. He tortures and interrogates two of them to find a clue about Ellie's location, and upon learning where she is captured, he kills the two in cold blood.

Joel arrives in the survivors' settlement and discovers, to his horror, 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 and holds her still to calm her down. As a traumatized Ellie begins to break down, Joel holds in his arms to comfort her, and, out of habit, calls her "baby girl," the same term of endearment he used for Sarah.



Joel overlooking Salt Lake City.

Spring 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. Realizing what Ellie has been through, he 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, determined not to lose his new "daughter" like he lost 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.


Joel's Lie

"I swear".

Joel delivers Ellie out of the city, heading for "home". To spare her from feeling survivor's guilt he tells Ellie a half-truth: that the Fireflies did actually find more people with immunity like her but had no success (true) and that they have stopped looking for a cure (false). Ellie is greatly dismayed when she hears this. 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.

(ENDING EXPLAINED: There is a recording left behind by the surgeon himself who will perform the procedure on Ellie found in gameplay by Joel. It is for the most part, ambiguous, and it overall states how Ellie can be used for a cure. However, he does mention "As we've seen in all past cases" and, near the end, he states "All the sacrifices of those men and women or worse, will not be in vain." hinting that there may have been more people like Ellie, and their surgeries went wrong resulting in their deaths. Therefore, this changes the point of view of the epilogue: Joel's statement to Ellie may very well be a lie if the player didn't listen to the recordings while playing the game. But Joel's statement to Ellie may very well be a half-truth if the player did listen to them. This also puts Marlene's judgement up to interesting conversations as a true martyr to the Fireflies).

Events of Left BehindEdit

Joel appears briefly in Naughty Dog's DLC Left Behind. He is severely injured because of the last major event in the fall, and only appears in the beginning and towards the end of the DLC.

Events of One Night Live Edit

After a live performance of some of the most pivotal scenes, creator Neil Druckmann released an epilogue to the epilogue, taking place a few weeks[3] after the end of the game. The One Night Live epilogue is quoted by Druckmann as a way of “saying goodbye” to Joel and Ellie."[4]

The curtain rises and we see Ellie sitting in what appears to be a normal room for a teenage girl in the post-apocalyptic world, with posters all over the wall, some of which like 'The Dawn of the Wolf' poster we have seen earlier in the game. The bedroom is simple: a bed, nightstand, lamp, desk and a swivel chair that Ellie is sitting in. She appears to be writing something as she glances out the window, the light of the moon outside lighting her desk. Ellie is listening to her infamous walkman and headphones, music playing away.

Joel walks in and knocks on the door, calling Ellie's name. After a couple attempts, he enters the room and taps her shoulder, startling her.

"I didn't mean to scare you," Joel starts.

Ellie stands up and waves him off, saying that it's okay as she pulls off her headphones. She leans against the desk and, after a bit of an awkward pause, asks Joel "What's up?" There is some tension in the air — when Druckmann set the scene, he said that this was after Joel lied to Ellie, and his intonation made it seem that Ellie was knowledgeable of that fact. This explains the dissonance of the scene and potential resentment Ellie has for Joel.

Joel starts off slowly, saying that they haven't talked for a little while and he wanted to check in on her. He tells her that some kids found some water guns and were playing with them outside that day. He had hoped to have seen Ellie out there playing too. Ellie quickly responds by telling him that she's more needed repairing the outer wall with Maria and that she doesn't have time for that. Sitting down on the corner of the bed, Joel tells her that everyone has been really impressed with Ellie but that it's okay to take a break from work every once in a while. Joel can sense that he isn't getting anywhere and changes the subject.

He talks about how Tommy has made him part of their militia group and that things have "calmed down out there somewhat." Tommy apparently has paired Joel up with a woman named Esther, with Joel confessing that he thinks Tommy wants to see them "hitched."

"She's got a great sense of humor, Ellie...I think you'd like her. Why, just the other day she told me one of them jokes that you how did it go?"

While Joel starts mumbling to himself, trying to remember the joke, Ellie interrupts. She mentions that it is late and that she needs to get going with the additional repairs needed for the outer wall. Joel is a bit deflated, but quickly recovers.

"I have something I want to show you. It'll just take a minute. One minute." Joel leaves through the bedroom door and quickly returns with a guitar in hand.

"What's that supposed to be?" Ellie says, somewhat sarcastically.

"Well I done hear that some people call this a gui-tar." Joel says, really pouring on his Texan accent. He gets a laugh from the audience and a quiet chuckle out of Ellie.

"I know that," Ellie says and asks him again what it is for. Joel sits down on Ellie's bed and confesses that he has been working on a song for some time.

"I started working on it...well, that's not important," hinting that he may have originally begun writing it for Sarah. Ellie sits in her swivel chair, drawing up one of her legs to her chest as Joel begins to play and sing select verses from "Future Days" by Pearl Jam.


Troy/Joel singing for Ashley/Ellie in One Night Live.

The musical performance is tender as Joel sings about the pain that they've gone through and how much it means to him that they still have each other — "you and I." It is uncertain whether or not it was Ashley Johnson or what Ellie was supposed to be doing, but as Troy/Joel performed, Ashley/Ellie silently shed a few tears, wiping them away slowly. As the guitar and Joel fall silent, an emotional Ellie quietly responds "That was beautiful, Joel." The tension and distance between Joel and Ellie is gone now, replaced with genuine fatherly-daughterly love.

Joel thanks Ellie, stands and extends the guitar to her.

"What...I can't play, Joel."

"I know...but I promised you that I would teach you how to play guitar. Take it. It's yours."

Ellie, touched that Joel remembered, reaches out and takes it saying, "You did." A warm silence falls and Joel begins to excuse himself. "It's getting late and we both need our rest." Joel heads for the door as Ellie falls back into her swivel chair.

"What was the joke you heard the other day?" Ellie says, breaking the silence and bringing Joel to a full stop before exiting through the door.

Joel turns around, and with a soft smile on his face asks, "What's the hardest part about eating clocks?" Ellie shakes her head and puts up her hands, giving up.

Joel smirks and says, "It's time consuming."

They both share a little laugh. "That is pretty bad," a smiling Ellie responds. "Yeah, it's one of the worst I've heard," says Joel. "Well, goodnight, Ellie." Joel walks out the door, a little slow to remove his hand from the door frame.

Ellie picks up the guitar to her chest and looks it over slowly. She rests it in her lap and plucks a single note as the lights come down.[5]



Sniper training
Joel's relationship with Ellie started off on sour terms, probably due to his experience with his daughter. Both Joel and Ellie were against Marlene's idea for Joel to watch over Ellie, while she and Tess went to check out the weapons that their former associate, Robert, sold to Marlene. Their relationship grew even more unstable after the death of Tess, who made Joel promise to get Ellie to Tommy for his assistance on finding the Fireflies. When Ellie overhears Joel and Tommy argue over her fate, she steals one of 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.


Joel holding Ellie in his arms.

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. (Most likely 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 and shows a type of "rewind" of the incident of when he lost his daughter, trying to run away from the enemies and holding her in his arms like he did with Sarah, but this time, Joel would save his "baby girl" from dying.

Epilogue: Joel, in order to attempt and alleviate Ellie's survivor's guilt, tells her a half-truth: he heard on the recordings left behind by Marlene and the surgeon (which he found before rescuing her from the operating room): that they've found other people immune to the fungus, the unsuccessful surgeries performed in all of them and they guilt they feel for "killing them for nothing".


Tess' bite
Tess is Joel's smuggling partner in Boston, and the two have a strong trust with each other by the events of the game. Both share the same philosophy and the same ruthlessness, earning their reputation of being cruel to get what they need in the Boston quarantine zone. It is implied that at one point they were once in a romantic relationship, but otherwise their bond and obligation between the pair is strong. This was so much that Joel decided to honor Tess' final request to deliver Ellie to Tommy after she became infected and bought him and Ellie some time to escape from the military. Afterwards, Joel was firmly reluctant to talk about Tess.


Joel and Bill
Bill had a smuggling arrangement with both Joel and Tess, and before Joel met Ellie, they were both on good terms, claiming he was a "good guy, just needs some warming up to." During this time he, Tess and Bill did various jobs smuggling items into the Boston quarantine zone.

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."


Joel has known Marlene as the leader of the Fireflies, ever since his brother Tommy joined the militia group. Before leaving, Tommy tells her that if she was ever in a jam she can rely on Joel for help. Joel is quite cynical of the Fireflies' promises of hope which is flowed on to Marlene.

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.


Joel and Maria
Maria is Tommy's wife and Joel's sister-in-law. They meet at the settlement for the first time after Tommy recognizes his brother. While she is only kind due to the fact that he is Tommy's brother, her fierce opposition to Tommy taking Ellie to the Fireflies shakes her faith in him. This has Joel jokingly state that she "scares" him.


Joel and Tommy
Tommy is Joel's younger brother and a former Firefly. He is seen in the intro of the game, covering Joel with his revolver while he runs with Sarah in his arms. After that night, the brothers eventually made their way to Boston. However, their different views of the world led to conflict between them, and when Tommy joins the Fireflies, the brothers lost contact with each other. The last thing Tommy said to Joel was that he did not want to see his face again. Despite this, when the brothers meet up again in Jackson County, Tommy was very glad to see Joel, embracing him and joking about his age. Even after all their years apart, Joel still holds him in high regard, stating to Ellie that he trusts him more than he trusts himself. 


Joel and Henry
Henry is a minor acquaintance of Joel and Ellie, and another survivor the two had met during their travels. When they first met, Henry mistook Joel for a Hunter, and attempted to kill him. He was overpowered by Joel's fighting skills and Joel nearly kills him. Ellie managed to stop Joel from hurting Henry when she noticed a young boy pointing a gun at them. Henry mollified the boy, saying Joel was "not one of the bad guys."

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.

Henry and Joel
Joel aims gun at Henry

Joel pointing his gun at Henry, after saving them.

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 by a Runner earlier that morning, turns overnight.

With Sam attacking and clawing at Ellie, Joel reaches for his pistol, but Henry fires a warning shot. Before Joel can reach for his pack again, Henry shoots his brother and cries with grief. He blames himself for his brother's death, and 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.


Sam 01
Like Henry, Sam is a minor acquaintance of Joel and Ellie, and another survivor the two had met during their travels. Joel does not interact with Sam much, but has shown he does care for the boy's safety — as evidenced when the two had gotten separated from Henry and Ellie, by a safety door in the sewers compound.

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.


J&S Photo Crop
Sarah is Joel's 12 year old daughter who died early in the morning, the day after his birthday at the start of the initial Cordyceps outbreak, having been shot by a soldier following orders. The two had a very close father-daughter relationship, being that Joel was a single parent. Sarah gave him a watch that he still wears 20 years later, though it is cracked, to remind him of his losses. Joel is very sensitive about her, denying the picture of the two at her soccer game from Tommy. He accepts the picture from Ellie after she steals it from Maria, showing that he has finally come to terms with her death.


Joel and Ethan
When he sees Joel trying to revive Ellie, Ethan decided to knock him out instead of trying to help her. When Joel awakens, Ethan seems overeager to hurt him, hitting Joel when he stood up to confront Marlene. Ethan asks Joel to "gimme an excuse (to shoot you)", even though Joel had not done anything (yet) to warrant such an aggressive statement. Joel later disarms Ethan and interrogates him about Ellie's whereabouts, shooting Ethan twice below the body armor. After Joel had the information he needed, he kills Ethan with a bullet to the head.

Personality and TraitsEdit

Joel has been described as a "violent thug, a brutal killer, and a torturer."[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Skills and AbilitiesEdit

As a hardened survivalist, Joel displays incredible resilience, strength, cunning, and fierce fighting prowess; he can perform chokeholds, string combinations of hard punches, and other miscellaneous attacks with little fatigue or hesitance, and he has become adept to the point where he can out-brawl and overwhelm opponents half his age quite quickly. Joel has also learned to wield a wide range of weapons, from handguns, to rifles and bows, which he can use with great proficiency. He has shown to be an expert tactician; able to use both stealthy and overt means to overcome overwhelming odds. He is also adept at crafting improvised weapons and tools (possibly due to his background in construction), and possesses an acute sense of hearing that allows him to pinpoint the relative location of those around him when focused. Joel is also a strong swimmer and can also hold his breath for a relatively long period of time.

Joel is still human, however, and is just as vulnerable to death and injury like other survivors. Unlike Ellie, he is not immune to the cordyceps infection and thus cannot survive in a spore-filled environment without a gas mask.

Design and AppearanceEdit

Joel's appearance indicates that he is in his late 40s. He has a heavy build, with dark hair and beard. According to sewage's water level ruler, he appears to be between 5 feet 10in (177.8cm) and 5 feet 11in (180.3cm) tall. Joel has many cuts and scars, which can be 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.

He is most notably shown in a green checkered collared shirt, which is rolled up to his elbows, and jeans. he carries an old, worn leather backpack which holds a gas mask and a flashlight attached to the strap. Throughout the game, Joel picks up different items (pendants, letters etc.) and the player can have Joel craft Health kits, cocktails etc. which are stowed in his pack. Like Ellie, he also changes his appearance slightly in accordance to the seasons (e.g. in the winter, Joel is seen in a different shirt and a coat).



  • 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, although it is shown that his house had a PlayStation 3 in the family room.
  • 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 very 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 26, as it was the date seen in the newspaper (Texas Herald), at the beginning of the game.
    • A tweet by Naughty Dog developer Mark Richard Davies confirms this date.[9]
  • 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".
    • Another possibility to this would be when Joel reminded Tommy the things he did to keep them alive and how Tommy recalling the years after the outbreak giving him nightmares.
    • Bill also makes a remark that suggests Joel was once a hunter saying "You know, as bad as those things are, at least they're predictable. It's the normal people that scare me. You of all people should understand that."
  • After Tess gives Joel the first health kit, he bandages his arm. Whenever he uses a health kit, he will bandage that same arm.


  • "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..."
  • "Where'd you get the money for this?"
    • Sarah: "Drugs. I sell hardcore drugs."
    • "Oh good. You can start helpin' out with the mortgage, then."
  • "Goodnight, baby girl."
  • "Don't do this to me, don't do this to me baby girl... come on... God..."
  • Tess: "It's like we're on a date."
    • "Well, I am the romantic type."
    • Tess: "You got your ways."
  • "Ladies first."
    • Tess: "Lady? You must be thinkin' of someone else."
    • "It's all relative."
  • "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 tryin' to kill you."
  • Ellie: [after shooting an enemy] "I did good, right?"
    • "Don't let it go to your head. Let it go to theirs."
  • Ellie: "Did everyone have boats back then?"
    • "Yeah. I had a sixty foot yacht."
    • Ellie: "Really?"
    • "No."
    • Ellie: "Sarcasm... making progress."
  • "You are treading on some mighty thin ice here."
  • "Uh... I had Sarah when I was pretty young."
    • Ellie: "...were you married?"
    • "For a while."
    • Ellie: "What happened?"
    • "...okay."
    • Ellie: "Too much?"
    • "Too much."
  • 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... would've been good friends. Think you really woulda liked her. I know she woulda liked you, too."
  • "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."


Concept art
Official stills

References Edit

Start a Discussion Discussions about Joel

  • A theory about Joel

    74 messages
    • Brainwasher5 wrote:I think I misunderstood what you typed, I'm sorry. No problem. These things happen!
    • I know I am new to this post considering I have yet to even make an account yet however i do believe that Joel is in fact immune to the mutat...
  • Joel

    5 messages
    • I think he is in his mid to late fifties. He is relatively young when Sarah dies and I would assume he is around his mid thirties around then....
    • If he was born 1983 he would have been 20 in the year 2003. But the outbreak take place 2013 - the year Sarah dies - so he is 30. If Sarah is...

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