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Ellie and Joel from The Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

All major characters that died in ‘The Last of Us’ games

We aren't looking forward to seeing these deaths in the show.

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for The Last of Us video games, as well as HBO’s The Last of Us.

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The Last of Us is a series where pretty much anybody can die. The PlayStation video games, which were developed by Naughty Dog, take place in a post-apocalyptic version of the United States after a Cordyceps fungal infection has transformed the majority of the world into mindless beings. Therefore, many characters die in the games, even those who might have had plot armor. With the HBO show out, fans who have played through the series might want a refresher on who died, so let’s take a look at everyone who died in The Last of Us games.

Of course, while the show might not be exactly the same, most if not all of the following characters are doomed to die in the series. So, if you do not want to know who dies in HBO’s The Last of Us, you have been warned. These are the major character deaths across the games, including The Last of Us Part I, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and The Last of Us Part II


Joel and Sarah from The Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

Joel’s (Troy Baker) daughter Sarah is the first main character who dies in the games. He and his brother Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce) take Sarah (Hana Hayes) and attempt to flee the town to hopefully get somewhere safe when the infection first broke out in 2013. Unfortunately for them, everybody else had the same idea and the roads were chaotic, so chaotic that another car slammed into them, injuring her in the process.

You play as Sarah for the first section of the game, until you play as Joel running with her through the streets, as she can’t walk. The pair are chased by runners until they happen upon someone from the military who is ordered to shoot them because they might be sick. The foot soldier fires before Tommy can take him out, and Sarah is shot. She dies in her father’s arms. 


The Last of Us Tess
Image via Naughty Dog

Joel’s friend and smuggling partner Tess (Annie Wersching) dies in The Last of Us Part I. The pair both live in the Boston quarantine zone in 2033 before they are tasked with smuggling Ellie (Ashley Johnson) out of there. On their way to the Massachusetts State House, they find the Fireflies who they were supposed to leave Ellie with, and they have been killed.

Tess tasks Joel with going across the country to find the Fireflies again so they might find a cure through Ellie. She reveals that she can’t go with them because she has been bitten. To help them, Tess battles the soldiers that have been pursuing them since they killed the officers outside the quarantine zone, and she is killed stalling them.


Image via Naughty Dog

Frank is one of the characters who died during The Last of Us Part I, except we don’t see his death as we only see him after he committed suicide. But his impact on the story makes him one of the first dead characters you think of when you think about the first game. Frank is Bill’s (W. Earl Brown) partner, and the pair spent the entire infection running a small town in Lincoln.

How Bill ran things proved to be too restrictive for Frank, so he grew to hate him and left the booby-trapped part of town. He left for the local high school to scavenge for a battery so he could get a car and leave the area. Joel, Ellie, and Bill come upon his hanging body, long dead, as he was bitten and took his death into his own hands, rather than let the infection take him. 

Henry and Sam

Henry and Sam
Image via The Last of Us/Naughty Dog

Our first duo on the list is Henry (Brandon Scott) and Sam (Nadji Jeter), two brothers who die in The Last of Us Part I. Ellie and Joel encounter them after arriving in Pittsburgh, and the four of them bond. One morning Ellie goes to wake up the younger brother, Sam, and he attacks her as he had succumbed to the infection after being bitten. 

At first, Henry can’t kill his brother and shoots at Joel to warn him not to do anything. Unfortunately, the older brother knew what had to be done and he kills Sam, saving Ellie, before turning the gun on himself. Joel could not talk him down and so he shoots himself in front of both of them. 


David The Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

The villain of the first game, David (Nolan North) dies in The Last of Us Part I. He is the head of a cannibal group Ellie encounters after leaving Jackson. At this point, Joel is wounded and recovering, and while she is alone Ellie is taken captive. It is heavily implied that David is a pedophile and that he would keep her alive rather than feed her to the group.

Fortunately for Ellie, she manages to escape captivity, confronting David by himself. Fighting David is a major boss fight in the game, as you stalk around a restaurant and try to take him out discreetly. With the building on fire, Ellie attacks him with a machete and stabs him to death. Joel gets there just in time to help her escape and cope with what she has just done.


Image via Naughty Dog

Marlene (Merle Dandridge), who you meet at the start of The Last of Us Part I is the last major character to die in the game. She is the one who gives Joel Ellie after she is wounded and can’t take her out of the zone herself. You don’t see Marlene until the end of the game when our protagonists are rescued by the Fireflies after drowning in Salt Lake City.

After Joel finally gets Ellie to the Fireflies they reveal to him that she will be undergoing surgery to see if her brain holds the key to a cure. Realizing that she probably wouldn’t survive, he goes through every member of the Fireflies in the hospital to save her. Marlene confronts him in the parking lot as he is taking Ellie away from the hospital and she is the character standing in between Joel and keeping Ellie safe. So he kills her and takes Ellie to Jackson, lying to her about what happened at the hospital.


Ellie and Riley from The Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

One of the main characters in The Last of Us: Left Behind is Riley (Yaani King), who is the only one to die in the standalone title. Her story takes place a few weeks before the events of the first game. Riley — a friend of hers who has run away — meets Ellie at her military school in Boston and takes her to an empty mall where they manage to turn on the power. It turns out that the trip was a goodbye as she has joined the Fireflies and is being sent away.

The two manage to wire up music to speakers in an electronics store. Ellie begs her to stay and the two kiss after Riley throws her Firefly pendant away. Unfortunately, the sound of the music draws in a horde of infected and both girls are bitten while they try to get away. The pair vow to let the infection take them so they can spend time together, but while Riley gets infected, Ellie does not. This is how she realizes she is immune, setting up the events of the first game.


Ellie from The Last of Us Part II
Image via Naughty Dog

Anna is another character who is not a main character in the series but impacted the franchise in a huge way. Anna is the mother of Ellie, whose death is the reason she was watched by Marlene and involved with the Fireflies in the first place. Without Anna’s death, Ellie never would have met Joel. Her mother died on the day Ellie was born, presumably of complications from childbirth, and before the events of the first game.


Image via Naughty Dog

Easily the death that affected fans the most was Joel’s in The Last of Us Part II. He is the first character to die in the game, after helping Abby (Laura Bailey), a stranger who runs into a horde of infected. It turns out that Abby is the daughter of Jerry (Derek Phillips), who was the surgeon that Joel killed at the end of the first game. He and Tommy take Abby back to her group, which is made up of members of the Washington Liberation Front, and former Fireflies.

Ellie goes after the brothers only to walk into the room with both Joel and Tommy on the ground, and Joel has been beaten within an inch of his life with a golf club. Abby takes one final swing in front of Ellie, killing him, and so for the rest of the game, Ellie hunts each one of the group down.

Owen and Mel

Owen and Mel The Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

Owen (Patrick Fugit) and Mel (Ashley Johnson) are two characters who die in The Last of Us Part II. These two characters were with Abby when she killed Joel. Mel is pregnant with Owen’s child, and Owen is also Abby’s ex-boyfriend. The two take up shelter in an aquarium in Seattle. Ellie follows the WLF’s trail, killing member after member, and taking down people who were in the room when Joel was killed.

She eventually makes it to the aquarium and demands that Mel and Owen tell her where Abby has gone. He tries to wrestle the gun away from Ellie, earning him a gunshot to the chest. Mel retaliates by jumping Ellie with a knife, but Ellie uses it to stab her in the neck. They both bleed out but not before Ellie opens Mel’s coat and realizes that she was pregnant. 


Jesse and Ellie in The Last of Us: Part II
Image via Naughty Dog

Jesse (Stephen Chang) is the ex-boyfriend of Dina (Shannon Woodward), Ellie’s girlfriend. In the second game, Dina reveals that she is pregnant with his child. He is the one that finds Joel, Tommy, and Ellie after the WLF attack. When Jesse realizes that Dina and Ellie have left to take down Abby and her friends he follows them. 

After she kills Mel and Owen, Jesse and Tommy convince Ellie to go back to the theater where they left Dina. While they make plans to find Abby, she bursts into the theater and overpowers Tommy. Jesse and Ellie confront her, but as they pass through the doorway to get to her, Abby shoots him in the head. 


Image via Naughty Dog

Yara (Victoria Grace) is a character you meet in the second part of The Last of Us Part II. She and her brother Lev (Ian Alexander) are forced to leave the Seraphites — a cult group in the second game — after Lev transitions to male. He saves Yara after she is captured, and Abby ends up saving them both. Unfortunately, when she was captured her arm was injured and Mel is forced to amputate her arm. 

Owen intends to go to Santa Barbara to find the Fireflies and offers to take Yara and Lev with him. Lev returns to the Seraphites’ island to bring their mother with them, but he kills her in self-defense after she attacks him. Yara and Abby venture to the island to get Lev but they all come upon the WLF and their leader Issac (Jeffrey Wright). As he is about to kill Abby, Yara shoots him so the WLF kill her while Lev and Abby make their escape.

Those are all the major characters who die in The Last of Us games. Who knows if all of these characters will die in the HBO show or if their deaths will happen the same way? For that, we will have to wait and see and enjoy the series along the way.

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Tristyn Akbas
Tristyn Akbas is an SEO writer for We Got This Covered. He graduated from the University of New South Wales, with a Bachelor's Degree in Film and Writing. Tristyn specializes in the geekier side of writing and is always up to date on the latest movies, TV, comic books, and video games. He particularly likes anything superhero or horror-related, and in his free time, you'll find him earning PlayStation trophies.