Having just completed The Last Of Us Part 2 for a second time and grabbed what was a surprisingly attainable Platinum trophy, I don’t feel like I’m done talking about the game just yet. There’s an argument to be made that the highest praise we can give Neil Druckmann and his team at Naughty Dog is how well they write characters. Having played through the original game multiple times as well, I believe the strength of character development and how they are all written is what drives The Last Of Us Part 1 and 2. With that in mind I want to rank my top 10 favourite characters from the franchise, this will be difficult as I love every one of them so don’t get angry and @ me if your favourite isn’t there!
Warning: There will be full spoilers for both TLOU 1 & 2 in this list!
You can also catch this list on video over on our YouTube channel or in the link below if you prefer…
I didn’t want to lump in Sam & Henry together here because I felt that wouldn’t be fair to either character. So having to pick which one snuck in at number 10 was not easy! I went with Henry purely because I believe people can relate to him. As an older brother who essentially plays a father figure to the younger Sam, Henry’s story of trying to do whatever he can to keep his little brother safe in this world is a story that we can all get on board with. The fact it comes to such a tragic end only cements both Henry & Sam as two iconic Last of Us characters who I will never forget.
Speaking of little brothers, let’s talk about Tommy. Tommy is probably the NPC with the most screen time over the two games which isn’t a surprise given he’s Joel’s brother. He’s also pretty much unkillable which I think is pretty cool in this world where nobody is safe. He survived outbreak day, a giant zombie horde, the wrath of Maria and being shot in the damn head, what a badass. Like a lot of characters on this list, Tommy has had some truly loveable moments and some moments that have made me hate him.. but this is why TLOU is so good, characters feel like real people with real problems and Tommy is a great example of that.
Oh Jesse we hardly knew you. What makes Jesse stand out from the crowd is just how damn nice he is! I just spoke about how most characters have their up and down moments but Jesse feels like the exception to this rule, he cares for his group of friends and will put their safety and well being before anything else. Something that can’t really be said for any other character other than maybe Owen. I just wish we had more time with Jesse, at least he lives on through his son JJ… I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Lev is arguably Naughty Dog’s bravest character to date and I love him! You could also refer to him as Abby’s heart as his journey intertwining with hers was the turning point for me in making Abby such a loveable protagonist. His story as a transgender character defying what the religious fanatic Seraphites expect of him is something I’ll never be able to relate to but without a doubt tugs on my heartstrings. He’s an awesome mixture of brave, deadly and loveable, and his inclusion to the series is an important one and a story that needed telling. Even if it did make a load of pathetic transphobic assholes cry and review bomb the game.. the same game that went on to be the fastest selling PS4 exclusive of all time so that totally worked out for those people!
My only issue with Lev is that we didn’t get enough, they left me wanting more and wanting me to see him grow up in this world. Fingers crossed for Part 3 then..
I feel as if Dina represents the player in Last Of Us Part 2. She starts off on Ellie’s side, completely on board with going out and getting revenge for what happened to Joel. Then as the chase for Abby intensifies and Ellie slowly starts to unravel and lose herself to anger, Dina grows worried. It took getting her pregnant face smashed in by Abby for Dina (and the player) to realise that this revenge mission isn’t worth it and the life that both Ellie and herself can lead with little JJ is far more important than an eye for an eye. So when Tommy turns up at the couple’s beautiful farmhouse to convince Ellie to once again go get revenge, both me as the player and Dina all but cut ties with Ellie knowing that she’s making a horrible mistake and throwing away the best thing that’s ever happened to her. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get a follow up to TLOU Part 2, but I pray we do just so I can find out if the two ever make up.
Without Riley there’s no Ellie and no Last of Us story, simple as that. It’s Riley’s decision to take Ellie out on that fateful night that starts this incredible chain of events. Playing Left Behind gave us an insight to Ellie’s character that the majority of Part 1 was not able to do. Taking away the constant dangers of Joel and Ellie’s mission and showing us her relationship with Riley as two young ladies who just want to try to find some sort of joy in this dark world was an amazing change of pace. Playing Left Behind and watching this beautiful relationship play out just made me care for Ellie even more than I did before and made me incredibly sad that Riley was snatched away from us so soon. No matter what happens in Ellie’s life, Riley will always be a major part of who she is and I love that.
Much like Jesse, Owen is one of the few genuine good guys in this story. He also plays a similar role to Abby as Dina does to Ellie. He understands the revenge mission that she goes on and why she has to do it, even though he doesn’t see the point as all he wants is for Abby and his friends to be safe. In fact all he wants is peace and safety for these people, he doesn’t care about the WLF’s war with the Seraphites or personal grudges, he doesn’t want this life in Seattle. Being a former firefly and getting his backstory with the group paints them in an entirely new light (no pun intended) and when he drops the line “maybe we just stopped looking for the light” it nearly broke me. The fact that Ellie and Abby’s unstoppable thirst for revenge is what got Owen killed is a real gut wrencher because he’s one of the few characters in this story who truly deserved to live. Same goes for Mel and Alice!
I can feel the rage coming through the screen at me right now that Joel doesn’t crack the top two but trust me, it hurts me too! These top three (I imagine you’ve guessed the remaining two) could genuinely have ended up in any order because I do honestly love them equally. At the end of the day though, Joel wasn’t a good guy and that’s what grabs him the third spot. Joel is however a guy we can all relate to and millions do. He’s the ultimate father figure who will do whatever it takes to protect Ellie after losing his daughter Sara in the most horrific way imaginable. The actions we as Joel have committed are obviously terrible, but did we ever really stop to question it? Maybe but we carried on believing it was the right path which is a credit to the incredible storytelling.
The end of Part 1 never left a great taste in my mouth. I loved how brave and realistic it was but I was left questioning if Joel did the right thing. Then Part 2 came along and gave us Abby’s story which cements Joel as the villain, at least from her perspective. Tie that in with Ellie finding out the truth about that day in the hospital and the realisation that this man who we all adore has ruined so many lives comes crashing down like a ton of bricks. There’s so much more I could get into about Joel but that would be a whole article in itself. He’s not perfect, but he’s still Joel and we all love and miss him.
After witnessing Abby murder Joel in the first few hours of Part 2, I would have never believed for a second that she would manage to become one of my favourite Last of Us characters of all time, and it’s a massive credit to the writing, acting and the game in general that I feel this way. Abby is a complex character who has a lot of issues, but dig beneath the surface and you’ll find a woman who is kind, protective and not at all unlike the person who tops this list. When we first meet her, she’s turned herself into a jacked up killing machine with the sole purpose of avenging her father who was murdered by Joel when trying to create a cure by sacrificing Ellie. However, when we get the flashback to her before she lost her father, she’s a somewhat dorky, clumsy and innocent young girl. It’s only Joel’s entry into her life that turns her into this supposed villain.
When we take control of Abby for the second half of the game, we’re treated to her story of redemption. She’s already travelled the path that Ellie is on in the first half and it’s not erased her grief, killing Joel didn’t solve anything for Abby. She’s still haunted by nightmares of that surgery room in the hospital much like Ellie would still be haunted by her nightmares of Joel’s death if she had of killed Abby. Abby’s relationship with the likes of Owen, Manny, Lev and Yara shows that she is a good person with good intentions. Again, she’s no different to Ellie or Joel when it comes to wanting to avenge loved ones and protect the ones that are still with her. Much like Owen, she’s not a Wolf at heart, she’s a Firely and she shows this with her amazing relationship with Seraphites Yara & Lev. The moment when Abby turns to Lev and says “You’re my people” was one of the stand out moments for me and helped solidify Abby as one of my favourite characters of all time.
I need to quickly cover some honourable mentions before I talk about the number one entry in this list. Bill, Sam, Marlene, Mel, Manny and Yara were all on this list at some point as I wrestled with who I should include. Just because they aren’t there doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Again, characters are written so well in both games that it says a lot that these amazing characters didn’t make the list.
Of course Ellie was going to get the number 1 spot! How could she not? I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I’ve been on one hell of a journey with this girl and been there to witness her grow up into a strong young badass woman. Ellie’s story is one of loss, tragedy, hope, revenge and hopefully redemption. She’s the centerpiece of this massive story and that is obvious with how often she’s been mentioned in almost every entry before this.
Having been on this epic journey with Ellie over the years, it’s difficult to know where to start. I just don’t have the time to cover her early years of self discovery with Riley, or her father/daughter relationship with Joel in and adventure of ups and downs to try find the firefly’s, or her tragic tale of revenge where she not only loses Joel, but also nearly loses herself. Although Ellie’s story is undoubtedly a sad one, I do believe it ends with hope.
Unlike Abby, Ellie was able to stop herself on the brink of getting the revenge which she thought she craved. Realising before it was too late that killing Abby wouldn’t bring Joel back and wouldn’t heal the pain. The final scene of Part 2 clearly shows that she’s going to try move on from Joel (also I hope this means she has forgiven him too) and hopefully that means getting her life back on track with Dina and JJ. Her decision to spare Abby also meant survival for her and Lev which leaves the door open for their story too. Ellie is truly the heart and soul of The Last Of Us and if we’ve seen the end of her story then it’s been an amazing ride and one which I can’t fault.