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The 7 most shocking moments from HBO’s The Last of Us

HBO’s The Last of Us has concluded its first season, and audiences are reeling after everything they experienced throughout the first nine episodes. Joel and Ellie’s journey throughout post-apocalyptic America was long and arduous, and the suffering they endured at the hands of humans and Infected alike was far from forgiving.

Now that the first part of their adventure is finally over, here’s a look back at some of the most shocking moments in the series.

7. Outbreak Day

Two people drive a car in The Last of Us.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a scene taken straight out of the game, Joel tries to escape Austin with Sarah and Tommy as the mutant cordyceps fungus breaks out across the country, turning people into Infected monsters. Sarah first encounters one in the form of her once-kind elderly neighbor, Mrs. Adler, as she feasts on another person’s body.

In the ensuing chaos, entire homes are set ablaze, riots flood the streets, and bombs are dropped on the city. But in a horrifying twist, an airplane literally falls from the sky, causing Joel’s truck to crash.

6. The day Ellie is born

Ashley Johnson stands in the woods in The Last of Us Episode 9.
Liane Hentscher/HBO

In a scene made specifically for the show, Ellie’s mother, Anna, gives birth to her in an abandoned house just as she fends off an Infected attack. Unfortunately, Anna is left infected, but because it happened before she cut Ellie’s umbilical cord, her daughter became immune to Cordyceps.

Even so, Anna is forced to give Ellie away to Marlene, but she asks her friend to kill her to prevent her from becoming another flesh-eating monster. At first, it seems like Marlene can’t bear to fulfill her friend’s dying wish, but after putting Ellie in the other room, Marlene walks back and quickly shoots Anna dead, beginning the season 1 finale with a literal bang.

5. Sam and Henry die

Henry in The Last of Us.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though Joel and Ellie escape Kansas City with Henry and Sam alive, the eight-year-old Sam still ends up infected with Cordyceps. Though Ellie tries to cure him with her blood, she wakes up the next morning to the infected Sam attacking her. Henry is then forced to shoot his little brother dead, but he is so shocked by what he has done that he shoots himself right in front of Joel and Ellie.

Though it was pretty clear that it was too late for Sam, it still doesn’t detract from how horrifying it is to watch him and Henry die the way they did.

4. Ellie faces David

David wears a winter jacket in The Last of Us Episode 8.
Liane Hentscher/HBO

In episode 8, Ellie encounters David, a seemingly benevolent preacher leading a small community of survivors in Colorado, but she soon learns that he is a violent and manipulative cult leader secretly feeding his people, well … people. It is thus implied that David secretly made one of the grieving girls in his community eat her recently-dead father.

David only gets more detestable when he tries to sexually assault Ellie as she tries to escape his wrath. At this point, there’s absolutely nothing sympathetic about him, so it comes as both a shock and relief when Ellie takes a cleaver and chops him to death. Though Ellie makes it out alive, her screams of terror show that this experience will stick with her, as well as the audience, for a long time.

3. Bill and Frank’s pact

A still of Bill and Fred getting married in The Last of Us HBO TV show.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a strong deviation from the source material, episode 3 reveals that Bill’s long-time partner Frank requested that he help him end his own life to spare them both the burden of his degenerative disease. The two of them make the most of their last day together by getting married, but it is still heart-wrenching to see Bill go through with his promise by giving him wine laced with pills.

But Bill surprises Frank and the audience when he reveals that he also put pills in his own drink, choosing to die alongside Frank. Since Bill was alive in the game when Joel and Ellie arrive at his home, fans would’ve expected only Frank to have died in the show. Thus, Bill and Frank’s suicides make for a shocking end for such a loving couple.

2. Sarah’s death

Joel holds Sarah's body in The Last of Us.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Even a decade after the game’s release, audiences still weren’t prepared for this moment. After crashing in the streets of Austin, Texas, Joel and Sarah flee from an infected Runner chasing them at blinding speed. A U.S. soldier saves their lives, but their relief doesn’t last, as the gunman is ordered to shoot them both next.

Tommy arrives just in time to kill the soldier to rescue Joel, but Sarah still gets shot and dies in her father’s arms. Though they escaped being killed by Infected, Joel couldn’t save his daughter from being killed by a regular man, establishing the true horror of this story.

1. Joel kills the Fireflies

Joel holds a rifle in The Last of Us.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When Joel and Ellie finally reach the Fireflies’ base in Salt Lake City, the former is shocked to learn that they intend to create a cure for Cordyceps by taking a piece of Ellie’s brain in a fatal procedure, all without telling her about what would happen to her. But instead of letting the Fireflies conduct the surgery and possibly save the world, Joel kills almost everyone in the building, along with Marlene, to save Ellie.

This moment has long been the subject of debate by many fans, but whether or not you think Joel did the right thing, you have to admit that he was in the wrong for brutally murdering those people, including one Firefly who lowered his weapon.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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