Well, it's no secret - The Last of Us is a sad game. When it was released, the game was endlessly praised for its story and emotion, as no one had quite seen anything like it in a video game. Sure, we had seen good stories in games before, but The Last of Us was on a whole other level.
The thing that makes it so good is that it doesn't pull any punches, and it isn't afraid to explore the deepest and scariest parts of the human psyche. It's just pure, unfiltered sorrow, and we hate to love every last second of it.
These are the game's most heartbreaking moments, ranked.
10 Callus's Death
It's pretty telling that an innocent animal's death is one of the LEAST affecting scenes in a story! This comes at the beginning of winter, when Ellie is distracting David's hunters from Joel. After failing to shoot her off the horse, the hunters decide to shoot Callus instead, and he goes down with a pitiful whimper. Ellie seems devastated at the loss, but she doesn't have time to grieve due to the hunters on her tail. The sudden death of the horse and the sheer suddenness of it all guarantees it a spot on this list, but there's still so much sadness to go!
9 Joel Learns The Truth
After traveling across the entire country and bonding with the teenage daughter he never had, Joel learns a painful but necessary truth - Ellie needs to die in order to save the future of humanity. It's a devastating scene, as we watch Joel slowly put the pieces together and realize that he needs to sacrifice another daughter. It culminates in Joel telling Marlene to "find someone else," as he is left sad and angered by the unfortunate truth. It's a wonderfully written and performed scene, and it makes us emotional every darn time we watch it.
8 Ellie's PTSD
Throughout the game, Ellie is portrayed as a tough little girl. Not just in terms of physicality, but in terms of emotional stability. She understands what's going on, she knows how important she is to the world, and yet she still finds time to lighten the mood, crack jokes, and make new friends.
That is, until she is left traumatized by David. At the beginning of the spring chapter, Ellie is painfully quiet and distant, and while it's never explicitly stated, we can safely assume that the winter ordeal left a permanent stain on Ellie's psyche and mental well being. Just like Joel, she has been permanently traumatized, and it is devastating to see.
7 Joel Runs Through The Hospital
The ending to The Last of Us is a thing of pure beauty. After deciding that he would rather have a daughter than save the world, Joel fights his way through the Fireflies and saves Ellie from the operation, stealing her away for his own selfish gains. The running sequence is both beautiful and heartbreaking, as the music choice fits perfectly and we are reminded of the beginning of the game when Joel was running with Sarah. It's a gorgeous bit of mirroring, and it serves as a wonderfully thematic bookend to the story and Joel's character arc. Of course, we can debate the merits of his selfishness, but that's for another day!
6 Joel Collapses Off The Horse
The ending to the fall chapter is certainly a low point in the game's story. Joel has just been impaled on a piece of rebar and is clearly dying, yet he's so desperate to act in control and fatherly that he acts as if he's OK. And then he collapses off the horse, and Ellie panics. Ellie's desperate pleadings are brutal to watch, and we are left legitimately concerned about Joel's fate. After all, this is a horrifying injury in normal situations, let alone the filthy, medicine-less post-apocalypse. With the sudden cut to black, we can't help but gape and wonder if Joel had been permanently taken out of the action.
5 The Farmhouse Conversation
One of the most famous scenes of the game is the farmhouse conversation between Joel and Ellie. It's here that Ellie finally drops her comedic schtick and opens up to Joel about being lonely and scared, and she also reveals that she knows the truth about Sarah. As if the scene wasn't heartbreaking enough, we hear Joel tell Ellie that she's "not his daughter" and that they are "going their separate ways," which serves as a major gut punch to Ellie, who proceeds to sulk all the way back to Tommy's. It's a gorgeously acted sequence, and we feel the pain and anguish of both protagonists. What a fantastic sequence.
4 Joel Finds Ellie
And here we come to the event that caused Ellie's PTSD and total withdrawal from the world around her. After being captured by David and his group of cannibals, Ellie is forced to defend herself against the psychopath, and it results in her viciously hacking him to death with a machete.
The sequence where Joel finds and comforts her is equal parts beautiful and utterly heartbreaking, both because Joel calls her his "baby girl" and because Ellie is clearly traumatized over the whole ordeal. With this scene, we knew things would never be the same again, and as it turns out, they weren't.
3 "They Didn't Suffer"
This isn't a cutscene, but a simple event you stumble across while exploring the sewers with Henry and Sam. In one room, you see a deceased man and a group of deceased children shrouded by a white sheet. On the floor are the horrifying words "they didn't suffer." If you explore further, you learn that the man and the children were trapped inside the room while infected pounded on the doors outside, forcing the man to action. This room is sad, yes, but it's also utterly horrifying, as we are left to picture the disgusting events that played out either before or after the man wrote that ominous message. Quite frankly, we don't really WANT to picture it...
2 Sam And Henry's Deaths
Speaking of Sam and Henry, let's discuss just how overwhelmingly sad their respective deaths were. Sam is bitten and infected, and when he turns to Ellie for emotional support and comfort, she unintentionally shuts him down by stating that there is no afterlife or humanity left within the infected. And when Henry is forced to shoot his little brother, he immediately commits suicide in a sudden act of overwhelming grief and devastation. The sudden cut to black and the little guitar strings only add to the sense of tragedy, and it leaves the spring chapter on a note of pure hopelessness.
1 Sarah's Death
Of course it's Sarah's death! How could the top spot NOT be Sarah's death!? The game opens with a complete emotional wallop, as Joel, Tommy, and Sarah successfully flee from the outbreak of the infection, only for Sarah to be gunned down by a soldier following some truly sadistic orders. Sarah's panicked gasps and Troy Baker's unbelievable performance combine to make this not only the saddest scene in the game but quite possibly the saddest sequence in gaming history. With this one simple scene, we knew we were about to play a masterpiece. And we were right.