The Last of Us Part II has us frustrated with the years it’s taking to wait for its release, but that’s surprisingly fitting considering how the first part also tugged at our hearts so very much. The story and the characters were so morally ambiguous, that you could argue the protagonists weren’t actually good guys.
Chief among these ambiguous personalities was Joel, who was responsible for a number of terrible acts that he never apologized for. The Last of Us Part II will have Ellie as the main character, and that might be the best thing because these 10 points prove that Joel might as well have been the true villain of the series.
10 He Kicked His Brother Out
It remains ambiguous as to what caused the permanent separation between Tommy and Joel, but their last encounter for years had resulted in Tommy saying he never wanted to see Joel ever again.
This was because of the horrific things he had to do with Joel to survive, something that Joel saw as more of a favor than looking out for his brother. When they separated, Joel knew very well that Tommy might as well have died out there, but he apparently had no care about his own brother being eaten by zombies.
9 He Was Willing To Let Ellie Die
Tess was the only reason why Joel put up with Ellie in the first place. When they were separated and Joel had to protect Ellie without Tess for a while, he made it very clear to the latter that he didn’t give two squats about her.
When things started to get very hairy, Joel was willing to abandon Ellie if it meant he’d have to stick his neck out for her otherwise. Sure, he had no obligation toward her, but it was still a little girl nonetheless. At one point, despite not believing Ellie was immune, he led her into a place full of spores; had she not been immune, Ellie would have died then and there.
8 Refusing To Let Ellie Cope With Grief
As a father figure, one should be able to let the child feel at ease around them, especially when the situation involves life and death scenarios. Joel instead treated the ordeal with Ellie as a sort of job, where the toll on Ellie’s mind was ignored by him.
Ellie’s depression at the end of the game wasn’t because she was disappointed nothing came out of their journey, but because throughout the whole year Joel never let her process any grief. For instance, right after Tess and Sam died, Joel simply ordered her to ignore their tragedies and pretend that never happened. That’s some serious level of mental abuse if you ask us.
7 His Past As A Bandit
Joel was far too adept at fighting for a guy his age, and that was explained later in the game when he revealed he used to be a hunter. These people set up traps for unassuming passersby, before killing them and taking their stuff.
When asked if he had killed innocent people, Joel responded with a non-committal answer, which makes it obvious he was guilty. From our point of view, Joel was a survivor because the game wanted us to see him that way, but in actuality he was no better than the scores of men that had tried to kill him and Ellie throughout the game.
6 Slaughtering The Doctors
In the climax of the game, Joel headed out to rescue Ellie from being killed during a surgery that would have extracted the cure to the zombie outbreak out of her. Before reaching the surgery room, Joel had killed more than dozens of men, but you could argue they were trying to kill him first.
In the case of the doctors, though, their blood is on Joel’s hands. Joel walked into the room to find the head surgeon pathetically attempting to hold him back using a knife. Instead of just subduing him, Joel stabbed him in the neck violently, and most likely slaughtered the other doctors as well.
5 Having Selfish Morals
You might be inclined to think it was a father’s love that motivated Joel to save Ellie in the end, but that’s just not the truth of the matter. The reality is that Joel is a selfish man like the rest of the people in that zombie-infested world.
He didn’t care if Ellie died when he first met her, but then put his own life on the line for her because he grew to love her. In essence, it was because he didn’t want to be alone, which was why he protected Ellie. Along with that, Joel only ever did anything for anyone because it would benefit him, and never out of the goodness of his heart.
4 Intending To Put His Brother's Life In Danger
When he realized he was now seeing Ellie as his own daughter, Joel decided to cut her out of his life by dumping her with Tommy. He did this so he wouldn’t have to drop her off with the Fireflies and would avoid heartbreak, but he was also ignoring the fact that Tommy most probably would have died instead.
Tommy’s wife was livid with Joel for having no qualms in making her a widow, a point Joel couldn’t argue against. We saw how Joel and Ellie got ambushed later on, and that very well might have been Tommy. Joel was basically sending his own brother out toward what was most likely his death once again.
3 Killing Marlene In Cold Blood
Marlene intended to have Ellie killed because there was no other option, but she went out of her way to let Joel live. She demonstrated this on more than a couple of occasions, and each time she could have had him easily killed.
Joel, however, didn’t extend her the same courtesy. When he saw Marlene was standing in his way, he shot her and even then could have let her live. Instead, Joel tied off this loose end by shooting Marlene straight in the head. This was simply a cold-blooded act of killing, as Marlene wasn’t inherently a bad person.
2 Lying To Ellie
The ultimate proof of Joel’s selfishness was shown to us in the final seconds of The Last of Us, where a grieving Ellie made him promise that he hadn’t fabricated the story of the Fireflies letting them go.
Despite knowing that if she ever found out the truth from someone else Ellie would hate him forever, Joel looked into her eyes and swore that he wasn’t lying. And no, he wasn’t doing it to protect her, he was clearly lying to protect himself from being abandoned by the girl he now had as his own daughter.
1 Dooming The Future
The Last of Us Part II will feature a world that has gone even darker than the one we saw in the first game, and all of the tragedy and the blood that will be spilled would have been avoided had Joel left Ellie.
We can be certain Ellie would have chosen to die had she been given the choice to either live or let humanity take the world back from the zombies, but all of that was made impossible because Joel killed everyone who could have come up with the cure. We don’t know if he’s alive in the sequel, but he did ensure that anyone who would die did perish because he doomed humanity.