The Last of Us is a brutal game. It's filled with violence, depravity, hate, and all manners of horrifying human capabilities. But it can also be beautiful. While most people consider the game to be a miserable, humorless affair, it is actually filled with moments of pure beauty, and even a semblance of comedy in one or two of its scenes.
They're rare, but they are there. And their elusive nature makes them all the more welcoming and surprising when they do show their heads. And we're here to rank them. These are the ten most beautiful moments from The Last of Us.
10 The Drive To Pittsburgh
Sandwiched between the hell that is Boston and Pittsburgh, the game grants us some breathing time and allows us to bask in the bonding between Joel and Ellie. They're simply driving through the rain, listening to old country music, and talking about Bill's magazines. This little scene has a bit of everything - bonding between characters, some relaxing music, and some much needed comic relief. The pitter patter of the rain only adds to the scene's relaxed pace, and it helps us feel at peace for the first time in a while. Maybe it's not "beautiful" in the traditional sense, but when it comes to this game, we'll take anything!
9 Joel And Henry Bond Over Motorcycles
It's moments like this that force the player to appreciate the moments of happiness and peace, because as this scene proves, those feelings can be ripped away from us at any moment. In this sequence, Joel and Henry can be seen chilling by the hot pot of food and bonding over their love of motorcycles. It helps develop their characters, and it serves as a nice break of pace from the usual action. It also helps strengthen Henry's character and makes him more sympathetic, which of course makes his immediately proceeding death all the more emotionally impactful. It's devastating stuff.
8 Ellie And Joel Pet The Horse
Sometimes the most beautiful moments are the smallest ones. Upon finding Tommy's settlement in the hydroelectric dam, Joel and Ellie are led through the main courtyard and eventually come across some horses. As Tommy is forced to help someone with horse shoes, Joel and Ellie find themselves with some time on their hands, so they decide to go pet a horse. Ellie chooses to stroke its head, while Joel gives it some loving taps on the rear. It's a small moment, and it's over in a matter of seconds, but it still serves as a nice respite from the violence and depravity.
Immediately following the brief horse pat, Joel and Tommy (but mostly Tommy) wander the hydroelectric dam and go about observing the workers. After some extended build up, they successfully manage to generate electricity for a number of seconds - that is, until they are ambushed by a group of bandits. It's amazing how much we take electricity for granted, and this game helps us realize just how dour the world can be without it. Even if it only lasted for a few seconds, that hum and din of electricity gave us, and the characters within the world, a brief glimmer of hope.
6 Joel Apologizes To Ellie
While in the swanky Pittsburgh hotel, Joel is ambushed by a hunter and is nearly drowned to death before Ellie shows up and pops him in the head. Rather than showing gratitude for saving his life, Joel admonishes Ellie for leaving her position and risking her life. This causes some palpable awkwardness between the two, and Ellie can't help but make a few snarky remarks. However, Joel eventually warms to the situation and apologizes in his own cold way by telling her it was either him or the hunter. It's not exactly the most direct apology, but Ellie reads between the lines and takes it as such. It's a cute little moment of understanding, and it helps strengthen their bond.
5 Ellie And Sam Play In The Sewers
Sometimes, what with all the swearing, killing, and pressure of saving the world, we forget that Ellie is just a kid. We're harshly reminded of this when she meets Sam, and the two take an instant liking towards each other. Their immediate friendship is showcased in the sewers, when they take some time off to play makeshift soccer. Of course, this fun only lasts a couple of seconds before Henry gives them trouble for being loud. It's a perfect representation of the world they're living in - there's no time for fun or innocence, because danger can quite literally be hiding around the corner.
4 Joel Escapes With Ellie
The climax of this game is just rife with emotion. After fighting your way through the Firefly hospital to get to Ellie, you are forced to run from gunfire as you make your dramatic escape. It's a hauntingly beautiful sequence of the game, as Joel offers kind words of encouragement and love to the unconscious Ellie as the music swells and the gunfire fades into muffles. It's a wonderfully directed sequence, and it helps us understand that, to Joel, there is nothing in the world more important than Ellie's safety and well being. Ambiguous selfishness aside, this is a gorgeous sequence.
3 Ellie Confesses To Joel
Throughout the first half of the game, Ellie is portrayed as a child. You know, as she is. She doesn't seem to take events seriously, she puts herself in danger (see above), she easily makes friends, and she is constantly breaking the tension with jokes and snarky asides. We see the real Ellie in the farmhouse sequence when she finally drops her guard and reveals to Joel that she needs his fatherly protection and would feel even more scared without him. We realize that Ellie has been scared the whole time, and much like a child, needs the protection and reassurance of a fatherly figure. Her story really is tragic...
2 On The Road Again
Following their spat in the ranch house, Ellie is left devastated, and the group rides back to Tommy's settlement in complete silence. However, this silence gives Joel time to think, and he makes the decision to take Ellie to Colorado himself. The 180 is a beautiful little moment, and is made all the more perfect when we see Ellie's face lighting up with the realization. It also serves as a beautiful moment in Joel's character arc, as he makes the decision to both accept and love another daughter. With this, the duo were in it together to the very end.
1 The Giraffes
This is a little cliché, but yes, we're choosing the giraffes as the number one pick. After all, this moment is revered for a reason! After all that Joel and Ellie have been through (especially the horrifying sequences of the winter chapter), they still take the time to recognize beauty. Ellie reverts back to a child again when she sees the giraffes, and even Joel takes time to appreciate their beauty. It proves that even in the deepest pits of Hell on Earth, we should still find time to appreciate the beautiful things. They make not come often, but when they do, they are all the more powerful.