Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Biggest Unanswered Questions From The Last Of Us Season 1

"The Last of Us" Season 1 has finally wrapped up and, for many fans, was one hell of a ride. Whether this was your introduction to the story or you'd played the games previously, the show seemed to appeal to both camps. While not a full one-for-one adaptation, it takes strides to adapt the source material while maintaining its own identity.

The series follows Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal), one of the remaining people left functioning 20 years after the widespread cordyceps outbreak. Now, stuck in the embittered and gritty remnants of the old world, Joel takes on a curious mission. He meets Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a precocious teen with an inexplicable immunity to the cordyceps virus, and is tasked with transporting her across the country. With the first season now wrapped up, fans may be left with a few lingering questions in regard to certain characters and moments. So grab your pocket knife and get to higher ground because these are the biggest unanswered questions from "The Last of Us" Season 1.

What became of Joel's ex-wife?

In "The Last of Us" Episode 1, Joel and his daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker), go about their usual business on the eve of the apocalypse, and we're shown the final day before the cordyceps fungi truly take over and set into motion humanity's untimely demise. It's here we get to see Joel's occasionally difficult but heartwarming relationship with his daughter. The series, much like the game, quickly establishes that Joel is a single father and is caring for Sarah on his own. Later on, in a heartbreaking turn, Sarah is shot by a soldier and dies in Joel's arms before we jump ahead 20 years.

However, during this pre-pandemic preamble and Joel's post-apocalyptic present, we're never given much information regarding his ex-wife. Outside of one brief line to Ellie regarding his failed marriage, we really aren't given much in the way of details. We can deduce that it was clearly an ugly schism as Joel never mentions checking in on her the night of the mass outbreak. We can assume she's either dead, or worse, but it'd be interesting to see if the series ever confirms her status.

How did Joel meet Tess?

When we jump ahead 20 years after the cordyceps outbreak, Joel's life is far from the most pleasant existence. It's here we're introduced to the concept of military-run quarantine zones aka QZs and the Federal Disaster Response Agency aka FEDRA. We also meet Tess (Anna Torv), a female associate of Joel's who seems to have some form of history with him. We can assume that Joel and Tess have had a long history of taking on various smuggling missions, as well as other murky side jobs.

It's also implied that Joel and Tess, at one time, were a romantic couple of some sort, albeit as romantic as one can get in the post-apocalypse. However, we're never really given the full rundown as to how the two met each other in the first place. Was it a matter of falling in with the same crowd or was it simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time? Additionally, what changed to turn it from a quasi-romantic relationship to being one that was all business? Given how important Tess' death is in the grand scheme of the game and the show, a flashback showing their first meeting would be interesting.

How is Ellie immune?

The lynchpin of Season 1's plot is Ellie and her inexplicable immunity against the cordyceps fungi. Although the virus isn't a one-for-one copy of the standard infected outbreak, it shares many of the same trappings. It's shown throughout the season that the smallest of bites can turn a person feral in a little under a night. Additionally, we see Tess receive an additional grizzly fate as a Clicker (a fully transformed cordyceps infected) forces his fungi strands down her throat through a sickening kiss. Simply put, if you're bitten or converted by an infected person directly, it won't be too long before you become a murderous shell of your former self.

That's why Ellie's immunity to bites makes her such a valuable asset and why Joel must protect her throughout the season. It's shown how Ellie originally received her bite and even how she came into contact with Marlene (Merle Dandridge), however, one question still looms: Why exactly is Ellie even immune in the first place and does it have an expiration date? Additionally, we see through flashbacks how Ellie's mother, Anna (Ashley Johnson), had been bitten amidst her daughter's birth, taking her own life after Marlene tearfully took the baby. Was being exposed to the cordyceps virus while in utero enough to trigger Ellie's one-in-a-million immunity?

How much humanity is left in an infected person?

This is a question that applies to any zombie-adjacent media, but it's definitely one worth considering, especially in regard to "The Last of Us." In any zombie movie or television show, the concept of the undead recalling certain aspects of their humanity has been toyed around with. There is a human brain left in there after all, so it's not entirely impossible to imagine someone, consciously or not, recalling old habits. The best-known example of this is George A. Romero's 1978 film, "Dawn of the Dead," where zombies still flock to the mall as if it's some form of muscle memory.

With that same logic in mind, do Clickers or any other cordyceps-bred infected retain similar information in regard to places or people? We've seen the transition for every type of infected, but how long is it before they are completely consumed by the cordyceps hive mind? Any outbreak-related media always opens a box of various questions like this, so hopefully, Season 2 clarifies these inquiries.

Who started the Fireflies?

"When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light." The Fireflies are mentioned all throughout "The Last of Us" Season 1 as they are an important aspect of the show's world. Following the fall of day-to-day society, FEDRA stepped in and quickly implemented quarantine zones for people to relocate to. However, many of these QZs quickly became police states wherein the citizens were often treated like cattle, often being killed for violating rules.

In the wake of this new fascist regime, the Fireflies were born; a revolutionary militia group looking to restore the old ways amidst complete cordyceps chaos. A big part of this involves crafting a cure with the help of Ellie who has shown immunity to infection. We're shown just how well-known the Fireflies are, with their insignia often spray-painted on various walls and street signs. Additionally, we see just how risky being a Firefly is with how Ellie reacts to her friend, Riley (Storm Reid), becoming one.

One thing the show never really makes clear however is just who founded the Fireflies in the first place. Was it one person who got the ball rolling or was it a group of people with a united goal? The origins of the Fireflies would definitely serve as interesting supplemental content for "The Last of Us" Season 2.

Was that Dina watching Ellie in Jackson?

For many hardcore "The Last of Us" fans who've played both games, there've been a few overt nods to the show's interactive predecessors worth pointing out. From the game's voice actors popping up in key roles throughout the season to smaller ones like Ellie's favorite comic book, "Savage Starlight," making an appearance.

However, there is one nod that might've gone over the heads of anyone who hasn't played the original two games. In the season's sixth episode, "Kin," Joel and Ellie finally make it to Jackson, Wyoming where they find Joel's brother, Tommy Miller (Diego Luna). As they are given a tour of Jackson, we see a girl about Ellie's age spying on them as they eat. Ellie calls her out in her typical Ellie way but there's a very good chance she'll be more than friendly with that girl in a few years.

Eagle-eyed fans on Twitter have already begun speculating if the mystery girl is actually Dina, Ellie's future girlfriend in "The Last of Us: Part 2." It certainly wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility as Season 1 more than sets itself up for a follow-up. If an eventual second season follows the second game's plot, there's a good chance we'll be seeing Dina down the line.

How did David start his cannibal cult?

In the season's penultimate episode, 'When We Are In Need," Ellie comes into contact with David (Scott Shepherd), the leader of a cult-like group of survivors. We quickly get a sense of how much power David has over the group, as he's able to command the attention of an entire room. Upon his introduction, we get the sense that David, while seemingly friendly, has an aura of sinister energy to him. This is soon more than confirmed when it's revealed that David and his entire group have resorted to cannibalism to survive. After that bombshell, it soon becomes clear that Ellie is set to be served up as their next unwilling meal.

It's a disturbing episode, to say the least, but it does raise some interesting questions in regard to David and his cult. The biggest is, how did David form this group in the first place and convince them all to embrace cannibalism? David is shown to have a decent way with words so perhaps it was nothing more than good old-fashioned manipulation. While it is undoubtedly a disturbing question, perhaps it's the ambiguity that adds to the terror of the situation.

How did a giraffe survive the outbreak?

For many fans, one of the most resonant visuals from the first "The Last of Us" game is a brief moment where Joel and Ellie encounter a giraffe. Amidst a game loaded with stabbings, shootings, cannibalism, and company nihilism, it's a refreshingly sweet moment. Credit to the showrunners, as they definitely understood the importance of this moment when adapting the game for television.

The moment, much like in the game, is a tender little reprieve before the episode smashes into its gruesome climax. Despite how wonderful this moment is, it does raise the question of just how did a giraffe survive the cordyceps outbreak? Granted we see a gaggle of monkeys earlier on in the season so it could be possible that Clickers only see humans as threats. Then again, in a world where resources have grown scarce, it's a bit strange no one's turned that giraffe into burgers by now. A beautiful moment for sure, but definitely one that clashes, albeit a little bit, with the realism shown up until that point.

Did Ellie really kill Riley in the mall?

One of the season's most heartbreaking moments arrives in Episode 7, "Left Behind," where we get a peek into Ellie's past. We're shown Ellie, a while before meeting Joel, and a late-night adventure with her friend, Riley. Riley takes Ellie to a mystical remnant of the old world known as the mall, a place filled with various activities. The two girls have an amazing night filled with playing old arcade games, a carousel ride, and photo booth shenanigans. They even share a kiss, confirming that their affection for each other goes beyond just a simple friendship.

However, following an unexpected run-in with a lone cordyceps infected, both girls end up with bite marks much to their horror. Ellie and Riley opt to wait it out, content to spend whatever time they have left together before they turn. Ellie's immunity means that only Riley would be infected, leaving her ultimate fate fairly easy to deduce. This is confirmed in the finale when Ellie summarizes the story for Joel and mentions how she had to put Riley down. However, we don't actually see this mercy killing happen on-screen, so could it be possible that it wasn't that simple? Was Ellie actually able to perform a mercy killing on her best friend or did she leave it for someone else to handle?

Where is Abby during the Season 1 finale?

As we mentioned previously, going into this show after playing the games will profoundly change how you view certain things. Case in point, anyone who's played "The Last of Us: Part 2" will know that Joel's decision in the finale effectively seals his fate down the line.

After learning that the surgery on Ellie to create a cure would end up killing her, Joel goes on an absolute warpath. This results in Joel massacring his way through the Firefly base until he gets to the room where Ellie's being operated on. Joel then proceeds to shoot the lead surgeon right between the eyes before leaving with an unconscious Ellie. However, the camera then holds on to the dead surgeon for a few extra moments, letting the moment sink in.

Those unfamiliar with the games may be wondering why this seemingly random surgeon is worth lingering for an additional few moments. That's because this is later revealed to be the father of Abby, one of the dual protagonists in "The Last of Us: Part 2." With that likely on the docket for Season 2, it's worth wondering where Abby is during the events of the season finale. Will it be similar to the games, in which Abby was present but arrived too late or will the show take it in a different direction?