Joel Did The Right Thing In ‘The Last Of Us’ Finale Whether You Like It Or Not

Joel Did The Right Thing In ‘The Last Of Us’ Finale, Whether You Like It Or Not

Warning: There are MAJOR spoilers ahead for the entire first season of HBO’s The Last Of Us.

When The Last Of Us was first released in 2013, the ending was deemed controversial by video game fans. And now that the first season of the HBO hit has come to a close in a near-identical way, the debate has started back up again: Was Joel right to choose one girl’s life over all of humankind?

I’m going to stop you right there because this question isn’t entirely accurate. What happened in The Last Of Us finale isn’t your regular, run-of-the-mill trolley problem. Joel wasn’t choosing between saving one person or saving millions of lives. Why not? Because there was zero guarantee that the vaccine would even work. Zero. And this is hinted at throughout the series if you go back and watch from the beginning.

Throughout the series, multiple characters imply that a vaccine wouldn’t have worked. Remember the beginning of episode two? A top doctor was tasked to help with the outbreak and she said: “I have spent my life studying these things. So please listen carefully. There is no medicine. There is no vaccine.” Then, when the officer asks her what they should do about the problem, she says, “Bomb. Start bombing. Bomb this city and everyone in it.”

That’s a pretty intense stance for a doctor, who has sworn to save lives, to take. Not to mention that all of the knowledge, funding, and medication that this woman had access to when the world was functional is probably more knowledge than Firefly doctors have twenty years into a pandemic when resources are scarce.

Remember, it’s not like the Fireflies have always had the best intentions. They set up Riley, a teenage girl, in a mall that their team hadn’t even fully cleared of infected (one was sitting right there in the open!!) and armed her with pipe bombs. This group can act like they care about saving the world, but they do plenty of damage too. They’re far from innocent.

Joel never trusted them from the beginning. In episode four, he talks to Ellie about how his brother ended up with them and says, “Tommy meets Marlene. She talks him into joining the Fireflies. Same mistake he made when he was eighteen. Wants to save the world. Pipe dream. Him, Fireflies, all of ’em… delusional.” Maybe Joel was right all along. Maybe the Fireflies were delusional. They were never going to save humankind. The show just tricked us into thinking they could because, like Ellie and Tess and Tommy, we wanted to have hope.

This TikTok supports the theory that Joel did nothing wrong. The Fireflies had plenty of other options. They could have done a biopsy. They could have run more tests. They could have done anything other than prep a girl for a surgery that would kill her five minutes after getting her into their hospital. Ellie was going to die for nothing. And she didn’t even know it!

Even if the Fireflies could have saved the world, Marlene stating that Ellie deserved a choice was funny coming from her, someone who decided to knock her out cold and kill her without telling her. She wasn’t getting a choice either way. So if you ask me (and thousands of other viewers) Joel did the right thing. Case closed.