The Last of Us

The Last of Us Episode 7 Finally Reveals Ellie's Tragic Past

Ellie’s life before Joel gets a spotlight.


The Last of Us Episode 7 forced Ellie front and center — whether she wanted to be or not. After the end of Episode 6 saw Joel and Ellie disappointed by the lack of Fireflies in the university in Colorado, the loss was only compounded when Joel found himself stabbed by a raider. Now, in Episode 7, it’s up to Ellie to take care of Joel, and it’s forcing her to remember the last time she wanted to save someone. Here’s everything you need to know about that tragic ending.

Spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 7.

Ellie manages to drag Joel into an abandoned house, but she doesn’t know what to do. This entire time, Joel’s been the teacher, the protector, and the one Ellie could rely on. Now, it’s up to Ellie to do whatever she can in return, but unfortunately, there’s not much she can do but watch Joel get worse and worse.

Who is Riley to Ellie?

Ellie’s room in FEDRA school, where she grew up.


Suddenly, it’s months earlier and Ellie is running laps in FEDRA school. She’s, unsurprisingly, a troublemaker, but she’s usually accompanied by her friend, who’s now disappeared. Then one night, a sleeping Ellie is awoken by her best friend and roommate Riley, who has ditched school and joined the Fireflies.

Riley is the role model Ellie had before Joel, and she not only represents who she wanted to be but also colors her perception of the Fireflies. If Riley can join them, maybe they aren’t the terrorists FEDRA taught her they are.

What Happens to Riley?

Riley takes Ellie on an adventure through an abandoned mall, including exciting encounters with escalators, a photo booth, a carousel, and even Mortal Kombat II. But when they make a trip to a Halloween store, things go way off plan.

First, Ellie realizes that Riley has to leave, and she has to say goodbye to her best friend who is off to join a faction of people that aim to tear down the only world Ellie knows. In that passionate moment, they kiss, revealing their feelings for each other weren’t just platonic.

But before they can reckon with the change in their relationship, they’re attacked by an Infected. Riley tries to shoot it with her Firefly-issued pistol but misses. Ellie manages to take down the Infected with her knife, but by then it’s too late: both Ellie and Riley have been bitten.

How Does Ellie Escape?

Ellie and Riley’s mall adventure ends tragically.


The two are faced with an impossible decision: they’re doomed to die, so should they expedite the process and kill themselves? They decide to go out the poetic way and go mad together, but as we know, only one of them actually turns Infected. We don’t see it, but we know that Riley turns and Ellie doesn’t, and Ellie probably had to kill her own best friend — a girl she may have loved.

It’s unclear how Ellie dealt with the fact Riley was the only one to turn. Did she take Riley’s revolver and kill her before she could turn completely or fight off an inhuman Riley like she fought off the Infected that bit her? Considering her emotional reaction and their decision to lose their minds together, Ellie would probably have risked it and let Riley turn completely to experience every bit of humanity she has left.

What Will Happen to Joel?

But back at the abandoned house in the present, Ellie realizes she’s not powerless like she was with Riley. Joel isn’t bitten, he’s just injured, and Ellie has an opportunity to save him even though she couldn’t save Riley. Like Joel realizing Ellie doesn’t have to be a repeat of his failures with Tess and Sarah, Ellie is realizing that Joel doesn’t have to be a repeat of Riley. She takes out a thread and needle and sews up his wound.

How does Ellie continue her journey from here? If the games are anything to go by, the answer is a bit of creativity. In the DLC Left Behind, Ellie manages to keep going west by finding a sled to strap Joel into that can be dragged behind the horse.

But as of now, Joel’s fate still hangs in the balance. It’s winter, Joel is injured, and Ellie doesn’t have the survival skills of Joel. Hopefully, she can find a way to bide the time and survive and manage to get to Salt Lake City and the Fireflies.

The Last of Us Episode 7 is now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.

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