The Last of Us

The Last of Us Episode 9 Ending Explained: Why Did Joel Lie to Ellie?

The last episode answers a few questions — and asks a lot more.

The Last of Us fans knew the finale was going to be a barrage of heartbreaking moments, and the episode was exactly that. But with the episode’s record-short runtime of 43 minutes, where does that leave Joel and Ellie? And what is next for them?

We don’t get firm answers, but knowledge of the game and some additional moments in the series may shed some light on what’s happening. Here’s everything you need to know about the finale and what to look forward to in Season 2.

Spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 9.

Why is Ellie Immune?

The episode begins with a flashback we’ve never seen before, much like Episode 1 and Episode 2’s brand-new cold opens. Anna Williams, played by Ashley Johnson, the original voice and mo-cap actor for Ellie, stumbles through an abandoned house while in active labor. She gives birth to a baby Ellie but is bitten mere seconds before she is able to cut the cord with the knife Ellie treasures so much. She hands Ellie to Marlene to watch over before she fully turns, and Marlene is forced to kill her.

It’s these few seconds of Infected blood that inoculate Ellie and make the Infected see her as one of them.

What Did The Fireflies Want to Do to Ellie?

Ellie’s mom Anna gave birth seconds before being bitten.


Back in the present, Ellie and Joel amble through Salt Lake City, encountering giraffes and medical camps, which prompt Joel to discuss his attempt at his own life. After a lighthearted moment of Ellie reading Joel her terrible puns, the two are ambushed by the Fireflies.

When Joel awakes, Marlene reveals that Ellie could possibly provide a cure to the rest of the world, but in order to access the chemical messenger her brain produces, she’d have to be dissected — a process she wouldn’t survive.

Why Does Joel Save Ellie?

Joel has already lost one daughter because of an organization thinking it's doing the right thing — he’s not losing another one. Without any hesitation, he storms the operating room, killing the doctor and forcing the nurses to unhook her. As he carries Ellie out of the room, he’s confronted by Marlene, who tries to plead with Joel. But Joel is resolute, and he knows Ellie can’t survive if Marlene is living, that she’ll hunt Ellie down no matter what. Because of this he shoots Marlene, steals a car, and drives away.

Why Does Joel Lie to Ellie?

Joel and Ellie have one last quiet moment together before being ambushed.


When Ellie wakes up, Joel tells her the cure couldn’t work and that there are actually dozens of immune people like Ellie. Both of these are lies. It’s still unclear his exact reasoning for keeping the truth from her — though maybe he thinks Ellie would sacrifice her own life if given the choice. (Also, Joel just murdered a ton of people, so maybe he doesn’t want Ellie to know.)

What Happens to Joel and Ellie Next?

The two return to Tommy’s commune in Jackson, and if the show follows the action of the second game as closely as the first, Season 2 will pick up five years later, with Ellie now 19 (coincidentally, the age Bella Ramsey is now) and becoming a young adult in the community, only for her past with Joel to come creeping back into her life. It’s hard to speculate from here, but trust that Ellie will learn the truth and Joel’s actions will not go unanswered.

The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max.

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