The biological son of Jesse and the step-child of Ellie (for a brief time, at least), J.J. (short for Joel Jr.? Joel Joel?) might just exist as a gurgling baby in Last of Us 2, but if The Last of Us 3 ever gets a release date, he could play a significantly bigger role than you might think.
If you don't believe it, we have three reasons why baby J.J. is taking center stage in Last of Us 3.
(To be clear, Naughty Dog has said that it has no plans to make another TLOU game but isn't ruling it out either, so for now, we're mostly just speculating for the fun of it. And even if Last of Us 3 does happen, it could be another seven years before it's release, based on franchise history.)
3. Last of Us 3 could begin with a massive time skip
The first Last of Us game takes place 20 years after the infection began, while Part 2 takes place five years after that. In those mere 25 years, humanity has rebuilt in new and unexpected ways. A few locations like Seattle have shirked off government aid and the Quarantine Zone designation, while others have built settlements from the ground up, like Jackson, Wyoming. Judging from Abby's "it's a fucking city" comment in the early parts of Last of Us 2 and what we see elsewhere, civilizations with polished living spaces are rare.
We've yet seen another settlement that runs as smoothly as Jackson does (the Wolves football arena headquarters comes close). To make J.J. the lead character, he'll likely have to be at least 12, meaning we'll need an 11-year time skip at the bare minimum. In that time, other locations will likely be established enough that we can see a unified change in politics across "America." It would be really neat to watch Jackson interact with the larger government or perhaps help establish a new government?
2. Last of Us 3 would keep Dina and Ellie in the picture
Despite his untimely demise in Last of Us 2's first act, we learned quite a bit about Joel through flashbacks and second-hand details. Although Ellie likely won't lead a follow-up game, she could still be kept in the picture if J.J. was the protagonist. And even if she's not physically around, we could learn about her and Dina's later year through anecdotes from J.J., or watch him take on one of his mother's habits.
Ellie exhibited things she learned from Joel during Last of Us 2. J.J. can easily do the same for Ellie and Dinah.
Either way, this will let us stick with the same thematic "Family" that we've followed throughout Last of Us Part 1 and 2. Series creator Neil Druckmann has said every Last of Us game has to be about love. Why not show us this small family's love?
1. It would be satisfying to see positive results from Ellie and Dina's choices in Last of Us 2
While Ellie stopped her vengeance quest due to personal development, I'm sure her choice was at least partially due to Dina's pregnancy. Ellie (temporarily) gave up her violent crusade for the fetus that would eventually become J.J.
If we get to watch J.J. grow, Ellie's choice to release her vengeance could become far more justified from an audience perspective. Similar to how Last of Us 2 only happens because of Joel's controversial decisions at the end of the first game, Last of Us 3 could explore the ramifications of Ellie's choices in the sequel.
If The Last of Us as a series is about showing viewers the ripple effects of a single choice, then give Ellie's choice some positive results. Not everything has to be so dreary.
The Last of Us Part II is currently available for PS4