The Last of Us - Ellie's Impact as a Female Character

Naughty Dog brings two elements of real life into their game The Last of Us that connects you to the characters in a powerful way.

We all should know about Naughty Dog’s epic game The Last of Us. Released on June 14, 2013 for PlayStation 3, it’s a third-person survival/action game. The game is based on its two main characters, Joel and Ellie, in a post-pandemic world in which civilization is devastated by a modern plague.

The two characters must work together to survive their journey across the United States from killing for food, killing the infected and those out to harm them, to making weapons and whatever else they need.

Now, Joel is the main protagonist of the game who deals heavily with his emotions, which stem from grief. He is the main, playable character throughout the majority of the game, but it’s his relationship with a 14-year-old orphan, Ellie (who has a secret of her own), that defines Ellie herself as a major character.

Ellie is a tough, foul-mouthed, and wise teen. She's not a Miley Cyrus wannabe, but an average female, which makes her a relatable character to many. She must grow up and learn to survive, learn to trust in another person (i.e. Joel) with her life (and vice versa), and learn to care about someone other than herself. She's young and vulnerable, and it's here where Naughty Dog shines.

Naughty Dog brings two elements of real life into their game that connects you to the characters in a powerful way.

Nearing the end of the game, Ellie becomes a playable character at different times, and it’s during this time that Ellie faces a real life event of fighting off an attempted sexual assault. This is an extremely powerful scene during the game. You feel her agony and fear as you try to fight off your attacker. Ellie is physically challenged by the adult male attacking her, and trying to grasp for anything to be used as a weapon--this is as realistic as you can get.

You are so emotionally connected to Ellie at this point that it becomes all too real. As a victim of sexual assault, I can tell you I was shocked at how real it felt, but it’s the feeling of empowerment as a female--as a victim--that you can defend yourself.

I walked away from The Last of Us feeling vindicated, and with a whole new respect for Naughty Dog. They didn’t give you the cliché female character that’s all too familiar in games. Instead, they dish out real life, and real female characters who demonstrate that you can be a girl and still kick ass. Male and female gamers alike walk away with a perspective they may not have had before.

Naughty Dog dares to be different and they did it brilliantly.

Featured Columnist

Venisia is a public relations professional, video game industry contractor, published author, freelance entertainment journalist, copy editor, a co-organizer of the Latinx Games Festival, and a member of the Latinx in Gaming and the Puerto Rico Game Developers (PRGD) community. Her passion is video games. She loves the adrenaline rush from a multiplayer match and understands the frustrations of a brand-new raid. Venisia finds immense value in gaming especially in the realm of mental health.

Published Apr. 3rd 2020
  • gabfran
    This game was fantastic! I loved every bit of it nor could I put it down once I started playing. This was a great article.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I agree! I was hooked from the start. Thanks for reading!
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    I was surprised at playing as Ellie and I consider that a spoiler because of how special that was. =p It was a truly incredible experience.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    It is an awesome experience.
  • Game Oracle
    Could be, Pinnique, you're not as in touch with your emotions. We men, tend to be a little detached, and unwilling to explore our emotions, at times.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    I'll be the first to admit - I wasn't gripped by The Last of Us :( Maybe it was due to me having limited gaming time, or maybe I just didn't like it :/ I still own it and will push through to get it completed at some point.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I would highly recommend giving it another try.
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    The first half is incredibly boring after the main introduction. The second half doesn't just make up for it, it becomes one of the best games ever. If you ever get in the mood, check out my impressions of the story at It should be spoiler free.

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