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Joel (The Last of Us) - Hero or Villain?

(This contains spoilers)

Recently it has come to my attention that there are some fans of “The Last of Us” who seem to think Joel was the villain at the end as opposed to "The Fireflies".

To make my point I will start at the very beginning. The game begins with Joel at home with his daughter. From the outside looking in Joel seems to be a pretty put together guy. He has a house, a daughter, a construction business or job. He has all the hallmarks of the type of person that the backbone of society is built upon. He looks to be a hard working diligent family man who lives to provide for his family, financially and otherwise. Many would argue living “The American Dream”. Things obviously go downhill rapidly as and the start of a global pandemic plunges the world into chaos & causes the death of Joel's only daughter.

Obviously the next part of the game jumps forward in time to where Joel & countless other have been reduced to mere survivalism. The fact Joel has survived everything that is thrown at him up to this point is a miracle, made even more unbelievable due to the huge life changing event, the death of his daughter. These two aspects give a hint towards the type of character he is. He is a survivor, although more than that, he has a deep rooted need to continue on.

At the end if “The Last of Us”, Joel makes the decision to go against the fireflies and essentially murders anyone in his path to save Ellie. His decision to shield Ellie from the fireflies and their contemptible plan to murder her in the hope of finding a cure is where I actually believe Joel becomes a hero. He could have easily abandoned Ellie thus giving society that SLIM CHANCE of recovery but instead makes the correct moral choice in my opinion.

The fireflies were willing to sacrifice or murder a young innocent girl for a chance to change the world. This says a lot about the type of people involved in that organisation. As a society, in general, I like to think we strive to better ourselves. We are not happy with the status quo, we want more, we want a better life for ourselves and for our children. We want a society with a moral code, one which is not willing to sacrifice innocent life, no matter the cost. To me, a society that is willing to put the needs of the many before the needs of the one, with all the uncertainty involved here is reprehensible. Joel knows this & in my opinion makes the correct heroic, moral choice.

An important fact to bear in mind here is that as far as we know the world is in ruin, a vaccine at this point could be & is most likely to be pointless or at the very least sub optimal. Furthermore as the fateful line from “Jurassic Park” goes, “life finds a way”. This could be said for the cordyceps virus. Who knows if Ellie is the only immunity vector. Statistically speaking in any large population having one person with an immunity is very low, there are always other people.

If more people, deep down, were of a similar character to Joel then the world, post pandemic, may be in a slightly better place.They may have already found a cure due to the levels of cooperation and an overwhelming need to do the right thing, saving people, instead of killing them.

It is for this reason i believe Joel is the hero of The Last of US

What do you think? Villain or Hero?


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