HBO's The Last of Us, which is based on Naughty Dog's acclaimed game franchise, is set to debut on January 15, 2023. The story is centered on the post-apocalyptic cross-country odyssey of Joel and Ellie, who must survive against all odds in a world decimated by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus which has created a far-reaching infection that transforms humans into raving monsters.
Whether you're a fan of the games -- 2013's The Last of US and 2020's The Last of Us Part II -- or new to the tale completely, we've got a breakdown of the show's characters for you so that you can get prepped for the series ahead of time. Most characters are from The Last of Us game but some are new, as the 10-episode first season adapts the game while also containing chapters that "deviate greatly" from the original narrative.
Here's a closer look at the many characters we'll meet in TLOU: Season 1, as the fate of humankind rests in a bitter, jaded man's escort mission, trying to transport an orphaned girl who may be able to unlock the secrets to a worldwide cure.
Pedro Pascal is Joel
Game of Thrones/The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal stars as Joel, a man who suffered an incalculable loss at the outset of the fungipocalypse. Now a morose, closed-off shell of his former self, Joel is tasked with escaping his tyrannically-strict Quarantine Zone in order to smuggle a young girl, Ellie, across the United States to a medical facility run by a rebel militia called the Fireflies. Tormented by his past, Joel reluctantly accepts the mission when he discovers why Ellie is so special to the resistance movement. In the games, Joel is portrayed by Troy Baker.
Bella Ramsey as Ellie
Game of Thrones' Bella Ramsey plays Ellie, a feisty, defiant a 14-year-old girl who is just as shocked as everyone else to discover she's immune to the Cordyceps brain infection. Could she be the cure to uncovering a full society-saving vaccine? There's only one way to find out. One of the best smugglers in the business, Joel, becomes her reluctant chaperone as the two head out into the badlands, traveling from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the games, Ellie is portrayed by Ashley Johnson.
Gabriel Luna as Tommy
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD/Terminator: Dark Fate's Gabriel Luna plays Tommy, Joel's younger idealistic brother. A former soldier, Tommy joins up with the Fireflies in an effort to try and make this post-apocalyptic world a better place. He is more proactive than his sullen older bro. In the games, Tommy is portrayed by Jeffrey Pierce.
Anna Torv as Tess
Fringe and Mindhunter's Anna Torv recurs as Tess, a hardened survivor of the new world (played by Annie Wersching in the game). Tess is Joel's smuggling partner, both gritty and capable, doing what she has to in order to get by in the ravaged hellscape.
Jeffrey Pierce as Perry
We don't know much about the character of Perry except that he's an original character for the series, a rebel in a Quarantine Zone, and played by Tommy voice actor Jeffrey Pierce. And Pierce is not the only voice actor from the games to be given a live-action role on the series.
Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen
Another original character for the show is Kathleen, play by Yellowjackets' Melanie Lynskey. According to reports, Kathleen is the leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City. It's not clear right now if this means she's a higher-up in the ranks of the Fireflies, as that's the main rebel organization in the game's story.
Lamar Johnson as Henry
The Hate U Give's Lamar Johnson plays Henry, a role filled by Brandon Scott in the game. Henry and his younger brother Sam are hiding from Kathleen's revolutionary group in Kansas City and meet up with Joel and Ellie along the way. In the game these events take place in Pittsburgh.
Keivonn Woodard as Sam
Sam is a deaf child who is hunted by violent revolutionaries alongside his brother Henry. Keivonn Woodard plays him on the series while Nadji Jeter (Spider-Man: Miles Morales) played Sam in the game. It's worth noting that Sam isn't deaf in the game, and is a bit older than actor Keivonn Woodard, so the Henry/Sam dynamic may have changed significantly.
Graham Greene as Marlon
Living in the Wyoming wilderness is Marlon, an original show character played by Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves, Die Hard with a Vengeance). Not much else is known about Marlon except that in the trailer he gives Joel and Ellie a warning about continuing on their journey.
Elaine Miles as Florence
Marlon's wife is Florence, played by Northern Exposure's Elaine Miles. Marlon and Florence are a good example of how the show might extend Joel and Ellie's travels, as they are both new folks they encounter along the way.
Ashley Johnson as Anna
Original game franchise Ellie, Ashley Johnson, was spotted by eagle-eyed fans in the trailer as, seemingly, Ellie's mom. If in fact the baby in the shot is Ellie, in a flashback.
Merle Dandridge as Marlene
Sons of Anarchy and Star-Crossed's Merle Dandridge plays commanding Firefly leader Marlene...just like she did in the game! Yup, we've got the game performer coming in and reprising the role in live-action. Marlene, as the leader of the Fireflies, hopes to wrest military occupation of the Quarantine Zones and restore government control. In the game, Marlene was tasked by Ellie's mother, a close friend of hers, to look out for her daughter.
Nick Offerman as Bill
Bill, played by Parks and Rec's Nick Offerman (who replaced the originally cast Con O'Neill), is a survivalist who lives in an isolated, trap-filled town near Joel. Bill is a game character, originally played by Deadwood's W. Earl Brown, who may have had his role beefed up a bit for the sake of the series. On the show, Bill lives with Frank, though in the game Frank is already Bill's former partner and is only briefly seen.
Murray Bartlett as Frank
The White Lotus' Murray Bartlett is Frank, a survivalist who lives with Nick Offerman's Bill. Frank is a game character, though in the game he's spoken about more than seen. The fact that Bartlett got his own Frank poster seems to suggest a bigger presence for the guy on the HBO series.
Scott Shepherd as David? Troy Baker as James
Dark Phoenix's Scott Shepherd hasn't been officially announced as game character David, though those who've seen the trailer will recognize his scenes as being supremely David-y. Without giving too much away, David is a dangerous antagonistic force that Joel and Ellie encounter on their journey. In the game, David is played by famed voice actor Nolan North (Nathan Drake in Naughty Dog's Uncharted).
And yup, in this trailer screen grab you'll see Joel voice actor Troy Baker in Scott Shepherd's armed gang. That's James, who was voiced by Reuben Langdon (Dante in the Devil May Cry series) in the game. James is described as a "senior member of a group of settlers." While that's true, it's clear they're out to cause some damage.
Rutina Wesley as Maria?
True Blood/Hannibal's Rutina Wesley is also on the series, though her role hasn't been confirmed yet. Rumors are strong though that she plays Maria, who would be the wife of Gabriel Luna's Tommy. Together they would run a settlement in Wyoming. In the game, Maria was portrayed by Jericho/UnREAL's Ashley Scott
Brad Leland as Mr. Adler
We don't know he's playing just yet, aside from having the character name of "Mr. Adler, but Friday Night Lights' Brad Leland is on the HBO series.
Storm Reid as Riley Abel
Riley is a game character, specifically from the acclaimed Last of Us DLC "Left Behind," who will be played by Euphoria/A Wrinkle in Time's Storm Reid. Like Ellie, Riley is an orphaned girl who is growing up in post-apocalyptic Boston. Left Behind, which was released after the Last of Us, acted as a quasi-prequel story.
Nico Parker as Sarah
Nico Parker (Tim Burton's Dumbo) will portray the pivotal role of Sarah, Joel's daughter. When the world started quickly falling apart, due to crazed infected humans causing murder and mayhem, Joel and Sarah, living in Austin, are taken by surprise, causing Joel to do everything in his power to protect his family. Hanah Hayes (The Grinder) played the role in the game.
For more on TLOU, read an explainer on The Last of Us Fireflies, dig in on a game to show comparison from Episode 1, catch up on the latest The Last of Us cast and character info, ponder whether or not TLOU can bring the zombie genre back to life, or consider how the TV series makes its opening even more heartbreaking.
Who is casted as Joel in the last of us? ›
Pedro Pascal – Plays Joel
Chilean-born actor Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Wonder Woman 1984, Game of Thrones) plays Joel, a middle-aged survivor who is tormented by his past trauma. Supernatural's Jensen Ackles rallied to play Joel in The Last of Us, before Pascal was cast in the role.
Ellie Williams is a main character in HBO's The Last of Us. She is a 14-year-old orphan in post-apocalyptic America that has been ravaged by the Cordyceps brain infection, to which she is immune. In hopes of creating a vaccine, Marlene tasks Joel Miller with smuggling her out of Boston to the Fireflies.Who is Joel's daughter in The Last of Us? ›
Sarah Miller was born on July 20th, 1989 to Joel in Austin, Texas. Raised by her father for most her life, she also grew up with her uncle, Tommy Miller. She played for her local soccer team, earning numerous medals and trophies for her efforts in the team. She was also a fan of the band The Clash from an early age.Who is tess in The Last of Us tv show? ›
Tess is portrayed by Australian actress Anna Torv. She was aware of the games but had not played them and watched the cutscenes after her casting. Torv felt her performance required consistent truthfulness due to its subtlety.Why is Ellie immune? ›
It hints that the reason Ellie is immune to the cordyceps infection is because her mother was infected while still pregnant. In the final months of pregnacy, the umbilical chord transfers the mother's antibodies to the fetus, meaning they're born with some level of immunity.Who is Joel's wife in The Last of Us? ›
Esther is a minor character who is mentioned in The Last of Us: One Night Live. She is Joel's love interest after his brother Tommy apparently paired them up. How well do you know The Last of Us?What is Ellie's full name? ›
Ellie Williams is the central character of The Last of Us series. She serves as the protagonist of The Last of Us: American Dreams, the playable deuteragonist of The Last of Us, and the playable protagonist of both The Last of Us: Left Behind and The Last of Us Part II.Why did they change Ellie in The Last of Us? ›
Following the announcement of The Last of Us, comparisons were made between Ellie and actor Elliot Page. Page claimed that Naughty Dog had "ripped off" his likeness and that it was "not appreciated", as he was acting in another game, Beyond: Two Souls (2013).What breed is Ellie from Ellie's story? ›
Ellie is a German Shepard who has been specially selected by a police officer, Jakob, to be trained as a Search and Rescue dog. Ellie's Story follows Ellie's journey from young pup learning how to do Work and Find, some of her favorite commands, to a fully certified Search and Rescue dog.What gender is Lev last of us? ›
But the story of Lev, a 13-year-old transgender teen who's forced into exile when his own community rejects him, is even more compelling. Lev is on the run from the Seraphites, an authoritarian religious cult whose members adhere to strict predetermined roles.
Is Abby in The Last of Us a girl? ›
Abigail "Abby" Anderson is a fictional character in the video game The Last of Us Part II (2020) by Naughty Dog. She is portrayed by Laura Bailey through motion capture and voice acting. A soldier of the Washington Liberation Front (WLF), Abby seeks to avenge her father's death by killing Joel Miller.Who is the father of Ellie's baby in The Last of Us 2? ›
JJ [fn 1] is a minor character in The Last of Us Part II. He is the son of Dina and Jesse and Ellie's adopted son.Does Joel Love Tess? ›
Joel was Tess' partner in crime, confidante, and closest friend. It was never confirmed that Joel and Tess were romantically involved or if they ever took their relationship to further levels of intimacy beyond their partnership, however some sense of closeness beyond friendship is certainly hinted at.Were Tess and Joel together? ›
More than being smuggling partners, they were also romantic partners. In Episode 1's “When You're Lost in the Darkness,” the audience is given brief moments of intimacy between Tess and Joel.Do Tess and Joel like each other? ›
No, Joel and Tess are not a couple in The Last of Us TV show. While they share a lot of intimate moments, they are never officially confirmed to be a couple. This is also the case in The Last of Us video game, which treats their relationship as an inseparable bond with some light flirtation thrown into the mix.Why is Ellie wearing a gas mask? ›
In The Last Of Us Part II
Much like in the first game, the gas masks provide protection to the players from spores, especially in infected areas like Lakehill Seattle Hospital. However, Ellie does not actually need to wear a gas mask but did so because the fact she is immune was a secret.
The infection caused Ellie as a fetus to be exposed to the cordyceps and this is the cause of her immunity.How did Tess get infected? ›
As Tess questions Joel about what he really knows about the Fireflies and about her, Ellie realizes that Tess is infected (presumably bitten on her shoulder by the Runner that she was fighting off in the museum).Is Ellie in love with Joel? ›
While it is quite clear that Joel loves Ellie, it isn't so clear if Joel loves Ellie. While i think that Ellie does love Joel, there are other people who even go as far as to say that Ellie could eventually leave him because she can't trust him...How did Joel's watch break? ›
Since the game's release, fans have asked how Joel's watch broke for a second time. They have theorized time and time again that it happened when Sarah died. Not only were they shot at, but they had a rough fall down a rocky hill, which could have easily shattered the watch.
Does Joel have a daughter? ›
Sarah. Sarah (Hana Hayes) is Joel's twelve-year-old daughter, whom he had when he was in his late teens, and the game's first playable character. The posters and photos on her wall suggest she was a keen soccer player. At the start of the game, she gives her father a new watch for his birthday.What was Ellie's illness? ›
Over the next six months, Ellie's ability to walk deteriorated. When a doctor finally diagnosed her, the news was grim. Ellie had a rare, neurodegenerative disorder known as LBSL (short for leukoencephalopathy with brainstem and spinal cord involvement and lactate elevation).Why is Miss Ellie called Ellie? ›
She was named after her paternal grandmother. During the first half of the 1930s, Miss Ellie was the sweetheart of Willard "Digger" Barnes.Who is Ellie's face based on? ›
The character artist Soa Lee first made a sculpt wherein she aged up Ellie from the first game (which was already based on Ashley Johnson's face). She then made a composite sculpt of that aged up Ellie sculpt she did & a 3D scan of Ashley Johnson. First game's Ellie, despite looking very real, is still stylized.Why is Ellie mad that Joel saved her? ›
Ellie is still mad at Joel, not just because Joel took away her choice to die for the Fireflies to develop a cure, but also because doing so meant her life would have mattered. Ellie believes that because Joel took that choice away from her, her life doesn't matter anymore.Who was Joel modeled after? ›
Who would have thought that Joel Miller's character was inspired by the character of Llewelyn Moss, the male character portrayed by Josh Brolin in the film No Country for Old Men, released in 2007.Was Ellie the only immune person? ›
But yes, in the games Ellie is the only person we ever see or even hear of that is immune to the cordeceps spore.When did Ellie get pregnant? ›
Is Ellie pregnant in Last of Us? She revealed her pregnancy to Ellie near the end of their first day in Seattle while they were sheltered inside a theater, thus explaining Dina's recent bouts of sickness. Sometime after Ellie and Dina left Seattle, JJ was born.Where is Ellie's mom? ›
She died within a day of giving birth to her, but she had the time to write Ellie a letter. Before Anna died, Marlene promised to look after Ellie in her absence. She would keep her promise despite her position as leader of the Fireflies.What is Ellie's girlfriend name? ›
Dina (Shannon Woodward) is Ellie's girlfriend.
Who is Joel Miller modeled after? ›
1. Joel's Character Was Inspired From Llewelyn Moss Character. Who would have thought that Joel Miller's character was inspired by the character of Llewelyn Moss, the male character portrayed by Josh Brolin in the film No Country for Old Men, released in 2007.Who was Ellie modeled after? ›
ORIGINAL STORY: A new trailer full of The Last of Us footage has revealed a slightly changed look for lead character Ellie. The changes are subtle but noticeable. Once heavily modelled on Juno actress Ellen Page, the new Ellie has now lost her freckles and gained a different shaped nose.Who is playing Tommy in The Last of Us TV show? ›
Tommy played by Gabriel Luna | Official Website for the HBO Series.Were Joel and Tess in love? ›
Joel was Tess' partner in crime, confidante, and closest friend. It was never confirmed that Joel and Tess were romantically involved or if they ever took their relationship to further levels of intimacy beyond their partnership, however some sense of closeness beyond friendship is certainly hinted at.Who is Abby modeled after last of us? ›
Abby's face is based on Jocelyn Mettler, a visual effects artist who formerly worked at Naughty Dog, while her body was based on athlete Colleen Fotsch.How is Dina pregnant? ›
Near the end of Dina and Jesse's relationship, the two had a sexual encounter that resulted in Dina becoming pregnant with JJ. She revealed her pregnancy to Ellie near the end of their first day in Seattle while they were sheltered inside a theater, thus explaining Dina's recent bouts of sickness.Why did they change Ellie's face? ›
Druckmann and Straley said the change was made to better reflect Johnson's personality and make her younger. It was revealed in a trailer in May 2012. For Part II, Ellie's look underwent years of iteration; the team wanted a logical transition from the first game while maintaining a "practical yet personal" outfit.Who does Ellie fall in love with? ›
Eloise Bridgerton and Sir Phillip Cane
Not only does she not end up alone, but she also winds up with a totally different character than the one we see her developing feelings for in season two, Theo Sharpe.
Ellie's last night with Riley isn't just a significant moment for her because she gets to kiss her crush but because it is the essential catalyst for the story of The Last Of Us to take place at all.What was Joel's last words? ›
Last - "I swear."
Familial bonds and relationships are important to Joel. His final line in The Last Of Us has him lying to Ellie when she asks him if what he said of the Fireflies was true. Joel felt he had to protect her by lying to her, and he'd do anything to protect those he loved.
What was Joel's job before the outbreak? ›
Quite simply Joel was a carpenter who aspired to run his own construction business, perhaps to be a foreman.What is Joel's age? ›
In the first game, Joel is 52 years old, and in The Last of Us Part 2, he's 57.Is Joel or Tommy a veteran? ›
The bumper sticker of his pickup truck indicates Tommy's past life as a combat veteran during Operation Desert Storm, which is why he's shown to be so proficient with the rifle later in the episode. Later, leaving his army days behind him, he joined his elder brother Joel in the construction business.Is Joel older than Tommy? ›
Tommy Miller is a supporting character in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II. He is Joel's younger brother, and Sarah's paternal uncle.What did Marlene tell Ellie? ›
Marlene revealed to Ellie that she was a close friends with her mother, and gave her a switchblade before sending the two back to the boarding school. Marlene changed her tone and recruited Riley into the Fireflies, and had her kill an infected during her initiation.