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How Did Ellie Get Bitten In ‘The Last of Us’?

Ellie stands by a fence with the woods in the background in The Last of Us.

“Wait a minute,” I’m sure you’re thinking “Ellie was bitten? I just learned about what a clicker is and I’m still having nightmares! Now you’re telling me that you can actually survive an attack from one of those things? I thought that the cordyceps infection was a death sentence? How did this happen!?”

If you’re one of those people, I understand! Every few years pop culture comes out with a new “zombie” that “isn’t like all the other girls” I mean “zombies” with different rules about how the infection works. After all, no one wants to be cliche right?

To answer your question, Ellie was bitten in the same context that many of us in the modern world are bitten: on a date.

Was She Necking With A Clicker!?

Oh NO God no EW poor choice of words. Ellie was on a date and THEN the – okay I’ll explain. She wasn’t on a DATE with a clicker, she was on a date with someone else that was going REALLY WELL and then the biting started. Wait that sounds wrong too. She was’t bitten by the person she was on a date with, it was… ugh this is hard.

Ok so a couple years back Ellie was just another kid growing up in the Boston Quarantine Zone under FEDRA control. She went to military government school and read military government books and made friends with other kids in her military government sponsored classes. One of her BEST friends was an adorable girl named Riley. Ellie and Riley were a match made in post-apocalyptic heaven. They were adventurous, mischievous, and the both appreciated the fine art of puns. Riley actually first met Ellie while the latter was busy NOT making friends with the kids in her school. Ellie was being bullied, and Riley protected her. The two were inseparable, but their relationship began to fray when Riley told Ellie her secret desire to join the Fireflies, an insurgent group of anti-FEDRA freedom fighters. After an argument, the two lose touch for about six weeks. Then Riley surprises Ellie by sneaking into her dorm bedroom and asking her to come on a little adventure. Ellie says yes.

The two go to an abandoned mall where they first met years ago. They have an amazing time. They throw bricks at a carousel, they put on funny masks, they read each other puns out of a joke book. All the while Ellie asks Riley why she came back, but Riley always dodges the question. Eventually, Ellie gets the answer out of her: Riley came back because the Firefly leader Marlene stationed her in another city, and she wanted to see Ellie one last time before she has to leave. The girls are sobered by the conversation, but decide to lift each other’s spirits by having a watergun fight while blasting music. Eventually, Ellie pleads with Riley to stay, and kisses her… it’s adorable.

Oh No… I Feel Like I’m About To Get Shivved In The Heart By The Writers… Why Can’t Things Just Stay Nice?

Because this is The Last of Us, and things are never nice. The loud music that the girls were playing lured the attention of a group of runners. The girls flee through the mall with the infected in pursuit. The two spot an open window and attempt to reach it by climbing up some scaffolding, but the scaffolding breaks and the girls fall back down into the mall. A runner attacks Ellie and bites her. Riley fights it off but is bitten as well. Ellie is distraught, breaking everything around her in a fit of rage while Riley sits on the floor silently. Ellie tearfully asks Riley what they can do, and Riley gives her two options. They can either kill themselves or continue fighting. “Fight for what?” Ellie asks. And Riley responds “There are a million ways we should’ve died before today. And a million ways we could die tomorrow. But we fight. For every second we get to spend with each other. Whether it’s two minutes… Or two days… We don’t give that up. I don’t want to give that up. My vote… Let’s just wait it out. You know? We can… be all poetic and just lose our minds together.”

So they decide to wait. Except instead of losing their minds together, Riley is the only one to slip away into madness. Ellie learns the hardest way of all that she is immune.

How Do I Experience This Story!?

After the success of The Last of Us, the creators followed up with DLC content called Left Behind. The game takes place at about the halfway point of the original game. Joel is recovering from a nearly fatal wound he received while at the University of Eastern Colorado, and Ellie is left to take care of him on her own. She spends the game rummaging around an old mall looking for medical supplies, while also fighting both infected and the cannibalistic survivors from David’s group. While she is searching, the game flashes back in time to the last day that Riley and Ellie spent together in the mall. All things that happened in the flashbacks you actually get to play through. It’s a beautifully done game, and totally worth the extra money.

Is That How It Happened In The Show?

While the HBO series have never officially tackled the story behind Ellie’s bite, it’s likely that it happened in the exact same way. After all, how could they change such a tragically perfect story of adolescent lesbian love? It’s actually possible that they might even cover the events of Left Behind in the next episode, considering that Joel was wounded at the University and Ellie is now left to fend for herself. They writers have proven that they are able to tell gorgeous queer romance stories in the span of one episode (my eyes are still not dry after episode three) and it’s likely that the next episode will double as a flashback episode and an “Ellie alone” piece. After all, the people who never played the game need to learn about Ellie’s bite somehow, and I think that the show’s writers would be wise to take this opportunity to do so. If that’s the case, get ready to cry more tears. A lot more.

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