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‘The Last of Us’ Spoke to a Specific Group of People: The Ellies of the World

You fuckin' tell 'em, Ellie.

Ellie with her pun book on The Last of Us.

Season one of The Last of Us was one emotional hit after another. After all the post-apocalyptic shows that have become popular over the years, this one took emotional pain to a whole new level with its brilliant storytelling. When I started watching the HBO show, I expected to get emotional over fictional character deaths because that is what I do. What I wasn’t expecting was to connect so deeply to Ellie.

During the season finale, Joel (Pedro Pascal) talked with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) about his deceased daughter Sarah (Nico Parker). He had some difficulty comparing the two teen girls because they were so different from each other. Sarah was “girly” and a sweet caretaker. Ellie is rough and loves being funny. That’s when it hit me: some of us are Sarahs and some of us are Ellies.

Unapologetically Ellie

Most of the time we see teen girls in fiction depicted like Sarah, but I can’t remember seeing a lot of Ellies, especially one that is the focus of the show. I loved Ellie from the first moment I saw her in the first episode, but I think it wasn’t until the flashback episode that I understood why I liked her so much. While remembering her time before Joel, Ellie thought about when she got in trouble at the FEDRA school. The lecture she received about her behavior and how it affects her “potential” felt like a flashback to my high school days.

Ellie is brash, vulgar, and doesn’t shy away from anyone. After Tess died, she never apologized to Joel, who partially blamed Ellie for what happened. Even though Joel can be an intimidating and scary guy, Ellie doesn’t cower before him. In fact, she challenges him at every point she can. When David had Ellie cornered in the cell, I knew exactly what she was going to say and do because that vibe carried me through my life. I knew Ellie would bite him (figuratively and literally) since that is what I would do in that situation.

Behind our sarcastic and tough exteriors, Ellies have big hearts that people don’t give us credit for. Ellie’s books of puns (puns are the highest form of humor) showed how much she loves bringing joy to herself and anyone else who would listen. In the brief time Ellie had with Sam, we saw how open and warm she could be. She only knew him for a couple of days, but wanted to make him smile and keep him safe. Ellies may come off like they don’t give a crap, however, they love deeply and fiercely.

Anna holding her baby, Ellie, in HBO's The Last of Us.

Seeing a teenage girl brimming with rage and grit has meant a lot to me. Yet, the icing on the cake was in the season finale when we saw Ellie’s origin story. Ellie’s mom Anna (played by the original Ellie) is fighting off a clicker while giving birth. It is such a terrifying and badass moment. After Ellie pops out, Anna lifted up the newborn and didn’t say anything about being beautiful or tried to soothe her. No, Anna said, “You fuckin’ tell ’em, Ellie.” When Ellies grow up, and if we choose to become moms, we turn into Annas. We make sure our girls know how to scream and fight back. So thank you to everyone behind The Last of Us, Bella, and Ashley—the Ellies of the world appreciate you.

(featured image: HBO)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a freelance pop culture writer. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. She fangirls over the X-Men, folklore podcasts, and historical fantasy. When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse and offspring.