All the major deaths in The Last of Us, ranked by most heartbreaking

The Last of Us Episode 7
The Last of Us Episode 7 /
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The Last of Us
The Last of Us Episode 9 /

8. Marlene

We don’t get to know Marlene (Merle Dandridge) all that well in The Last of Us, but what we do know is that she’s loyal, honorable, and a good friend. The leader of the Fireflies is introduced in the first episode when she tasks Joel and Tess (Anna Torv) with escorting Ellie across the country to unite her with another group. Because Ellie is immune to the infection, she’s precious cargo, and she might just be the cure.

As we learn in the finale, Marlene was actually good friends with Ellie’s mom Anna (played by the Ellie voice actor from the games, Ashley Johnson), and Marlene promised her she would protect Ellie. As we see in a flashback scene, Anna, sadly, gets infected after giving birth to Ellie and Marlene is the one who has to kill her.

When Joel and Ellie make it to the Fireflies in the finale, Joel is shocked to learn they want to do brain surgery on Ellie to remove the cordyceps. But because the surgery would likely kill Ellie, Joel doesn’t allow it, and instead, he goes on a rampage and kills everyone. Marlene included. Though Marlene might be against Joel most of the time, she’s a good person who wants to do what’s right for the greater good. That makes her death all the most unfortunate.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us Episode 2 /

7. Tess

Tess would be higher on this list if only we got to spend more time with her before her death. We meet the survivor in the premiere as Joel’s girlfriend and trusted partner. She’s an independent, determined woman who fans took a liking to quickly, but unfortunately, she doesn’t make it past the second episode.

Once Tess and Joel are on their way out of the QZ with Ellie in tow, they realize this journey will be even harder than they imagined. They encounter groups of infected, and sadly, Tess gets bitten. Instead of holding Joel and Ellie back, she encourages them to keep going while she distracts the infected coming their way, blowing up the building and killing herself in the process.

It would’ve been awesome to get to know Tess a little more, and fortunately, we do get some flashback scenes of her and Joel in episode 3. Her death is honorable, and one that hardens Joel even more.