Does Joel Die in The Last of Us Season 1?

If I ever were to lose you, I'd surely lose myself.

by J.R. Waugh
Joel Die Last Us Season 1
Image: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Last of Us continues to garner positive critical reception and fan discussion week after week in its inaugural season on HBO. The show has made a faithful adaptation of a video game that’s shockingly actually good, engaging longtime fans while drawing in new viewers. But for those with questions pertaining to how accurate the show is, or even just following horror tropes, they might wonder who survives the show’s plot. Does the protagonist, Joel Miller, die in The Last of Us season 1?

Does Joel Die in The Last of Us on HBO in Season 1?

So far, Joel remains alive and well, albeit with some close calls near the end of the season. This is largely due to how closely the show sticks to the game source material — even considering some slight liberties taken with supporting characters.

Related: The Last of Us HBO Differences: Frank and Bill’s Story vs. the Games

Joel’s story is one of fierce survival against the elements, the infected, and the numerous violent factions populating the US following the apocalypse. For him to die in season 1, which is set to be an adaptation of The Last of Us Part 1, would be too great a deviation from the source material. The things he does to protect himself and Ellie, however, result in some grim consequences. Major spoilers ahead!

Does Joel Die in The Last of Us Season 2?

Major spoilers, final warning!

Image: Naughty Dog

If The Last of Us on HBO bases season 2 closely on Part 2 in the games, Joel will die. This is largely tied to the events that take place in the original story. Joel takes Ellie to the Fireflies, who promise to extract a cure for CBI from her, but the procedure will kill her in the process. Unwilling to let Ellie die, Joel slaughters the Fireflies staff performing the procedure, including the lead surgeon, Jerry Anderson.

Jerry’s daughter, Abby, would find the scene of Joel’s actions, and seek revenge. This results in Abby finding and beating Joel to death, setting off a cycle of vengeance and redemption for herself, and Ellie, who is forced to watch as it happens. It will be a tough and heartbreaking viewing experience for everyone when it is brought to the screen.

- This article was updated on March 6th, 2023