Who Are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

"When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light."

by J.R. Waugh
Image: HBO

The Last of Us has premiered on HBO and HBO Max and audiences are stunned by its quality. Not only is the game a chilling adaptation of the modern classic game, but it’s also a thrilling horror drama in its own right. On top of rendering a blended post-9/11 and post-pandemic landscape where a deadly fungal infection has devastated society, it’s introduced a bleak alternate vision of 2023. Along with a brutally oppressive regime running the communities in The Last of Us, there are the mysterious Fireflies, but viewers might be wondering what their role is in the series.

Which Group Are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

Image: HBO

The Fireflies are an insurgent faction that fights back against the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) and its brutal hold across the post-apocalyptic United States. The Fireflies’ leader, Marlene, had found Ellie who was bitten by an infected 3 weeks prior, saw a potential for her as a source of a cure for the fungal infection that destroyed society, and sent the girl along with Joel with the intent that they find this cure.

Their tactics line up with typical guerrilla forces, fighting a more powerful state military while never engaging them head-on, instead attacking supply routes and sowing disarray. Seeing a society plunged into dread and ruin, the Fireflies believe they are liberators of oppression and the ones who will restore normalcy. “When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light.”

Are the Fireflies the Good Guys or the Bad Guys?

This is a loaded question, as they’re a guerrilla insurgent group that uses violent means with potential collateral damage to fight back against FEDRA. While FEDRA is undeniably a harmful presence in the world of The Last of Us, the Fireflies are seen by FEDRA as terrorists and see themselves as liberators. Marlene, the head of the organization, is even referred to in the show as “the Che Guevara of Boston.” They want to relieve their territory of military oppression and restore society to its previous sense of order, and bringing an end to the pandemic would be their ultimate act of liberation.

The Last of Us premiered on January 15, 2023, on HBO and HBO Max, and will air weekly every Sunday. International viewers can catch this series on Sky Atlantic and Crave.

- This article was updated on January 16th, 2023

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