The Last of Us series, created by Naughty Dog, has captivated gamers worldwide not only for its compelling storytelling and immersive gameplay but also for its complex and well-developed characters.
One character who has undergone remarkable growth throughout the series is Ellie, a young woman navigating a post-apocalyptic world.
From her introduction in the first game to her journey in The Last of Us Part II, Ellie’s character evolution provides a fascinating study of psychology and resilience.
Understanding Ellie’s trauma
Ellie’s character growth can be best understood by examining the trauma she experienced early in her life. In The Last of Us Part 1, Ellie’s backstory is one of loss and survival.
She grew up in a world ravaged by the Cordyceps infection, which decimated humanity.
As a result, she lost loved ones and was forced to fend for herself at a very young age. This early trauma shapes her personality and psychological makeup.
Ellie and Joel
Ellie’s attachment to Joel, her surrogate father figure, is central to her character growth.
In the first game, their relationship starts as a matter of survival, but it gradually deepens into a bond built on trust, care, and love.
In The Last of Us Part II, Ellie’s character is tested as she faces betrayal and loss, particularly when Joel, the person she was most attached to, is brutally killed.
This traumatic event triggers her journey of self-discovery and personal growth, as she grapples with grief, anger, and a sense of purpose.
Throughout the series, Ellie employs various coping mechanisms to deal with her trauma. Her wit, humor, and sarcasm become her defense mechanisms, allowing her to mask her vulnerability and pain.
These psychological defense mechanisms are common responses to trauma and serve as a way to protect oneself from overwhelming emotions.
The complex nature of revenge
Ellie’s character growth in The Last of Us Part II is heavily intertwined with the theme of revenge.
Her relentless pursuit of Abby, Joel’s killer, reveals the complex and destructive nature of revenge as a coping mechanism.
Ellie’s psychological journey illustrates how seeking revenge can consume a person, leading to moral dilemmas, inner conflict, and emotional turmoil.
Identity and self-discovery
As Ellie’s pursuit of revenge intensifies, players witness her inner struggles and transformation.
Her character development delves into identity and self-discovery, as she grapples with questions of morality, her humanity, and the consequences of her actions.
This exploration of identity is a central psychological theme in the series.
Ellie’s character growth in The Last of Us series provides a compelling lens through which to examine psychological concepts such as trauma, attachment theory, coping mechanisms, and the complexities of revenge.
Her journey from a young survivor to a complex, morally ambiguous protagonist showcases the depth and emotional complexity that Naughty Dog has brought to their storytelling.
Ellie’s psychological evolution is a testament to the power of video games as a medium for exploring the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.