SBox Soapbox: The Last of Us Part 2 | Does Ellie Know Joel’s Lie? (Part 2)


In a previous post, I decided to talk a little about one of my favorite game of all-time (The Last of Us) and my most anticipated game as of right now (The Last of Us Part 2). The Last of Us Part 2 is currently in early development, and the announcement is just a bit over one week old. As with all good things, fans are already taking to the web to share their theories and predictions surrounding this soon to be released continuation of a masterpiece. I, too, have theories and ideas of my own to share regarding The Last of Us Part 2, but for now I wanted to focus on one huge question that will play a vital role in the new game’s story.

In order for me to approach this question, I’ll have to discuss the ending of the first game. So this post will contain major spoilers for the original Last of Us game. You’ve been warned!… In fact, if you can’t/won’t play the game, at least click here to experience the story for yourself. You won’t regret it.

In Part 1 of this article, we’ve discussed the game’s heavily debated ending and why it will be an important factor in determining this game’s story. We explored the possibility of Ellie believing Joel’s lie at the end of the game, seeing which theories feed into that assumption, and discussing why that would make for the better story in TLOUP2. Today we’ll be address the opposite scenario — one that I find incredibly interesting. What if Ellie does know that Joel lied about the Fireflies?

Allow me to mention something outright. I personally lean towards this scenario as being the more likely of the two, or at least the one I want to be correct. I’ve always seen the first game’s ending in that way anyway, and I have evidence that can support this interpretation. However, that’s not the point of this post. There is one piece of evidence I will mention when it comes up, but for now let’s focus on how this affects the story.

If Ellie sees through Joel’s lie, we now have to answer a few other questions. How does she react to the lie? Does she hold a grudge against Joel? Exactly how much does Ellie know about what truly happened? Does Joel know that Ellie knows? There are a lot of subfactors that come into play when we discuss this theory. That’s what makes this viewpoint so interesting.

Let’s first address how Ellie reacts to this lie, which plays into whether she holds a grudge against Joel or not. Knowing that Ellie knows Joel was lying, that final shot of the first game tells it all. That’s no longer disappointment in the Fireflies. That’s disappointment in Joel. It can be deducted that her first reaction is that of sadness, possibly enough sadness and disappointment to strain their good relationship. She may have said “Okay” in that moment, but that could be more of an admission of defeat, almost to say, “That sucks, but I can’t do anything about it now.” So sometime between the first game and this sequel, she probably did hold a grudge. Though, the real question is does she still hold a grudge in TLOUP2?

Now it’s time to address the proof I mentioned earlier. The reason I believe that Ellie doesn’t believe Joel’s lie is due to something Neil Druckmann said during the PSX TLOUP2 panel. During the panel actor Troy Baker was talking about the famous One Night Live event they held in 2014 — a one time live performance of the first game performed by the cast, which featured a bonus epilogue not found in the final game. Baker mentioned how the epilogue wasn’t canon and was only for that occasion. Druckmann interrupts him by simply saying, “Well…”

Before you tell me that “well” could mean anything, have you ever seen the episode of Impractical Jokers where they make Murr skydive? You know how before they do it, they convince Murr that they’re actually doing a challenge to teach people how to skydive, and the other three say “Well…”? That’s the kind of “well” Druckmann gave.


This tells me that the secret epilogue is actually canon. If you’re unaware of what that secret ending is, click here. If this epilogue is indeed canon, that tells us three things: 1) Ellie knows that Joel lied to her and reacted negatively; 2) Joel probably knows dang well that she knows; 3) They maintain an at least amicable relationship from that point forward. These factors are important when considering the new game.

Even though Ellie probably forgave Joel at that point, I can still see a scene being dedicated to this fact, especially considering that most people won’t know about the secret epilogue… Unless they recreate it for the new game. That could be a really cool touch for longtime TLOU fans who want to see that scene woven in. Anyway, I’d imagine it being a really sensitive area that they don’t talk about much if at all. However, when it finally does come up, they’ll let all their emotions out. Perhaps it comes up mid-argument kinda like when Ellie brings up Sarah during an argument in the last game, or maybe it’s just a subtle acknowledgement. For example, if the latter case is true:

Joel: “You know… There’s something I probably should’ve told you a long time ago.”

Ellie: “I know. I’ve always known, but it’s not important right now.”

(A scene like that might even echo the scene where Joel tells Ellie to never speak about Tess after her death).

In that case, maybe the lie doesn’t matter that much in the new game. Though, I think even in that circumstance, it would still be something brewing under the surface. Again, subtlety. If you know someone close to you has lied to you before, would you trust them again? That lie probably altered Ellie’s ability to believe in or rely on Joel. That may not be outwardly acknowledging the lie, but its effect would be obvious. Ellie not trusting Joel means she’ll be less inclined to rely on Joel. Is it any wonder that she is the main protagonist of the game now? Ellie has grown more independent than in the first game, now only relying on herself and being much less team oriented. However, Ellie lacks Joel’s experience even after five years of dealing with infected, cannibals, militia, and all around assholes trying to kill her. Ellie eventually screws up and almost gets them killed, causing a series of arguments.

Basically, if Ellie knows about Joel’s lie, there will be much more emphasis on subtext. It’ll be about the consequences of Joel’s lie instead of what is said about it. Is there a possibility that Ellie 100% forgave Joel for his lie. Sure, but since it’s been established that this new game’s theme is “hate”, I doubt that there are zero scars left behind after Joel’s lie. The narrative opportunities are too tempting not to act on.

There’s also the possibility that the epilogue isn’t canon, and Ellie never fully forgave Joel. If that’s true, then Ellie and Joel aren’t really close at the beginning and possibly throughout the game, making this team-up a bit awkward and tense. You can look at the new trailer and notice how Ellie doesn’t look directly at Joel when he walks in until the very last moment. She probably has a lot of animosity towards Joel, to the point where she can’t even look at him. Though as probably the only help she currently has, she’ll tolerate him until she gets her revenge.

As far as if this scenario affects any popular fan theories, I don’t think it affects them too much. It would definitely make the idea of Ellie hunting the Fireflies much more interesting. At that point, the Fireflies probably did something extra severe in order to warrant Ellie, who knows the Fireflies still want her as a cure, to go after them. Maybe part of her motive is to stop the Fireflies from continually coming after her and her people just to get to her. Given the fact that she is choosing to kill them instead of turn herself in could also mean that she didn’t want to die back in the first game. Or perhaps the Fireflies no longer want Ellie’s brain and simply want revenge for the two people who wiped about 20% of them out. Basically, this could be a revenge circle.

The whole Joel being dead theory wouldn’t be affected by Ellie knowing the whole time. However, if Joel dies during TLOUP2, you could have a scene in which Ellie forgives Joel before he dies. Perhaps one of his dying wishes was for Ellie not to go after whoever “they” are, and going after them is an act of defiance.

If Ellie is in fact sick, this lie won’t play any big part in the final game, except for maybe one scene where she and Joel finally acknowledge what happened in the first game. If Ellie is pregnant, maybe that solidifies the Fireflies as villains and probably causes a lot more animosity between her and Joel, as the Fireflies would probably want that baby. That would mean Joel has now put Ellie’s child in potential danger. It’s not that the lie would show up much in that theory either, but it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Fairly interesting to think about either way.

So there you have it. No matter how you look at it, The Last of Us Part 2’s story can and will be affected by the ending of the first game. Whatever you believe to be true, hopefully this will help you filter out which early theories you subscribe to, or at least think about what the first game may say about this upcoming game. Let me know in the comments if you agree with my observations or not. Also, let me know what you think The Last of Us Part 2 will be about, even if it’s an out there idea. I’d definitely love to hear them.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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