[Top 15] The Last of Us Best Quotes That Are Legendary

Ellie and Joel walk towards the sunset through an abandoned town in The Last of Us.
Joel and Ellie's relationship develops across The Last of Us with many picture-perfect scenes.

If there’s one thing no one’s debating about The Last of Us,  it’s that writer Neil Druckmann is phenomenal at what he does. Time and time again, this game has been praised for its writing prowess, and it’s a well-deserved compliment - but what lines exactly show just how excellently written this game is? I’m here to count down the top 15 legendary The Last of Us quotes that left a resounding impact on players, and made the game the one we know and praise today. (MAJOR SPOILERS IMMINENT - you have been warned!)

Note: it is recommended that you watch each YouTube link for the quote named. Each link takes you to the exact moment of the quote, and I recommend you watch them to jog your memory. Time-coded links have been pasted below embedded videos. Enjoy!


15. “That’s alright. I believe him.” 


Starting with a smaller line that most look over, this moment from the Winter chapter of the game comes at a point of high tension - arguably the highest, before the end of the game itself - when Joel is interrogating a pair of hunters for the location of their base.

This is the first time in the game where we focus directly on the acts of violence Joel is willing to carry out for Ellie, and they are brutal. This is not a kill for survival, but a kill for protection - he is cruel and unnecessary in his actions, and yet the passion in them is somewhat admirable.

We flinch as the blow comes towards the screen, echoing the perspective of the victim, but we know why Joel does what he does. This line shows just how far he is willing to go.

14. “And just so we’re clear about back there… it was either him or me.” 

Following a life or death situation wherein Ellie directly saves Joel’s life for the first time, Joel says this. Throughout the game, we watch Ellie and Joel bicker over many things, but this is the first time they seem to concede to each other. After scolding Ellie for not following his instructions and following him through a hotel, allowing her to save his life, there is a steely section of underlying tension between the two as they find a way through the abandoned building.

But when Ellie is finally entrusted with a gun by Joel, a sign of respect and maturity, he finally acknowledges Ellie’s importance. This is the base that allows their relationship to grow - that he finally allows her to know that she is important in her own right, and that this isn’t a one-sided deal. It’s not smooth-sailing from here - the pair still have much to learn from each other - but we finally have some tenderness between our deuteragonists. 

13. “You have no idea what loss is.” 

Of course, for all of the progress the previous quote showed, there are many lapses. One of my favourite sections of the game, taking place in Jackson, Mississippi, involves Joel attempting to bestow his task in escorting Ellie onto his estranged brother, Tommy.

There are a few reasons that might explain this decision, with the most likely being that Joel feels himself becoming attached to Ellie in the same way he was to his daughter Sarah, and cannot face what he sees as an inevitable loss again. When Ellie finds out that this is Joel’s plan, she attempts to run away, causing Tommy and Joel to pursue her and find her in an abandoned house in the countryside where this conversation takes place. 

Ellie, ultimately, is a child. She is trying to understand Joel, mostly through her own lens of loss and trauma, but she cannot, and Joel is not afraid to tell her this. “You have no idea what loss is,” whilst on the surface level may feel like an invalidating statement, is so much more complex in this world than it would be in ours.

Ultimately, Ellie doesn’t have any idea what loss is, at least not in Joel’s context - Joel, who lost not only his daughter, but his entire world and way of life. But some of the most beautiful character development in his regard takes place in the next quote on this list…

12. “I’m sorry, Joel.” “That’s okay, Ellie.” 


In the penultimate section of the game, where Ellie and Joel travel across the city looking for the final destination of the Fireflies, they share many touching and insightful conversations - a lull in the fast-paced action of The Last of Us before the final push. One of them is recorded in its entirety in the video above, and I highly recommend watching all 53 seconds of it.

Ellie has come to understand what Joel meant when he told her she had no idea what loss was - it wasn’t that he didn’t empathise with her, with her own losses, but that he had experienced such a different variety and extent of loss that she could never understand. And, by the end of the game, she knows this.

I’m glad this interaction isn’t a cut scene. I think it’s unusual that it isn’t - it seems like for the gravity of this conversation, it should be - but I’m glad it isn’t. By now, Joel and Ellie have become comfortable with each other, and with the weight of the world they live in, the weight of that which they are doing. It makes sense that this conversation is so casually brought up.

11. “Ellie, get off your horse, give it on back to Tommy… Go on, don’t make me repeat myself.” 

I’m not sure anyone else shares the same experience, but this was the first line in The Last of Us that made me sob. There is something about the silence of Joel’s decision, the gap between his cruel “we are both going our separate ways” and the quiet acceptance of his love for Ellie that solidifies the paternal relationship they have forged in the fire of their pain and loss.

So although this quote may not be jaw-dropping on its own, it is a line that changes the course of the game, and the relationship between our deuteragonists, forever.

10. “This everything you were hoping for?” 

It’s a simple question, and it almost leaves you wanting more. But in this quiet moment before the main tension of this gorgeous game about humanity, connection, and love, it is all Joel needs to ask of Ellie as she looks out upon the world she never got to experience truly. The moment with the giraffes is one of the most iconic from the game, where, as they travel through the city, Joel and Ellie encounter a tower of giraffes moving through the naturally reclaimed city centre. So this simple question asked earnestly and hopefully, articulates so much about their relationship and futures. 

9. “Once upon a time, I had somebody that I cared about. It was a… partner. Somebody I had to look after. And in this world that sort of shit’s good for one thing. Gettin’ ya killed.” 


Now, for our first quote that doesn’t come from either Joel or Ellie, we have one from Bill - the friend that owes Joel a favour whom we encounter in the first location outside of Boston. Throughout this chapter, the story of Bill and his previous partner is uncovered, revealing the first of a few queer stories in The Last of Us franchise.

The heartbreaking retrospective Bill gives here of this person, from a reasonably and understandably jaded perspective of post-apocalyptic relationships, reflects upon the general themes at the beginning of the game about the danger of attachment in this world. For all that Bill was a hardened and crass character, it’s impossible not to empathise with him in this moment, and as the rest of his tragic story is told.

8. “You make every shot count.” 


Hailing back to the conversation that takes place when Joel first entrusts Ellie with a weapon, as she covers him from the scaffolding outside of a hotel in Pittsburgh that they narrowly escaped through Ellie’s inability to follow orders, Joel utters this iconic line as he bids farewell to Ellie - possibly for the last time.

Of course, we know that Joel survives (provided you make it through the battle unscathed) but the gravity of this line reflects upon the seriousness of the world they live in. The fact that this line feels like a routine piece of advice, despite its implications, is another indicator of this. You’d best believe that any The Last of Us player is making every shot count - we don’t have the spare ammo not to.

7. “You’d just come after her.” 


Following the final battle of the game, as Joel escapes a hospital filled with armed guards, an unconscious Ellie in his arms, he is confronted by the leader of the Fireflies: Marlene.

As Marlene barters with Joel, trying to convince him of the impact saving Ellie will have on the world, it becomes clear that Joel’s love for the girl he holds, and the protective instinct he has for her, far outweighs anything this woman could say or do to stop him. So when faced with the choice to spare her, or eliminate the threat she poses to Ellie’s future, he hardly hesitates, explaining himself with this stark and simple sentence. We all know Joel is right, even if we think Joel’s decision might be wrong.

6. “Oh, baby girl. It’s okay.” 


Not everyone may have caught this (although I suspect, by this point, everyone who has played The Last of Us more than once has), but in the aftermath of Ellie’s standoff with David - the creepy man who kidnaps her during Winter - as she collapses in Joel’s arms, he utters this.

The only other time we hear Joel use this pet name is during the prologue when he refers to his late daughter Sarah lovingly as he puts her to bed. So in this moment, where Joel is finally given the chance to protect someone he loves in a way he couldn’t with his daughter, we hear him use the nickname again.

5. “Guilt didn’t make me cross a city full of soldiers, Ellie.” 


Whilst this quote isn’t from The Last of Us, it is from its fantastic DLC, The Last of Us: Left Behind. The DLC explores the backstory of Ellie and her friend Riley in the events leading up to them both being bitten by the infected, with a dual narrative filling in the gap of time when Ellie is taking care of Joel after he is injured at the university.

What is most touching about this stunning addition to the game is the way it explores the importance of both Ellie’s relationship with Joel and with Riley, and the similarities and differences between the two. From conversations with Riley, we are informed that at some point the pair had a falling out before Riley left for an indeterminate amount of time to join the Fireflies, cutting off contact with Ellie. Although they slowly repair this gap across the events of the story, it is an underlying tension that explores many of the intricacies of teenage friendships in this unique context in a way we don’t get to witness in the main game.

At one point, Riley retorts to Ellie’s accusation of guilt with the quote above, putting into perspective the dedication and love in their relationship with each other.

4.“No matter how hard you try, I guess you can’t escape your past. Thank you.” 


It pains me that this is an optional conversation. The possibility that people choose not to pursue Ellie’s offer of the photo of Joel and Sarah is a painful possibility because this interaction between the two characters proves to be one of the most tender and revealing of the entire game.

Although Joel refuses the photo earlier in the game when offered it by Tommy, it is revealed when playing as Ellie (if you check the contents of her backpack) that she had picked the picture up. If you choose to speak to Ellie at this moment, she will return the picture to you, and Joel will say this, seemingly accepting the duality of his past and present.

A touching detail in The Last of Us: Part II when exploring Joel’s house is that this picture is framed and placed on a dresser in his home, right alongside a picture of him with Ellie.

3. “I’m still waiting for my turn.” 


In the final conversation between Ellie and Joel, closing out the game with a tear-jerking and memorable final cutscene, Ellie says this, describing the losses she has sustained both throughout the game’s events and before. It is this line that reveals her survivor’s guilt, and the lasting impact of her trauma on the way she feels about her life.

Besides highlighting the pain that comes with Ellie’s realisation that her immunity, supposedly, means nothing, this line epitomises the nature of existence in this world, where ‘the last of us’ live in a perpetual state of waiting for their turn.

2. “I struggled for a long time with surviving. And you- no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for.” 


And, following almost directly on from the quote above, Joel responds with this: his own experience of survivor’s guilt. Through so much loss from the very first day of the pandemic, Joel has felt like no one else in our world, but like so many in theirs, what it means to survive when those you love do not. Through this line, so succinctly and characteristically written, he simultaneously tells Ellie that she is what he fights for now, and that, one day, she will find something to survive for as well.

1. “There are a million ways we should’ve died before today and a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight, for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether it’s two minutes, or two days - we don’t give that up.” 


This quote isn’t technically from the main game, but it is from the DLC, Left Behind, which I would argue is as important as the game itself. If you haven’t played it, I cannot recommend it enough - it is a vital addition to the game.

At the end of Left Behind, Ellie’s best friend Riley says this, over a cut to Ellie dragging Joel out of a shopping mall on a makeshift sledge-stretcher, as they both struggle with the acceptance of their fate now they have been bitten. At this point, they both believe they will die - this is before Ellie knows that she is immune - and the gravitas of this quotation over the implicit comparison with Ellie’s future relationship with Joel, shaped entirely by the loss of this friend and the events of this loss, encapsulates all that The Last of Us is about.

Because Riley is right - in this world, and in ours, we fight for the moments we spend with each other. If living through our own pandemic has proven anything, it is this. And as Ellie and Riley attempt to defy the odds of their fate (and it is not lost on me that one of them actually does), Ellie carries forward this philosophy, fighting through things no teenager should have to in order to protect those who she loves, and learns to love. 

She doesn’t give that up, and in saving Joel, in fighting for humanity’s second chance, she does so in Riley’s name.

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Equipped with potion bottles of coffee and a notebook that's seen better days, Henry can often be found making friends with local animals (when he's not taming them in-game...)
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:Undertale, Portal 2, The Walking Dead

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