Why did the soldier shoot Joel and Sarah in The Last of Us TV series? Warning spoilers ahead! We knew that The Last of Us TV series was going to be every bit as harrowing as the videogame, but we didn’t know if the show would manage to pull off one of the game’s most shocking moments.
The death of Sarah at the hands of some anonymous soldier (possibly the most hated The Last of Us character outside of the literal cannibals) is perhaps the most harrowing moment in the video game (and now TV series), which serves to galvanise Joel (Pedro Pascal) against the world.
Still, why did that soldier shoot Sarah and Joel? After all, he could see they were both unarmed, didn’t seem to be infected, and posed absolutely no threat. Well, the answer has two parts, one simple and one that digs into the core philosophy of The Last of Us.
Why did the soldier shoot Joel and Sarah?
The soldier shot Joel and Sarah because he was following his commanding officer’s orders. While it may sound cruel, during the early days of the pandemic, little was known about the cordyceps brain infection.
In an attempt to stop the plague from spreading across the United States, FEDRA ordered the military to exterminate population centres where cordyceps were known to be circulating. While it may seem cruel, the soldier believed he was doing the right thing by killing Joel and Sarah, who, as far as he knew, could have been infected.
This is part of a recurring theme within the world of The Last of Us, the idea of utilitarianism versus deontology. Under utilitarian ethics, the outcome always justifies the means, no matter what.
That’s why the soldier and his commanders believed he was right to shoot an unarmed man and his child, as protecting humanity from cordyceps was more important than sparing two innocents.
This is contrasted with the deontological ethics of The Fireflies. Under deontology, there are always set moral lines one should never cross, and the ends don’t always justify the means.
This is why the Fireflies resist FEDRA. They believe that the brutal tactics used by the agency aren’t justified by the group arguably holding civilisation together. That said, we’ll see how they stick to those principles once we meet Ellie.
If you want to know what we thought of the show, check out our The Last of Us TV series review. We’ve also got an article breaking down The Last of Us cast and a guide on how to watch The Last of Us. If that’s not enough, we’ve also got an article all about the terrifying Clickers.