The Last of Us TV series – who is Joel?

Joel and Ellie are the main characters of The Last of Us TV series here's everything you need to know about the gruff former hunter turned zombie hunter

The Last of US TV series - who is Joel?

Who is Joel in The Last of Us TV series? One of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the year is nearly here, The Last of Us TV series. Based on the videogame of the same name, the show’s set in a world that’s been overrun by a virulent mind-controlling fungus that turns people into zombies.

It sounds like it will be a Walking Dead-style misery fest, but The Last of Us TV series is so much more than that. The show has received rave reviews across the board (check out our The Last of Us TV series review here), which is hardly surprising considering the game it’s been adapted from is one of the most critically acclaimed Playstation titles ever.

However, we here at The Digital Fix know not everyone’s played the game and may have questions about the horror series. So we thought we’d provide a guide for those curious about one of the most popular The Last of Us charactersJoel. Warning spoilers from the videogame ahead.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

Joel’s early life

In the canon of the videogame, Joel was born in Texas, and he grew up alongside his younger brother Tommy. As he got older, Joel developed an interest in music, even learning to play the guitar, and he dreamed of becoming a singer.

Joel’s life was changed forever when his wife became pregnant with their daughter Sarah. Wanting to provide for his family, Joel took a job in construction and put aside any dreams he had of being a musician or attending college.

Eventually, Joel’s wife left him and Sarah, and he became a single father. Joel threw himself into the life of a solo parent, and he had an exceptionally close bond with his daughter. Unfortunately, on his 32nd birthday, Joel’s life came crashing down around him when the cordyceps infection began to spread.

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Joel and the outbreak

On the night of Joel’s birthday, he was gifted a watch by Sarah, and the pair stayed up late watching TV. As the Cordyceps infection took root, Joel and Sarah were attacked by their infected neighbours and forced to flee their home with Tommy.

Fleeing the chaos, the trio quickly found themselves forced to abandon their truck after a literal plane crashed into the street they were driving down. With Sarah injured in the accident, Joel had to try and carry her to safety while Tommy was cut off from the pair.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

Avoiding the infected and panicking humans, Joel and Sarah managed to escape the chaos but were stopped by a soldier. The soldier then received orders from his superiors to kill the father and daughter, and he opened fire on them.

Thankfully Tommy managed to find his brother before the soldier could finish Joel off, but it was too late for Sarah, who’d been shot in the stomach. Sarah died in her father’s arms, and a little piece of Joel died with her.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

Following Sarah’s death and the collapse of civilisation, Joel and Tommy hit the road, becoming hunters — raiders who prey on other survivors. As the brothers made their way through the wasteland of what used to be America, Joel buried his grief in horrific acts of callous violence, which slowly turned Tommy against him.

By the time they reached the Boston Quarantine Zone (QZ), Tommy had had enough and abandoned Joel to join The Fireflies — a group of freedom fighters in rebellion against the remnants of the US government known as FEDRA. Eventually, Joel became friends with a smuggler named Tess, and the pair started bringing contraband into the QZ.

For a number of years, Joel operated as a smuggler until a chance encounters with the leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, brought him into contact with a young girl called Ellie. Marlene asked Joel and Tess to smuggle Ellie out to some waiting Fireflies.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

Joel’s adventures with Ellie

Realising they could make a fortune smuggling the girl out of the QZ, Joel and Tess agreed to the job. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to the Firefly’s plan, and it was soon revealed that Ellie had been bitten by an infected.

Joel wanted to get rid of Ellie, but Tess stopped him as she believed the girl when she said she was immune to Cordyceps. A reluctant Joel agreed to take her to the waiting Fireflies, but upon reaching the freedom fighters, the trio discovered they’d been massacred by infected.

Even worse, Tess admitted that during a previous encounter with an enhanced infected known as a Clicker, she had been bitten. With the infected homing in on their location, Tess made Joel promise to take Ellie out west to the Fireflies.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

Keeping his word to Tess, Joel took Ellie and headed west out of Boston. Their hope was to find a group of Firefly scientists who could use Ellie’s unique biology to manufacture a cure or vaccine for the Cordyceps infection.

While initially frosty with each other, Joel and Ellie grew close as together they overcame raiders, cannibals, and other unspeakable horrors in the wasteland. Along the way, Joel slowly came to forgive himself for Sarah’s death, seeing Ellie as a second chance at fatherhood.

It nearly killed Ellie and Joel, but they did eventually find the Firefly scientists in Salt Lake City. It’s here, though, that the Fireflies revealed the terrible truth to Joel: the only way to make a Cordyceps vaccine would involve harvesting a unique strain of the fungus in Ellie’s brain.

The Last of Us TV series - who is Joel?

The operation would kill Ellie but offer the world hope of finally overcoming the infection. To Joel, it was an easy decision to make. He slaughtered the Firefly doctors and scientists, killed Marlene as well, and freed Ellie.

As a groggy Ellie came to in the back of a car Joel had stolen from the Fireflies, she asked him what had happened, and Joel lied to his adopted daughter, saying that the group had given up on attempting to cure the fungal plague. And that’s where the first game ends. Will the TV series follow the same story? You’ll have to watch to find out.

The Last of US TV series - whi

Who plays Joel on The Last of Us TV series?

Joel is played by the actor Pedro Pascal. Pedro Pascal is probably best known for playing Din Djarin on the Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Still, he’s an accomplished actor who’s appeared in action movies like Kingsman The Golden Circle and The Equalizer 2, as well as the superhero movie Wonder Woman 1984.

If you want to know more about Joel’s adventures, then you’ll need to know how to watch The Last of Us. We’ve also got an article breaking down The Last of Us cast and how many episodes of The Last of Us they’ll be, or if you just really like cannibalistic ghouls, we have a list of the best zombie movies.

Finally, if you want to learn about the game, the show is based on our sister site, The Loadout has a The Last of Us Part 1 remake review as well as a list of the best PS5 games.