The Last of Us is a zombie apocalypse survival FPS. Warning: this video contains extremely graphic content and language.

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Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll

Violence: This game contains very realistic violence. Both human beings and zombies are targets of choking, bludgeoning, beheading, and shooting. There are also a few violent main-character deaths.

Horror: There is a large amount of body horror and gore. The “zombies” are victims of  infectious disease. Much of the gameplay is based in stealth and running away from monsters, making for a very tense and fearful atmosphere.

Sexual content: There is one reference to a character enjoying gay male pornography, with a non-explicit image shown briefly. Ellie is put in a situation where sexual violence is heavily implied, though not carried through. There are also a few suggestive dialogues between adult characters.

Strong Language: Strong language is used frequently. Ellie consistently swears more than any other character throughout the game.

Player Interaction: There is a multiplayer component of the Last of Us called “Factions.” However, the main game does not have any player interaction.

Story & Themes

The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by humans infected with a mushroom-like disease (essentially zombies), as well as highway bandits and other criminals. Joel is a middle-aged survivor tasked with caring for a strong-willed 14-year-old named Ellie. It contains themes of family, grief, and love. Joel, who lost his own teenage daughter long ago, finds himself finding opening up and finding redemption in his relationship to Ellie. The two create a family of their own, but the journey is fraught with loss and difficulties.

The Creators

Naughty Dog


There was some discussion before The Last of Us was released about the cover art for the game.  Naughty Dog was pressured to remove Ellie from the box art because advertisers feared that gamers wouldn’t respond well to a young female protagonist being featured so prominently, despite her position as a main character in equal standing to the more traditional Joel. The company refused to remove Ellie, however, thus thwarting a controversy that had already plagued Bioshock: Infinite, a game with a similar male/female dynamic.  

Conversation Starters

Warning: spoilers ahead. This game is extremely story-driven, so if you don’t want to be ruined for the ending, skip this section!

  • What does it mean to be a family? Can people who aren’t blood-related consider each other family?
  • When it comes to survival, what’s more important? Keeping you and your loved ones safe, or working for the greater good? If you were in Joel’s position, what would you do?
  • Do you think Joel made the right decision by saving Ellie at the end? Her death would have potentially provided the vaccine that would’ve saved humanity. Moreover, Joel made some tough choices when it came to killing the Fireflies. Was he justified in murdering innocent people?
  • Do you think Joel should’ve told Ellie the truth about the Fireflies? When he lied about the vaccine research, he guaranteed she would never be used for a vaccine. Why do you think he lied? Do you think Ellie might’ve known he was lying?


Clickers are the zombies in the Last of Us, named for their distinctive sound.


This article was written by

Keezy is a gamer, illustrator, and designer. Her background is in teaching and tutoring kids from ages 9 to 19, and she's led workshops for young women in STEM. She is also holds a certificate in teaching English. Her first memory of gaming is when her dad taught her to play the first Warcraft when she was five. You can find her at Key of Zee and on Twitter @KeezyBees.