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Hero Overview

You do what I say, when I say it.
~ Joel to Ellie.
I struggled for a long time with survivin', and no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for.
~ Joel to Ellie.

Joel Miller is one of the main protagonists of The Last of Us franchise. He is the main protagonist of the 2013 PS3 and PS4 video game The Last of Us, a supporting character in The Last of Us: Left Behind, and a key character of the 2020 sequel The Last of Us Part II.

He is a morally ambiguous figure who is determined to survive no matter what in a post-apocalyptic world. Though he is an incredibly violent, ruthless and ethically sketchy man, he is not completely without positive traits or heroic moments and consistently looks out for the well-being of Ellie, the young girl he travels with. In essence he is a father figure looking out for his daughter, but willingly lies about the hospital incident to remain with her. Their relationship would become strained once she learned the truth, but he killed by Abby Anderson before he could fully reconcile with his adoptive daughter.

He is voiced and motion captured by Troy Baker (who also voiced Booker DeWitt in Bioshock: Infinite, Erron Black in Mortal Kombat 11, Talion in the Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor series, Snow Villers in Final Fantasy XIII, Sam Drake in the Uncharted series, Red Hood in Batman: Arkham Knight, Jack Mitchell in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and many others) in the English version of the games, and by Lorenzo Scattorin (who also voiced Alucard in Hellsing Ultimate, He-Man in the 2000s He-Man and Masters of the Universe, Shaun in Shaun of the Dead, Edward Carnby in 2008s Alone in the Dark, Vito Scaletta in Mafia II, and Hanzo in Overwatch) in the Italian version of the game.

In the upcoming 2022 TV series, he is portrayed by Pedro Pascal, who portrays The Mandalorian in the titular series and The Book of Boba Fett, and also played Oberyn Martell in HBOs Games of Thrones.

Biography

Early life

Joel Miller was born on September 26, 1984-1985, and is the older brother of Tommy. Growing up in Texas, Joel raised his younger brother, something that was hard to do.

At some point of his life, Joel married his future wife, and later, the couple had their first and only daughter, Sarah, born in 2001.

Shortly after Sarah's birth, Joel and his wife divorced, and the woman then left and never returned.

As a result of having to take care of a child, Joel couldn't attend college, or inspire to be a singer. Joel raised Sarah through adulthood, living in a two-story house, and spent much quality time with her. He worked as a carpenter in construction, and was ambitious to start his own business, as their is book on starting one in his home.

Outbreak

Don't do this to me, don't do this to me baby girl... come on... God.
~ Joel during his Sarah's death.

Joel returned home to his daughter, having been late for work, and tucks Sarah into bed after watching television with her. The infection outbreak occurs, with Joel having to kill his neighbor, Jimmy Cooper to protect Sarah.

Joel meets with Tommy, and the group leave their home to escape the outbreak. While leaving, they are hit in a collision, and the group is forced to walk through the streets, as Tommy holds off the Infected.

Making it up to the highway, Joel and Sarah meet a soldier, who is ordered to kill them (since it's believed that they are infected). The soldier shoots, and is killed by Tommy, but the former was able to wound Sarah. Joel attempts to keep Sarah alive, but she dies from blood loss, leaving him in a devastated state.

Surviving

Took care? That's what you call it? I got nothing but nightmare from those years.
~ Tommy to Joel amidst their argument.

The brothers made their to a triage clinic, where Joel considered committing suicide, but found "something to fight for." During the 2010s-2030s, the brothers slowly fell into a sinister life, hurting people, killing, deceiving, and torturing survivors. It's also assumed that Joel became a hunter, since he tells Ellie that he's been on both sides, and learned tactics on ambushing others.

Tommy had enough of Joel's philosophy when smuggling themselves into Boston, abandoning him to join the Fireflies. Marlene, the "queen" of the Fireflies, persuaded Tommy to join, leaving Joel alone for a while. Joel would meet and partner up with Tess, and the two worked by helping others get things they couldn't. In addition, they also worked with Bill and Robert, with the former owning Joel favors, and the duo greatly distrusting the latter.

It's unknown if Joel and Tess had a romantic relationship, but it's implied, and the two do care for each other.

The Last of Us

I swear.
~ Joel to Ellie, affirming his lie about what happened at the Fireflies' hospital.

In 2033, Joel learns from Tess that Robert has betrayed them, as two men were sent by him to kill the two. Deciding to confront him, Joel and Tess deal with Robert's men before capturing him. The two learned that Robert sold their weapons to the Fireflies, and Tess kills him before a wounded Marlene arrives. She informs that they can make a deal - she will give them guns in exchange they transport something to the Fireflies at the capitol building. Joel and Tess assist Marlene in reaching her location, and learn that she wants them to take a young girl named Ellie to the Fireflies. Though initially reluctant, Joel and Tess agree and the two take Ellie across the land while dealing with Infected.

During their travel, they are stopped by military patrol who proceed to check them for infection, and Ellie panics and attacks one of them. After dealing with the patrolmen, Joel and Tess learn that Ellie is infected, but the latter reveals that is immune since her bite is three weeks old. Despite being angered at the revelation, Joel and Tess continue their way to the capital building with Ellie, but find that all of the Fireflies there have been killed by the military. Tess then reveals that she is infected, and persuades Joel to continue on their journey while she buys them time. Joel is upset at the loss, but decides to keep it to himself and tells Ellie not to bring her up again. He decides to receive assistance from Bill since he owes him, and the two enter his town where he has set up traps for the Infected.

Joel and Ellie manage to get a car from Bill after helping him find a car battery, but Bill tells Joel to not come back since his debt has been repaid. In Pittsburg, Joel begins to develop a bond with Ellie after she saves him, and allows her to use a rifle to help him deal with hunters. During their travel, the two come across brothers Henry and Sam, and the group decide to work with each other to reach their hideout. Though the group are able to bond with each other, it comes to an end when Sam becomes infected and tries to kill Ellie, but is stopped by Henry, who then commits suicide out of guilt. Joel and Ellie continued to survive into the fall, where the former reunited with his brother Tommy, who is heading a community of people with his wife Maria.

Joel attempts to persuade Tommy to take in Ellie in exchange for gear, but he refused, which led to an argument with Tommy believing Joel's way of keeping him alive wasn't worth it. Though tensions, the community is attacked by bandits, and Ellie later leaves after overhearing of Joel's intentions. Joel and Tommy then work together to reach Ellie, and the former decides to continue on while Tommy returns to his community. Reaching to a university where the Fireflies are supposedly held, they discover it has been overrun by survivors and decide to leave. During their escape, Joel is impaled by a piece of rebar and later falls unconscious, forcing Ellie to take care of him and find medical supplies. Joel later awakens and discovers Ellie is gone, and heads into the cold to find her. He encounters a group of cannibals, and after interrogating two of them, manages to reach to Ellie. Finding that she had to kill a man to protect herself, Joel provides comfort before leaving the town.

Reaching Salt Lake City in the spring, Joel's bond with Ellie has grown to the point that he sees her as a daughter, but she is still troubled by the trauma from dealing with the cannibals. Joel initially wants to help Ellie deal with her trauma by returning to Tommy's community, but she declines, believing that by reaching the Fireflies, her trials and tribulations will be for something. While crossing through the sewers, Ellie nearly drowns and Joel saves her, but is knocked unconscious by the firefly Ethan. Awaking in the Fireflies' building, Joel is informed by Marlene that Ellie is being prepped for surgery, as the doctors believe they can make a vaccine due to her immunity. He begins to protest due to the procedure potentially killing her, but he is knocked down by Ethan, and Marlene decides to send him away to prevent him from trying to rescue Ellie.

Not wanting to lose his surrogate daughter, Joel kills Ethan and rescues Ellie, but in the process kills Fireflies including Dr. Jerry Anderson. Before leaving the building, Joel is confronted by Marlene, whom he proceeds to kill before driving away to Jackson. Once Ellie awoke, Joel lies to Ellie that there was no cure, and when asked again by her, he swears that he's telling the truth.

Living in Jackson

Reaching the Jackson community, Joel admitted the truth to Tommy, who told his brother that he understood why he did it and probably wouldn't done anything different. Joel and Ellie would become residence of Jackson, with the former being assigned a patrolmen to deal with infected. He would have his own home where it appeared that he went back into carpentry, taught Ellie how to swim and played the guitar. During this time, Ellie continued to question Joel about what happened at the hospital, and later traveled there and found a tape recorder that revealed the truth. Confronting Joel, he admitted the truth, and Ellie told him that though she would return to Jackson, they were done. Joel would later speak with Ellie, reconciling as she wanted to rebuild their friendship and was willing to forgive him.

The Last of Us Part II

What are you doing, kiddo? You really gonna go through with this?
~ Joel to Ellie in the first trailer.

Joel and Tommy were sent out to patrol over Jackson when a blizzard came over, and the two rescued a girl named Abby Anderson from a pack of infection. Abby then took the two to her hideout where her friends were waiting, and enacted her revenge by shooting his leg and torturing him with a golf club. Ellie soon arrived and witnessed his death, with Abby bashing his skull in with a golf club before leaving with her group.

Legacy

Joel's death affected the Jackson community, with both Ellie and Tommy deciding to get revenge on Abby and her group for killing him. Ellie would soon learn that Abby enacted revenge because Joel killed her father at the hospital, and the former was left to live by Anderson, who decided to spend her time in raising Lev. Though Ellie would later try to enact revenge on Abby, she recalled her last conversation with him and spared Anderson. Returning to her ranch, Ellie finally forgives Joel for his actions and heads to find Dina and JJ.

Skills, Abilities and Weaknesses

You make every shot count.
~ Joel to Ellie.

Joel using a scavenger as a human shield in combat.

Due to his time as a Hunter, Joel has become a master survivalist. He is skilled with chokeholds and stealth, being able to creep up on a human and Infected without them noticing. He is also a ferocious fighter, being able to quickly overpower enemies much younger and faster than he is. Joel is also a skilled craftsmen and can augment his own weapons. He is also able to craft Shivs, Smoke Bombs, Nail Bombs and Molotov's and is experienced with torture, an example is when he broke Robert's arm while Tess was trying to discover what happened to the weapons he was supposed to deliver to them, when he interrogated two cannibals with a knife to discover the location of Ellie and shooting Ethan in the stomach while trying to find out where Ellie's surgery was happening.

Joel is also very skilled with guns and bow and arrows. He possesses tremendous fighting skills, able to overpower Ethan, a Firefly despite the fact he was being held at gunpoint and he was obviously more military experienced. He was also able to overpower two cannibals despite the fact that he was still recovering from his life-threatening wound and he was ambushed by the latter. Joel also possesses a quick recovery time. Despite the fact his car was ruined off by Hunters and he was later grabbed by one he was able to overpower the Hunter and kill him on a shard of glass.

Despite his many impressive feats, Joel is still human and can be injured, knocked out and ambushed. He gets ambushed many times, such as while leaving the Quarantine Zone he is attacked by two soldiers, another one was when he was ambushed by a hunter while climbing a ladder, nearly drowned if it wasn't for Ellie's help, he was also ambushed by Henry and nearly choked to death, attacked by a cannibal at the University, thrown off a ledge which caused him to be impaled and stealth-attacked by two cannibals. Unlike Ellie, Joel is not immune and can be Infected by bites or spores.

Personality and Traits

You sacrifice the few to save the many.
~ Joel's philosophy on surviving.

Joel has been described as a "violent thug, a brutal killer, and a torturer." He is shown to be able to kill his enemies with noteworthy brutality, earning his infamous reputation to those he encounters. David calls him a "crazy man." During the aftermath of the epidemic that struck the country, he has resorted to working in black-market dealings and smuggling items or people of interest through quarantine zones or other designated areas. Because of this, he has accumulated valuable knowledge in regards to surviving the post-apocalyptic environment. Ellie notes that Joel has stained his hand with innocent blood when he reveals to her that he has been "on both sides", thus having the knowledge about a hunters' ambush and anticipating it. This dark past likely contributed to his experience as a hardened survivalist.

He also becomes extremely dedicated to Ellie, using any means possible to save her and keep her safe. He tortures several cannibals to find out Ellie's location, and then kills the other prisoner after he has gained information about Ellie's location. Ellie also cares greatly for Joel when she cares for him when he was injured, Just as Joel cared for her and protected her throughout their journey. They had a father and daughter bond.

However, Joel's other side is also portrayed. Prior to the apocalypse, he worked hard to single-handedly raise his daughter. The outbreak and Sarah's death changed him into an apathetic, ruthless, and estranged man. He wears the watch that Sarah gave him the day before the initial infection broke out as a reminder. Upon meeting Ellie, he originally has a rocky relationship with her. However, Joel later grows to trust her and finds her reliable at most times such as Ellie spotting for Joel or providing support. As time passes, Joel establishes a father-daughter relationship with Ellie, reminding him of his beloved daughter, Sarah. His more kinder side begins to surface as he spends more time with Ellie, something that was buried underneath two decades of guilt, loss and pain.

Whether being selfish, or not wanting to lose another "daughter" to the whim of another again, he chose to save Ellie and try and start some semblance of a normal life again. His decision to kill Marlene inside the Fireflies facility in Salt Lake City is to cut all loose ends, to ensure that no one will have the knowledge of Ellie and thus no one will go after her in the future. In this sense he is the opposite of Marlene, who intends to sacrifice Ellie for a chance to save the rest of humanity.

Described as being in his late 40's, Joel knows what the world looked like before it was devastated. Over time, he has begun to become less bound by morality and more driven by doing whatever is necessary to survive. "What he wouldn't do in the past is almost a daily occurrence at this point," Bruce Straley, the game's director, notes. Whenever Sarah is brought up or he is uncomfortable, Joel strokes his watch, the same one given to him by his dead daughter showing he's somewhat habitual.

Quotes

You have no idea what loss is.
~ Joel to Ellie.
I guess no matter how hard you try, you can't escape your past.
~ Joel.
Well I done hear that some people call this a gee-tar.
~ Joel to Ellie, showing the guitar.
Making a vaccine… would have killed you. So I stopped them.
~ Joel to Ellie, telling the truth when confronted.
If somehow the Lord gave a second chance at that moment...I would do it all over again.
~ Joel to Ellie on his decision to save her.
Why don't you say whatever speech you've got rehearsed and get this over with.
~ Joel to Abby.

Trivia

  • His weapon of choice appears to be the revolver.
  • He was officially ranked as the sixth sexiest male video game character ever.
  • Joel was named after Joel Coen, who famously directed No Country for Old Men and True Grit.
    • Initially, Neil Druckmann took inspiration from Josh Brolin's portrayal of Llewelyn Moss upon writing the character, whom he noted for being "very quiet, very cool under pressure".
  • Joel is a fan of music, and stated as a child he wanted to become a singer, and can play guitar. This a reference to his voice actor, Troy Baker, who is singer and guitarist.
    • Interestingly enough, Baker also played another character who could guitar the year The Last of Us came out, Booker DeWitt in Bioshock: Infinite.

See Also

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