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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 on finding something to fight for.

Joel Miller is the main protagonist of The Last of Us franchise. He is the main protagonist of the PS3 and PS4 video game The Last of Us, the posthumous deuteragonist in The Last of Us Part II, and a supporting character in The Last of Us: Left Behind. 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.

He is voiced and motion captured by Troy Baker in the English version of the games, and by Lorenzo Scattorin in the Italian version of the game.


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.


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.


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

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.


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 augmemt 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 hes somewhat habitual.


Well I done hear that some people call this a gee-tar.
~ Joel to Ellie, showing the guitar.
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.


  • His English voice actor, Troy Baker, 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, Jack Mitchell in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and many others.
  • His weapon of choice appears to be the revolver.
  • Was officially ranked as the sixth sexiest male video game character of all time.
  • 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 signer and guitar player in real life.
    • 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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