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Guess what, we're shitty people, Joel. It's been that way for a long time.
~ Tess to Joel on the two as people.

Tess is a supporting character from The Last of Us, being a hardened survivor and Joel's smuggling partner on surviving the apocalypse.

She was voiced and mo-capped by Annie Wersching.

History

Pre-Events

Tess' life before the apocalypse is unknown, but she eventually Joel and the two started a partnership by smuggling weapons, rations, and other things in Boston. The two also met Bill, who would also trade supplies with them within the Quarantine Zone.

The Last of Us

I can buy you some time but you have to run... I will not turn in to one of those things. Come on. Make this easy for me.
~ Tess to Joel and Ellie.
Tess is first seen when she enters Joel's apartment in the Boston Zone. Joel asks why she didn't wait for him when she went to trade ration cards for pills in the West End district. Tess tries to calm him by showing that she did get "enough ration cards to last a couple of months". Joel isn't amused, asking why she has a gash on her face and attempts to help clean it with a rag doused in alcohol. Tess reveals that she was attacked by "a couple of nobodies" sent by Robert, another local smuggler who is overdue on paying them a considerable amount of weapons. She talks with Joel and manages to convince him that they can regain their stolen weapons cache, revealing that Robert is hiding in an "old warehouse in Area 5". The two leave to find Robert.

Whilst heading to the checkpoint, they discuss how rations must be low and watch as four people are forced from a building to be scanned, with one being infected. They almost make it through the checkpoint but the local militia group, the Fireflies, bomb a truck, prompting the military to close the checkpoint as they chase the terrorists. The pair sprint away into a building. Joel was injured in the attack, so Tess gives him a health kit to patch himself up. Tess utilizes her impressive contacts to sneak out through an underground route to Robert's hideout. The pair learn that Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies, is also searching for Robert.

After reminiscing on coming through the same path before, they go underground and find the area full of spores, causing them to don respirator masks. They discuss when their next shipment with Bill is due and how Bill "always finds something", although it is not always good.Once they fight through the Infected there, they go back within the walls and through the slums of Boston, one smuggler offering Tess a deal on their way, but she insists she is busy. While crossing through a bus, a smuggler gets in Joel's way. The pair glare at each other, but Tess tells the man to stand down, revealing that the guy is just "an old headache". She finds a man guarding a gate, giving him ration cards in exchange for finding out if Robert is in the factory; he is.

The two infiltrate the compound, and learn the security detail is more concerned about Robert's fate should Tess reach him, rather than the more formidable Joel. Robert apparently hasn't paid the men in a while either. Eventually they reach Robert, who flees, only to be quickly cornered. He tries to play "Mr. Innocent" hoping there are "no hard feelings". Tess sarcastically remarks "none at all" before breaking his knee with a metal pipe. She interrogates him, having Joel torture him, forcing Robert to reveal that he had sold their guns to the Fireflies. Tess is greatly angered by this, having Joel break his arm before ruthlessly shooting him. The pair both move on, Joel asking "what now?". Tess remarks they have to find a Firefly.

Moments later a wounded Marlene shows up and makes a deal with Tess and Joel — if they smuggle something out of the city, she will give them their weapons back, double what Robert owed them.

When Tess, Joel, and Marlene reach Marlene's hideout, they meet Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who has been under Marlene's protection. Ellie is to be taken by Joel and Tess to the Capitol Building, deep in the city. Once there, a group of Fireflies is supposed to pick her up, thus completing Tess and Joel's mission. Tess and Joel agree to smuggle Ellie, though Joel is not very happy about it; his relationship with Ellie is quite tense at first. Tess seems to be more protective of Ellie, reassuring her that everything will be fine.

The trio make their way through the city, encountering soldiers and eventually getting caught. Tess offers to bribe them if they let them go, but before the conversation can continue, Ellie stabs one of the soldiers in the leg. Joel then shoots him, while Tess shoots the other soldier. They make their escape to an abandoned and nearly destroyed skyscraper, where they encounter Runners and Clickers. Together they make their way out, getting closer to their destination. They reach a museum where Joel gets separated from Tess and Ellie. As Joel makes his way through, he finds Tess fighting a Runner, killing it. Joel and Tess kill the remaining Runners in the museum and make their way to the roof. After crossing several roofs they finally arrive at the Capitol Building. In the courtyard Ellie expresses her gratitude for Marlene selecting them, even though they get paid for delivering her to the building. Tess replies "Yeah, sure thing".

As Joel, Tess, and Ellie enter the Capitol Building, they see the group of Fireflies that were supposed to rendezvous with them lying dead in the lobby. Tess is determined to get Ellie out of Boston and deliver her to the Fireflies, but Joel is reluctant to do so.

As Tess questions Joel about what he really knows about the Fireflies and about her, Ellie realizes that Tess is infected (presumably bitten on her shoulder by the Runner that she was fighting off in the museum). Tess begs Joel to get Ellie to Joel's brother and ex-Firefly, Tommy, not even taking her eyes off him whilst talking to Ellie, as she feels Joel is obligated to her to do so. As soldiers arrive, Tess demands that Joel and Ellie go on without her. She can stay behind and buy them time to escape, and states that she "will not turn into one of those things." Joel wants to fight, but he is shoved by Tess, telling them to "just go".

Once the pair leave, Tess becomes emotional, tears welling in her eyes as she turns around to face the oncoming threat.

As Joel and Ellie make their escape, they hear Tess scream as she is inevitably overwhelmed by the soldiers' gunfire. Before her death, she managed to kill two of the soldiers. Joel also gets a glimpse of Tess' body as he and Ellie escape.

Legacy

Ellie is forbidden by Joel to bring Tess up. Bill mentions her several times when Ellie and Joel are helping him find a car, something Joel tries to brush off; he doesn't tell him she is dead. When Bill insults Tess, Joel defends her, greatly angered by Bill bringing her up in such a way.

She is later mentioned by Ellie as a reason she has survivor's guilt, as Tess died indirectly because of the Cordyceps Brain Infection; something Ellie has avoided due to her immunity.

Gallery

Trivia

  • In the original plot for The Last of Us, Tess was intended to be the game's main antagonist and Joel Miller's nemesis following the death of her brother while aiding on smuggling Ellie out of the Quarantine Zone. That said, despite that Tess was ultimately an heroic character in the finished game, her personality and style still makes her look like a dangerous villain.
  • Tess disliked sardines, as shown in her list.
  • If the player attempts to go to Tess' body, a sad theme will play when fighting to her position.
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