Naughty Dog Explains Original The Last of Us Ending Pitched to Sony

August 7, 2013Written by Jason Dunning



I’m starting to feel like a broken record at this point, but Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann has detailed yet another alternate ending for The Last of Us in the September 2013 issue of Game Informer (via Videogamer).

This one, which we’ll probably hear about at PAX Prime, has to do with the teaser image Neil tweeted out earlier this week. With this alternate storyline, it would have seen Tess, who was betrayed by Joel, journey across the United States, following him. Revealing that Tess “took more of a villain role” early in development, “that storyline never worked out” and “the storyline shifted and Tess took on this role where she became more of a believer and she helped motivate Joel.”

Neil then explained why that storyline ultimately never came to fruition:

We had a tough time understanding why Joel would take this journey – we weren’t buying it. We also had a hard time buying that Tess would go on a vendetta. We could understand her pursuing Joel a little bit, but why would she go for a year around the country? Those things were solved by saying that Tess is going to die when she gets bitten, but her dying wish to Joel is to do this one good thing – help me do this one good thing so my soul can rest because I’ve done all these horrible things.

Druckmann continued on to reference how Ellie was a different character, not killing any non-infected people until she killed Tess at the end, who was torturing Joel:

What we realized is that we had to get Ellie engaged more in the combat because when she was disengaged from the action for that long you didn’t care so much. So that changed pretty early on. We decided it wasn’t going to be about the first time she killed someone, it was more about this coming of age story of the impact that the horrors of violence has on her over the course of the game.

That culminates with her conflict with David. That happened pretty quickly, just based on some things we realised about the story and how we had to integrate it into the gameplay.

Pretty much telling us everything else we’ll be hearing about at PAX Prime, Neil spoke of the “much more hopeful ending” that was originally pitched to Sony:

Joel and Ellie make it to San Francisco and that is a town run by people who are trying to restore society. Joel has killed all these doctors and lied to Ellie, and Ellie just fully buys into the lie. So, you’re left with the idea that they are going to live the rest of their lives in this town. The camera pulls back and maybe everything is going to be alright for these two. I was working on writing, and it didn’t feel honest anymore. After everything they’ve done and everything they’ve been through, that was letting them off a little too easy – especially for Joel.

However, that ending “tested very poorly,” with testers saying it’s “unclear, anticlimactic, unsatisfying” and “a lot of people at the company felt the same way.” As time passed though, those people “came around and really appreciated [it].”

What do you think of this scrapped ending? Let us know in the comments below.

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