THE LAST OF US PART II Was Initially Supposed To Have A Different Ending, Narrative Lead Revealed
During a recent interview, The Last of Us Part II Narrative Lead Halley Gross revealed that the game was initially supposed to have a very different ending the the one it got.
There is no other way around it, Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II is an incredibly divisive game that left thousands of fans disappointed. Director Neil Druckmann has even said that some players would hate the game, so he knew that the decisions he was making were bold; at least, you have got to give him credit for that.
However, and as it turns out, The Last of Us Part II was initially supposed to have a completely different ending. In fact, this other ending may have been more satisfactory, and would've likely prevented the series' fandom to split.
Before we continue, it is important to let you know that from this moment on we will be spoiling not only the game's ending, but pretty much the entirety of it — since some context is needed in order to break down that controversial ending, as well as the ending that didn't end up making the cut.
So, Joel dies within the first couple of hours of The Last of Us Part II. That's right, the beloved father figure, and main protagonist from the first game was brutally murdered by a new character called Abby — who, to everyone's surprise, is also one of the new main protagonists; the other main protagonist being Ellie.
Joel's death is what motivates Ellie to go on a killing spree in order to find Abby and avenge Joel. Long story short, Ellie finds out where Abby is, goes after her and they have a fight to the death that ends when Ellie decides to spare Abby's life; because revenge is bad, kids.
In short, that right there is The Last of Us Part II's controversial ending that has fans frustrated with the game — among many other things, to be fair — but, as mentioned above, this wasn't how the game would've initially ended.
As revealed by The Last of Us Part II Narrative Lead Halley Gross, in a recent podcast with Game Informer, the development team thought of multiple endings for the game, and the one they almost settled on was one in which Ellie would've decided not to spare Abby.
"The development team did a lot of iterations on what that last act looked like. The final beat was that Ellie would kill Abby," Gross explained, mentioning that they decided to change that and had Ellie "let go at the last second" to show that "some part of the old Ellie, the Ellie with humanity, the Ellie that is impacted by Joel, still exists within this character who has been so overtaken by her quest for revenge," which is the ending that did make it into the game.
Druckmann also makes a rather controversial statement, revealing that they initially thought having Ellie spare Abby didn't feel right from a narrative standpoint, but that it was the right decision for the character to make.
"Letting Abby live felt wrong thematically, initially. At the end of the day, it felt more honest for the character. There’s certain things we are trying to hit, but they can only work if we're consistent with the character we're writing," explained Druckmann.
So, there you have it. The original ending could've avoided some of the backlash, as it would've actually allowed players to get the revenge Joel deserved. The Last of Us Part II's ending is controversial because it isn't satisfying, but Joel's death is the biggest offender here; it isn't even about his death, but how he died what had fans up in arms, and no ending could've fixed that.
Five years after their dangerous journey across the post-pandemic United States, Ellie and Joel have settled down in Jackson, Wyoming. Living amongst a thriving community of survivors has allowed them peace and stability, despite the constant threat of the infected and other, more desperate survivors. When a violent event disrupts that peace, Ellie embarks on a relentless journey to carry out justice and find closure. As she hunts those responsible one by one, she is confronted with the devastating physical and emotional repercussions of her actions.
The Last of Us Part II is currently available exclusively for the PlayStation 4.