15 Harrowing Moments From The ‘Last of Us’ Franchise

List Rules
Vote up the moments that really hurt.

The gaming industry is filled with all manner of action-adventure titles, but few have garnered as large a fanbase as The Last of Us. The series debuted in 2013 and has spawned a sequel and a live-action series on HBO Max. The first game has been remade in HD, and there's been a successful comic book series, a live show, and a tabletop game, so The Last of Us is a franchise that continues to grow.

While the franchise sits snugly in the action-adventure genre, it has several survival horror elements mixed with an incredibly engaging story filled with meticulous details and exceptionally well-written characters. As a result, the franchise features some tear-jerker moments and some so harrowing players have to put down their controllers and take a minute before moving forward.

This list features the most harrowing moments throughout the franchise, and many are downright disturbing. Take a look at the most distressing moments from The Last of Us franchise, and be sure to upvote any that made you take a moment before proceeding further.

Because this list features moments from throughout the franchise, a SPOILER WARNING is in effect for those who haven't completed the games.


  • 1
    142 VOTES

    Sarah’s Passing In Joel’s Arms At The Beginning Of ‘The Last of Us’

    The Last of Us comes swinging right out of the gate with its introduction, and it's a real gut punch. The intro features cinematics and playable moments that depict the chaos in Austin, Texas, as the world falls apart. Joel, Tommy, and Sarah struggle to make it to safety, but it all comes to an end with Sarah's demise.

    It all begins relatively normally but quickly escalates into the horror that the world has become. There are plenty of close calls and near misses, but as the mayhem escalates and the situation worsens, it becomes clear that not everyone is getting out alive. After Joel and Sarah arrive at a military checkpoint, they are fired upon, and Sarah is struck in the abdomen.

    Tommy saves them by taking out the soldier, but Sarah is mortally wounded. She begins crying, and Joel attempts to help her, but his attempts are futile. He holds her in his arms while he tries to comfort her, but her crying abruptly stops. She lays dead with her eyes open as her father cries… and that is how the game begins.

  • 2
    72 VOTES

    Joel Being Impaled Through The Stomach After Falling Two Stories In Colorado In 'The Last of Us'

    While searching for Fireflies in Colorado, Joel opens a door and is greeted by a cannibal who pushes him to the balcony. The two struggle before the balcony railing and glass give way, causing them to fall to the ground. Joel doesn't just land hard – he lands on a piece of rebar pointing straight up, and it goes right through his abdomen.

    Ellie manages to get Joel out of the building, but he's losing a lot of blood and is critically injured. He can move on his own for a bit, but the damage is severe, and he will perish without help. Ellie drags his body to an abandoned mall and renders first aid. He survives but develops sepsis soon after, making his recovery long and difficult.

  • 3
    73 VOTES

    Abby Brutalizing Joel Before Offing Him Near The Opening Of ‘The Last of Us Part II’

    The opening of The Last of Us Part II includes the introduction of Abby, a former Firefly who now fights as a member of the Washington Liberation Front in its conflict with the Seraphites. Joel and Tommy rescue Abby, but she reveals herself to be Jerry's daughter and wants revenge for what Joel did to her father (Jerry was the doctor Joel wiped out to save Ellie at the end of The Last of Us).

    The group jumps Joel and Tommy, leaving Abby to torment the man who eliminated her father. Abby doesn't hold back in her mistreatment of Joel, and the scene is insanely hard to watch. She begins by having her men tourniquet his leg, ensuring he won't bleed out.

    She then has her men clear out of the room and picks up a golf club, which she uses to beat the snot out of Joel. He's left a bloody, pulpy mess as Ellie rushes in to rescue him, only to be detained herself. As Ellie watches, Abby bashes in Joel's skull with the club, killing him.

  • 4
    51 VOTES

    The Hospital Finale Of ‘The Last of Us’

    When Joel awakens in a hospital at the end of the first game, he's greeted by Fireflies who inform him that Ellie is being prepped for surgery. Due to her immunity to CBI, the Fireflies believe they can extract the infected tissue and reverse engineer a vaccine. As he's told this, Joel realizes they would have to terminate Ellie to create the cure, which doesn't sit well with him. At all.

    He later finds her on a surgical table with a couple of doctors standing over her. She's not conscious, and the doctors attempt to convince Joel to let them proceed. He fells one and takes out a couple of assistants before scooping up Ellie and taking her out of the hospital.

    Marlene meets him in the parking lot and threatens him. Once more, she tries to convince him to let them proceed, but he's unwilling to listen. The scene then cuts to Joel driving away, seemingly alone. In reality, he has Ellie in the vehicle and lies to her about what happened as they drive to safety.

  • 5
    64 VOTES

    Everything That Happens Between David And Ellie During The ‘Winter’ Section of ‘The Last of Us’

    While Joel is recovering, Ellie takes on the role of protector throughout the winter. She takes to the role well, but when she is met by David and James while hunting, she immediately becomes suspicious of David. When infected strike, they work together, but before long, Ellie is captured by David when she lures him away from Joel's location.

    She awakens in a cage, seeing James break down a corpse. Soon after, she is taken to suffer the same fate, but she fights back, getting her hands on a knife and putting it in James' neck. She and David struggle and lose consciousness inside a burning restaurant. They recover and fight, but Ellie gets the upper hand and hacks David repeatedly with a machete before Joel finds her.

  • 6
    38 VOTES

    Henry Turning His Gun On Himself After Sam Turns In 'The Last of Us'

    Brothers Henry and Sam were incredibly close, though Henry, the eldest, was a bit more protective than Sam may have liked. Regardless, they kept each other safe, and it was clear through interactions with them that they would perish for one another. The two survived Hartford together and first met Ellie and Joel in an apartment building. 

    They initially fight but become allies, to a point. They don't trust one another, but trust is a rare commodity when the world has come to an end. Still, they travel together and make it through some challenging encounters. Eventually, they arrive at a radio tower and trade stories before going to sleep.

    The following morning, Ellie goes to wake up Sam but finds that he's turned into a runner, having been infected the previous day. Joel tries to take him out, but Henry stops him. He then shoots his brother in the head, putting him down, and turns his piece on Joel. He blames Joel for what happened to his brother, and before he can be stopped, he shoots himself in the head.