The clip posted above depicts Ellie, the protagonist in The Last of Us Part II (2020), locking lips with her same sex love interest, Dina. This scene was selected from The Last of Us Part II’s 2018 gameplay trailer that Naughty Dog (the game developer that created The Last of Us) presented at E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Expo). E3 is a platform for big budget videogame developers and publishers to showcase their AAA games (pronounced as “Triple-A”: a video game industry term for large budget video games)–usually by highlighting their game’s realistic violence. Interestingly, what caused the strongest fan reactions to The Last of Us Part II’s unveiling was not its gameplay, but Dina and Ellie’s lip-lock in the trailer’s cut scene.
Ellie and Dina’s kiss became cause for an online celebration as many were uncertain whether Ellie was out of the closet in Last of Us (2013), or in the DLC (downloadable content) titled, The Last of Us: Left Behind (2014). In Left Behind, a teenage Ellie kisses her female friend, Riley. After Left Behind was released, GayGamer.net asked The Last of Us’ creative director, Neil Druckmann, if Ellie was gay. Druckmann stated that when he was “writing [The Last of Us he] was writing it with the idea that Ellie is gay.” After Druckmann said this, some online fans were unconvinced that Ellie was indeed queer. They took to discussion threads on reddit and to discussion boards on The Last of Us wiki to debate whether the young Ellie was “experimenting” or officially out of the closet.
The Last of Us Part II showcases an adult Ellie in an overtly gay relationship. Even amidst a major leak of the game’s plot, fans are still excited to play the finished product. This anticipation does not mainly stem from players wanting to play as Ellie to kill her enemies but rather to experience a AAA queer narrative.
HBO will soon adapt The Last of Us into a TV program. Craig Mazin, the co-writer for The Last of Us TV series, has already promised fans that Ellie will remain gay for the show. Was a queer kiss all it took?