The Last of Us Part 2 Ending Explained

The story of The Last of Us Part II isn’t a particularly difficult one to understand. It boasts themes of violence, retribution, hanging onto the past, and the cyclical nature of these never-ending tendencies while communicating the effects of these habits through some beloved characters and relationships established in The Last of Us. Building on the world created by the original game was already quite a task itself with many people questioning whether a sequel was even needed following the ambiguous and emotional ending of the first. A sequel did indeed happen though, and Part II had an even bigger challenge facing it in that it needed to pull everything together with its own worthwhile ending.

Spoiler earning: This breakdown of the ending of The Last of Us Part II will contain heavy spoilers for major plot moments throughout the game.

Whether or not you think that ending is worthwhile will depend on your own experience with the game. Our review will share some insights into how everything pulls together as will reviews from users who’ve already played through the game. Review bombs and reviews countering those negative scores with perfect ratings are out there in force as well, so even though it should go without saying, it’s best to formulate your own take on the game after playing through it.

If you’re just wanting to find out what happens at the end, however, we can help you with that. Below you’ll find a recap to bring you up to speed followed by a complete, spoiler-filled breakdown of what happens at the end of the game.

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Second Spoiler Warning: The spoilers start here, so turn back if you’re not ready to find out what happens at the end of The Last of Us Part II.

The Last of Us Part II doesn’t end where you’d expect. Instead, it has a sort of epilogue attached to it where you regain control of Ellie once more after her vicious brawl with Abby that led to the WLF deserter telling Abby and Dina to never show themselves again. We fast-forward over a year into the future where Ellie has settled down with Dina in the farmhouse Dina always wanted. The two are raising a baby named JJ who’s named such to honor Joel and Jessie.

All seems well enough until it’s revealed Ellie’s suffering from PTSD after witnessing Joel’s fate at the hands of Abby. These lingering effects of her trauma culminate in a visit from Tommy who says he believes he’s found out where Abby has gone. Injured from his last encounter with Abby, Tommy’s unable to make the trek for revenge and expects Ellie to honor her promise of retaliation. This leads to a divide between Ellie, Dina, and Tommy – Ellie seems like she wants to go but doesn’t want to leave Dina, Dina says they’ve left that in the past, and Tommy wants revenge.

After an emotional late-night talk with Ellie when Ellie tries to slip out in pursuit of Abby, Dina says she’s not going through this again with Ellie and urges her to stay. Ellie leaves anyway, thus beginning again the cycle of violence Abby was content to leave behind. It's implied Dina won't be there when Ellie gets back.

Proving Tommy’s research to be accurate, Abby and Lev have journeyed to Santa Barbara, California, in search of remnants of the Fireflies. We see Abby throughout the game in pursuit of her former faction, so just as it was inevitable that Ellie would again seek vengeance, Abby’s still after the Fireflies to rejoin them. You play as Abby again for a while until the pair are captured by a new faction called the Rattlers where they’re then taken in as slaves.

Regaining control of Ellie again, you fall into a similar fate after being apprehended by the Rattlers. You manage to escape with a grievous wound that’d normally be a death sentence in that setting or at least cause to turn back, but Ellie’s hate-fueled determination keeps her in pursuit of Abby.

You bring down the Rattler stronghold, but that’s merely a side project for Ellie. She eventually finds Abby and Lev strung up and left for death before cutting them down. It looks as though she’s about to let them go, but she reverses her decision after having flashbacks of Joel’s death. Instead, she demands one final fight with Abby and threatens to kill Lev if the challenge isn’t honored.

Controlling Ellie still, you pitifully fight against Abby one last time. Both characters want to move on with their lives but have been unable to do so, so instead they take the route that’s gotten them this far. Ellie slashes Abby with her knife, Abby bites off two of Ellie’s fingers, and Ellie attempts to drown Abby in the shallow water.

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(Photo: SIE)

Their fight ends when Ellie relents her assault after having a flashback of another less violent moment with Joel we hadn't seen before. She tells Abby and Lev to leave and does so herself to make her way back to her Wyoming farm. She finds Dina and JJ have left her behind just as Dina implied with only memories and Ellie’s personal possessions left behind, including her guitar that connected her to Joel which she can no longer play properly because of her lost fingers.

Another flashback with Joel plays out, this one showing the full events of what flickered in Ellie’s mind on the beach. Joel and Ellie finally begin to reconcile their grievances in an emotional exchange where Joel said he’d save Ellie all over again if the events of the first game were revisited. Ellie says she doesn’t know if she could ever forgive him but that she’d like to try, and after a brief moment more, the cutscene ends. We’re brought back to Ellie in the house as she sets out on her own, perhaps in pursuit of Dina and perhaps in pursuit of something else.

This last cutscene is one of the most impactful in the game. Up until then, players were led to believe Ellie’s last exchange with Joel was aggressively dismissing him in front of Jackson’s residents with the two never able to make amends before he was killed. This cutscene gives some closure to the story even if the ending’s still a grim one. Ellie and Joel were beginning to rebuild their relationship but never got the chance because of Abby’s own thirst for revenge that in turn kicked off Ellie’s cycle.

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It’s unknown what Ellie’s heading towards once the credits roll, but it’s not revenge this time. Great personal sacrifices were required first, but the cycle of violence was eventually broken.

The Last of Us Part II is now available for the PlayStation 4.