I Can’t Believe ‘The Last of Us’ Killed Off This Character (But Something Tells Me They’ll Be Back)

*Warning: Major spoilers ahead.*

If there's one lesson that I've learned from watching the first two episodes of The Last of Us, it's that I sure as hell better not get attached to *any* of these characters.

I am now one of the hundreds of thousands of viewers who have been sucked into HBO's latest gripping series, which is based on the acclaimed 2013 video game of the same name. This post-apocalyptic drama follows a smuggler named Joel (Pedro Pascal), who is charged with escorting 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a desolate United States in an effort to save the world after an evolved fungus has turned humans into killer zombies.

The Last of Us seems to have arrived at the perfect time, alleviating the pain of Walking Dead fans who are still mourning that show's end, and playing right into our pandemic fears, only three years after COVID-19 struck. And while I am undeniably hooked, it's clear that this series is giving Game of Thrones a run for its money in terms of killing off its main cast. That was made clear this past Sunday night, with the episode “Infected,” which saw the shocking death of Tess, played by Anna Torv. However, something tells me we haven't seen the last of her (and yes, I'm ignoring the show's title with this declaration).

Still from 'The Last of Us.'
Liane Hentscher/HBO

Let's just get one thing straight: the writers of The Last of Us do not want Joel to be happy. Not only does his sweet, thoughtful gift-giver of a daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker), get killed by a nervous soldier in episode one, but we also learn that amidst the outbreak, he somehow got separated from his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna). And now, his closest friend, fellow smuggler (and potential love interest?), Tess, has been killed off too. At the close of episode two, we discover that Tess has been bitten after a recent attack, and in order to protect Joel and Ellie, she stays behind and blows up a building as it's swarmed by a collection of the Infected. But was this really her end?

On HBO's The Last of Us Podcast, the co-creators of the show, Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, revealed that they originally wanted to dive into Tess's backstory on the show. “There is something we had talked about, and we wrote it but never shot it. It was a little bit of the backstory of Tess, and the fact that Tess had a kid,” Mazin divulged. “She had a husband and she had a son, and they were infected, and she had to kill them. She killed her husband, but could not kill the son.” Within this backstory, Tess apparently chooses to lock her son in a basement instead of killing him, and “theoretically, he's still a Clicker,” Mazin said (which are a more dangerous form of the Infected).

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Liane Hentscher/HBO

Sadly, this storyline got scrapped because the writers didn't feel that it fit with the narrative, but it proves that Tess was supposed to be a more fleshed out character, and for that reason, the writers may find a way to bring her back.

Sure, we know that Tess was in the building that blew up at the end of “Infected,” but we don't actually *see* her die. More importantly, her character notes earlier on in the episode that explosions aren't a surefire way to kill the Infected. This moment occurs when Ellie spots a crater from a bombing and Tess explains to her that years back, the government tried to blast major cities to kill the spread, but it ultimately didn't work. So, could this have been a hint that the explosion Tess created wasn't enough to kill her, and we may see her again, but in the form of an Infected?

We already know that Ellie has a unique immunity to the earth-ravaging fungus, and she may be the key to a cure. Now, just imagine what it would be like if they were able to find a stop to this disease and go back and save Tess from it.

lastofus hero2
Liane Hentscher/HBO

Okay, okay, I'm probably being too hopeful, especially with a show that isn't exactly flush with cheerfulness. However, I think there's still a good chance that we may see Tess again, even if it's in the form of a flashback (especially if the series gets renewed for a second season). Doesn't Joel deserve to see one person he cares about survive? Or better yet, imagine if scientists are able to find a cure and then Joel and Ellie track down Tess's son (since we knew he at least existed in the writers' minds) and then they cure him.

We're still early in our journey of The Last of Us, but if they kill off Joel or Ellie, I'll be writing a very strongly-worded email to HBO.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...