The 15 Greatest Women in Video Games

5.  Ellie (The Last of Us)

ellie5As tired as the zombie apocalypse story is, Naughty Dog figured out the most important thing: if you don’t have a real character, no one cares. While the main protagonist of The Last of Us is Joel, a late-forties bearded mumbler who wouldn’t be out of place on The Walking Dead, Ellie is the icon of the game, and eventually takes up the mantle of protagonist when she must rescue and care for Joel, who in any other game of this type would spend the entire narrative dragging around the helpless girl on endless escort missions. Ellie wouldn’t be caught dead in that game. In fact, she takes total ownership of this one – if you take a shot every time she outsmarts, out-thinks, or outmaneuvers someone, your liver will be as useless to you as one of the many NPCs on the receiving end of an attack by the infected.

Ellie doesn’t fall anywhere on the archetype spectrum, which is something difficult to achieve with a game character, especially in a genre so full of tropes and stock characters; however, looking at her the way she is presented to us, Ellie could not be more of a full and natural person. Sure, she outguns plenty of grown men and even beats the main bad guy to death without the help of Joel, but she’s not some typical “action girl.” She’s fourteen. She’s been forced to grow up quickly in this dystopia, but any fourteen year-old has plenty still to find about herself. She’s autophobic. She can’t swim. Immune to the infection, she has severe survivor’s guilt regarding the first girl she loved, who was bitten. On the other hand, she’s no ingenue, no prop that exists only to string the player along out of a desire to “protect” her. She can take care of herself as well as Joel can, but she understands the importance of cooperation as well as he does, too. And she swears enough to make any Tarantino character nod in solemn respect.

Like all of us pesky humans, Ellie is driven by a desire to survive, and while being brave, independent, and charismatic, is also able to become attached, to allow herself to need things and people, to be hugged, to cry about stuff, and to put a few rounds in anyone who stands between her and the door. Best of all, we’re not invited to judge her on any of it – Ellie is who she is, unapologetically.




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